By E. Claude Gardner
What are the dimensions of the room where you are? How many feet wide and long is it? By taking a 12-inch ruler or a yardstick you can get an accurate measurement. Likewise if ten others used the same measuring stick, they would report exactly the same figures as you found. If in religion everyone accepts one common standard of authority, then this should result in the same faith and practice. Confusion and frustration are experienced because different standards of authority are accepted. Good people are mystified by all the conflicting doctrines that are preached.
Our plea that is both scriptural and sensible is this: The New Testament is our only rule of faith and practice. We call all men back to the word of God to guide us in all matters of our lives – spiritual, worship, personal, family and business. We earnestly plead that we should speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent; we should call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things in the Bible way."
Christ and his teaching must govern us. We acknowledge him as Lord and Savior. We bow to him as "Lord of lords and King of kings" (Revelation 17:14). He is the head of the church and therefore controls our lives and authorizes how we are to worship. Paul wrote about the headship of Jesus when he said, "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1:22). The risen Christ made a bold and sweeping claim, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18).
God, our Creator, has revealed himself through Christ who has spoken to us through the New Testament. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Jesus does not speak to us audibly, nor "through a still small voice," nor by the conscience, but through his Word revealed to the apostles as given in the New Testament. To the apostles (and not to us today) he promised, "the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). The Lord also assured them of guidance into all truth so that their message is inerrant (Cf. John 15:26; 16:13). We conclude that the New Testament is an expression of our Savior's divine will and way and it is, therefore, our authority. It is the "one faith" (Eph. 4:5). It is the only book to determine our faith, conduct, and worship; by it we should live and by it we should die; on it we should build our homes and our businesses or professions.
Jesus is the "mediator of the new covenant" (Heb. 12:24). He is our Savior through the new covenant or testament. Sin has separated us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and Christ is our "go between" (mediator) through the new covenant.
The Word of God furnishes us completely and hence, we need nothing more. Paul asserted, "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 Timothy 3:16-17).
The New Testament is powerful enough to save us from sin. We must receive the implanted word that is able "to save your souls" (James 1:21). It is described as "quick" (living) and "powerful." For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).
The New Testament is not a "dead letter." It is not essential for the Holy Spirit to "come into one's heart" in a direct and mysterious way in order to quicken the word in the heart. The reason is clear – it is living. The only power God is using for our salvation is the New Testament, for Paul taught, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). It is this truth that sets us free. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
Because Jehovah is mindful of his creation, he has supplied all of our needs. This is one of the precious promises of the New Testament, for Peter wrote, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:3-4). We cannot look to the Old Testament, books of philosophy, nor creeds of men to grant us spiritual life. Hence, we must contend earnestly for this faith. "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
We repudiate all human creeds, confessions of faith, manuals and church disciplines because the New Testament is our guide. Also numerous instances can be cited to show how they contradict the Word of God. They are also subject to frequent changes. A sensible motto rightly states: "If a human creed contains more than the Bible it contains too much; if it contains less than the Bible it contains too little; but if it contains the same thing as the Bible we do not need it anyway."
We earnestly plead that all men come back to the New Testament and to Christ as supreme authority in religion. May we all require a "thus saith the Lord" in all that we believe and practice. The voice from heaven said at the transfiguration, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matt. 17:5).
Measure the dimensions of your room or an object with a 12-inch ruler and then ask another to do the same. What is the implication of this test?
What is the basis of so much confusion or religious teachings?
What is the significance of Christ being the "head" of the church? Does this leave room for a pope or any human being or human creed?
How does God speak to man today?
What are three chief objections to human creeds and confessions of faith?
Show by the scriptures that the New Testament is the only standard of authority.