Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of the Berean Call. Here’s this weeks’ question:
“Dear Dave and Tom, I know you guys address all kinds of issues adversely affecting the church, and it seems as though the problems are growing exponentially; but what grieves either of you the most right now?”
Dave: Tom, there’s so much out there. We’re in apostasy. How could we say this is worse than that? The bottom line is what we were just talking about: a departure from the Word of God, which is a departure from the faith. This is what Paul warned about: “In the last days there will be a departure from the faith.”
Tom: Jesus said in Luke:18:8, “When the Son of man cometh, will he find faith upon the earth?”
Dave: Mm, and I believe that the definite article is there in the Greek, the faith. Not just faith. Oh, well, people of faith, you know. “I have a faith,” or, “I try to be positive. I try to really believe.”
But the faith - this is what Jude writes about, Jude 3: “I found it necessary to exhort you to earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” The faith has moral content. It’s doctrinal; it’s truth; it’s something you must believe, and it puts it in a form that is essential, and you cannot deviate from it. But that’s not popular today.
So I would just say the apostasy in general, a departure from the faith. Paul said they will “depart from the faith,” 1 Timothy:4:1, “giving heed to seducing spirits, doctrines of devils…” Devils have doctrines. That’s why we must stand for the sound doctrine of the word of God.
So what grieves us the most? Oh, my…it’s all related, Tom. It’s all part of the same thing. Perhaps what grieves me the most is that the sheep are being fed poison. They are being deprived of the nutrition. Peter says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word.” Now, how are you going to get the sincere milk of the word from this condensed 100-[minute] version? And how are you going to get the sincere milk of the Word from preachers who teach false doctrine? And that’s all over radio and television today.
Of course, they are not any more to blame than those who listen to them, because we are supposed to be like Bereans, and we’re supposed to search the Scriptures for ourselves to check up on these people, and that’s not being done because the average person is too lazy, or they don’t want to accept the responsibility. But one day they will give an account to God.
Tom: I agree, and just to add some specifics to that - so many evangelicals, people who profess to believe in the Word of God, do not believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word, and that’s opened the door to so many other things. They’ve turned to psychology. They’ve turned to marketing. Now, worship - we no longer do it by the Word of God, we do it according to “authentic faith” and the traditions of the church and liturgies and all that. All of this takes its toll.
As we mentioned in the last segment, it’s creating such a superficial or shallow Christianity that people can no longer be Bereans; they can’t agree with Isaiah who said, “To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them.” There’s no discernment. And if there’s no discernment, then they have to follow after some spiritual guru, whether it be a pastor or some demagogue who’s out there who’s very persuasive, maybe even demonstrates some kinds of signs and wonders, etc. We’re being set up for the “man of lawlessness,” I think.
Dave: Tom, let’s take a couple of things you said - you quoted Isaiah: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them.” Now, wait a minute, how do you know they are not speaking according to this word if you don’t have this word? Furthermore, that should be the sufficient criteria. We don’t add to it. We don’t launch out into…you know, the Christian psychologist says, “All truth is God’s truth.” Okay? You alluded to that. Well, then - wow! - how can you be a Berean? You can’t be a Berean and check a Christian psychologist out from the Word of God, because he says, “Well, but the Bible is not the only truth! All truth is God’s truth, and some of it was revealed to Freud, and some of it to Carl Jung, and Rogers, and Maslow, and we’ve got to really integrate their wisdom with the Bible.”
So apparently the Holy Spirit through ignorance or oversight failed to give us everything we need to know in the Word of God. Now we must add to it.
Tom: So, Dave, then we throw out authority. That’s kind of a joke. How can it be our authority, which many evangelicals would claim? Well, if there’s another authority out there, then where do we go?
Dave: Tom, you cannot be a Berean and go to the Scriptures…you know, the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily to see whether what Paul said was true. You can’t search the Scriptures to see whether a Christian psychologist is telling you the truth, because he has another source of truth. Furthermore, he claims that the Bible isn’t sufficient. So we’re being led astray by the Bible telling us that we should search the Scriptures. If we don’t have the Scriptures, or if the Scriptures don’t contain all the truth that God wants for us, then what’s the point of searching the Scriptures? So, Tom, we are in a dangerous, dangerous situation today in the church.
Tom: This goes back to the Garden of Eden - goes back to the first words that Satan communicated to Eve: “Yeah, hath God said?” That was the beginning, and pulling the rug out from under a belief in the truth of God’s Word has been his game plan ever since. I think that’s the biggest problem we’re dealing with today.