Over the weekend I was involved in a conversation revolving around the release of The Nashville Statement (you can read the article on that here). Due to the subject nature of the statement, the conversation got pretty heated. And unfortunately, some shots were fired in my direction. This conversation reminded me greatly of the importance of standing firm upon God’s word, hence the title of this article.
The intent of this article is to in no way show the shots that were thrown my way for what they were. But to encourage the readers of this site to stand firm on God’s word, even if that makes us unpopular and sometimes even hated. A grim reality of the times we’re living in is that if we as Christians do not acquiesce to the opinions of those who sit on the more liberal side of the fence, we will be loathed. We will be told that we are not “loving” or are “taking scripture out of context”, two things that I was accused of with no evidence (I requested a defence of these accusations that was based in scripture, and they never came). It is an unfortunate reality, but it is one that we must be prepared to face.
We were warned about this by the Apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy, particularly in 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Yet just one verse later in 2 Timothy 4:5 we are reminded of the importance of standing firm upon God’s word. It is this encouragement that I want to use for the core of this article.
But first, let me offer up some context for the reason for writing this article.
As already stated, this article comes out of a discussion I was involved in over the weekend on Facebook in relation to the release of The Nashville Statement. A discussion that became unnecessarily heated.
I won’t go into too much detail on the conversation as I don’t think that is fair to the people involved. But what I will say is that I got involved in this discussion by adding in a Biblically accurate defence for the understanding that both Jesus and Paul did address the issue of homosexuality during their ministries.
I met some very harsh opposition from two people in particular, due to the fact that I was willing to stand firm on God’s word, unlike them who wanted a more “loving” response, meaning a response compromising my integrity as a Christian. At one point I was told that I should not be pursuing full-time ministry due to not affirming the LGBT choice of lifestyle. Needless to say, I found this rather hurtful and unnecessary, whilst at the same time being fairly comical. The conversation was ended when I was blocked on Facebook by the original poster after they accused me of being unbiblical and ungodly. For both of these strong accusations, a defence was requested, one was never made.
This altercation really reminded me of the urgent need to commit to doing some solid Biblical teaching on subjects like this. This is because the unfortunate reality seems to be that without this said solid Biblical teaching, many people will start to conform to the patterns of this world, something we’re warned not to do in Romans 12:2.
It is this desire to bring in some solid Biblical teaching on the subject that I want to use as the basis for the remainder of the article.
Now just to offer a bit of a preamble to this section here. I subscribe to what we would call reformed theology. In a nutshell, reformed theology has a high view of both God and scripture. Believing in the sovereignty of God, the authority of scripture, and salvation by grace alone. If you want a bit more information on reformed theology, Got Questions have put together a good introduction to it on their website. So some people may call be a fundamentalist (I was in the altercation), but I’m OK with that. Because I believe in the fundamental truths of scripture. Plus between you and me, if you ever get called a fundamentalist or a “fundie”, it’s always a dig from people who compromise on scripture for the sake of their opinion. But let’s get back to the question at hand.
How can we stand firm upon God’s word today? The answer to this is relatively simple actually, it’s the outworking of that answer that can get complicated. We stand firm upon God’s word today by refusing to compromise to the truths that God has revealed to us in scripture. So that’s the simple part.
The complicated part is the outworking of this.See, it’s all too easy to consider compromising scripture. Let’s take the example of you having a gay friend (it’s an appropriate example considering the reason for writing this article), many people would feel it’s more “loving” or more “Christ-like” to affirm their lifestyle.
See, it’s all too easy to consider compromising scripture. Let’s take the example of you having a gay friend (it’s an appropriate example considering the reason for writing this article), many people would feel it’s more “loving” or more “Christ-like” to affirm their lifestyle. The issue with this is that the Bible clearly defines this lifestyle as sinful, and Jesus gives clear instruction that once someone is forgiven, that they are to go and sin no more (John 8:11). However, unfortunately, pop culture has decided that our identity as a person is found in our sexuality, whereas as Christians our identity should be found in Christ (Galatians 2:20).
We have to always remember that Jesus is at the very core of what we do. It is upon the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and His resurrection from the dead by God that we receive true salvation (Romans 10:9). And it is the on the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah in which He has decided to build His Church, we see Peter confirm Jesus as Messiah in Matthew 16:16 and Jesus’ statement that this is the grounding of the Church in Matthew 16:18. So it is Jesus Christ who is at the center of the Church, not man, and we must always be mindful of that.
We must also remember that God has breathed out His word, He has inspired it, and therefore it is inclusive of the authority of God, we see this in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. This is not to say that the Bible is higher in authority than God, but it is on the same level, as the Bible is the chosen tool of God that He reveals His will and direction for our lives through. So as Christians we should never put the Bible to the side. Neither should we come up with silly arguments such as we should focus on Jesus’ teachings, despite the fact that Jesus’ teachings are all found in the Bible.
A conscious decision must be made by us as believers to follow the instruction that Christ has laid out for us in His word. We are told in Psalm 119:89 that His word is settled forever in heaven. This means that we have no right to change the doctrine that Christ has laid out for us through His word, no right to change it at all. We need to decide to fall in line with scripture, whether we agree with it or not. God is the final authority here, not us.
I cannot stress that last point enough, God is the final authority here, not us.
So the question then becomes, if God is the final authority, not us, how does that affect how we should interpreate scripture? That is a question for our next article.
Before we close I wanted to give a brief encouragement to those who desire to stay true to scripture. At times doing this can be very difficult, sometimes we’ll face opposition from Christians who think they’re doing right by God and others. What we need to remember is that Jesus has told us that if we truly love Him, then we are to keep His commands (John 14:15, John 14:23). God’s desire for us is to ultimately give Him all the glory, and we do this by honouring what He has commanded us to do in His word … the Bible.
So if you encounter hostility in doing this, remember that Jesus met this same hostility, and take comfort in the fact that we have already been forewarned that this would happen.
In this encounter over the week, the original poster mentioned that I should be forgiven because I didn’t know what I was doing (lots of Biblically inaccurate overtones there). However, I did know what I was doing, and it was standing firm upon God’s word. It will always be my intention to do this, I hope you will share in that with me.
Mark is the Lead Writer at Theology Review. Mark is currently studying theology at Spurgeon's College, working towards completing the Church Training Initiative before moving on to their degree course. Mark has been a Christian since 2001, and now spends a lot of his time studying and researching various topics affecting Biblical and Church History. This has led him to start Theology Review, a place for thought and discussion on historical and current theology.