Sunday, February 20, 2022

Standard of Truth (Hebrews 4)

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow" (Hebrews 4:12a).

Despite nearly 1800 years of church history in which the authority of God’s Word has not been questioned, the last 200 years have seen considerable criticism of the Scriptures as the absolute standard of truth. Humanistic thinking has challenged the authority of the Bible. The result has been an influx of relativism. Only a recommitment to the revealed absolute standards of God can overcome it. Psalm 19 describes God’s sacred Word as perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, sure, and precious. Sadly, such descriptions are rarely heard today. God’s standard of truth has been rejected outside the church and neglected within the church.

This neglect was a key issue in the 16th century during the Reformation. While leaders in the Roman Catholic Church upheld the authority of Scripture, they diminished its significance by putting the authority of church councils and the pontiff on par with Scripture. In some cases, they even believed the church to have more authority than the Bible. This was one of the major points challenged by the Reformers. Thus, one of the battle cries of the Reformation was sola Scriptura—Scripture alone.

It was on this principle that Luther stood when he spoke against Rome at the Diet of Worms. When asked to recant, he said he could not unless persuaded by Scripture or clear reason. He did not base his beliefs on the decisions of church councils or papal decrees but on the very Word of God. As much as we respect tradition, no written document of men can bind the conscience. Luther’s conscience was bound by God through His sacred Scriptures.

When we abandon the absolute standard of the Bible, we fall into the pit of relativism. This is evident in the U.S., where the Scriptures are rejected and everyone is left to his own interpretation of what is right and wrong. Sinful man does not want to be obligated to obey God’s Word. Yet despite man’s rejection of God’s standard of truth, God’s Word is authoritative, imposing the obligation of obedience on all men.

In the coming week our studies will focus on the supreme authority of God’s Word and what this means as we live in a world that rejects God’s standard of truth and seeks to undermine His authority.

When was the last time you went to Scripture to determine right from wrong in a situation? Do you consistently look to Scripture as authoritative in your life? When confronted with a judgment, or decision, strive to consider Scripture first, not your own desires.