How are the Scriptures to be Viewed – Part 2E.W. Bullinger PART 3
The Supremacy of the Word
The great stalwarts of the faith never supposed that their position in the Scriptures would be placed on par with Scripture itself. We could do this movement no greater disservice than to erect barriers between brethren because we do not see all things alike. In this regard, l can only praise the kindly, Christ-like spirit displayed by Mr. Charles Welch and Dr. E. W. Bullinger before him. These men were first and foremost concerned with the honor, faith, and heart-homage due the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was the foundation and goal of their lives and labors. lf one would take the effort to read the mountainous writings of these two men, one would see that they loved and taught from all the Scriptures, and only asked men to follow with them so as to “search and see” if these things be so.” While we deeply revere these men and others that have instructed us in the truth, still our loyalty is due only to God and to His Word. We are not to look to man’s writing about the Bible or even studies drawn from the Bible, no matter how fine and true, as being on par with the Scriptures themselves. lf we keep this at heart, we will bear with charity those who are at variance with us, remembering we are not competing against each other, but, rather, seeking to clear away the rubbish of traditions, meritorious religions, and spiritual intellectualism so that the Light of Truth may radiate unhindered.
Our final appeal must be to the Scriptures alone; no more than this but, certainly, no less. Each should feel free to judge studies or Biblical material by the Scriptures and not by what others say about them. This alone is fair to the author. The temptation is to place some authority, ancient, or modern, church, or state, above the Scriptures.
Another’s knowledge in the Word of God must not be used as our “resting place” for truth. “To the Word and To the Testimony” should be our constant aim. Nor should one with knowledge seek to rule the conscience of a brother. Who so rules, usurps the place of Christ and thus creates a “follower of man” fraught with all its discord and heartbreak.
Satan’s lie is that the Bible is obtuse and difficult. The Bible was given for normal, ordinary people, and with application of time and study, its truths are easily within the humblest believer’s grasp.
AlI doctrines should be tried by the Scriptures before affirming their truthfulness. To believe something before checking the Word of God is to trust the wisdom of man rather than the Word of God. lf it is proved to be true, you have gained something; if it is a mere man-made doctrine, its loss will not impoverish your faith. We must Iet no one dictate the faith of another. To our Master and Head, Christ, we stand or fall.
There have been a host of wonderful Bible teachers over the years but, while we believe God has used these men, still we dare not attribute to them infallibility, nor would we be doing their scholarship an honor to say that more light may not be forth coming from the Word.
Differences of opinion? Yes. Even Peter and Paul had their disputes. But “thus saith the Lord” was an end of opinion and we see Paul rebuking Peter for his lapse in faith (Galatians). Finally, we are asked to keep God’s unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3), and there are many keeping the unity as listed in Ephesians 4:4-6, but not in the bond of peace. None of us can live, love, and labor unto himself. We need each other. Dependency upon God alone does not imply independence from others of like precious faith. The same Divine Book teaches us to love one another and to forgive one another, for we are members one of another. The very term “Body of Christ” should teach us our inter-relationship with each other under Christ our Mutual Head.PART 4
How Far Can I Go and How?
Paul was in great agony or conflict (the life and death agonizing conflict of the gladiatorial contests) that others might “acknowledge the mystery of God and Christ” (Colossians 2: 1,2). This was God’s mystery and, by the context we gather that it was closely related to the believer’s being complete in His Son, and being positioned ” far above all” at the Father’s right hand (Colossians l : 1-10; 3:3 – Cp. Ephesians 1:5, 6:2,3,5). The word we want to look at however is translated “acknowledge”. This is from “epi”, an intensive, and ”ginosko, ” to know’, hence, to know fully – to have a full knowledge of any biblical subject. If a subject is worth investigating, it is worth investigating well. This involves a willingness to take a humble place as a student, determining to let the Bible be its own commentary, and to interpret itself to us of its own terms.
We should have a teachable spirit along with a Bible having good print, *The Companion Bible, which is the KJV with appendixes, and critical text or/and The Nestle-Marshall Interlinear Greek-English New Testament or another critical translation is a must. We should have a Strong’s or Young’s concordance, and, as soon as we learn to use these, add an Englishmens’s Concordance especially of the New Testament. This last will reveal how the bible uses words in the Greek or Hebrew text. English listings and indexes pilot the student here.
As students of God’s great Library, we have set before us a task of sufficient scope to engage all our waking hours, but since this isn’t possible, at least set aside a definite time of study each day. Be regular, whether early or late. No one is too young or too old to start.
A teachable spirit involves willingness to unlearn as well as to learn. Some truths are worthy of constant repetition and re-learning especially as they relate to the nature and being of God, our Saviour and Redeemer.
As we gather up information on various Biblical subjects, let us make deductions and conclusions only after all the facts are in and tabulated. Recently a writer mentioned that ”eternal” in the Old Testament must always mean eternal since it is used of God, but the same word is used of the length of a slave’s bondage to his master (he would serve him forever). But should the Hebrew slave die the next day, this “eternity” would be of one day’s duration . . . . So, words are tempered by contexts.
As we study, gathering truth together that goes together, and distinguishing things that differ, perhaps it is in order to suggest right here that we feed the NEW Man, the heart as well as the head. If our heart does not grow apace with our head knowledge; if one’s heart, compassion, and love is not broadened as we learn more of Him, then we must take stock of ourselves as to the motive for our studies. Love for the truth is only equaled by love for Him and others. Biblical intellectualism alone can be as cold as a statute of stone, and as lifeless. Truth was meant to be a cause of rejoicing – of cheer, and of happiness (1 Corinthians 13:6). The giving out of what we have taken in is a necessity. Truth is like Iove – only good as it is shared, doubled as it is divided.
Christ declared He came to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). This is sufficient reason for study-to witness the truth of God to others. This is not a barren gift to give, for, according to Psalms 119: l62, truth is a precious treasure when found. Let us share our treasures; let us enrich others.PART 5
The social church of the religious society is moving toward the ”Great Mediocrity. The pass words seem to be “conformity and union. ” That the worldly church should jettison the virtues of Scripture comes as no surprise. That the worldly church should foster its Godless, Christless theology and scholarship upon the believer in Christ and pass itself off as a “Christian Institution” is almost beyond understanding.
What should our attitude be? Paul’s admonition to Timothy holds true today . . . . “Hold FAST The form (pattern) of sound words” (2 Timothy 1: 13), and, ”the good deposit guard” (Greek text 2Timothy l :14), and positively, ”holding forth the Word of Iife” (Philippians 2: 16). If we are thus engaged. we will have not time nor desire to have concord with these willful enemies of God and demeanors of our Lord. This is not closing our hearts toward the man outside of Christ, nor withholding our succor to the failing saint.
Is this inviting persecution? Paul writes in Philippians 1:20, 21 , ”Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For me to live is Christ and to die (for Him ) is gain” (Christ’s gain). see Philippians 1 :29. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake. Is there no longer this attitude of Paul in God’s people? ls Christ esteemed so lowly that we are unwilling to suffer any loss for Him? Are no champions to come forth from the ranks of our generation to contend for the Glory of His Name?
What has enervated the believer of his strength and testimony? The answers to this might be numerous, but can it be, while the believer has full freedom of access to the Father (Ephesians 3: 12), that he has not been communicating with the Father? Can it be that there is no strengthening of the inner man by God’s Spirit (Ephesians 3: 16-19); that Christ is not dwelling at home in our hearts; that we are not aware of the multi-dimensions of God’s love and so remain in love or at least in compliance with the world?
The saint has been put upon-not searching the Scriptures for himself. He has let the Word of God be relegated to so-called professionals. Instead of the pure Word of God being preached, the believer is given a heady substitute; that is, religious services. This has been multiplied by borrowing either from Old Testament rituals or from paganism.
The religious system that has evolved as a substitute for the Scriptures of Truth, has done its work well. The believer was placated by priests, altars, rituals, days, fasts, feasts, and wafers, and by this led to think, “This is service for God.”
Many believers have not been thus entrapped: but carry no burden except their living expenses. Are missionaries, foreign and domestic, only for defaulting denominations? Has this grand message of the Grace of God no voice’? ls Paul’s call to fight the good fight of faith” to have no warriors? Are there none to stand behind those who would carry on this ministry and message’? Let each of us search our own hearts for the answers to these questions, then let us act upon them!