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Desiring But Not Doing – No Empowerment In Bibliology

August 2, 2006

The content of this post (and at least one more) comes from the most vehemently condemned and reproached sermon I ever preached. It was also the highest praised and appreciated sermon I ever preached. Still today people condemn and praise that message.

I think this is because it was a message that hit at some very core assumptions and misconceptions of those of us who hold to the complete inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.

Too often there is a gap between what we know is the right thing to do and then what we actually do. Paul experienced this in Romans 7:18-19, the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

To close the gap between what we desire to do and what we actually do we need two things, the word and the Spirit. These are exactly what Paul entrusted his friends to in Acts 20:32, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

There is a branch of Christian theology known as Bibliology which deals with the doctrine of the Bible. It is the study of the Bible as a thing itself and it answers the question ‘What is this book?’ The answer Bibliology gives is that this book is the inspired, inerrant and infallible word of God.

An important and practical result of inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility is what is called the sufficiency of Scripture, as noted in II Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

But, just because people are equipped for every good work does not mean they are able to do every good work, as Paul himself experienced in Romans 7. The facts of inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility and the sufficiency of Scripture do not enable people to put into practice the truth they know.

This is because there is no empowerment in Bibliology. There is no enablement in the truth of God itself. If there were then legalists would be right in thinking they are justified by keeping the O. T. Law. Christ would not have had to die on the cross if the truth of God enabled and empowered a person to live holy and righteously.

Knowledge of the Bible does not equal maturity and is no guarantee that you will do what it says. No one can say ‘I know doctrine, therefore, I am mature and holy’.

The word of God is from God and are His very words and always tell the truth and are sufficient for all of life and godliness. So, why doesn’t it stop us from sinning? Isn’t it sufficient for every life situation?

The last time you sinned the word of God did not stop you – even though you knew what you were doing was against God’s word. The Bible does not stop us from sinning because it does not have the power to do so.

For empowerment, for enablement, for the ability to live and do the good you want to do you need to go to another branch of theology called . . .

That is enough for now. This bit of information earned me the title of heretic and false teacher with some people. But, my accuser’s relationship with God was mostly defined by intellectual pursuits. They read and studied their Bibles religiously, which is a requirement for a mature and growing Christian. There is no such thing as a biblically ignorant and mature Christian.

But, many (most?) of the people I have known who know a lot of doctrine and biblical data do a poor job of doing the good they know they should do, as was Paul’s problem in Romans 7.

Perhaps the pursuit of the Bible and truth is their religious pursuit, rather than a pursuit of God. It needs to be said that the two pursuits are not mutually exclusive. I would even say that the pursuit of God requires the pursuit of the Bible. But, I think there are a lot of people sitting in pews who think they are mature in godliness, and they are perceived as mature by others in the church, when in reality they are mistaking knowledge and understanding for maturity.

Knowledge and understanding are a part of maturity, but they do not equal maturity. To grow and be mature we need not only the word of God but also what the next post will be about.

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