It Says What It Says!
Basket of Figs, October, 2005
The Bible says what it says. It doesn’t say what the church sometimes says it says. It doesn’t say what the some preachers say it says. It doesn’t even say what some seminary professors say it says. It doesn’t say what many church councils have said it says.
At the Council of Worms, Luther said, “My conscience is bound to the word of God….” Most, if not all of the learned churchmen there would have agreed with him, for all believed that the ultimate authority was in the Scripture and the words of the Apostles. Rome still feels compelled to quote Scripture for authority; they even use the Scriptures to try to prove that the traditions of the church are authoritative. They just believed that the church alone had the right to tell Martin Luther what the Scripture meant.
The church, the councils, the preachers, the seminary professors—if they are faithful—say what the Bible says. That is, they are confessors of what it says, but they are not the definers of its message. Its message condemns the church, the councils, the preachers, and the seminary professors if they do not confess its message faithfully. Men do not judge the Scriptures; the Scriptures judge the men.
Who is to decide whether the church, the councils, the preachers, the seminary professors are right in what they say the Bible says? Ultimately each man in the pew must decide. He must vote with his heart and his feet. Many a denomination has gone down in unbelief and error because of the unwillingness of the man in the pew to hold his leaders accountable to the Scriptures. The Bible does not belong to the officers alone.
Why is this important? It is important because the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every true believer, and it is He who bears witness with their Spirit that they are sons of God. If they do not have the Spirit of God, then they do not belong to God, no matter what external connection they have to the church or covenant. This is clear from Romans 8:15-17.
The personal indwelling of God’s Spirit is the foundation of the Reformational principle of the priesthood of the believer. Every person who has faith in God is a temple of the Holy Spirit—a temple of God—and his heart is an altar upon which the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving are offered unto God. As such, he is a living stone, placed in the spiritual temple of God, which is the church of the living God. [1 Peter 2:5 among others].
This means that Christians are to read and understand the Bible for themselves. The fact that so few Christians read the Bible nowadays, and that so few of them are familiar with even the basic teachings of the Bible is a tragedy and a scandal. They flock to churches that make them feel good, that have a beat in the music, and they raise their hands to heaven and roll their eyes in pretended devotion and passion, but they know so very little of the teachings of the Bible.
Bible translations are dumbed down so that pre-teen girls—who are very interested in spiritual things, as everyone knows—can connect with God. Hymns are dumbed down—who knows what “Here I raise mine Ebenezer” means nowadays? What is a Christian’s panoply? Who wants to think?
What does this matter? It matters a great deal because if a kind of thinking prevails in the church, then it will also prevail in the state and society. If individual Christians submit their understanding of Scripture to “experts,” then other “experts” will interpret for them their constitutional rights. Jesus said that Christians are the salt of the earth. What they think and do affects everything.
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States. As such, its words mean what they say. The tragedy of the last century in the United States is that self-indulgent American citizens have lain supinely on their backs [there is no other way to lie supinely] and allowed nine people on the U. S. Supreme Court to tell them what their constitution says. They have allowed Nine Corrupt Old Men and Old Women to change the very foundation of their country and change the very moral and spiritual foundation of the country.
Where does the Constitution say that religion is to be kept out of the government? Where does it speak of abortion? Where does it say that homosexuality is an o.k. lifestyle? Where does it say that every man has a right for his opinion to be heard? Free speech is a right, but no one has a right to make people listen to him.
But if the Bible does not say what it says, then how can men be expected to think that the laws say what they say?
It would be a good idea to post Proverbs 26:17 in the halls of Congress and in the state legislatures and perhaps in some synods. Maybe we could slip it into Congress while they are arguing about the Ten Commandments.