Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Word of God and Faith

By S. Michael Durham

(Eleventh installment on faith)

If faith is a God-given ability to see reality as He see it, then how does He confer that ability? How does the Lord make me to see reality about a given situation the way He sees it? Does He give me a vision or something like it?

The Lord is capable of giving a vision, but that is not His main way in this age of the Spirit. Visions, dreams, angelic messengers and human messengers (called prophets) are no longer the primary ways God speaks to His people. I know there are a great many people telling us that they are apostles or prophets and that they have revelations that rival Scripture, or at least add to it. But one word can dismiss such claims: false. These are false apostles and false prophets. The Scriptures need no revision or addition. The Bible is a complete testimony of God’s redemptive love, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me be quick to say that does not mean that there are not men today who have apostolic-like ministries. In many ways missionaries who have gone to regions of the world were there has been no gospel have had an apostle-like ministries. But that’s a long way from saying they fulfilled the same capacity as did Peter, John or Paul. Similarly, there are men who have had the ministries of the ancient prophets, warning of judgment and crying for repentance. But that does not mean they had any inspiration to write Scripture.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews shows that the final revelation of God has come and it, by far, is the best. There is no need for improvement. The final revelation of God is Christ Jesus.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:1-3).

The Apostle Paul tells us that the foundation of the church has already been laid. He says, “the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20). The church’s foundation is the ministries of our Lord and His apostles and prophets. When building a house you always start with the foundation. Once the foundation is laid, then you can build the house on it. To claim to have the same inspiration as the apostles is laughable as well as grievous. It’s saying that God built a foundation, then built His house, but stopped along the way and built another foundation on top of the house. You can’t have multiple foundations and you can’t build this way. You complete the foundation before you build the house. There are no new prophets inspired to write Scripture. And any new word proclaimed is no word from God. The foundation was finished with John and his Revelation.

Having said that, the primary means the Lord speaks to us today is the Bible. And it is by the word of Scripture that God predominately grants glimpses of reality as He sees it. The Bible says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Repeating my mantra of previous posts, you and I are not faith factories. We cannot manufacture faith. It comes to us as a gift from our gracious Lord. And He gives it to us by speaking to us. His word creates the reality of the “things hoped for.” His word released in your heart generates “the evidence of things not seen.” The power of God’s word birthed in the spirit confers the faith needed, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

If you are to have faith ever increasing, your understanding of God’s word must also increase. Faith needs fuel. The fuel of faith is the word of its Author and Finisher. That is why Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

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