Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
The Scriptures are being questioned, undermined, reinterpreted and denied today. There is a desire to “update” them to ensure they remain relevant to the present-day and contemporary people can relate to its teaching. However, anytime one believes it is necessary to update the Scriptures to ensure they speak “truth” today is taking a step away from the authoritative Scriptures.
The fact that the Scriptures are facing this assault ought not to surprise us since this issue was at the heart of the initial temptation offered by Satan in the Garden. This was the means by which Adam and Eve defied and rebelled against God. Satan’s deceptive ploy was first to frame his denial of God’s Word through what appeared to be a concerned question: “Did God actually say” (Gen. 3:1). It must be remembered that though asked in a question format, it was not a question for Satan. He had a settled view of God and His Word. Instead it was the means by which he would sow seeds of doubt in the minds and hearts of Adam and Eve.
This question was really only the first step that was intended to cause Adam and Eve to raise the same question, though with the ultimate goal noted in Satan’s true assessment of God and His word, “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4), which is a direct denial of God’s clear, explicit and unequivocally word, “you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17)
Tragically, Adam and Eve regressed from the initial question to the outright denial through an act of rebellion against God, which is the basis of the fall. They ate the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6), and all born since, all of us are “in Adam,” are affected by this fall.
In a twisted order of God’s design, now rather than running to God, they hide from Him. Rather than listening to Him, they want to shield themselves from Him. Thankfully, God did not leave us alone.
There is another question. This time from God. He asks, “where are you” (Gen. 3:9). This question is not asked out of ignorance, since God is omniscient. Rather it is asked out of love. After Adam and Eve rebelled against God and His Word, God had no obligation to respond. He could have remained silent and allowed sin to have its full effect in both physical and spiritual death. And He would have remained just and righteous in doing so. Yet, in His love and mercy (Ex. 34:6-7), he speaks. Though he will speak a word of judgment,, he also speaks a word of hope, found in the promise of an offspring (Gen. 3:15), a son, the Word incarnate (Jn. 1:14) revealed through God’s Word inscripturated.
Every generation will face the age-old lie of Satan asked in question form, with the ultimate goal of denying God and His Word. The tactic remains similar and the results of one’s view of the Scriptures remain just as stark and critical for life and death. But the manner the manner in which the questions are asked will be fitting to the spirit of the age. Often we are good (which is not commendable!) at giving generation-old answers to contemporary day questions. Scripture and its truth do not change, and therefore does not need to be updated. But the questions raised will be couched in a trendy, progressive way that will be tempting to the present-day reader of Scripture. Answers may be similar from age to age, but the questions raised and answers given will take a different form based on the contemporary day.
This is why it is critical that every generation believe, confess/profess and affirm the authority of the Scriptures today. This is one reason for this Theology Conference on The Doctrine of the Scriptures.
As the Psalmist writes and the author of Hebrews exhorts, “Today, if [when] you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Heb. 3:15; cf. Ps. 95:7-8).
Here is the link for information for the 2015 conference: EFCA Theology Conference. Registration will be available later this week. For your information, registration will also be made available to those outside the EFCA so I encourage you to register soon. Space is limited!