The Death of Certainty and Lines in the Sand

Is there anything absolutely certain that new believers in Christ Jesus can hold on to?  More than most people think.  

There is nothing secret about the fact that the world rejects any idea that there are people who see the settled truth, and have access to final facts.  You can view the article, “The Arrogance of Tolerance” in the archives for a further explanation. 

What is worse than the world’s rejection of settled truth, is that there are many within Christianity who reject the concept of “certainty” as well.  There are those who want to “discuss and debate” what is really settled and secured.  Some do not want anyone to be “certain” of anything but Jesus.  Which is the FIRST THING to be certain about. What is more, is that some do not want there to be in any “lines in the doctrinal sand.”

Recently I read an article from another blog, several actually, that the author was posting strong disagreement with those like myself, who recognize that the Bible teaches certain facts about how believers are to be baptized, and how communion is to be practiced.  The author in one sense actually had a “double disagreement.”  He disagreed with the scriptural teachings of “church authority in baptism” and “closed communion” as Baptists understand those terms, which is his perogative.  However his disagreement went even further.  He not only disagreed with what myself and many others, in this day and throughout history, have taught, but he disagreed with us for making these doctrines “lines in the sand” between church-church cooperation. 

In other words, not only would I be wrong for what I believe, but I would be wrong for being so certain of what I believe that I would not yield concessions toward his opinion.  Without getting into those particular Bible doctrines, the greater issue and my point here is the fact that the author I am referencing, and those like him, are making (unintentionally maybe) “doctrinal certainty” a sin.  The result of this attitude is this, “you can believe what you want to believe, as long as you concede the fact that you may be wrong . . .”  Which is absolutely foolish for God called preachers who are charged to preach the truth as fact, settled and secured.

The accusation that is most often made concerning “fundamental”  or “landmark” Christians is that we are being “narrow minded” or “idealogues.”   The fact is that “truth is narrow.”  Two plus two is not 4.75.  Water is not H3O.  There are four sides to a square not eleven.  Now let’s think about this for a minute.  Would you want your pharmacist to be “narrow minded” when it comes to compounding your medicine?  Would you tolerate a doctor who prescribed salt pills for high blood pressure.  ( I mean salt is a preservative right?  the more you have the longer you’ll live.) 

Of course not.  We fully expect, doctors, pharmacists, engineers, architects, mechanics, etc to all be “narrow minded” about what is “true” and “right”.  Why then would we tolerate “error” in the areas of theological truth?   It is true that there are areas of scripture that we do not have perfect knowledge in.  However there are more areas that we do, than some people want to admit.  

The fact is that a true God called preacher, and teacher, is never called to preach or teach what they believe.  They are called to preach and teach what they know to be true.  I often tell the people that I pastor, that I do not know what I believe, I believe what I know.  I know that the Bible is the Word of God therefore I believe it.  I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God therefore I believe Him.  I know that Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, set and secured for evermore never to be lost, therefore I believe it.  I know that Christ died for the sins of the whole world, therefore I believe it.  Just to name a few . . .

Now that being said, WHY would I concede as possibly legitimate, something that I know to be untrue?  Asking me to concede that Christ died for a few is equivalent to asking me to not outright reject your own set of mathematics and acknowledge that your opinion of 2 + 2 = 5, is equally viable.   The German word for that is “Baloney.”

There are some things that I am not certain about.  When I come to those areas within the scripture, I confess my lack of understanding, study diligent for resolution, and wait for a settled answer.  Until I have that settled answer, (which may not come) I walk softly and teach “concessionally” through it. 

The problem is that there is more that is settled than many Christians want to admit.  All that is accomplished by the “debates” and the “discussions” is that confusion is propagated throughout the land for new believers, and that is a sad commentary on Christianity as a whole.

New Believers ought to take strong courage, and rest in solid assurance that “Certainty” is not as dead as the devil wants them to believe.  Doctrinal, Disciple building, Bible truth, is not as vague as some within professed Christendom may want you to think.  Do not get the idea that it is arrogant to assert that something is in fact a matter of truth, and not opinion.  There is a difference between TRUTH and OPINION, but TRUTH is not as small as some want it to appear.

To quote again the late great Dr. Rogers, “it is better to be divided by the truth, than united in a lie.”  Maintaining doctrinal certainty is a much needed effort in this day of eccumenical confusion.  It is an issue of love for the Lord, and a love for people.   William Fay in his book “Share Jesus Without Fear”  points out several questions a person witnessing can ask to open the door of someone’s heart.  One of those questions keeps on applying after a person is saved.  “If what you are believing is not true, would you want to know it?” 

Certainty of Bible Doctrine is not dead, but it’s revival is needed.  For the sake of new converts everywhere it would definitely be a Change Worth Making.

2 comments on “The Death of Certainty and Lines in the Sand

  1. Joe Blackmon says:

    Very encouraging. Yes, there are some things about which men and women of good conscience can disagree while both being Christians (i.e. I’m a Calvinist. From your comment on the Dawg’s blog I would assume you’re not. 🙂 ) but there are FAR more things that we have to contend for as being true because, well, they’re true. If that makes me a narrowminded fundy, I can live with that. 🙂

  2. Junkster says:

    Interesting points. Of course, whatever the Bible actually teaches is in fact “settled truth”. You are, as are we all, free to hold to whatever positions you believe (or know) to be biblical truth — a Christian in good conscience should do no less. But it would be wise for you not to equate what you think the Bible teaches with the “settled truth” that it actually teaches. Humility would dictate that we acknowledge that our understanding is limited and could be flawed, especially when dealing with disputed matters that do not relate directly to our salvation. The issue isn’t so much what is settled truth as it is whether what we believe to be true actually is true. It is by no means foolish to acknowledge that, while the truth is settled, what is not settled is that you personally have a better handle on it than someone who disagrees with you about what the Bible teaches. Rather, the foolish position would be to insist that your interpretation is the only possible correct one.

    No one is asking you, or anyone else, to concede that other people’s doctrinal positions are better than, or more correct than, or even just a good as, your own. Some are merely stating that a humble spirit would allow you to agree to disagree on certain matters while still cooperating on other, more important, matters. I’m sure you do not genuinely believe that it is just as important that an unsaved person believe your view of church ordinances or your view of election as it is that they believe the gospel. When the call is put forth to be willing to cooperate with other individuals and churches that differ on these “tertiary” matters, how can it be good to draw a line in the sand over such matters if it would limit cooperation in getting the gospel to the world? That seems to me the most foolish position of all.

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