Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 13, 1961
NUMBER 10, PAGE 1,12-13a

Behind Our Faith

W. P. Risener, Orange, Texas

Back of our faith on any subject is the evidence upon which it rests and by which it is sustained, and our faith is only as sound as the evidence from which it comes. In religion, where the issues are eternal and therefore of the utmost importance, our faith should rest upon the foundation that will not be shaken when all temporary things pertaining to life on earth shall have vanished away. Let us study and be sure we know what is the proper basis of religious faith.

Only a fool can really believe that there is no God, for the Bible unites with nature itself to clearly prove that there is a supreme being. Together these teach us that His power and intelligence are far greater and more perfect than ours, but only in the Bible do we find spiritual laws to govern us religiously. Without such belief in the existence of God the whole idea of religion would of course be foolish, and every religious effort an idle waste of time. But once this truth is accepted, the proper relationship is clearly established of His right to govern and of our duty to obey. Being the creator of all material things, including our bodies, and the father of our spirits, the right to rule with all authority is an attribute of His, and resides in Him originally. In giving His laws He claims this right in the words, "I am the Lord thy God," and to no other do we owe this allegiance, that we should submit to his rule in religious matters, though he be preacher, priest, or prelate. No, we cannot even seek to govern ourselves religiously by our own will and intelligence, without attempting a reversal of this proper relationship and rejecting God in all the meaning that the term implies, whether we realize it or not. The question of who is to be God is fundamental, and we need to get that settled once for all.

Man differs from a beast, for when his body was created he was also given a spirit from God. Our needs are therefore dual, both spiritual and material, and we look to God for both. He gave no written laws to guide us in our quest for material needs, but we work in harmony with His laws of nature as He sends sunshine and rain, seedtime and harvest. If man did not differ from the beast, he could thus supply all creature needs and be content; and like the beast be entirely unconcerned with religion, for religion has no application to a creature wholly material. God's law governing the material needs of man is that "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground." (Gen. 3:19)

But there is more to man, and a more important part, than this body that lives by bread, and returns to the ground at death; for "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." (Eccles. 12:7) God fed the Israelites with manna, "that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live." (Deut. 8:3) Thus this spiritual part, the real man within the body, lives not only by that which man supplies, but is wholly dependent for means to live upon the words that come from God. So man that walketh cannot direct this part of himself, (Jer. 10:23) for the very way that seemeth right unto a man are the ways of death. (Prov. 14:12; 16:25) No, working in harmony with laws of nature man has made wonderful progress in the material realm, but without divine guidance of his spirit he sinks in degradation lower than any beast. (Rom. 1:20-32) We see then that if man does not work there is no bread for the body, and if God does not speak there is no life for the spirit Beloved friend, behind the light in your eyes there dwells the real immortal you, whom we know and love by the things you do and say. And though in this life we may be alienated one from another by social customs, material wealth, class distinctions, or whatever; men stand on an equal basis with respect to eternity, and in the sight of God, and there is no respect of persons. For "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." (Luke 12:15) There are also relationships in this life that place one person in subjection to the will of another, but all such relationships are severed by death. None of these, not even the closest family ties, can relieve the individual soul of the obligation and allegiance he owes to God alone. Thus the child is not subject to the parent, the wife to the husband, the employee to the employer, nor the soldier to the officer in spiritual matters; for religion has to do with our eternal destinies, but all these relationships terminate here on earth. "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Rom. 14:12)

We find that men are tempted through the material things of earth, for the devil has no spiritual inducements to offer, (though he definitely deceives men through false teaching and causes them to lose their souls). "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 Jno. 2:16) So men are tempted to sin when they are drawn away by the lust of the flesh, lusting after worldly things which appeal to the body, and Satan thus succeeded in his efforts to entice Adam and Eve. But Christ understood the dual nature of man, and so replied, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4) "Now the just shall live by faith" also, (Heb. 10:38) "So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God," (Rom. 10:17) "And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." (1 Pet. 1:25) We find, then, that man lives by that faith that is revealed in the gospel, and that is coextensive with, circumscribed within, and founded upon every word that comes from God. So the gospel that Paul preached (Gal. 1:11) was the faith which once he destroyed. (verse 23) And the apostle Peter said, "God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." (Acts 15:7) So we establish at this point that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all men; (Rom. 1:16) for it consists of the words from God addressed to our intelligent spirits, and these words produce faith through which God leads us in our journey through this life. "For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Rom. 8:14)

Words are used to transmit thoughts from one to another and there are no thoughts that cannot be expressed in words for a man's thoughts are limited to the words he understands. Intelligent ideas which express the wishes or will of one are formed into words and sent forth to be received and understood by the intelligent mind of another. This means of communication is no new thing with us. From a child we have in this manner been governed in every walk of life. Thus through the medium of words men have expressed ideas covering the whole range of human thought. Yet some say that men cannot understand the words of God. But "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets," (who spake as they were moved by the Spirit, 2 Pet. 1:21) "Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his son." (Heb. 1:1-2) No, God has the ability to express His will in the words sent forth, and the fact that He holds us accountable thereto, and will judge us by them after this life is plenty of proof that we can understand. So when mentally responsible men are taught the truth and do not accept it, the fault is not with God who sends, the Holy Spirit who reveals, nor man's intellect which is able to understand, but must be charged to a rebellious spirit that will not submit to the authority of God. And though he may shout with all his might about how he believes in God, his disobedience flatly contradicts every word he says.

Let us notice how God protects the purity of His word in its transmittal to us, so that we can build our faith upon this rock with all confidence and assurance. Before He left the apostles Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth. (Jno. 16:7, 13) For at His resurrection Christ was highly exalted and seated at God's own right hand, far above principality, power, might and dominion. All things were put under Him except the Father, and He was made head over all things to the church. Thus in these last days God speaks to us through His son, and no man can come to God except by Him. So when He came to send His apostles under the great commission to proclaim the gospel in His name, the Lord declared His authority in these words, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations," (Matt. 28:18-19) "....but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:49) Just as God spake in times past by the prophets as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, so Christ reveals the gospel to us in these days by those who spake "as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4) Thus no man in any age has been authorized to make known God's words to men except those guided by God's Spirit. Those so inspired were empowered to perform miracles to prove that the Spirit was working with them and enabling them to speak God's word. Nicodemus stated the matter correctly when he said, "Rabbi, we know that thou doest, except God be with him." (Jno. 3:2) So when the apostles were sent forth, God bore witness to their words confirming them by signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. (Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:4)

Let us illustrate the matter by the apostle Paul. "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Gal. 1:11-12) "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:5) So our faith should stand in the gospel, God's power unto salvation, which the apostles received by revelation. Let us notice how it was received, and why they had to "tarry" until they were endued with the power from on high. "But God bath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Cor. 2:10-13) Therefore, only the Spirit knows the things of God, and without His revelation we could not have even one of the words that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Paul also declares here, that they were taught the very words to use in communicating these things to us. Thus not only were the things of God revealed to them, but they were also given the words with which to make known God's will to us. That is inspiration plus revelation.

These words containing the mind of God and His will toward us, spoken and confirmed by the Lord's apostles, stand written for us in the Holy Bible. Do you think words lose any of the thoughts contained therein just because they are written. The Lord met every temptation of Satan by replying, "It is written." In his letter to the Ephesians Paul explains, "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery! (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." (Eph. 3:3-5) So when we read what Paul wrote in words, he says we can understand the same knowledge given to him and others through revelation, which in other ages was not made known. Today the revelation is complete. And if any man perverts it by adding to or taking from it, and teaches this to men, he stands accursed before God. (Gal. 1:8-9) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

But the world is filled with a multiplicity of differing doctrines and faiths, and how shall we find the right way? Beloved friend, recognize your responsibility as an intelligent accountable soul in the sight of God, and do not be deceived. You owe no allegiance to error regardless of the source from which it comes, for the devil is the father of error, and such brings death instead of life to man's soul. Hell will be inhabited by the rebellious wicked spirits of the depraved and abandoned of all ages, and surely we do not want to be with them there. Therefore examine every tenet of your faith, fellow man, and be thou certain that it is founded upon, equal to, but limited within every word that comes from God, and that this is in no wise perverted by any words of man. My prayer is that you may have the moral strength and courage to face this matter honestly and forthrightly, and act in the freedom and volition that God gave you. There are no social positions, family ties, or material considerations that can repay you for a poor lost soul.

Oh may we meet some day, Upon that happy shore;

Farewells to never say, No partings ever more!