devotional

20JUL
2012

Levels of certainty

 

     Beloved, in our culture today we are a people who feel totally sure of ourselves and uncertain of what we believe. I think it’s supposed to be the other way around. In Scripture, there are varying levels or degrees of certainty we can have when it comes to divine truth. For my summation of the eight that we must most often defend today please see my statement of faith. There are some things that there is zero room for interpretation on. The fact of the Trinity, for example, cannot be “discussed” by believers. There is one God in three Persons. No doubt! No Christian fights this. It is an essential truth that there is community in God. The fact that Jesus must have physically risen from the grave or there’s no salvation in His name cannot be debated with two correct views. No doubt! The fact that all forms of homosexuality are condemned, no doubt! Regarding the age of the earth, there’s debate. Which Bible translation is best, there’s debate. Social action, tithing, who wrote Hebrews, foot washings, music in church, length of skirts, youth groups, building structures and expenditures, predestination based on God or God and us, leadership above the local assembly, God’s miraculous gifts and their role today, etc. In all such Biblical things there’s debate.

     Men must have a right faith in the right God. That’s as far as I can quip truth. It is a salvation by grace alone through Christ alone. Those two headings are the requisite elements of absolute simplicity from which I wish to cut out all of Scripture rightly, 2 Timothy 2:15.

     There is in most other matters, however, a much needed graciousness on every side of debate. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fight for your understanding! It just means that you should fight while thanking God that there are others who care about the word as much as you do on the other side of the argument willing to fight with you. If they realize this too then perhaps you’re in for a wonderful fight night. Peter writes that, “Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures,” 2 Peter 3:15b-16. Excluding the untaught and unstable in view here, there are things difficult to understand even for the faithful. Regarding the church, being that certain things are not exactly articulated for us in Scripture, "Hard to understand" may also play out as hard to nail down or justify to everyone else. There are difficult things to work out in the faith. This is true outside of Paul’s letters as well. There is no level of study that brings each adherent who endures it to the exact same interpretation of anything on this side of the grave. For God so loved the world that He did not send a committee.

     I don’t believe that differences among us in secondary doctrines are necessarily a bad thing. I think they have to exist. The Bible is clear; we’re just different. In the end, after all, there is only one interpretation of just about anything. We all without exception come to the Bible with wildly varying presuppositions, experiences and influences that slant our interpretations. None of us, except for the first chosen Apostles, are immune to this when we come to the word. We all err. The Bible cannot be mistaken on the essentials. Those who’ve been given the key to unlock the Scriptures (new birth) have only one interpretation on them. God will not entertain opinion here. The rest help us learn to dislike the taste of camels and practice the weightier matters of it all along with the working out of our mutual salvation.

     Let us firmly establish what hills we would die on and bear with one another in love. 

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