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Profession, Submission and the Bible

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
– The Gospel of John 17:17 (ESV)

Periodically I receive a newsletter from Baylor University which gives the latest and greatest news about my alma mater (Yes, I’m a Bear). Included in this newsletter is a response section which essentially functions as “Letters to the Editor”. I didn’t happen to catch the story to which everyone was responding but whatever the exact topic it definitely struck a nerve, and a religious one at that. The theme appeared to center around the idea of other religions outside of Christianity having access to heaven.

It’s not a new topic. The views around the nation are increasingly pluralistic. However, for the better part of two millennia the Church has held the ground that Jesus is the only way to God. The reason they hold that view is straightforward. Jesus, as well as his apostles, said this about himself (cf., John 14:6). It is recorded in the Bible. Christians, at least in the past, have claimed that the Bible is their source of unparalleled authority being that it is the fully inspired word of God.

Yet there is this response from a fellow alum in my latest college periodical to the statement that Christ is the only way:

“I am a Christian, but I do not believe that Christians have all the answers. Paul, Peter, James, John, and all the early “brothers” were human. The church leaders that decided what writings would go into the “New Testament” were all human. God only has humans to work through in this world, and none of them are infallible. I do believe the Bible is the “inspired” word of God. Other books that did not make the cut were probably also inspired by God, as well as writings used by other religions. The key word is “inspired,” not “dictated.” Why do many Christians in general and Baptists in particular feel they now have the final word? …God cannot be put in a box. He cares for all his people and has since the beginning of time. Who are we to say who will and will not make it to heaven? That is God’s call, not ours.”

What is stunning is not the fact that people don’t believe Jesus is the exclusive way into the Kingdom of Heaven. That is old news. What is stunning is that people who claim to be his followers are now joining in the chorus.

Apparently it’s completely acceptable today to profess both your allegiance to Jesus (say, “I’m a Christian”) and your rejection of the Bible. “Rejection” too strong a word? Not at all. To piece together what you like of the Bible and disregard that which you don’t (e.g., the exclusivity of Jesus) is to place yourself as the authority and judge over God’s Word instead of the other way around which, by the way, is how authentic followers of Jesus have been described in that very Bible.

1 John 2:3-5, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

Professing a devotion to Jesus while rejecting parts of the Bible will not do, and yet many have been so hoodwinked by the zeitgeist of postmodernism which tempts us to exchange pearls of absolute truth for pebbles of ephemeral opinion that after hearing someone do exactly this we move on to the next topic without even blinking. But God will have none of it. You can’t claim to love Christ and with a clear conscience play loose and fast with his word.

If 1 John 2:3-5 tells us anything it says that fidelity of faith is found not in profession but submission.

By God’s grace, may we seek and struggle to demonstrate both.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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