Does Scripture Change to Culture?

Revelation of God in Scripture

Unless we believe that God has spoken to us authoritatively, sufficiently, and without error, we are never going to have a true, Christian mind. Instead of approaching life from the basis of God’s revelation, we will try to develop a framework from all the philosophies that are floating about in the secular world. This is the reason so many churches eagerly want to grow their empire by importing management principles into the church.

But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:10-17)

God speaks through His Word and through the Holy Spirit—these two go together. What the Holy Spirit does is illuminate the Word, so that when we say, “God told me to do something”, it is also proper to ask, “Where in Scripture does it confirm this?” Many Christians claim that God said this and that, yet what they say contradicts His Word or does not come to pass. Some have even dared to place their subjective experiences above the Word of God, believing that the scriptures are not complete. The body of Christ should not give such people a platform to propagate their ideologies and visions, which seem to come from their fanciful imaginations.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

As Paul stated, our foundation and absolute authority should be in God’s Word and in God’s Word only.

Sufficiency of the Scriptures

It is sad to hear people say the Bible is no longer relevant for today’s living. The argument they present is that we live in a secular and scientific age where what was appropriate for John and Paul and the other people in the Bible is no longer applicable. This can be seen in the sociological schemes and church growth conferences that advise churches on how to be relevant. It appears that it is no longer enough just to study the Bible for what is being said; we apparently need a special technique to help us grow, in addition to the Word of God. We have churches today spending thousands on advertising and building their “empire” image, instead of investing in the harvest field.

We are in an age that is interested in nobody but oneself. Hence, the role of the scriptures has taken a backseat and been replaced by public relations experts proclaiming their empires. Many of these leaders would declare that the scripture is the authoritative Word of God; it is one thing to say this and yet another to see this belief put into practice. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 addresses these issues.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Here, Paul referred to the “last days”, which can be interpreted in several ways: it could refer to the very last days before the return of Jesus Christ (that is, the second coming), or it could be taken to mean the whole period of time in which we live (between the first coming of Jesus Christ and His second coming). Nevertheless, one can argue this either way. However, we interpret “last days”, we see that before the coming of Jesus Christ things will get worse and worse; Paul mentioned just some of the things we are going to see.

In this context, Paul was writing to Timothy with instructions for how he was supposed to deal with the problems of the last days. It is as if Paul was telling Timothy that he was living in the last days and that life was going to become very different, so Paul wanted to give him instructions as to what to do. Now, if this applied to Timothy’s day, then it also applies to us, today. The evil actions portrayed in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 can be seen in our local newspapers, work places, and basically everywhere around us. What you find Paul mentioning is exactly what our culture is currently experiencing. So, if you go through any of these things, Paul already described our culture. He said the following in verse 5: “…having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”.As I mentioned earlier, Paul was referring to the church in this verse. Otherwise, he would have mentioned “ungodliness”; this is what he wrote in Romans 1, meaning that the character traits could also be seen in the church. People have a form of godliness because they perform the rites of Christianity, but they do not have power from the Holy Spirit.

Looking at this verse in the context of the church being lovers of oneself and so on, it is clearly visible that even preaching is shifted from being Christ-centred to containing man-centred theology. We do not hear about sin anymore because people want to feel good, so we do not tell them what they really need. We tell them how they can think well of themselves. And what about those who are lovers of money?

We hear and read about so many who call themselves “ministers”, yet are stealing from the church. We have boasting in the church, although it is sometimes called “testimony sharing”. If we were to go through the whole list, we would be able to see all the signs of the last days that Paul described.

Paul’s instruction for Timothy was not to seek advice from a church growth consultant or to concoct a technique.

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

This is a great statement for the sufficiency of the Word of God. But some may ask, “How can the Word of God be sufficient for the New Testament times as well as for those we live in now?” The answer is in the very next verse—scripture is“God-breathed”.It is from God—the very Word of God.

We see in Genesis that God spoke the universe into being. One of the great cries of the Reformation was “Sola Scriptura”,which is Latin for “scripture alone”. Scripture was all that was needed—and it still is. Nothing has changed. If the message you preach is not followed with power, then it is not the message that is the problem, but the messenger. Paul wrote that he was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

Therefore, the preached Gospel must be accompanied by the power of God, else it is simply the words of men.

So how was scripture effectual in the past and still pertinent for us today?

▪ Scripture corrected the errors of the Church.

▪ Scripture tells us how to conduct our lives.

▪ Scripture tells us how we should worship.

▪ Scripture tells us how we should impact the culture in which we live with the Gospel.

▪ Scripture tells us how we should grow in the faith.



Categories: Defending the Faith

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