by Burk Parsons
As a pastor, I spend much of my time out in the community, and I meet new people every week. When people inquire what I do for a living, I tell them I am a pastor. At that point I get responses that vary depending on whether the person is a Christian and whether he or she has been to church recently. When I tell them I serve as a pastor of a church called Saint Andrew’s Chapel, I then have to explain what kind of church we are and what kind of church we’re not. It’s the most natural way I have found to be able to explain the gospel to unbelievers in our community on a regular basis. Over the years, I have also found that describing our church initially in two simple ways is most effective for helping them understand who we are and what we believe. I explain that we are a Bible-believing and gospel-preaching church; and, if they haven’t run away yet, I then proceed to explain slowly and carefully what it means to believe the Bible—what the gospel is, who Jesus is and what He did, how sinners are saved, and why we worship as a community of believers. Although most people don’t realize it, I am giving them a basic, five-minute systematic theology course based on and flowing from the doctrine of Scripture. The doctrine of Scripture informs every other doctrine. It is a most practical doctrine for all of life.
Scripture is the foundation for all we believe and the fountain from which we daily drink. It was the heart of the sixteenth-century Reformation, and it holds the message of eternal life for ourselves, our children, and our neighbors. It is the sacred Word of God given to us by human authors through the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, and it is our only inerrant and infallible authority for all of faith and life. Nevertheless, many professing Christians give little attention to it. Though they constantly look for a special word from God, there it sits on their shelves, gathering dust. It is ignored by many people who sit in our churches, and it is under attack by many outside the church. It has been under attack ever since the fall, when the serpent asked, “Did God really say?” (Gen. 3:1).
Fundamentally, the devil questioned the authority of the Word of God, and the devil’s servants have been questioning it ever since. Questioning the authority of God’s Word is tantamount to questioning God Himself, and questioning whether God’s sacred Word contains errors is in fact questioning God’s ability to do all things perfectly. If we question God’s Word, we have set ourselves up as a higher tribunal than God and have declared ourselves judges of God and His Word. Nevertheless, as Bible-believing Christians, we must not simply refrain from questioning the truth of God’s Word, and we must not merely believe that God’s Word is true, but we must actually believe God’s Word and submit to it in all of life as we live coram Deo, before His face.