Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

I have been thinking a lot about the eternal value of the Word of God. The written word that many of us take for granted in American exists in abundance because of the sacrifice of others.

We are aware of the sacrifice of Jesus. It is because of what He did on the cross that we have hope that can be found within the pages of the Word of God. The words found in this book are eternal in nature and have the power to bring life to those who believe upon them.

Another man who paid a high price for you and me to have the written word is a man name John Wycliffe. John was a Catholic priest who could not agree with his church’s stand that the masses, at best, constituted swine that could not be entrusted with the words of God. He felt everyone had the right to read and know God’s precious words and truth about Jesus and His salvation.

John began to translate the words of God so that the common man would have the opportunity to read and embrace eternal truths. But his sincere actions caused him to clash with the church he served. He was charged was heresy but escaped from ever being brought to trial, which gave time to suffice the flame burning in his heart. But if he had been brought to trial, he most likely would have been burned at the stake. He was expelled from his teaching position at Oxford University. He was described as a deadly pest who must be plucked up by the roots.

Although he died a natural death after years of persecution, he was so hated by the leaders of his church that 31 years after his death, they condemned him as a heretic and eventually exhumed his bones from the grave and burned them.

Imagine, this persecution was over one issue, the masses (you and I) having the opportunity to read God’s word! Because of one man’s willingness to take up a torch that burned brightly in his heart, we now possess the Word of God.

As I thought about Wycliffe’s commitment, I had to ask myself some hard questions about how I look at and handle the Word of God. Do I value it according to its eternal worth and the many sacrifices of others to insure I could have such a privilege or am I flippant towards it? Do I look at the Word as a mine full of precious gems that are waiting to be uncovered or as a religious burden that has no meaning? Do I look at the eternal Word as a spiritual philosophy that has some profound sayings in it or as a source of meat and water for the soul and life for the spirit?

Do I see God’s Word as a bunch of facts or as a revelation of the greatest man that ever lived, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate? Do I gather facts out of it to sound intelligent or do I ponder it to find truths that will change the way I look at God, the world and myself?

In Romans 1:18, the Apostle Paul talked about those who handle the truth in unrighteousness. It is hard to believe that anyone would dare handle the Word of God in such an improper way, but sadly, many do.

I know in the past I have mishandled the Word of God for my own self-serving purposes. As I consider that time I can remember my frame of mind and spiritual condition. I would like to share my condition with you in the hope you will examine yourself to see if you fit in any of the following categories.

1) Self-righteous.I was very self-righteous which is nothing more than religion on a pride trip. This form of pride makes a person judgmental towards others, blind towards personal compromise, and quick to adjust the Word to his/her own conclusions. I learned that anytime you run the word through this frame of reference, you will end up abusing it and holding its truths in unrighteousness.

2) Intellectual Pursuit. I studied and read the Word of God to do my religious duty and look intelligent when debating. When my intellectual pursuit ran its course, I realized I knew of Jesus but didn’t know Him. Granted, I knew a lot about the Word but the Spirit was missing causing the Word to become dead-letter and ineffective in my life. I had to learn that my search needed to be to know God in an intimate way and that any other pursuit would taint my understanding of Him. I also learned that whenever a person is not searching to know God, the right spirit will be missing, resulting in that person holding truth in unrighteousness.

3) Idolatry. I had various idols in my life that inspired my perception of God. Idolatry in any form will not only cause God to take a backseat but it will always cause us to compromise the Word in order to support our idols. Therefore, anytime there is idolatry or sin in our life we will end up holding truth in unrighteousness.

4) Application. I failed to properly apply the Word of God which caused it to become stagnant in my life. I had conned myself into believing as long as I knew the Word and claimed I believed it, I was all right but the truth is application of the Word is the only thing that makes it real and life-changing. I realized stagnation or lack of proper application implies a person will end up holding the truth in unrighteousness.

You can see any of these conditions would cause a person to use the Word of God in a self-serving manner. Anytime self is handling the word, a person will be handling the Word of God in unrighteousness. Let us consider how each of these conditions mishandle the Word of God and the consequences.

Self-righteousness will actually wrest scriptures to serve personal purposes, agendas and goals. I have watched many people do this and as Peter clarified such people are really unlearned and unstable in spiritual truths. (2 Peter 3:16-18) In fact, their greatest ignorance is towards the character of God. Because of this ignorance they wrest scriptures to their own destruction.

Searching only for facts and not to know the Person of Jesus leads to spiritual dead ends. Facts alone are limited in nature but Jesus is eternal. The Apostle Paul says this about those who seek out facts for personal glory: “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). People in this category are actually resisting truth because they have corrupt minds and are reprobates in the area of faith (1 Timothy 3:8).

It is not unusual that those in idolatry have some truth but it has been mixed with the things of the world. (See Colossians 2:8.) Such a combination pollutes the Word of God causing it to become powerless in a person’s life.

Failure to apply the Word of God will cause a person to forget who he or she is and lose focus as to what is important—doing the will of God. (See James 1:22-25.)

The Apostle Paul explained the results of not regarding truth in godliness and righteousness inRomans 1:28: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”

People who insist on rebelliously holding truth in unrighteousness will become reprobates in mind because they will not be able to retain the knowledge of the true God. Knowledge of God can only be insured and maintained within the boundaries of godliness and righteousness.

My question to you is are you holding the truth in righteousness? Do not assume that since you go to church, read the Bible, serve in some type of ministry, pray or are spiritual in your pursuits that you are handling the word properly. Humble yourself and with integrity of heart, ask Him if you are holding the truth in unrighteousness.

As the Apostle Paul warns in Romans 1:18, the wrath of God will be revealed against people who hold His eternal truth in unrighteousness.