by Farrell Nicholson
The question “Do you believe the Bible?” — though not uttered explicitly in Scripture — is certainly not without Scriptural precedent. Paul turned the tables on his interrogators by asking Herod Agrippa II, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” (Acts 26:27, NKJV). In other words, did the temporal king of the Jewish state believe the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus the Messiah?
Or conversely, we can hear this question in its declarative sense within Paul’s rebuke to the Jews of Pisidian Antioch: “Brothers, you must understand what we are telling you: You can have forgiveness of your sins through this man. The law of Moses could not make you right with God, but everyone who believes the Good News is made right. The prophets said something would take place. Be careful! Don’t let this happen to you: ‘Look, you people who doubt! Wonder and die! During your time, I a will do something which you won’t believe. You wouldn’t believe it, even if someone were to explain it to you!’ ”(Acts 13:38-41, International English™ Bible)
Again we hear the question in Paul and Barnabas’ address a week later: “45The Jewish leaders saw the crowds there. So, they became very jealous. They said some terrible things and argued against the words which Paul said. But Paul and Barnabas were very bold. They said, “It was necessary that we speak God’s message to you Jews first, but you won’t listen. You are deciding that you are unworthy of having eternal life! Therefore, look, we will now go to the people of other nations!” (Acts 13:45-46, IEB)
Apparently, the Jews did not believe their own Scriptures (the Old Testament). Twice Jesus referred to the Law of Moses as “your (i.e., the Jews’) law” (John 8:17; 10:34).
But what about Christians? Those who purport to delight themselves in the law of God according to the inward man? (Romans 7:22) Those who have “the implanted Word” (James 1:21) instilled in their hearts (Heb. 8:10)? What of those who “have put off the old man with his deeds” (Col. 3:9b), and upon whom the name of Christ has been affixed (Acts 15:17)? Do we really believe the Bible?
We preach that people are, through Christ, to “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” (Col. 3:5-8, NKJV) Christians are often engaged in the same crimes against God which are delineated in Holy Writ. Such things should never exist among us (Eph. 5:3). In our hypocritical putting on of masks (1 Thess. 2:5), many of us have merited the scathing denunciation of God’s spokesman to Jewish brethren of old: “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?” (Romans 2:21-23, NKJV)
Have we saints ceased to believe that God requires us to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3)? The call for unity within the body of Christ is as clarion in the 21st century as it was in the 1st century. Do we no longer believe in hell? Even the Savior, the omniscient purveyor of glad tidings, gave a more complete portrayal of Gehenna than he revealed the ineffable climes of heaven. Have we stopped reading passages such as Mark 9:43-48? Hell never ceased being real. Yet it is as though we have drifted off into moral and religious slumber. To sleep portends of spiritual death (1 Cor. 11:30; Eph. 5:14; 1 Thess. 5:6-9).
Finally, has the siren song of the world so diluted the parameters of marriage that we find ourselves living out the antithesis of God’s will (Eph. 5:22-25; Heb. 13:4)? May God wake us up from this spectral nightmare!
Yet, amidst the ensuing chaos and pervading noise of the battle, we can hear the simple answer, if we will but listen: “Remember thy first love” (Rev. 2:4-5). “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9). And, “take up your cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Only those who vigilantly respond in kind to the Scriptures’ entreaties are those who can justly assert that they truly believe the Bible (Rom. 2:13; James 1:22). However, our compliance or non-compliance with the dictates of our law (1 Cor. 9:21; James 1:25; 2:12; 4:12) in no way negates its authenticity, because Paul affirms: “If we deny him, he also will deny us. If we are faithless, he remains faithful; he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:12b-13, NKJV)
Do you really believe the Bible? You don’t if you hide behind a mask and you despise or willfully neglect its power in your life and its rule over your behavior! Marshall Keeble said long ago: “The Bible is right. It is right, if everyone believes it. It is right, if no one believes it. Everyone could die and go to hell, but the Bible would still be right!”
The words of the apostle agree with this: “Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.” (Rom. 3:4b). Also, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’” (2 Tim. 2:19, NKJV)