2004-05-04 - Easter Bites Back
Habakkuk 2:4, "Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith."
World Magazine reported, in the May 1 issue, the unfortunate Easter service held in Jonesville, Va., where Pastor Dwayne Long celebrated Christ's victory over the serpent by handling one. The rattlesnake bit the pastor, and since the church teaches that God commands the handling of snakes and the refusal of medical treatment for snakebites, he died. I don't intend to apply for the opening, but if you are looking for a church to pastor, there is an opening for a pastoral position in Jonesville, Va.
What we believe is often a very personal matter. It is even more personal when we consider our faith in respect to salvation, damnation and our position in Christ. With the incredible variety of denominations and individual churches existent, almost every belief seems to be covered. Some we may consider extreme, such as those which use deadly snakes as part of the service, but many differences are those that both sides think they can appeal to the Scriptures for justification. The issue is really what the Scriptures teach. The Bible does not teach opposing truths. This is why Christians have to be so careful not to stake their faith, salvation, and eternal security upon any teaching of any denomination or church, but rather they must "search the Scriptures daily, to see if these things be so," Acts 17:11.
Saving faith must be based on what the Scriptures designate as that which is saving. It is our faith in Christ's atonement for our sin, in our place, that saves. Scripture does not tell us that if we do certain or enough good works, we will be saved. Scripture does not tell us that if we have a lot of love, we will be saved. It is faith that saves, Mark 16:16. Faith is only as good as the object in which we place our faith. I might believe that a chair will hold me up when I go to sit in it, but if it does not, and collapses under me, then I have misplaced my faith. In respect to salvation from sin, it is faith in Christ alone that saves. Is Christ worthy of our faith? That is why it is called faith. As Christians, we trust that He is worthy, and we come to this conclusion, not from the teachings of any church or person, but from the Holy Spirit ministering to our spirit that God's Word and promises are true.
A minister was visiting an older woman and wished to share some promises with her from Scripture. He asked to see her Bible, and turned to the passage he had in mind. He noticed TP written in the margin beside the passage, and asked her what it meant. She said that it meant "tried and proven." She had tried that promise of God's Word and found it to be true. We ought to have some TP's in our Bibles.
There are many aspects of Scripture that we can try and find to be proven to be true, but there should be no more important promises in Scripture that we try and find true, than those that relate to our salvation. The areas of Scripture that deal with eternal security in Christ ought to be tried and proven often by us. Faith is something that you have to have yourself. My faith cannot save you. The faith of your church cannot save you. Faith is personal, and it must be personally experienced as we study, apply, and grow in our knowledge of God's Word through the Spirit's guidance and illumination.
Soli Deo Gloria,