Sure, we recognize that while the Bible is completely true and without error, we are not. We are fallen and finite, so we need care and diligence as we seek to rightly understand and apply God’s truth. But we are not left in endless doubt and skepticism. The Holy Spirit has been given to every believer to guide them in all truth (John 16:13). We can have real certainty – at least about the basics. As 1 John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know…” Indeed, the idea of certainty in belief is found throughout Scripture.
When a culture becomes convinced that there is no longer any such thing as black and white, but just ninety-nine shades of grey, then the ones still holding to absolutes are considered to be troublemakers and madmen. Such is the case today for those who still affirm biblical Christianity.
The culture around us is steeped in relativism, subjectivism, and an aversion to truth. But sadly much of the church is moving in this direction as well. Those who have been involved in teaching young people over the years certainly will have noticed this shift in thinking, with more and more Christians expressing doubts about absolute truth.
I increasingly hear from some young people that they think we can’t be so black and white in our beliefs, and that the Bible itself is not so black and white. I always cringe when I hear such talk. Of course to be fair, it does depend on just what they are referring to exactly.
If they simply mean that some things can be hard to understand, or that Christians can disagree on various issues – especially secondary matters – then yes, I can see where they are coming from. But if they mean that core Christian truths such as the Deity of Christ and the reliability of Scripture are just too fuzzy and unclear, then I have some real problems with this.
And many of them seem to think that the Bible is actually all very grey when it comes to key moral issues as well, such as abortion or homosexuality. When believers try to tell us that the Bible is not black and white on such issues, then you know that the world has been heavily influencing them.
The bottom line is this: Scripture IS black and white. How can it be otherwise? It is the very word of God, and God cannot lie. He is a God of truth, so all his words are true. As Jesus put it in John 17;17, “Your word is truth.” Or as Paul put it in Romans 3:4 “Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true” (NLT).
Sure, we recognise that while the Bible is completely true and without error, we are not. We are fallen and finite, so we need care and diligence as we seek to rightly understand and apply God’s truth. But we are not left in endless doubt and scepticism. The Holy Spirit has been given to every believer to guide them in all truth (John 16:13).
We can have real certainty – at least about the basics. As 1 John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know…” Indeed, the idea of certainty in belief is found throughout Scripture. I like what John Stott has to say about this. As he puts it in the beginning of his classic book Christ the Controversialist:
The corridors of the New Testament reverberate with dogmatic affirmations beginning ‘We know’, ‘We are sure’, ‘We are confident’. If you question this, read the First Epistle of John in which verbs meaning ‘to know’ occur about forty times. They strike a note of joyful assurance which is sadly missing from many parts of the church today and which needs to be recaptured.
Or as he says in his commentary on the Johannine Epistles:
To read the Epistles of John is to enter another world altogether, whose marks are assurance, knowledge, confidence, and boldness. The predominant theme of these Epistles is Christian certainty. Their characteristic verbs are ginoskein, ‘to perceive’ (15 times), and eidenai, ‘to know’ (25 times), while the characteristic noun is parresia, ‘confidence of attitude’ or ‘boldness of speech’. The Christian’s certainty is twofold—objective (that the Christian religion is true) and subjective (that he himself has been born of God and possesses eternal life). Both are expounded by John, who takes it for granted that this double assurance is right and healthy in all Christian people. His teaching about these certainties, their nature and the grounds on which they are built, urgently needs to be heard and heeded today.