Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 15, 1951
NUMBER 44, PAGE 8-9b

The Realm Of Faith

W. L. Wharton, Jr., Houston, Texas

Rom. 10:17 "So then belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."

Authority Of Christ

The teaching of Jesus Christ occupies the preeminent place in the divine record. Moses himself testified to the coming of that prophet whom all should hear or be cut off from among the people. (Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22-23) The message of Christ is contrasted with that of Moses (John 1:17) and shown to be superior. The Word of Christ is compared with the message of inspired men of old and declared to be the word by which God addresses us, (Heb. 1:2) and which we must not neglect to hear and follow. (Heb. 2:1-4) Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28:18) If Christ could be approached as he was during his earthly ministry whatever he should say to us would be authoritative and final. But Christ is no longer on the earth or in the flesh.

Authority Of The Apostles

When Christ was about to take his departure from this earth and go to be with his Father he promised the Holy Spirit would come to his apostles and be with them to guide them into all truth and to refresh their memory with a knowledge of all things he had taught them. (John 16:13) Due to their own limitations he had been unable to tell them all that was necessary for them to know. (John 16:12) This locates the Word of Christ in the apostolic message and when we have that message of the apostles we have that Word. (I Cor. 2:12-13; I Thes. 2:13) This Word was given them directly from God and was not from man. (Gal. 1:6-12) If we could approach them as they were in the flesh during their life upon earth we would be assured that the authority and teaching they possessed would be the Word of Christ. (Matt. 16:19; John 20:22-23) But for the same reason we cannot go to Christ we cannot go to them for their inspired wisdom.

Authority Of The Scriptures

In the absence of both Christ and the apostles how can we obtain knowledge of the Word of God? The answer is seen in such examples as this notice in Eph. 3:3, 5 "(as I wrote afore in a few words, whereby when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." "This affirms that what the apostles wrote is inspired of God. To have access to their written word is to know the truth God has revealed for us to know. Possibly this is even better seen in an example from the book of Revelation. The Spirit of God said to John: "Write." (Rev. 2:1) John not only was told to write, he was told what to write. (vs. 1-6) The message thus written is a divinely dictated letter. In verse 7 the reader is admonished to "hear what the Spirit saith." To hear what the Spirit said to the churches was to read what John wrote! Here then, in brief, is the divine program of revelation. The Spirit revealed to the apostles the sum of all that Jesus taught them during his earthly ministry plus full and complete knowledge of matters they were not able to bear during the personal ministry. The record of divine knowledge was made in the form of the written word of those men and such as God inspired. To hear the word preserved in those writings is to hear God and Christ and to reject that word is to reject them. Here, then, is the source of Divine wisdom and faith.

Provisional Order Giving Way To The Permanent

Not all gospel teachers in the New Testament period were inspired. For example: Paul boasted that what he preached was not "after men" and that he had not been taught by men but by God. (Gal. 1:9-12) Yet, Timothy could make no such boast. Timothy is told to "commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" "the things which thou hast heard from me." (II Tim. 2:2) The same thing is observed in the commission of Christ: "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matt. 28:19-20) The apostles were taught directly from God but they became the medium through which others were taught. This principal rightly understood, will forever silence the claim of men today that since God inspired the apostles he must also inspire us! Truth has been delivered "once, for all." (Jude 3) The record of apostolic and inspired writers supplies us every good work. (II Tim. 3:16-17)

Our Source of Authority and Faith Supplied in the Word But, returning to our point of beginning: "So then belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17) The written word, containing, as we have seen, the message of Christ and the apostles as they were guided into all truth, is our source of knowledge of the "word of Christ" and hence our source of faith. Whatever is not found taught therein is not properly the subject of Christian belief or faith. The revealed word of God, therefore, circumscribes and limits matters of Christian faith. In such light we may view with added appreciation the admonition of Peter: "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." (I Peter 4:11) Or again, "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching hath both the Father and the Son." (II John 9)

Each Must Use the Scripture Correctly To Receive A Correct Faith In turning to the inspired word of God for our instruction in matters of Christian faith we have our only access to the Words of Christ and teaching of the apostles. It is a matter of gravest import to properly understand the manner in which the Scriptures teach. In our next article we shall undertake to answer the question: How do the Scriptures teach? Having dealt with that we shall then notice some proper distinctions that must be constantly observed in the physical and religious divisions of the Bible. Some are spoken of as "wresting the Scriptures" to their own destruction, and yet others are said to "pervert the gospel." The mere physical act of reading the Bible coupled with an honest heart is fruitless unless there is comprehension of what is stated. (Acts 8:27-34) That comprehension is predicated on a few simple matters that are more or less self-evident upon reflection. Unfortunately, most information men have about the Bible comes to them first in second-hand fashion from parents, friends and religious teachers with whom they chance to associate. In most instances, men are steeped with more mis-information than information about the Bible and it has a bearing on men's not understanding what they read.