“Let’s just use Bible terms.”
2 Timothy 4:1-5
“Let’s just use Bible terms.” That sounds very good, doesn’t it? Whenever men have backed themselves into a corner by stating and defending a doctrinal position that is shown to be erroneous, if they are unwilling to acknowledge their error, you can almost always expect to hear them say, sometimes without even blushing to show their embarrassment, “Let’s just use Bible terms.” 150 years ago an Arminian by the name of Alexander Campbell started his heretical denomination of will worshippers (They call themselves the Church of Christ.), teaching his followers that all errors and divisions in the church arise from men using “enticing words of man’s wisdom” to teach false doctrine. In doing so, he willfully perverted Paul’s doctrine in 1 Corinthians 2.
Many defend their erroneous doctrine just as Campbell did, insisting that we say exactly what God says in the Bible, no more and no less. At first, that appears very pious. But is it proper, or even possible, for God’s servants, to teach the Word of God using only the words found in Holy Scripture? The obvious answer is, “No, of course not.” In fact, a slight review of the things stated by the very men who make such statements will demonstrate that they do not practice what they insist upon.
If we speak (or write) only in the language of Holy Scripture, we are not preaching the Scriptures, but merely reading the Scriptures. It is the preacher’s responsibility to “preach the Word,” expounding the Scriptures, to make full proof of his ministry by faithfully, honestly, and truthfully declaring that which is revealed in the Book of God.
If we followed the policy of saying exactly what God says in the Bible, no more and no less, we could never use such words as — “New Birth” — “Divine Sovereignty” — “Substitution” — “Trinity” — “Triune God” — “Total Depravity” — “Limited Atonement” — “Accomplished Redemption” — “Free Grace” — “Sovereign Grace” — “Grace Alone” — “Irresistible Grace” and — “Perfect Salvation,” or make statements like — “Christ is a perfect, complete Savior.” — “Jesus Christ is God.” and — “Divine Purpose.” The list of forbidden words and phrases could be greatly extended; but these will suffice to show the folly of insisting that we say exactly what God says in the Bible, no more and no less.
Several years ago a local Campbellite preacher wrote an article in our local newspaper attacking something he had read by me in which I stated, “Salvation is by grace alone.” In his very pious sounding hypocrisy, he wrote, “We agree that the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace, but the Bible nowhere states that ‘salvation is by grace alone.’” He was exactly right in stating that. The Bible nowhere uses those exact words, but it universally teaches that exact doctrine. After pointing out that, “the Bible nowhere states that ‘salvation is by grace alone,’” the babbling heretic went own to declare that sinners are saved by baptism and good works, referring his readers to the exact words of Scripture!
Those who piously insist that we say exactly what God says in the Bible, no more and no less, prove themselves terribly hypocritical by the fact that they never follow the practice. Like the Campbellite mentioned above, they refer us to a word, phrase, or statement in the Bible, and then explain their meaning in words totally contrary to that which God the Holy Spirit has stated in Holy Scripture.
Words are vehicles of communication. They express ideas. The ideas expressed by any use of words can only be determined by the context in which they are used. In preaching he gospel we interpret the ideas (the doctrine) conveyed in a passage in the light of its immediate context and in the light of the whole Volume of Divine Inspiration, and declare that doctrine honestly in the language of the people we address. When a man takes refuge in a pretense of using only the very words of Scripture it is because he is either uncertain of the meaning of those words, or those words convey something he wishes to hide.
“Holding fast the faithful Word,” as we have been taught by God the Holy Spirit, let every faithful gospel preacher boldly and confidently expound exactly what God says in the Bible, no more and no less, “by sound doctrine,” “for there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” I say with Paul, to all who are responsible to proclaim the gospel of Christ, “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine,” for the time has come when men “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” Brethren, “PREACH THE WORD!”
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