THE REVELATION OF GOD - 1
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
The Bible - 1
Loved Ones, many of our denominational friends believe that all men are totally depraved from birth and therefore unable to do anything to save themselves. According to them, “regeneration” is the first step in the sinner’s return to God, and it must be taken by the Holy Spirit. Listen to their prayer, “Oh God our Father, save these poor penitents now. Send thy Spirit with sin-destroying power. Save them Lord, save them through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!”
While some denominations do not follow this Calvinistic doctrine to the letter, nearly all of them claim that men are converted by the DIRECT work of the Holy Spirit. We do not believe that lie for one minute. We insist that men are converted by obeying the teachings of the Bible. To be plainer, men are converted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ as unfolded by the Apostles and recorded in the Book of Acts.
We must try to get our denominational friends to answer these questions: Is the Bible inspired? Is the New Testament inspired? Is the Gospel an inspired message to men? Also, is the Bible, is the New Testament, is the Gospel perfect; perfect in its fullness and in its adaptation to the needs of the lost? If they answer these questions in the affirmative, we cannot see the need of any outside power to make men Christians. If they answer them in the negative, we must say that we cannot see any need for the Bible.
The churches of Christ differ widely with the man-made denominational churches. Denominations believe the Bible is inspired, but that inherently it has no converting power, and therefore the Holy Spirit must come with converting power outside of the Bible, outside of the New Testament, outside of the Gospel, and enter the heart of man and give it life and peace. We believe that the Bible is an inspired book and that it has converting power by reason of the constant presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in it. When a man hears the Gospel in its fullness, simplicity and plainness, he hears the words of the Holy Spirit just as much and just as certainly as the contemporaries of the Apostles heard Him when they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
In other words, many of our denominational friends believe the Holy Spirit converts men outside of the Gospel. We believe the Holy Spirit converts men through the Gospel. We are agreed that the Holy Spirit does the work. We disagree about how He does it. We contend that He does it through the facts, commands and promises of the Gospel, and they deny that by praying for and expecting direct power. The issue is clearly drawn. With the Lord’s help, we will now set our position up for comment.
What is the Bible? It is an aggregation of sixty-six books written by about thirty‑six men under the inspiration of God in the different ages of the world. Undoubtedly, this definition (excepting the part that refers to the Divine guidance of those who wrote it) includes only the visible, the material, and the mechanical. Shall we try again? The Bible is the revelation of the will of God. A moment’s reflection will convince you that this answer is also unsatisfactory. Human sin, weakness and suffering demand something more than the enactment of law by a Power that is immeasurably beyond our reach.
How will this do? The Bible is the revelation of the plan of salvation. This comes nearer to our wants, but our burdened hearts, our clouded minds, and our uncertain steps ask for more than the submission of a plan to save us. Does this definition satisfy the wants of your nature? The Bible is the revelation of the love of God. This approaches nearer to the great throbbing, moving, dying, mass of humanity, but the Bible contains more, infinitely more than this.
The Bible is the revelation of God Himself. His personality, eternal existence, wisdom, power and goodness are the inspiration, life and perpetuity of this wonderful book. Lying back of the divinity and perpetuity of the Bible is the existence of God. Lying back of the revealed will of God is the Creator Himself, who does not leave His children without assistance even when they deserve nothing at His hands. Lying back of the scheme of redemption is the Infinite Mind that devised it. Lying back of the fact that God has revealed His love to man in numberless ways is God, who is love itself (1 John 4:8).
When you study the Bible do you not ask who is behind it, above it, around it, underneath it, within it? Does not your mind, your faith, your spiritual vision identify it with its Author and therefore establish a living, a perpetual and an unchangeable relation between the existence of God and the wants of man? If you read the Bible, considering it nothing more than a law book, a book of poetry, a book of history or a book of wonders, you rob it of its life and much of its glory and power.
When we examine a book of common legislative enactments our first inquiry is not: What does it contain, what does it protect or prohibit, but: What power or government lies behind it, and can it maintain and execute its laws? When we read a poetical work we ask: Who wrote this, when and where did he live, and what kind of a man was he? When we read the Bible we ask: Who is the author of this book, where does he live, why did he write it?
A government that does not reveal its dignity and power through its laws is absolutely unworthy of the name. A poetical work that does not in some degree reveal the life and personality of its author will never attract the attention or excite the admiration of the world. A government, whether good or bad, flows out into its laws. The poet's heart, whether pure or impure; his life, whether consistent or contradictory, and his individuality, whether ordinary or extraordinary, flows out into his production. The power and glory, the presence and purity, and the love and sympathy of God light up every thought in the Bible.
The law directs attention to the government behind it. The poem directs attention to the poet. The Bible directs attention to the one true and living God. The law is a part of the government. The poem is a part of the poet. The Bible is a part of the Lord. The law is the revelation of the government. The poem is the revelation of the poet. The Bible is the revelation of the Lord. The law is the visible manifestation of the government. The poem is the visible manifestation of the poet. The Bible is the visible manifestation of God.
The law is a living reality, for the power of the government flows into every fiber of its body. The poem is a living reality, for it is the product of an individual life. The Bible is a living reality, for it is the product of the Divine and Eternal life. It is impossible to separate the government and its laws, the poet and his productions, or the Bible and the Lord. When you insult the laws you insult the government, for they are one. When you abuse the poem you offend the poet, for they are inseparable. When you neglect, misuse or insult the Bible, you insult Him whose life is the life of His Word.
The Bible - not the paper, the printing or the binding, for they change constantly, but the thoughts, the information, the wisdom it contains - is the revelation of God to man. We can form an estimate of a government through its laws, but in no other way. We can become acquainted with a poet through his works, but by no other means. We can see and UNDERSTAND to a large degree the one true and living God through the Bible, but in no other place (not even in nature do we come to UNDERSTAND our God).
Do you study, honor and obey the Bible? Of course you do not. Why not? Because you do not like to be brought face to face with God. If you read, love, and obey it you certainly love God; but if you neglect it, disregard it, or depend upon some other source for information, you are yet in your sins! The supposed distance between God and His word is purely imaginary; worse than this, it is the invention of the devil! The prayer in which God is besought, urged, begged to accompany His word "with Holy Spirit power," is the offspring of the most abominable ignorance, for the Word of God is the revelation of God, and therefore the power of God (Romans 1:16)!
When we write a letter to a friend, is it necessary for us to accompany it with our spirit or some additional power in order to make it effectual, to enable him to understand and appreciate it? No. Why not? Because we are in it, our mind is in it, our spirit is in it, our wisdom is in it, our knowledge is in it, our friendship is in it, our love is in it, our sympathy is in it, our individuality is in it; all we are or can be is in it. We pour our sympathy and love into our thoughts, and our friend cannot doubt what we say unless he doubts our friendship or truthfulness. If we are not in our word, there is nothing in it.
Is God in the Bible? If He is, it contains all power, and no outside demonstration is necessary to drive it home to the mark. If He is not in it, it is not His word, and no power, human or divine, can make it so. The Bible is true, all true. It is the word of God. He is in it, the Christ is in it, the Holy Spirit is in it, or it does not contain a word of truth from Genesis to the AMEN of the Revelation!
We close REV. 1 with this question… Why are the thoughts, the works, and the productions of men insufficient to save us? Lord willing, we will answer that question in REV. 3. Consider Jeremiah and John 14:6 in your answer.