When we speak of the stability of the Christian faith we infer, subtly perhaps, the stability of Christian knowledge. It is so because—as we have seen on my post entitled ‘Knowledge and Faith’—both entities are intrinsically related and proportional to each other. Consequently we can say Jesus believes what He has always believed, and knows what He has always known. His faith, as His knowledge, has never changed and never will. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
The instability of the world
On the extreme opposite we have what the world believes, a creed forever changing, fluctuating and shifting, and this, in an unprecedented speed. Granted that stability exists in the realm of mathematics and physics, it is nearly absent when it comes to moral categories. In that realm most people are disoriented. They grope for the wall like the blind, as if they had no eyes; they stumble at noonday as at twilight (Isaiah 59:10).
Therefore as far as good and evil is concerned, everything seems in a flux. There are no absolutes or consensus left. The fixed point of reference has been rejected and everything seems to be floating on the volatility of a drifting world.
The Church’s responsibility to stability
Now in the midst of these moral shambles, the church should be as a faithful compass pointing to the right direction. For as Paul reminded Timothy, the church of the living God is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Notice that the words Paul uses connote stability and permanence, for here only something stable can be of any help. Consequently, as far as we Christians are concerned, our knowledge, as well as our faith—in the realm of morals—should be anchored in God’s immutable character as expressed in God’s immutable Word. But, sadly enough, evidence demonstrates that this is rarely the case.
One doesn’t need to be a historian to realize that the needle of our compass has been, not only unreliable, but also nonfunctional, for it has spun every possible direction and continues to pivot at the whims of a world given to change (Prov. 24:21). No wonder some of the things that were declared evil fifty years ago are now canonized, and the shame of yesterday has become the pride of today, and this, among evangelical Christians.
What happened to Christian convictions?
There was a time when most Christians could speak boldly about moral truths, for the stability of their beliefs provided assurance and certainty. Today we hesitate and shilly-shally as if we are not too sure of what we are saying. The “Thus says the Lord” has been substituted by “In my opinion,” and the practice is spreading as an epidemic.
The prophets of old were not walking on eggs when they addressed moral issues; they declared, exposed, and shone forth the truth as it stands. No wonder their messages brought conviction, for from conviction they were born and were expressed with certainty and authority. They were not mere disseminations of opinions or the results of evangelical speculations; they were rooted in the immutability of God’s eternal counsel, and as such, were sealed with the anointing of Him who dwelt in the bush (Deut. 33:16).
Today’s spiritual instability
Today not only an increasing number of evangelicals are disoriented when it comes to moral truths, but many believe nobody can know with certainty the fixed divine orientation. According to them, as far as morality is concerned, no one can reach the place of absolute conviction, for such level of certitude, they say, is reserved for static doctrines such as: the virgin birth, the deity and humanity of Jesus, the trinity, the resurrection, and so on, but not for popular moral issues since they are subject to cultural and temporal transmutations.
The problem with this proposal is that it doesn’t stand the test of the Scripture. Nowhere do we see Jesus watering down His teaching so it may fit the social context of His days, neither do we see Him adjusting His message so it may accord with the status quo of His time.
In reference to a popular moral issue He told the Pharisees: “From the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:8). This simple statement attests that He had nothing to do with temporal relativism or cultural adaptation. His needle has been fixed from everlasting and will remain so to everlasting. That is why it is reliable and conclusive, and therefore helpful to anyone seeking moral direction.
Fighting for stability
In regard to moral convictions I have been told once and again: “Brother Simon, you say the Bible says this and that, but it might be your personal interpretation that makes you believe the Bible says such a thing, and, surely, your personal interpretation is fallible.” Others have told me: “We used to be like you. We were sure we were right. But now we know better and we keep our mind open for eventual revisions.” While others have said: “Now I believe this is wrong, but I might receive more light in the future and come to a different conclusion”.
I think all of us understand that immaturity can lead to invalid assumptions. But to suggest that nobody can reach a place of certainty in regard to moral truths is simply unscriptural. Actually, the Bible conveys the opposite view. We read in the Book of Proverbs: “Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?” (Prov. 22:20,21).
God gave us the Bible to make us know—precisely—the certainty of the word of truth. After all, if we are not sure our message is certainly true we should leave the pulpit, or focus on what we are convinced of. The person who changes his moral views every other decade is simply unfit for the ministry. One thing is certain, Jesus and the Apostles had their needle fixed. They showed no signs of disorientation or insecurity. They taught as having authority, and not as the scribes (Matt. 7:29).
Attacking the stability of Scripture
To say the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and then turn around and allege that nobody can be certain he understands it amounts to a blatant attack against the Scripture. It is a subtle attempt to nullify its authority as well as the notion of rebellion in the one who reads it, for where there is no authority there can be no rebellion.
Let me repeat: Jesus believes what He has always believed and knows what He has always known. His faith, as His knowledge, has never changed and never will. In other words, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
As for us, we are called to keep what He believes (Rev. 14:12), and not deny anything related to His faith (Rev. 2:13).
Let us stand firm and contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).