As I am prone to reflect over the past, a mental activity that seems to capture the aged, I have to admit a desire to clarify what I believe and why, even again to myself. Pushing that thought is the evidence of false prophets and doctrines coming to the forefront in these last days, just as the Scriptures have projected.
Paul warned Timothy, even in those days, of what was coming: “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Timothy 3:13-14). Timothy had learned the truths of the Scriptures from his mother and grandmother, but essentially, he learned from the Word of God those foundational principles which could sustain him in the midst of evil. And so it is today, as well, for it is evident that evil forces are magnified against the Lord and His followers in our time.
Pressing me to recount these things are four verses that stand out. Jude 1:3 brings me back to base one, saying, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” That body of faith he speaks of came from his half-brother, Jesus Christ, and the Apostles, not from the deliberations of later men. And the Scriptures are where we find that body of faith.
God spoke to Jeremiah, saying, “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
Next, Jesus was talking with the woman at the well in Samaria, saying, “God is spirit, and they who worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Worship not with things made by hands, nor with false motives, but in truth. Identify God rightly that worship may be in truth, as the Scriptures make Him known.
Then, may my hope be not wishful thinking, but as Hebrews 6:19 describes it: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.” It is not at all like God giving His only Son for our salvation, then turning away to abandon His investment. Paul assures us otherwise in Philippians 1:29, saying, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Finally, not being satisfied with uncertainty but being as diligent as I can to find the truth with clarity, I consider 1 Corinthians 14:6 as very important: “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?”
Since having “discovered” Proverbs 9:10, the foundation of my theological positions has a more clearly defined standard. That verse says, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Fear of God is sometimes expressed as, “But for the fear of God, I would have done ….” So, it is a very worthy bulwark against evil, and also a safety hatch for the wary.
It is defined, for me, as the recognition of One of reverence and justice—the attributes of love and of justice, or judgment. Then, it makes sense of that second part of the Proverb, “knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Having these thoughts, first, brings a biblical doctrine into understanding, particularly where the Scriptures take a turn that seems to be contrary to an idea of what God is like. A simple and common example of such things is that “God is love; therefore, how could He send anyone to hell?” When one does not factor into the equation God’s attributes, man’s conclusions go haywire. Bible truth tells us that man goes to hell by refusing to believe and accept Christ’s gift of salvation.
As I have thought some about where I stand in the great sea of “doctrine followers,” I have to conclude that I am a “Berean Bible Believer” in the likeness of Acts 17:11:
“These [Bereans] were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (The original KJV uses the words “more noble” rather than “fair-minded” in the verse, which I think is better.)
By “searching the Scriptures,” they were seeking the whole counsel of God, which is basic to finding the Bible’s doctrinal truths.
“Knowledge of the Holy One” is to recognize that all of God’s attributes must be applied to a question of doctrinal truth. Objecting to or leaving one out as “not to be considered” is a direct offense to the sovereignty of God.
Numbers 23:19 tells us of basic attributes of God, in that “He is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent” or change His mind. It is also important to realize that God and Jesus do not contradict themselves.
“Rightly dividing the Word of Truth” is a principle of value when determining the meaning and application of a Scripture, as in its placement in the timeline of God’s plan for the ages or in relation to other passages. One of the notable examples of failure in this area is the doctrine of Preterism, where all things prophetic happened in the first century. Hardcore followers of this doctrine believe that when Jesus talks to the original twelve disciples, He always teaches prophecy of the future as being experienced by those twelve disciples. The truth is that when Jesus speaks of future events beyond the generation of those original twelve, He is speaking in the sense of His eternal foreknowledge of the events, and “this generation [that] shall not pass away until all these things are fulfilled” is the one which exists at that future time.
There is absolutely no way the events that Jesus foretold, or even as the Apostle Paul did likewise, can be squeezed into those vague times of that first century. If the crucifixion of Christ was in 33 A.D., it would leave only 37 years until the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple at 70 A.D. The multitude of end-time events would have to be stacked in layers to have all of them happening during that short time.
Consider for a moment what might have been the result had Jesus come back at His second time in that first century. Here is how Jesus foretold His future second coming:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31).
This is coming after the future tribulation period and will include the raptured saints (elect) from all parts of heaven, not earth. When did the Rapture happen, then the seven years of tribulation, in those 37 years before 70 A.D. arrived? Did anyone report on this happening in that first century, either in the Scriptures or in secular history reports? Certainly not! One of the basic principles that enter into Bible interpretation is common sense. If the various events that are being crammed into that 70 A.D. event could be done without violating any of the other factors of Bible truth, one would still have to deal with common sense and a question of just what God’s ultimate purpose might be. A chronological format of the whole Bible lends dramatically to its understanding and interpretation.
There is a caution with common sense that must be considered. It must spring out of that Proverb 9:10 introduced earlier, which says, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,” for man’s wisdom will not satisfy the requirements of God’s blessing. When someone comes forward with a pre-conceived idea that seems to make sense, and he attempts to find authority for it in the Scriptures, he is “outside, looking in” instead of “inside” with God’s wisdom and “looking out” to its application. That is the essential meaning of Proverb 9:10b, “And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding,” in regard to its application.
The clamor of “Calvinist thinking” today that proclaims, “God chose me, and I had nothing to do with it,” seems to make sense, for God is definitely sovereign. So, can’t He do whatever He wants to do? Am I, then, a heretic for proclaiming that God cannot violate any of His attributes of character? While God is a God of love, He is also a just God who cannot tolerate sinfulness in any shape or form. So, when a parable’s teaching is summed up, as in that Matthew 22:1-14 parable of the wedding feast, with this statement, what must be the conclusion: “Many are called, but few are chosen?” Weigh that against 2 Peter 3:9, which declares, “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance!”
Believing the gospel and receiving the gift of salvation are the essential elements of obtaining eternal life, and they call for a willingness to be acted upon by mankind. God’s secret weapon is the embedded knowledge of right and wrong in the human conscience. Everyone has it, as detailed in Romans 2:13-16, and mankind is held accountable and responsible to God for his response to that knowledge in regard to his destiny. Thus, God invites by conviction, and man responds—yes or no.
The acronym describing Calvinism, TULIP, stands on certain Scriptural truths that are foundationally established. The T represents “Total Depravity of mankind” and is an unwavering truth from Adam’s fall, yet remember that embedded knowledge of right and wrong that he received when he disobeyed. Calvinists seem to ignore its place in God’s method of “awakening the dead man,” as mentioned above. The U-L-I are dependent on faith for their effectiveness. “Unconditional election” requires no qualifications of persons but only the willingness of the person. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:10, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” This identifies the elect as those who are so in God’s foreknowledge who will believe and be saved when they hear the gospel.
“Limited atonement simply means that only those who believe will receive atonement for their sins. Belief is the only requirement. “Irresistible grace” applies only to those whom God, in His foreknowledge, will accept Christ when told of Him. It is obvious that there are those who do resist His grace and end up in hell…because of their unwillingness to believe and be saved. Remember the two roads? One is narrow, and “few there be who find it.” The other is broad, and it is well-traveled.
“Preservation of the saints” is a truth of the Scriptures totally in the hand of God, for Peter writes of the status of the believer being “kept by the power of God unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last day” (1 Peter 1:5). And there are many more such statements in the Bible.
There is my understanding of those Bible truths, having considered the whole counsel of God and observed the integrity of the character of the Holy One.
In Part 2, we will look at other deviations from the truth and compare them with what the Scriptures tell us.
Contact email: email@example.com