Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Bible Awakens Faith, The Source Of All Obedience, So We Shall See Whether This Is True

John Piper claims that he is a champion of Biblical truth. Let us examine one if his statements from his own website (John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org).

One of the problems for Christians is arriving at truth. The Bible is clear Jesus said that the truth shall set you free. 

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6) Therefore, eternal life is found only though discovering the truth that is made known by revelation of who Jesus is. This begins by learning that Jesus is the Savior and the way to know the Him is to follow in His footsteps. 

John Piper has made some claims about the Bible that we shall examine. This is the first claim of his that we shall examine.  The following has been taken from Return To The Lord Of Blessings a book by Happy Riches (click for more information). 

1. The Bible awakens faith, the source of all obedience.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 NASB[i])

Many will argue that faith comes by reading and the above text is found by reading the Bible.

There is an argument that when we repeat what we read, we hear this in our thoughts or by our ears if we speak aloud. By reading the Bible aloud we hear the word of God is the old argument that is produced by those who use the King James Bible. The World English Bible which is used in this book is the King James Bible in modern English and it reads:

So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

In  essence, this statement about the word of God is correct. The modern translations follow the Greek text which has faith comes by the word of the “anointed one”, which is what ”Christ” means. The anointed word of God brings forth faith. It possesses a quality that a word which is not anointed by God does not, and cannot, possess. It may seem strange to consider a word that originates from God as having no anointing, but it is like the devil reading Scripture and Jesus quoting Scripture. One is anointed and the other is deceptive. One is designed to bring life, as Jesus said concerning His words, they were spirit and life; but the devil’s words are designed to deceive unto death.  Distinguishing between what is faith, and what is not, is very important. True faith is said to be the currency of heaven. Counterfeit faith is fool’s gold and, as they say, the pathway to hell is paved with deceptive thoughts and good intentions.

In saying that the Bible awakens faith, the writer is suggesting that faith is something lying dormant within all of us and needs to be awakened. This is somewhat surprising for a person who claims to adhere to Calvinism. Faith is an attribute that has worth. According to Calvinists, there is nothing of worth in a human being; in fact, we do not even have the ability to make a choice because our wills are enslaved by sinfulness, and we are all reprobates that are totally depraved; unable to exercise our volition or show faith towards God.

Commonsense, on the other hand, tells us from experience that we all seem to know right from wrong, we all have a conscience of sorts, and we tend to make accusations and excuses at whim. The Apostle Paul in the book of Romans makes this point clear and attributes to human beings the ability to think and make decisions for themselves according to their own thoughts. This is contrary to the Calvinist position, nevertheless, this is what the Apostle Paul wrote:

But glory, honor, and peace go to every man who does good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without the law. As many as have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.  For it isn’t the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified (for when Gentiles who don’t have the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves,  in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying with them, and their thoughts among themselves accusing or else excusing them)  in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, according to my Good News, by Jesus Christ. (Romans 2:10-16)

God could not, and would not, judge these people according to their secrets, if they had been preordained to be committed to hellfire and brimstone and eternal separation from Himself. There would be no need. Anyone suggesting that people are predestined for Hell but are going to be judged based on their freewill is not a scholar of truth, but a peddler of deception, and is perpetrating a lie of the devil, which is “do not come to Jesus but find your salvation in the Book”.

The Bible bears witness to Jesus. The Bible also bears witness to who are walking in Jesus’ footsteps and who are creating and promoting false teachings.

If a person is anointed to preach the gospel, then those who hear the words of the gospel will be hearing the Word of God that is alive and active. If the words are not anointed by the Spirit of God then those words are the words of men and therefore not spiritually alive and active.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he stated:

Our Good News came to you not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we showed ourselves to be among you for your sake. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

It is one thing to have words; it is another to have an anointed word. The reason for this is that the anointing breaks the yoke of bondage that the devil may have on the individual. Without the anointing, the yoke is not destroyed and this is a reference to the power of the Holy Spirit, which is known as the anointing in the Bible. In the book of Isaiah we read:

It will happen in that day, that his burden will depart from off your shoulder, and his yoke from off your neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing oil [ie. the Holy Spirit].
(Isaiah 10:27)

This is not to say that all obey when they hear an anointed word.  What this means is that with an anointed word, it is easier to respond to the gospel message and acknowledge Jesus as Lord. This is why there are those preachers who have more success at seeing people respond to their gospel message than others, who are using the same Bible and preaching the same message. Unfortunately, becoming a Christian and walking in the ways of the Lord are not as easy as many people would like. The devil is always seeking an opportunity to tempt us and bring us down; even if it is true that we are tempted when we acquiesce to our own desires.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen. Expressed another way: faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.

Understanding faith is difficult for most because the word is used so freely, and incorrectly at times, that one is left with the view “faith” might mean “merely a belief in some wish”. Many people view faith as something that is based on a lack of evidence. This is because of the supernatural element that is attached to the idea of faith.

The term “people of faith” is an enigmatic concept applied to people who believe that God exists or that there is an existence beyond the physical limits of life on Earth,  Believing God exists is not a matter of groundless faith; neither is the belief in the afterlife or the spiritual realm. The Bible tells us demons believe God exists (James 2:9). Faith is more a seed that is embedded securely in trust, and possesses proven integrity and reliability that enables peace to prevail, when mayhem looks imminent. Those who possess faith, do not define themselves by resorting to cultural distinctions based on any historical body of knowledge. Those who have faith towards God have come to a realization of their own inabilities and seek the truth about life. This is why faith embodies ideas of conviction, assurance and certainty—it excludes doubt. A belief, on the other hand, could change, because it is usually a strong opinion based on a conclusion that is not necessarily true, even though it may appear to be so. For instance, many people are of the belief that they will go to heaven because they believe they are inherently good, contribute to charities, and are not drug addicts or criminals who have been found guilty of wrongdoing. However, they have no assurance that this is so.

If we believe something and act on it, we do so because we believe it to be true. This is because we have the capacity to conceptualize ideas. This capacity is an inherent capability, which we humans possess, that distinguishes us from animals. The reason we possess this capability is because we have been given a spirit at birth that has the ability to process information and create imaginary images to which we can attribute significance and meaning. This capacity we possess to make use of symbols to define abstract forms and theoretically engineer possibilities that could exist is what makes us like God, knowing right from wrong, good from evil, and what is true or false. The misapplication of this ability is what distorts truth, and people in error are like a confused surgeon attempting to pump blood through the lymphatic system rather than arteries. Consequently, we have people using biblical principles to foster self-esteem, personal growth and business profits without acknowledging the Lord of Life and the real need to be saved from sin.

It is true that by listening to people, and reading what they have written, we can be influenced. For us to be convinced of what we hear and read, we will need to have information that we consider to be true—even if it is not. Many Christians listen to the views of evolutionists and after considering the information that they have been presented, believe in theistic evolution. On the other hand, many Christians accept that the Earth and the Heavens were made within forty-eight hours of each other, and subscribe to the days of Creation being twenty-four hour days, even though the Sun, that governs the days and nights, was created three days after the first day. Numerous children of people claiming to be Christians become atheists after listening to and reading atheistic material. But is being influenced to believe something the same as awakening faith?

We could say that reading the Bible and meditating upon what we have read, may awaken a desire to reconnect with God, or provide fuel for the desire to stay connected with our Heavenly Father; but this is different to faith.  Genuine faith  towards God is the substance, or assurance, of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). This transcends knowledge. In which case, since faith comes from the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the suggestion that it comes from the Bible itself would have to be a heresy.

[i] New American Standard Version. Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used By Permission.

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