Acts 20.17-32 – The faith once revealed to the saints.
Posted: 5 August 2011 in Acts

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said….. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

I can think of at least four passages in the New Testament where we are warned that we must earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 1.3). I suppose that makes it all the more lamentable that there are theologians today who feel able to sit lightly to biblical revelation. Anything contrary to the spirit of the age, such as the exclusive claims of Christianity, can (so far as they are concerned) be safely set aside. I am not saying that we can ignore the way in which the biblical writers were necessarily influenced by their cultural context. For example, slavery is today totally unacceptable, but it was acceptable to Paul.

Nevertheless, after due allowance has been made for cultural conditioning, the Bible speaks with the absolute authority of God. One of the mistakes liberal theologians make is try and substitute the cultural mores of the twenty first century for those of the first century. Again as an example, the language which represents God as being analogous to an absolute monarch probably doesn’t go down well in today’s democratic age, but that does not make the analogy is wrong. God is the absolute Lord of the universe, and the sentient beings he has created have a duty to worship him.

Similarly unpopular today is the God who places obligations upon his creatures, and who calls them to account when the fail to obey him – with hell awaiting those individuals not chosen for eternal salvation. And yet that is the God the Bible sets before us. Definitely not to be found in the Bible is a god (lower case intended) who saves everybody. We might not like that, but it is a fact, and such a god can only be believed in if the very words of Jesus himself are ignored.

So we have a faith which was once delivered to the saints, and the content of that faith is now recorded in the Bible. The God revealed therein is the one we must love and obey – and not a present day idol.

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