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Monday, January 9, 2017

Integrity, Faith and the Word of God



Integrity - It means honesty, truthfulness, honor, veracity, reliability…basic uprightness…etc.  Do we as Christians understand what integrity means in regards to the Word of God?  


I believe the answer is no.


I’ve spent the last year in deep study of the word of God in pursuit of my degrees and the one thing that I keep coming across within Christian circles is a lack of integrity when it comes to the Word of God.  


Don’t misunderstand…it’s not a lack of integrity with the Bible.  Its integrity is intact.  No, I’m talking about the very people whose responsibility to the Word of God shows a lack of integrity not only in how they conduct themselves but more so in how they represent Him and specifically His word.




The Word of God IS GOD’s WORD.


It is infallible.  It is unbreakable.  It is unstoppable.


It is VALID, UNCHANGING, AND UNCOMPROMISING.




Is this how the church has been representing the Word of God?  Is this how you as a pastor or layman in the church has been representing the Word of God? 



CAN YOU SAY THIS HAS BEEN YOUR WITNESS?




Yes, we are human and to err is human but is that to be our excuse?  Yeah, sometimes I don’t represent the Word of God correctly, so what?  I’m not perfect and God understands that.  But should our expectations to be so low?  Didn’t Jesus, the one and only man of perfection, call us up to His level? 


Yes.  He did.  


The very reason why this is important is because what we believe about the Word of God affects everything else about our relationship with God, our Christian walk and our witness.




Let’s take another look at the meaning of Integrity and then look at how Jesus approached the Word of God.


Integrity: (noun)

1.  The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness

2.  The state of being whole and undivided

a.  The condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction

b.  Internal consistency or lack of corruption in data




If you study the life of Jesus Christ and investigate Him, you will come to find that He held the scriptures in high regard.  Now before I lose some of you, let me acknowledge that the scriptures that Jesus Christ was referring to were the scriptures of the Old Testament as the scriptures of the New Testament had yet to be written.  However, the Old Testament pointed to God and prophesied of Jesus Christ and the New Testament consists of the life story of Jesus Christ and the life history of the church He founded through His apostles.  Therefore, they are inextricably linked and consequently inseparable. 



So, either the whole Bible is the Word of God or none of it is.




And this is where I find the lack of integrity in the church today.  Jesus believed in the veracity of the Word of God.  Although He was God made flesh He did not put himself above the Word of God.  He did not correct the Word of God when asked about it but instead, He corrected wrong interpretations.  He unearthed the heart of God’s word to unscrupulous men who deigned to put a set of laws upon others that even they could not maintain.


And we, 2000+ years later condescend in all our knowledge and wisdom to parcel out the word of God as to what is true and what is not, what is a story to make a moral point and what is scientifically impossible and therefore never meant to be taken literally. 


2000+ years later we supposedly have “a better understanding” of what God was saying than Jesus Christ the Son of God.




Let me show you what I mean.


Was King David a real man, a real king?  Or how about Moses? Jonah? How about Lot’s wife?  How about Adam and Eve?  How about the big fish?  The pillar of salt?  The creation event and Noah, the Ark and the flood? 


In Matthew 22:43-44, Jesus refers to King David as He quotes from Psalm 110 when He says, “How then can David by the Spirit call him ‘Lord’ when he says, ‘The Lord told my Lord, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet?” 


In John 5:45-47, Jesus refers to Moses as He says, “Do not suppose that I will be the one to accuse you before the Father.  Your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope, because if you believed Moses, you would believe me, since he wrote about me.”


But those are easy references.  Those acknowledge that someone of historical significance lived and influenced the lives of those Christ was speaking to.  So, let’s get more intense.


In Matthew 12:40 Jesus references Jonah.  Now this is more important that you could imagine.  He not only references Jonah but uses it to reveal His coming resurrection.  In answer to the scribes and Pharisees He tells them, “A wicked and adulterous generation craves a sign!  But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the huge fish so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  Now, some have tried to say this story of Jonah is a tall tale told about Jonah to speak about obedience to God (Jonah’s bad example) and the willingness of God to forgive (the repentance of Nineveh).  However, to teach and believe this is to undermine the resurrection of Christ.  Why do I say this?  Do you normally use references to fictional or imaginary stories or characters as a basis for the greatest events in your life?  No?  Then why would you believe that Christ would?  He wouldn’t and He did not because Jonah was real and the event happened.  We may not know how to explain it but that does not mean it’s not true.     (I mean, really?  If you’ve got to be able to explain things for them to be true, then you’ve got a lot of problems!)


And how about Luke 17:26-27 where Jesus speaks of Noah.  “Just as it was in Noah’s time, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man.  People were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage right up to the day when Noah went into the Ark.  Then the flood came and destroyed all of them.”  Jesus speaks of Noah as a real person, the Ark as a real thing and the flood as a real event.


So, let’s see if I can make this tougher.  In Luke 17:31-32, Jesus Christ explicitly refers to Lot’s wife.  “The person who is on the housetop that day must not come down to get his belongings out of his house.  The person in the field, too, must not turn back to what’s left behind.  Remember Lot’s wife!”  Now, in case you don’t remember, Lot and his family were told not to look back as they were being moved to safety as God was preparing and began the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  But Lot’s wife did look back seemingly in regret for what she was leaving and was turned into a pillar of salt.  It’s kind of cut and dried.  Either it happened or it didn’t.  Can I explain it?  No.  But that doesn’t undermine the Word of God, it shows my lack of understanding of what God did.  There is a difference.


And let’s not look over Jesus reference to Genesis and Adam and Eve when, in Matthew 19:4-6 He answers, “Haven’t you read… that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh?  So, they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore, what God has joined together let no one separate.”  Jesus Christ mentions the beginning, the Creator and the creation of Adam and Eve.  During the whole ministry of Jesus Christ, we see every evidence that He speaks and discusses these and more as historical people, events and facts.



So, the question I have for you is:


Does your faith in the Word of God have integrity?  I am asking not only does your faith have the quality of honesty, strong moral principles and moral uprightness but is it whole?  Unified?  Unimpaired?


Is it internally consistent? Or is there corruption in your data?




I know that things can shake our faith at times.  The world comes at us with a hundred million reasons why we are wasting our time believing in the Bible.  Doubts can come when we do not understand everything we read and at times sincere preachers and pastors have misinterpreted His word and misled their congregations.  But that still doesn’t touch the Word of God.  


Is it true?  Can I believe it?


Well, that’s for you to decide but let me see if I can help.  Jesus believed the scripture was unbound and unbroken. He believed that not one Dot nor an Iota would pass away without being accomplished.  He believed it was historical history.  He believed that what scripture said, God said.  He believed in the inspiration of all of it.  He believed in its legitimacy.  He believed its divine authorship, its human authorship, and its bearing on all our lives.  He believed in the Word of God to the point that He submitted Himself fully to it even to the point of death.  




So now it’s up to you to decide for yourself if your faith has integrity because it truly comes down to this: 




Either the Bible is a lie, the stories within it are falsehoods

and Jesus was a raving lunatic

or

those things really happened, those people really existed

and Jesus was and is the Son of God and the Lord of all.




You don’t have to be able to explain it.  All you must understand, if you choose to have faith in God’s word, is that everything that pertains to life and salvation are found within its pages. 

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