2006-04-21 - The Formal Principal
2 Samuel 23:2, "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His Word was on my tongue."
I am not sure if I ever write a normal devotional. But if there is an approach I normally take to doing these, hold onto your hat a little, because I hope to switch gears here. I have set out to write on the topic of the formal principal, and by that I intend to write briefly on Scripture being our formal principal or guide for our lives, thoughts, and beliefs. But I hope to end with a little application, which will only serve to solidify how important this point is to our lives as Christians.
So the cat is out of the bag. I posit that Scripture is the formal principal of our lives. This may not seem a radical concept in theory. Most in the Christian tradition will not blink at the phrase that the Bible is the Word of God. That phrase is easy to say, but what is meant by it?
In truth, people mean many different things when they say that the Bible is God's Word. Some believe that Scripture is the Word of God , and it guides us, just as church tradition also guides us in understanding God. Some believe that the Bible becomes the Word of God when we make it His Word for ourselves. There are lots of views, and that is just a sample.
I would like to strongly maintain that the Bible stands itself as the Word of God, irrespective of church tradition and regardless of how we make it our own. It is God's Word because men, moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:21), and because it is "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). Even David knew there was something special in God's Word, when he said, "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His Word was on my tongue," (2 Samuel 23:2).
There is nothing that does more damage to the Christian faith than a low view of Scripture as God's Word. There is nothing that does more injury to the cause of God in our lives and in the world than viewing His Word as anything less than His very revelation of Himself and His will to us. A low view of Scripture kills its ability to function as our first principal. When we add to Scripture or take away the portions we don't like, we are killing it. Scripture stands on its own authority as God's Word. We are not to add tradition to it, and we are to let it influence our lives and change the world as it stands, and as it has been revealed to us and preserved by the Holy Spirit.
I honestly believe in the power of Scripture to change lives. I know these devotionals go all over the world, and I also know that in some countries, and I have in mind some of the Arabic countries, Bibles are illegal, and few have them. Did you know that the country of Yemen does not have one single Christian church? The entire country...no Baptists, no Presbyterians, no Methodist, no Congregationalists, no Lutherans, and so on. Of course, this is a recent thing , right? Not exactly. There has not be a Christian church in that country in over 1000 years. So I ask the question, how can they hear the good news of Christ and the salvation offered in Him, if there is no one to teach them? The only answer I can come up with is God's Word and the prayerful dependence upon the Holy
Spirit to change lives through it. One way to get God's word into these countries is via the Internet, and I want to provide a couple of sites for any of you who might know someone, or yourselves be in those countries where the Bible is unavailable in Arabic. www.thegrace.com/download.htm gives a free download of the entire Bible in Arabic. Two other sites to investigate are www.arabicbible.com and ibs.org/bibles.arabic.index.php
I know there are many trying to gain access to countries that are closed to the gospel, and there are many creative methods being employed, but the Internet is available to many in those countries. And while some countries, such as China, have sought to block sites that are of a Christian nature, we can still seek to rest in God's mercy, and the power of the Holy Spirit to break down barriers that seem to block the progress of His gospel and His church this side of Heaven. Let us all pray to that end.
Soli Deo Gloria,