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

  by Rayola Kelley 

   One of the greatest challenges of Christians is to come to terms with how the Word of God operates in our lives. Last month, we talked about how we must approach the Word of God by faith. We must not come with the intent to understand it. Rather, we must come to an understanding of what God wants to make known to us for our edification. Edification always points to the work of the Holy Spirit and not an intellectual attempt to spiritually come out on top with a truth or some great insight.

   It is vital that Christians understand in what way the Word of God works in their lives. Too often, it is man who determines what role the Word plays, rather than the Word determining and discerning what influences man’s perception of God and the essence of life. This can prove to be dangerous to those who may be buying heretical poison, rather than the pure Word of God.

   It is important to consider the attitude we must have towards the Word of God. It should be one of awe, where we tremble before it, as we fearfully consider all that it says. We must realize that what God says is not just truth, but it is law. In other words, He does not say anything out of character to who He is, His will or plan for man. His words are not idle or vain, as man’s words often prove to be. His word is final. It is absolute truth and remains so, regardless of the times and days in which man may live. Therefore, it will never be obsolete, nor should it ever be considered metaphoric, according to circumstances or situations.

   When we approach God’s Word, we must approach it with this in mind. Granted, all the Word is not written to us, but it is written for our edification. The Word is made up of facts, truths, doctrines, and principles. Within the makeup of the Word, you will discover testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, and judgments. By maintaining the spirit or intent behind the Word, you will begin to realize why the Word is alive. It contains the power to transform and the authority to overcome the enemies of one’s soul. Let us now consider the power and authority found in the Word.

   The Word contains a lot of facts. Facts are those aspects of the Word that can be proven. The faith we have in God is not a blind faith. It is faith that has been justified by those facts that have already been established as being true according to history, archeology and scientific discoveries. When it comes to facts, people will either accept or reject them, depending on their attitude towards truth.

   Truths are associated with the character, work and ways of God. Keep in mind that God is truth. Therefore, everything He is and does is truth. We do not have to debate truth, for it will never change. It may not be tangible or something that can be observed. However, truth is what actually confirms and adds dimension to facts. For example, God is a fact; however, truths establish who God is and how He works. One of the greatest truths is salvation. Since these truths cannot be observed, they must be received by faith. Once a truth is received by faith, then the Holy Ghost can make it a reality. Once truth is a reality, we can actually see how it consistently operates in life. After all, you can do nothing against the truth, only for it (2 Corinthians 13:8).

   Doctrines are often considered to be beliefs or theologies of man. This concept is incorrect. Doctrines have to do with man’s responsibility towards God. For example, marriage is a doctrine. There are clear dos and don’ts in the Bible, as to what constitutes godly conduct in a relationship between a husband and a wife. Obviously, doctrines require obedience, but in many cases people consider the doctrines of the Bible to be too legalistic or obsolete to properly obey them. Sadly, most people label all beliefs as doctrines, rather than rightly dividing the Word of God.

   Principles must be walked out in our lives for them to become reality. Principles are associated with the type of law a person will operate under. For example, there are godly principles. If one walks within these principles, he or she will be operating under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. If a person walks according to the principles that govern the flesh or the world, he or she will be brought under the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

   When one studies the character of God, he or she will eventually realize that He operates within godly principles. As a result, these principles allow believers to understand the consistency that is found in the ways of God. By understanding God’s ways, we as Christians will begin to know our God in greater ways. An example of a principle can be found in Matthew 16:25-26.

   Within the makeup of God’s Word is wisdom. This wisdom is brought out in His glorious testimonies, incredible precepts, holy statutes, righteous commandments, and just judgments (Psalm 119:2,4-7). Each of these words is associated with His Law. As I have already stated, what God says is law. However, He also established a Law that reveals His holy character, maintains His righteous judgments, reveals man’s hopeless state, and allows him to see His purpose and intention towards our well-being.

   As we consider the different words in regard to God’s Law, we will get a picture as to how His Law works in our lives. To receive a clearer picture of these words, it is wise to study them according to a secular dictionary. In fact, I received much insight about these words through studying different sources. Let us now consider this incredible picture of God’s unchangeable Word.

   Testimonies point to the fact that God’s Word serves as a witness to who He is. It is full of various testimonies of His character, ways and desires for man. There should be no debate that He exists, for even His creation declares that He lives, reigns and is actively involved in the affairs of the world. One of the greatest witnesses given to the children of Israel was the stone tablet that contained the Ten Commandments.

   Another example of His witness was altars, but the ultimate witness to His identity and heart was the Person of Jesus Christ. Psalm 119 tells us that we are blessed if we keep His testimonies before us, as we walk out what is righteous and true to His character and ways. They are rich with revelation of His greatness, and should serve as counselors and a source of delight. They will keep one from experiencing reproach and contempt in his or her journey through a world that is enticing and destructive (Psalm 119:2, 14,24, 22, 27,31).

   Precepts point to the principles of something. Principles include both the spirit (intent) and the responsibilities of something. For Christians, precepts can be related to doctrine. We have a responsibility to adhere to the pure doctrine of Christ in the right spirit, to ensure we are operating under the right law. Precepts can only have the right impact on our lives if we meditate on our responsibilities, in light of God’s ways to ensure a right spirit. We must long to understand these precepts to maintain our ways before God (Psalm 4:15, 27, 40).

   Statutes refer to the state, condition or rule of something. The Law encourages a state where obedience is a natural response to God’s Word. To bring about this condition, rules are established which man must obey. These rules involve responsibilities as well as ordinances or rituals that must be practiced for the purpose of distinction and identification. As the psalmist declared, God directed him in such a way as to keep His statutes; therefore, his heart was inclined to perform them. He asked God to teach him His statutes, therefore, he could meditate in their purposes and delight in their impact in his life. In fact, God’s statutes served as the psalmist’s songs in the house of his pilgrimage (Psalm 119:5, 16, 23, 54, 112).

   Commandments simply mean that such action or practices are commanded, and there is no room for negotiation in the matter. The most famous commandments are the Ten Commandments. As you study the commandments, they have a lot to do with attitudes towards God and morality. God in His holiness and goodness insists on moral uprightness that Jesus upheld in His teachings. Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into two commandments. The first commandment was  to love  God with everything in us, and the other was to love others as ourselves. However, Jesus went one step further with the last commandment to His disciples: We are to love one another as He loved us and gave His life for us (Mark 12 29-31; John 13:34-35).

   To practice God’s commandments, we must believe that they are necessary for our well-being. If we have a right attitude towards God’s commandments, we will desire to know them, and make haste to keep them. We will recognize them as boundaries that will keep us on the straight and narrow path, bringing delight to our souls. The psalmist’s request was that since God had fashioned him, he wanted the understanding to learn His commandments. People may know God’s commandments, but if they do not understand their significance, they will never apply them or learn the value they bring to one’s spiritual life (Psalm 6, 10, 19, 32, 35, 47, 60, 66).

   Judgments are a formal opinion or decision given by one who is in authority. We see God passing judgments down for the purpose of lining His people up to their moral obligations. True judgment will always lead one to the ability to properly discern in a matter. After all, it is easy for man to compromise in areas that are not obvious to the eye. One interesting judgment that God passed down to bring discernment was in regard to a husband’s suspicion that a wife had committed adultery. His requirements to determine the innocence or guilt of a woman clearly showed separation between the holy and the profane. It is vital that we understand the intent of the Law, for it will enable us to make sound judgments in areas that have been clouded by other issues.

   The judgments of God reveal His righteous character. The psalmist knew they were righteous and good. As a result, he declared that his soul longed to know God’s judgments. He kept His judgments before him, because he had hope in them. He asked the Lord to teach him His judgments to bring about revival of his soul (Psalm 7, 13, 20, 30, 39, 43, 52, 62, 156).

   People in their unbelief may question the validity and authority of the Word, but, as we can see, it is complete in its wisdom, instruction and revelation. If a person fails to see the Word of God’s authority, such a failure does not rest with the Bible, but with a person’s unwillingness to see it for what it is. The Word is powerful, and, as we will see next month, it has the ability to change a person’s life and eternal destination.

   The question is, is God’s Word your final authority, or are you walking in denial or delusion about the insignificant place it holds in your life? We can con ourselves, but if the Word of God is properly being valued in our life, people will be able to discern it. This discernment will not be based on how well we can quote it, but on how much of an impact it has made on our perception, attitudes and conduct.