In Matthew 21:25, in discussing the baptism of John, our Lord directed this question to the Jewish leaders: “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” This piercing question confounded these leaders in Judaism, and they were uncomfortable in being brought to the critical point of seeing that all religious matters boil down to this: either God authorized it, or it is a thing of man! We, today, need to recognize that there has been no change in this basic truth.
A generation or so ago, churches of Christ were known as those who demanded a “thus saith the Lord” for all religious practice. Many of those who were urged to forsake denominationalism and obey the truth were first impressed with the fact that the Bible was demanded for all things religious, and they were able to see this as the line separating sectarianism from the Lord’s body. We must recognize today that, in the church, there is not that same stress on the Word as the only authority, and in such a move away from God, we will not and cannot bear the fruit demanded of us. If there is a single cry that needs to be made, for all to hear, it would be this: “Let us return to the Bible as the basis of all of our actions in religion!” There is really no hope for us unless we do this.
Let us now list a few reasons why we must have a return to the Bible:
Jesus tells us that His Word will be the basis of judgment (John 12:48). He plainly says that the Word will judge us. If the Bible is to be the basis of our judgment, then it is surely vital that we abide by that volume.
The Bible is inspired (God-breathed), and profitable for us. In 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul tells us that God breathed-out the Scriptures, and that for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, this is the volume giving us the help we need. That being so, then to refuse to be guided by the Bible is to refuse that which God has said is the profitable course. Man will rely on something, if just his own will and pleasure. In spurning the Bible as authority, whatever man turns to will be that which cannot profit nor deliver (1 Sam. 12:21).
In the same context, 1 Timothy 3, the apostle continues and lets us know that the Bible furnishes a man completely unto all good works (3:17). The work of the Christ, in forming us as a people, was to develop a people for God’s own possession zealous of good works (Tit. 2:14). God’s children labor in the realm of doing that which is good, and behind that is the fact that God Himself has declared unto us that which is the good and right thing. To enable us to work in the area of good, and to remain only in that area, God has provided us with the Bible as the authoritative and infallible Guide. We are thus furnished unto every good work. I can thus know that any given work is not good if it is not authorized by the Bible.
Finally, and certainly not the least in importance, is the fact that our Lord will condemn us if we refuse to abide by the Bible as our authority. The warning is given: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” (2 John 9). John continues and brands one a false teacher who does not so abide by this doctrine, and calls the works of such a one “evil deeds” (2 John 11). It is imperative, then, that the people of God remain with the Word of God, and they must if the blessings of God continue to rest upon them.
We have thus noticed that the Lord has made us in Himself, that we might be those who live right and do right, this is possible only if we abide by the right standard—the Bible! The present-day apostasy is characterized by a disdain for the Word of God, and by a non-caring attitude regarding Bible authority. The same departures from the Bible standard that we have long seen in sectarianism is now too often witnessed among our own people. Many individuals live their lives, and many congregations conduct their activities, with little regard for what the Bible says. In these lines, we have tried to call men back to basic Bible authority in all things, and herein is our only hope! Urging from the apostle Peter is appropriate here: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11).