Mark N. Posey
A rudimentary concern in all matters to be decided by responsible individuals is: What is the Standard? Whether counting currency, measuring length, or determining weight, the standard for deciding in each occurrence is of supreme importance. If one person holds a dollar as worth 100 pennies and another holds it as worth 75 pennies; if a foot equals 12 inches and to another 15 inches; if a pound equals 16 ounces in one measure and 10 ounces in another; confusion and chaos exists. All orderly transactions among people rest on the capacity to make correct decisions by means of a universal standard known and followed by all involved.
In all matters of religion the foundational standard to be used in reaching decisions is of extreme importance. Some would hold feelings, dreams, creeds, favorite leaders or revered teachers, some to councils and popes; the resulting confusion is evident in contemporary religious faith and practice.
The definitive standard for Christians and Christianity is the Word of God; the Bible. Nothing more! Nothing less! Consider one noteworthy passage that embodies this ultimate standard: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Notice the various elements contained in the passage:
1. Scripture is written. The term rendered “scripture” is graphe, from grapho, “to write.” Scripture is God’s written word, fixed in its contents, able to be passed down from generation to generation, and providing a pure standard for faith and practice. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit provided Scripture and preserved it. It lies at the heart of true faith and guides in obedience and service.
2. Scripture is inspired. God put the Holy Spirit into the writers of Scripture to guide them in knowing, speaking, and writing the very words God wanted man to know by means of the revelation granted. Holy men spoke [and wrote] being moved by the Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Cor. 14:37).
3. Scripture is profitable. Lexicons use such words as “useful, beneficial, and advantageous” in defining this word. The true reverence of the heart and life for God is profitable (1 Tim. 4:8); also, good works of God’s people are good and profitable to men (Tit. 3:8). Thus, Scripture is profitable, useful, and beneficial in setting forth God’s truth by which one’s heart and life are governed.
4. Scripture reveals true doctrine. What is to be taught in religious life is termed doctrine. There is content, a revealed plan, a body of instruction[s], which is to guide our faith, our obedience, our worship and our service. This body of teaching (i.e., doctrine) is revealed of God and is the content of Scripture. To it we go for guidance in matters of FAITH and PRACTICE in the ways of God.
5. Scripture gives reproof. Scripture sets forth the truth concerning what is right and what is wrong for men in the service of God. When one’s heart and life move away from God, there is the need for an empathetic presentation of the evidence from God to make known that wrong and thereby alert to the requisite change and guide the way back to God.
6. Scripture guides in correction. When one errs from the truth of the Lord, and has been reproved so as to recognize the wrong, there is the need to be shown how to become right with God (i.e., how to be restored to the right relationship with God). Paul was told “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6). This was the way of correction he was to follow.
7. Scripture gives instruction in righteousness. There is to be continued growth from the new birth to the full-grown man in Christ. Scripture nurtures and guides this spiritual attainment. One grows in grace and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus (2 Pet. 3:18) and this by learning and following Scripture.
8. Scripture brings into being the fully equipped child of God. There is no magic formula, no short cut to spiritual maturity. As one faces a need in spiritual development, the Word of Scripture underscores the importance and guides in the attaining of this level, to be followed by the next level of maturity. Thereby the fully equipped man, ready unto every good work, is shaped and molded in Christ.
Scripture, God’s inspired Word, guides us in becoming and being the people of God. May we ever cherish and profit from it in life and trust it in death. It is our standard, our compass, and our guide.
To God be the glory!