Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Way of Approval

Second Part in a Series (the first---The War against Certainty)

Where we look for approval will decide what we believe and practice. We see this through Hebrews 11. Faith is how we get a "good report" from God. Faith pleases God (Heb. 11:6). But we have to make that choice: do we want to please God or man (man's institutions)? Hebrews 11 lays it out like a choice. Abel chose pleasing God with his sacrifice. That sacrifice didn't make sense to Cain, so he chose fruits and vegetables. In a world of men-pleasers, Enoch pleased God. Noah could have received favor from the world, but He chose to build an ark and kept in good standing with God. Abraham could have stayed with family and friends, but he chose to go with God. Moses refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter. Approval in the court of Pharoah might have been bigger than anything in the world at the time, but Moses shunned it by faith. He made pleasing God His career choice.

In each of these choices, physical evidence often wasn't and isn't plenteous. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God" (Heb. 11:3a). We make a judgment about things with no physical evidence (Heb. 11:3b), except faith. This pleases God. But first we must want His approval. We must see His unseen, promised reward to be greater than anything man and his institutions can offer us.

Some have decided to take approval from God over men. Romans 16:10 says that Apelles was "approved in Christ." Moses looked to God for approval instead of the Egyptian government. Based on appearances, Moses was giving up prominence, popularity, and financial security. All of these tie into public approval. In the world's eyes, he would have been a big fish in a big pond. When Paul described his ministry at Thessalonica, he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:4:
But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
Without approval from God, we essentially give ourselves a good report. As 2 Corinthians 10:18 reads, "For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." Someone may get commendation from the world, but in the end, 1 Corinthians 3:13 says that it won't last like God's will.
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
God will examine our works as to whether they were pleasing to Him. Some works might please men, but God rewards only those He approves.

The text issue presents two choices. One searches Scripture and finds God's instruction about the preservation of Scripture. He studies to show "himself approved unto God" (2 Timothy 2:15). Proper study of Scripture concerns itself more with God's approval than man or his institutions. God approves of study that disregards man's opinions, questions, philosophies, and speculations.

Isaac was the seed of promise and Ishmael of human effort. Hagar was doubt and works, and Sarai was faith and trust. The just live by faith. The baby Isaac came by a miracle of God's providence, the Lord working out the details based upon faith in Him. In this Abraham and Sarah found approval from God. Textual criticism stands in man's efforts. Man will give his approval (schools, circles, camps, human scholarship, etc.). Receiving the text handed down through the churches stands by faith in the grace of God.

God's Word says that God will preserve His Word, every and all (Psalm 12:6, 7; Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25; Matthew 5:18; 24:35).
I believe God would preserve every One of His Words.

Scripture says that God would make His Words available to every generation of believer (Isaiah 59:21; Matthew 4:4). I believe God would make His Words generally accessible to every generation of saints.

The Bible says that God's Word is perfect and pure (Psalm 12:6, 7; Proverbs 30:4, 5). I believe that God's Word is perfect and pure.

God's Word says that the Bible will be settled to the extent that someone could not add or take away from His Words (Revelation 22:18, 19; Deuteronomy 12:32). I believe that God's Word would be settled.

The Bible says that God would lead His saints into all truth, that the Word, all of His Words, are truth (John 16:13; 17:8, 17). I believe that God would lead His children to every one of His Words.

When we see what God has taught about His Words and the preservation of them, we choose to believe what He said, despite tangible evidence. Individual hand-copies had errors. God said that men would change the Words of Scripture. He warned of it. We see that this is the strategy of Satan, to amend the Words of God. However, God promised and so we believe that He overcame the work of Satan and preserved His Words so that we would have a settled text that is perfect in fulfillment of His promises. The textus receptus of the NT and the Hebrew Masoretic of the OT are the only texts that could have been preserved and available. They are the only texts that believers will claim perfection.

I wasn't there when God created the world. I believe it anyway. I wasn't there when God inspired His Word. I believe it anyway. I wasn't there when Jesus died on the cross. I believe it anyway. I wasn't there when God preserved His Words. I believe it anyway. God will be pleased with your reception of the Words He preserved. You will receive a good report for your faith in His promises. Will you be approved by God or by men?

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