Submission to God’s Written Word

June 3, 2016

Dr. Harvey Floyd was my Greek teacher at Lipscomb as well as having him for many important Bible classes like Romans. I recently came across an interview of Floyd from the Gospel Advocate (October 1993). His words are still instructive though said over twenty years ago.

My greatest emphasis in life is to convince everyone of the complete authority of Scripture. If churches of Christ ever abandon submission to God’s written Word, we’ve lost everything.

Restoration only makes sense with an authoritative source. Without the guidance of Scripture, life becomes a sea without a shore.

Today’s religious leaders are far too interested in trendiness. They float from one fad to another without any clear emphasis or substance. Instead of the Bible, they fill their teaching with insight into “many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings” very entertaining, perhaps, but not distinctively Christian.

In the past, you could accept that our brethren were inerrantists — that cannot be assumed today. We are moving into a vague religiosity instead of a passion for restoring New Testament Christianity. This is more dangerous than anything else.1

Rodney Stark gives a memorable illustration of the loss of confidence in the authority of Scripture in his book, The Triumph of Faith. After World War I, the majority of missionaries to Africa came from the United States. At that time, ninety percent of these American missionaries came from Congregationalists (today known as the United Church of Christ), the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and the Episcopalians. By 1935, they were only sending half of all American missionaries. By 1948, it dropped down to 25 percent, and today, the number is only 4 percent. Stark explains:

Why the decline? The liberal denominations stopped sending missionaries because they lost their faith in the validity of Christianity.2

If there is one thing Floyd taught me, it is that there are good, satisfying reasons for believing in God, the Bible, and the resurrection of Jesus. When questions are raised about our faith, you only need to search for answers, and they will be found. Making fun of faith is nothing new (“a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles”), but the wisdom of God is always stronger. It is a vital thing to learn submission to God’s written Word.

1Gregory Alan Tidwell, “An Interview with Dr. Harvey Floyd” Gospel Advocate (Oct. 1993):14. The quotation in Floyd’s interview is from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

2Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Faith, Kindle location 2260.


Willing to Do God’s Will

January 31, 2015

I could describe my life as one of faith seeking answers. I was blessed with a believing mother and grandparents. I was able to lead with faith. But I relate to the father of the demon possessed boy who was challenged by Jesus with these words: “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23, ESV). The father gives a wonderful reply, “I believe; help my unbelief.”

Faith is like that. It is difficult for humans to have faith completely unmixed with doubt. We are given the encouragement that even faith as small as a mustard seed can do great things. Faith can grow!

Jesus says, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (John 7:17, ESV). Willingness to do God’s will is necessary. This kind of willingness can be instructed. It too can grow.

Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli provide an interesting analysis about psychological motives for unbelief in a footnote near the end of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics.

    The most powerful psychological motive for unbelief, as distinct from the most effective argument to undermine belief, is a different matter. The answer to that question is almost always moral rather than intellectual. That answer is addiction to sin and selfishness, usually in one or more of the following areas:
  1. Addiction to power in this world. How often have you heard about the value of detachment or otherworldliness lately? Yet all the saints extol this as indispensable.
  2. Addiction to lust, our society’s favorite pastime. A sex addict is hardly more capable of objectivity than a cocaine addict.
  3. Addiction to greed, the sin Christ spoke against the most frequently, and the one our consumerist society relies on for its very survival.
  4. Addiction to worldliness, that is, acceptance and popularity, not being distinctive, like the prophets or the martyrs.
  5. Addiction to freedom, defined as “doing your own thing,” “accepting yourself as you are,” “self-assertiveness,” “looking out for Number One”—in short, acting like a self-centered child and calling it the psychology of maturity.1

Unbelief is not just about intellectual problems. Moral issues can get in the way of coming to faith. My own observations in life would confirm Kreeft and Tacelli’s observations. Faith requires someone willing to do God’s will.

1Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 202–203.