I have been convicted recently about neglecting our statement of faith. No, I have not changed my belief in it but I just don’t think about it that much. I tend to sign it when required but then file it away and go about my business. So in the coming months my blog posts will focus on the eight statements of SEND International’s Statement of Faith.
The Opening line in our statement reads, “Based on our understanding of Scripture, the members of SEND International hold to the following Statement of Faith.” This is the statement that we hold, but the question that comes to my mind is, ‘Does it hold us?’ I will use a little help from my Puritan friends as I reflect on each statement. Puritan meditation (see my blog post on 4/30/15) engaged the mind, the heart, and action. So, we will ask: 1. How does this statement hold our thinking? 2. How does it hold our emotions and will? 3. How does it hold our actions?
The first statement is about the Bible. It reads,
“We believe in the plenary and verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible as originally given; that it is the only infallible Word of God, and the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct;”
When we think about the Bible we submit our thinking to the whole of it and every word. The story line of the Bible controls our interpretation of every part of it. We are committed to the truthfulness of Scripture in all that it affirms. When we read the Bible we are reading God’s Word. What the Bible says, God says. Affirming “the plenary and verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible as originally given” leads us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5b ESV). John Frame has written a helpful article, “Inerrancy: A Place to Live” in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 57/1 (2014) 29-39 that I commend for your reflection.
We are also committed to the uniqueness of the Bible. It is the “only infallible Word of God.” Only the Christian Scriptures is special revelation. The sacred writings of other religions while containing some truths are not from God but are human reflection on general revelation. Because the Bible is “the only infallible Word of God” it is “the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct.” Our culture, traditions, scholarship, strategies, etc. must all be evaluated by what the Bible teaches.
2. How does this statement hold our emotions and will?
The psalmist writes, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119: 97 ESV). That God has spoken to us should fill our hearts with love. Verbal communication is central to loving relationships. God reveals himself in the Bible and communicates his love and redemption. Psalm 119 is a celebration of God’s Word that highlights how it holds our emotions and will. Here is a sample:
Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statues. My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law. (Psalm 119: 129-136 ESV)
God’s Word gives understanding and grace moving the affections and will to love and delight to “keep our steps according to his promise.”
3. How does this statement hold our actions?
James 1:22 warns us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (ESV). Our understanding of what the Word says not only needs to engage our affections but must yield action. Action does not necessarily follow knowledge but flows from knowledge that directs our passion and will to action.
The Bible as “the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct” should control all that we do and say (see 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17). All aspects of our life and ministry must submit to the authority of Scripture. Of course, we need to actually read the Bible. During a day of prayer in 2010 I wrote the following meditation on Psalm 1:
When my meditation is lite,
Does it affect my delight?
When my meditation is lite,
Does it reflect my delight?
When my meditation is long,
Then my delight becomes strong!
When my meditation is grace-fed,
Then my delight becomes well-bred.
O Lord, give me grace
To see your face
As I meditate and
Delight in your Word!
If we hold this statement of faith about the Bible may it also hold us. May our thinking submit to the teaching of God’s Word. May that thinking fuel our delight that God has revealed himself and his salvation. May what we understand and delight lead to action.