In, our last article under the general heading “IN HIS FEAR” we emphasized that the man of God must be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. We also brought out that in this furnishing unto all good works the Church Institute has to perform a very vital task. And we promised to say something more in our next article about the question as to how the Church must quit herself of that task.
We live in an age wherein the Church by various means tries to hold on to her youthful members and keep them in her bosom. This effort in itself is laudable. A church which is not interested enough in her own membership and puts forth no effort to keep her members, give guidance, instruction, leadership to her youth, is not worthy to even exist. We may go still (further and say that a church ignoring and neglecting her seed, her children, is actively engaged in committing suicide by strangulation. She is doomed to die as an organization, and that for the very simple reason that she is not at all interested in her own future and wellbeing. The church of tomorrow is the outgrowth of the church of today, the youth is the future of the church. Neglect the youth and you destroy the church by the mere process of gradual elimination.
However, the very fact that a church puts forth effort, even special effort, to retain her youth does as yet not imply that she ‘furnishes the man of God unto all good works.’ She may do many things for her youth, but unless she does the right thing she does not live up to her God-given calling.
Alas, there are too many churches in our day which sadly neglect their basic calling with respect to the coming generation and waste their time with trivialities. A host of societies are organized and many programs are held which have nothing at all, or scarcely anything, to do with the basic calling of the church toward her seed. Having a strong desire to keep her youth, many a church caters to the wishes of her ‘seed7 and gives the youth the things they crave. For that reason the church sponsors clubs and societies which chief purpose it is to entertain the youth, to give them a good time, to emphasize bodily exercise, to stress health and hygiene. This is also to a great extent the purpose of recreational youth centers for young people who belong to the sarnie church, denomination, or in the broader sense of the word can be classified as Christian youth.
Now, the writer of this article is the last one to claim that our youth should not have a certain amount of entertainment, bodily exercise, etc. (Although personally I am not at all athletically inclined, was always clumsy at it, and neither did I ever care for all kind of social activities). However, the complaint is heard often that the church is doing nothing for her children, for the youth, in the line of entertainment, social activities, etc. And this complaint is hurled against the church as a rather grievous accusation, an indictment. There are those, and often young people express themselves that way, who seem to have a notion that the ‘Church’ must do something in that line. If any reader of this article also has that notion, I would say to such a person: “My friend, this is not at all the business of the church.” Don’t expect entertainment, youth centers and what have you, from the church. It’s not the calling of the church, it does not lie within her sphere of labor, it is none of her business.
The foregoing does not mean that the church has no interest in these things, but it means that all such things are not sponsored by the church, the initiative to bring these plans, programs and entertainments into being, does not at all proceed and should not proceed from the church institute. And when the church nevertheless, perhaps sometimes under pressure of its own members, starts with these things, she is definitely on the wrong track. She neglects her specific calling, undermines the very foundation of her existence, becomes a secular organization, and deteriorates spiritually.
No, but the church must furnish the man of God unto all good works. And the church is an institution which, is preeminently fit for this particular task. You ask “Why”? Because the church handles the Word of God, preaches, declares, proclaims the Scriptures. That is her God-given task, as is very plain from the Scriptures themselves.
And “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” That’s why Scripture is the means whereby the man of God is furnished unto all good works.
If your aim in life is not any higher than to do ‘works’, you do not need Scripture. You can learn ‘work’ on a farm, in the kitchen, in a school, in a machine shop, in a college, in a university, etc. The world has a great many institutions which are well qualified to make you an expert in your particular trade, vocation, field of labor. To give a clear example of what I mean: If you want to become a good auto mechanic you don’t need Scripture, because the Bible is no text book for various trades, but you must study mechanics, and you must acquire practical experience in a garage, etc.
On the other hand, if you are ever to become an expert in performing ‘good works’, as we have defined and described them in a previous article, you need Scripture. The world cannot furnish you unto all good works. And that for the simple reason that the world lies in darkness, is spiritually corrupt, lives in enmity toward God, denies the truth of God, loves, teaches, practices the lie. The world is spiritually-ethically corrupt, and for that reason can never furnish the man of God unto all good works that are spiritually-ethically good. The wisdom and philosophy of the world is indeed enmity with God.
From the foregoing follows with iron logic that Scripture is the sole means whereby the man of God may be furnished unto all good works. I said the sole means, and that is just exactly what I mean. Perhaps you ask, “But is there proof for this?” Yes, indeed, there is, and ye have this very definitely and specifically stated in II Timothy 3:16. This text, which we quoted already, states some very fundamental principles. From the text it is as clear as crystal that if it is your aim in life to be equipped with the necessary knowledge to please God to live to His Name’s honor and glory in every sphere of life, you need the Word of God. For the Word of God, and the Word of God alone, reveals His will, it is a light upon our path and a lamp before our feet, and it is the complete and sole source of information we need to be pleasing unto him and to become equipped to serve Him with all our heart and mind and strength, To be thoroughly furnished.’
For the above text clearly states that Scripture is first of all profitable unto doctrine. The Word of Gad furnishes us positively with the knowledge of the truth, of the will of God. Would you like to know how to live, how to please God, would you like to know His will and constantly learn more about it, learn it better, understand it deeper? Then you need the Scriptures, and they can, will, and do tell you all you need to know. And, as we saw in a previous article, in order to perform good works, it is indeed ‘basic’ to know the will of God.
In the second place, the Word of God is profitable to train us into righteousness, because that Word of God tells us how we must live in this world in every sphere of life. It teaches us to discern between light and darkness, good and evil. It gives us all the precepts of God which we are to observe in our entire life, and it states the principles which must guide us in our every thought, word, deed, and in our entire walk of life.
In the third place, the Word of God is also profitable for reproof, for correction. It is profitable to convict us of sin, warn, condemn, rebuke us if in any way, manner or situation of life we have gone astray. It admonishes us constantly to walk in the ways of God, and it unhesitatingly condemns our every evil thought, word, deed. The Word of God is absolutely uncompromising, and it is at all times a shining light upon the way of all those who love to walk in the precepts of our covenant God.
Therefore, we need instruction in the Word of God, in the inspired Scriptures if we are to be furnished unto all good works. And for that purpose we need nothing else but the Word.
If you agree with the foregoing and clearly grasp its meaning, you will also immediately understand why the Church is a very important institution to furnish the man of God unto all good works. Yea, the church is preeminently fit for this task. In fact without the church even the parents could not perform their task in this work of thoroughly furnishing their children. For the Word of God was entrusted unto the church for the purpose that she might declare, proclaim, preach, expound, teach it to ‘all creatures’. Yes, but that means first of all unto her own members, her own constituency, and necessarily unto her own seed.
Indeed the Word of God is the sole means to furnish the man of God unto all good works. And the Church being, so to speak, the custodian, proclaimer, interpreter, teacher of the Scriptures, as authorized by God, in an official manner, must serve as the institution! and the instrument par excellence whereby the man of God is made perfect, that is thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
We did not quite reach the goal which we had in mind for this time. Hence, we did not fully answer the question which we set out to answer. For this reason there must needs be a sequence to this article. Therefore we must leave for the next time the question as to how the Church teaches the Word, and instructs in the Word ‘the man of God,’ by whom is meant here the covenant seed, and endeavors to make that Word profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.