“The Veracity of Scripture”
I Corinthians 14:37, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”
This morning, we live in a very cynical society. People look to turn heroes into villains and soft-soap villains. The end result is a more homogenous product wherein the lines between right and wrong are blurred. This skeptical mindset about absolute truth with clearly delineated right and wrong tends to a great suspicion of the infallibility of the Holy Scriptures. Moreso than in times past, Bible believers struggle today with the nagging clouds that the world throws their way, “Is the Bible really perfect?” Too many times today, I engage in discussion with people about the Bible only to have them say something to the effect, “How can we really know? After all, that book has passed through many hands over many years. How could anyone really know if that is what it always said?” By allowing such a thought, the implication is clear. The ultimate inescapable conclusion that they come to is that it cannot be perfect. No work could be after that much time passing through so many hands. In point of fact though, the Bible is just as it should be, and it is infallible due to the preserving Providence of its Author: God Himself.
Our study verse is part of Paul’s concluding arguments to his grand discourse on spiritual gifts and the worship of the body that started in Chapter 12. He has discussed how the church ought to function in worship, and gave many warnings of pitfalls to avoid. One of the great warnings that he gave in Chapter 14 was to avoid things that might spark emotion but were void of proper order and good decorum. Though the house of God should be a place of good emotion and high spirits, what carries the day in its proper course is whether the proper blueprint for true worship has been followed. One of the things I remember from my youth was a minister who said, “Though I hope to always enjoy the house of God and my times in it, the success of the effort is not designed around my enjoyment. The success of the effort is designed around whether He is glorified in our worship.” Amen and amen. A hard lesson for man to learn is when something is “not about him.” No matter the situation in the house of God, it is not about us. It is about Him! Therefore, the proper course to follow through Paul’s reasoning is that everything is designed to honour and adore Him.
In reaching his final arguments and conclusions, Paul hearkens back to a device that he has employed throughout this discussion: the idea of how to approach someone else doing something in the house of God. In this example, he shows how someone should be proven who claims to be spiritually minded or given a gift to prophecy. From time to time, the church may have a young man who believes he is called to preach or may be visited by someone desiring to become a part of the body who claims spirituality. How do you prove such a claim? What is the beginning point? Paul says that the starting point is the person’s assertion that what Paul had written was exactly right. Paul said that what he wrote is the very commandments of God Himself. Paul is not being proud, arrogant, or boastful. He is simply stating the truth that what he writes to the churches comes straight from God and Divine Inspiration. If someone is truly sent of God, called of God, and spiritually in tune with God, they will have to admit it too since God is not of duplicitous minds about things.
When we look at culture today, we see that man’s imagination runs wild, whereas he scoffs at absolute truth. How many people gleefully follow the superstitions of the day but doubt how accurate the Bible really is? A while back, I heard a stunning statistic. A poll was taken in this country of 20-40 year olds across the country. They were given a word association survey, and around 80% of them answered the same way when they heard the word “resurrection.” Instead of thinking of Christ, the end of time, or some comforting scene that the Bible paints for us around this subject, their response was “zombies.” People today actually prepare themselves for the so-called “zombie apocalypse” to be able to survive waves of “undead beasts” walking all over the globe. Superstition runs amok while real truth is discarded. Sad indeed!
Friends, if we are to truly grow in our development here on earth, we must begin with several foundational stones. One of those stones is that the book we call The Bible is verily the words of the Almighty. It is without fault, and it will be preserved as long as time remains. (Psalm 12:6-7, II Timothy 3:16-17) If a preacher is going to develop his gift like he should, he must stand upon and proclaim the word faithfully rather than his own thoughts and whims. When reading Paul’s discourse through this portion of Scripture, some of the things he warns against seem funny to consider. If someone from the outside saw everyone in church “doing his own thing” at the same time, he would declare the whole bunch to be crazy. (Verse 23) Yet, in my time, I have seen some lamentable behavior in the house of God due to man following his own whims rather than the word that can make us complete in our functions here on earth. Paul’s statement in our study verse upholds the veracity of Scripture and makes it the standard and filter through which things should be strained.
While talking to a co-worker yesterday, he asked me how much of the Bible I had committed to memory. I replied that I really did not know, and he said, “You seem to know it well.” Reaching back to wisdom from the past, I said, “Well Mike, it’s not hard to remember what you just read.” When his face puzzled, I told him that we learn the best through repeated behavior, and the best way to learn the Bible and remember it is through repeated passes. If this is my standard for all facets of life, then I need to be as familiar with the principles to know how to proceed through life. If it keeps me from the pitfalls and treacherous lies of the world, then I need to be versed in it to avoid the maladies that life brings. Most of all, if I want to be considered spiritually minded and a benefit to my brethren, I need to be well acquainted with the commandments of the Lord as laid down in his text.
Most of our churches have an article of faith that reads something to the effect, “We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired word of God and our only rule of faith and practice.” The verbiage may differ some, but the meat remains the same. If we claim that as a credo of belief, then everything in life must be strained through it. Anything short of that becomes our own druthers and desires. Because my druthers and desires change over time and through seasons, my life is best served by something that does not change but is forever settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89) Are we spiritually minded today? Are ministers acting as they should? To examine ourselves in answering the question, the answer must begin with thoughts like these, “This book is the commandments of God and just as flawless and perfect as He is. What it says, I will do. What it shuns, I will refrain from doing. No matter how much I don’t like it, I’m resolved to follow it.” With mindsets like this, we are better prepared to spiritual devotion and good growth in the service of our King. Do our minds affirm that the Bible is the commandments of God? Then may our steps follow so that our lives show forth good fidelity in humble service.