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Summary: A message that seeks to encourage believers to have faith in Christ, and not faith in faith or faith in themselves.

JOHN 5:39-47

FAITH THAT FAILS

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Doctor Kenneth Hemphill recounts a story that provided an invaluable lesson about the sufficiency of Scripture. The instruction came, inadvertently, from a layman who was his visitation partner on one occasion. Doctor Hemphill writes, “We were following up with a home visit to a couple who had expressed interest in joining the church. The woman and the man had filled out visitor cards with the same address but with a different last name. The gentleman was not present, and the young lady was a bit nervous during our visit. It was obvious she was concerned about her present living conditions and wanted a little free counselling. My friend indicated that we would be willing to stay as long as necessary to help her deal with issues of concern but that she first needed to answer a few simple questions to help him determine whether we could be of help.

“I listened intently as he patiently asked the following three questions: 1) Are you certain that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? She responded ‘yes.’ 2) Do you believe that the Bible is God’s Word and is sufficient for all our needs? Again she responded in the affirmative. 3) If I show you truth from God’s Word that deals with the issues that concern you, will you obey them immediately and completely? My friend did not elaborate at this point, but the lady began to exclaim that we wouldn’t understand. She pointed to her financial need and loneliness. My friend listened patiently and then started again repeating the three questions.

“The implication was obvious. If we pointed her to Scripture which she confessed to be a ‘sufficient guide’ and she refused to obey God’s Word, we had no other advice to give her. It would be like going to the doctor and refusing to follow his prescription.”

Undoubtedly, you agree with Doctor Hemphill’s assessment. However, you need to answer with complete honesty another question that has a direct application in the life of each believer. “Is the Bible a sufficient guide for the challenges that you face in daily life?” If it is a sufficient guide, then we are each responsible to act on what is taught in Scripture.

Scripture does not condone relying on human ingenuity to accomplish the will of God, but rather it points to Christ and obedience to His commands. Too many Christians are fixated on the latest craze to accomplish the work of God, rather than being focused on what is revealed through the Word in order to do the will of God. Jesus addressed this precise tendency two millennia past when He rebuked religious leaders who doubted His authority.

FOR CHRISTIANS, THE SCRIPTURES ARE THE SOLE RULE FOR FAITH AND PRACTISE — Those who follow Christ the Lord adhere to Scripture; ultimately, all Scripture points to Him. There may be disagreement over interpretation of Scriptures, but there is no question for those who seek to honour the Risen Son of God that the Scriptures are the sole rule for faith and practise.

Even our Catholic friends, who teach that Scripture is interpreted by tradition, are compelled to appeal to Scripture in an attempt to justify the various traditions that are at variance with the Word of God. As is true for Catholics, so also the various cults attempt to justify their teachings by appeal to Scripture. Ultimately, then, all Christian congregations, denominations, sects and cults acknowledge that Scripture is the basis for faith and practise. There may be hermeneutical arguments that are advanced, but there is no question that the final appeal for faith and practise is the Word of God

This statement is not an acknowledgement that all views concerning faith and practise are correct or even that truth is whatever one wishes truth to be; rather it is an admission that the ultimate foundation for every doctrine that individuals within Christendom may hold dear is God’s Word. The Jewish leaders with whom Jesus interacted so frequently would have argued that they honoured the Scriptures by applying their particular interpretations and by holding to their various practises, just as many contemporary religious individuals contend that they honour the Word through their practises. However, the religious leaders that so often confronted Jesus were unaware that the truth they professed was obscured by centuries of cultural encrustation.

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