Covenant of Ink

“Where there is no revelation [of the Word of God], the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law…If people can’t see what God is doing they stumble all over themselves. But when they attend to what He reveals they are most blessed” (Proverbs 29:18, NIV, MES).

There was a time in the this great nation when the integrity and centrality of the Word of God was not questioned, debated, or vilified, but gladly and openly recognized, accepted, and celebrated. Our country’s revolutionary and constitutional documents were so heavily influenced by the Scriptures that one can actually find portions of sermons lifted verbatim and inserted into the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, one does not need to be a lawyer to notice right away that the moral law of our land has been directly influenced by the ancient moral code of the Bible. Unfortunately the enduring covenant words of the Most High God set in motion through the blood of Jesus Christ are being systematically replaced with an ever-changing covenant of ink that is marginal in its authority and easily and frequently manipulated

Today, vast numbers of Americans have no understanding of the history of the formation of these documents and how central the Word of God was to their development and adoption. Today, it is common to see a great ambivalence and even disrespect for the Bible. For sure, the high degree of authority the masses once gave to the Scriptures is missing in today’s post Christian America. With this decline in respect for the Word, we have seen a distinct decline in the manifestation of the blessing. As Proverbs 29:18 indicates, the more attention and honor we give to the Word, the more blessed (empowered to succeed and prosper) we will be.

There are four basic levels of respect that people in this nation give to the Word of God. I want to discuss each level to demonstrate where we have come from and where we need to return to if we want to see the blessing of the Lord on this great land again. The key is for all of us to come to the place where the Word has the highest degree of authority and respect. The more we recognize and honor the integrity of the Word of God the more victorious our lives will be. Conversely, when people reject, limit, or marginalize the authority of the Word of God in their lives they set themselves up for confusion and ultimately defeat.

First, many people today see the Word of God as “relative” these days. By relative I mean the authority they give to the Word is dependent upon external conditions, input, or opinions outside of the Word of God. In other words, there are no absolutes. These individuals may see a small portion of the values and morality of the Bible as relative to their lives but for the most part they reject the authority of Scripture opting instead to be the sole basis of right and wrong themselves.

Second, there are people who see the Bible as “somewhat authoritative.” They would agree that many aspects of the value system described are binding and important like the biblical prohibition on murder or stealing and the mandate to love one’s neighbor, etc. On the other hand, these folks have certain special areas of life they see as off-limits to biblical authority. They buy into some false reassignment or interpretation of Scripture to justify thinking or behavior that contradicts the Word.

The third level is made up of people who have historically viewed the Bible as “inerrant.” This means that they believe the Scriptures in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek autographs or manuscripts are completely without error. The sad truth today is that even Christians are backing away from this high view of Scripture to adopt a less authoritative view of the Word. In fact, one major evangelical group with a long track record of believing in the inerrancy of Scripture has only two Bible colleges left out of dozens that still boldly push inerrancy. The problem is that when we open this door we give license to individuals with terminal degrees deciding what parts of the Bible are accurate and which parts should be set aside. Imagine that, a man or woman thinking they have more intelligence than the author of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, simply because they have some letters behind their names.

The highest view of Scripture, however, is the understanding that all Scripture, regardless of testament or type of literature is “covenant language” and as such is sacred, binding, and irrevocable. This view of Scripture embraces inerrancy, accepts the commands, and makes a faith-based demand on the promises and the terms of the covenant that God, by his own volition, will, and sovereignty entered into with man. The Lord said in Psalm 89:34 says, “I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.” When we view the Bible as covenant language we have a strong conviction about the nature and character of God to honor His Word and great confidence that if we keep our part of the covenant we will tap into the covenant promises of God.

It doesn’t take you long to see the high place we have fallen from as a people – from seeing Scripture as covenant language to viewing the Scripture as nothing more than a moral suggestion – from a covenant of blood to a covenant of ink. For those of you that want to honor God and to see God’s best in your lives, make every effort to return to the high view of Scripture and develop a dogged determination to obey the principles of the Word of God and hold on passionately and diligently to the amazing covenant promises in the Word. Make up your mind today to make the Word of God first place and final authority in your life. This means the Word is the first place you go to for counsel and the final authority and influence once you know what God’s Word declares about a matter.

Dusty Bibles

“Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165, NIV).

The Bible promises great peace to the lover of the Word of God. The Psalmist exclaimed, “Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97). When we appreciate, spend time in, and apply the Word to our lives it releases God’s ability to keep us from stumbling, falling, or getting off track (and what a true blessing that is in the day we live). The “peace” refers to wholeness, soundness or “nothing missing and nothing broken.” This means that the Word is not only a force for helping us stand, it is also God’s power to bring restoration in to our lives. Romans 1:16, one of my favorite verses, says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation (soundness, wholeness) to them that believe…” Think about that for a minute. The Bible that so many people ignore, the Bible that has months of dust on it or has been sitting in the back of our car since last Sunday’s church service, is the key to the release of the power of God in our lives. While we cry out for deliverance, understanding, and power to live a victorious life, our Bible sits quietly on the nightstand unopened and neglected.

Howard Hendricks, the co-author of Living by the Book, said that shortly after he became a Christian, someone wrote in the flyleaf of his Bible the words, “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” Hendricks stated, “Dusty Bibles always lead to dirty lives” (p. 13). Obviously there is no way to live in peace with God and ourselves if we are constantly being defeated by the influence of the world and the constant struggle to live clean in a dirty world. It’s also important to remember that when we cut ourselves off from the daily entrance of the Word of God into our eyes, ears, and subsequently our hearts, we cut ourselves off from a very, very powerful sanctifying force (a godly influence that conforms us to God’s character rather than being squeezed into the world’s mold). Jesus said it like this, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Let me encourage you today to dust off that Bible and begin again. Don’t be afraid to study, really study that Bible. Read it. Turn the pages. Mark passages that speak to your heart. Write in the margins. Your Bible should not look pristine on the outside or the inside if you have been saved any length of time. You can tell a lot about the spiritual condition of a believer by looking at the condition of his or her personal Bible (and I’m not talking about the guy who leaves his Bible on top of his car as he speeds away from church or the Bible stained with coffee or the Bible left in the sun to bake for months). I’m talking about a Bible that looks worn because it has seen countless hours of binding bursting study and reflection.

I want to give you a few principles for becoming that Word person that deep in your heart you want to become. Take some time today to look up the Scriptures and apply them to your life:

  1. Fill your heart with the Word of God (Hebrews 5:13-14; 2 Timothy 2:15; Romans 10:17; Mark 4:24; Proverbs 4:20-22).
  2. Store the Word through memorization (Proverbs 2:1; 7:3; Psalm 119:11; Matthew 12:35).
  3. Meditate the Word (Psalm 1:1-3; Hebrews 4:12; Proverbs 119:14-15).
  4. Speak the Word (Joshua 1:6-8; 2 Corinthians 4:13; Proverbs 18:21).
  5. Do what the Word says (James 1:22-25; Deuteronomy 30:11-20; Luke 6:46-49).
  6. Stand on the Word (1 Peter 1:25; Ephesians 6:13, 17; 2 Chronicles 20:20).

Becoming (BC) Biblically Correct

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3, NIV).

It is clear from John 1 that Jesus and the Word are one. All things that are created or will be created are ultimately created by the Word. It’s a good principle for us to remember in life. If we are going to start or begin anything, begin with the Word of God. The degree to which we do this depends upon our personal view of the authority of the Word of God in our lives. The Bible says in Psalm 138:2, AMP, “for You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above Your name.” Think about that. God has exalted the revelation of the Word even above the revelation of his name. That tells us that the greatest authority and influence in our lives needs to be the Word of God. There is a great pressure to compromise on the Word in the name of being RC (religiously correct) or PC (politically correct), but the clarion call of the Spirit of God today is to make sure that we are BC (biblically correct).

When we understand the sheer power resident in the Word of God we will not be ashamed of it or allow someone or some influence to talk us out of it. Paul said, “I am confident that the good news will release God’s dynamic energy, which makes all persons whole” (Romans 1:16, Johnson). He is admonishing us here (as evident by other translations such as the NIV) to not be ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation or soundness in every area of life.

Consider some simple truths about the Bible: (1) the Bible is nothing to be ashamed of (Mark 8:38); (2) the Bible is good news (Luke 4:18-19); (3) the Bible is the soundness bringer in our lives (Romans 10:9-10); (4) the Bible is the power of God (Hebrews 4:12); (5) the Bible is activated by believing (Hebrews 4:2); and (6) the Bible will work for ANYONE (Mark 11:20-22).

Check back for some very powerful teaching on the authority of the Word in coming posts and remember that your personal view of the Word determines what you can receive from the Word of God.