Summary: Faith and practise are determined by what we accept as authoritative for our life. Baptist accept the written Word of God as authoritative for faith and practise.
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
‘All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.’
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
Faith and practise are determined by what one accepts as authoritative for life. Whether conscious of the fact or not, everyone has an authority for the conduct of his or her life. Some individuals submit to the consensus of their peers as the authority for life’s choices. For such people, this is a sort of acceptance of the lowest common denominator for the manner in which life is lived. Unfortunately, this choice can become a way to dumb down convictions as practitioners attempt to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Other individuals see human government as authoritative. This particular view is often advocated by individuals promoting socialistic government (almost always some form of an oligarchy, if not a kakistocracy or a kleptocracy) as being wiser than the individual. In the estimate of such individuals, pseudo-aristocrats (so designated because of their exalted socialistic views) rule because they have established themselves as the authority for the masses. One modern view that has gained ascendancy within contemporary society (and even among the churches of our Lord) argues that whatever one “feels” is authoritative. Thus, emotions become a tyrant dictating life’s choices.
Ours is a Baptist congregation. As stated in an earlier message, the term “Baptist” is not one that we chose, though we embrace that name in this present day. The name was given in derision to our forebears; the name was conferred because of their insistence upon a regenerate church membership. In reality, however, we are not Baptists because we insist upon baptism as a mark of the new birth rather than reducing the rite to a contrived effort to obtain the new birth. Our convictions arise from an even more basic belief. We are convinced that the Word of God is authoritative for faith and practise. Where the Bible is silent, we have no warrant to speak. Where God has spoken, we are obligated to obey.
I find it fascinating to observe the role assigned to the Word of God in salvation. Peter claims that the New Birth is accomplished through “the living and abiding Word of God.” What a powerful statement is attributed to the Word of God! It is that Word that is the focus of the remainder of the message this day. For us as Baptists, the Word of God is received as inerrant and infallible; the Word of God is authoritative and accurate. Our hope is grounded in the Word of God, and our Faith is firmly established on the firm foundation that is the Word of God. Focus with me for these brief moments on this Living and Abiding Word of God.