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"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works." — II Timothy 3:16:17 "Sound Doctrine" These scriptures give to us the principal uses and values, which the Scriptures possess, for us. The first mention is that they are profitable for doctrine. There is an inseparable connection between doctrine and deportment. Our convictions mold our Character. What we believe determines how we act. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." To be soundly indoctrinated and to be well grounded in the truth is one and the same thing. Nothing but the truth operating in the heart will keep us from error, either theoretical or practical. Of the primitive Christians it is said, "they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) They esteemed soundness of faith as the first importance, were of a radically different spirit from those who are so indifferent to the fundamentals of Christianity that they openly say, "it matters little what a man believes if his life is good." The relation between sound doctrine and behavior is like the relation between a tree and the fruit it bears: the latter cannot exist without the former. Heavenly doctrine is to be matched with heavenly character and conduct. The first epistle of the New Testament exemplifies this truth, three fourths of it is occupied with the lying down of the essentials of Christianity. The Apostle shows what is requisite for the behavior of Christianity. The history of Christianity during the last four centuries illustrates this truth. Examine the writings of the reformers and you will find that exposition of doctrine held the foremost place in their ministry. It was this light that God used to deliver Europe from popish ignorance and superstition, which characterized the dark ages. The moral tendency upon the masses and spiritual blessings communicated to God's people by the preaching of sound doctrine appears in the time of the Puritans. Again at the turn of the last century, with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and a return to doctrinal purity there came a revolution in morals. Since that time, in proportion as the churches have departed their doctrinal fidelity and zeal, has close walking with God, purity, and uprightness before men, and morality in the masses declined. The curse never comes causeless. The present generation has, for the most part, been raised not only in an atmosphere of negative unbelief but of hostile unbelief. They live in a world where materialism and skepticism are rampant. Doubt as to spiritual and moral truth is spread through many channels. Our seats of learning, from grade school through the university are hotbeds of agnosticism. Our literature, with rare exception, makes light of God, and jokes about sacred things. The newspaper, radio, TV, public utterance and private conversation are steadily but surely destroying what little faith in spiritual things remains. Even those who have been brought up in Christian homes are being corrupted by the paganism of modern education. Our children are bewildered by the conflicting teachings they receive from parents and school. Some of them honestly seeking to resolve their doubts turn to the Church only to find the same doubt being spread by the pulpit. In such time in which we live it is the duty of the preacher to recognize the mental conflict taking place in the minds of his young people. The Word of God must be proclaimed as the only answer to life. The Gospel, which is published in the Bible, attests itself by virtue of its matchless merits. It proves its divine origin by a proclamation of truth, which is self-evident. There is no need for an appeal to be made for external testimonies, for a true perception of the Gospel demonstrates its divine nature. That which is affirmed in the Gospel is manifest by its own assertion as something far surpassing all the inventions of the human mind. The Gospel itself is light, for its central object is, "the light of the world." (John 8:12) Light necessarily proves itself, for it is self-evident, needing nothing to manifest it. It discovers other objects, but requires nothing to discover itself. "Whatsoever doth make manifest is light." (Ephesians 5:13) The Gospel makes manifest the perfections of God, setting forth an open revelation of them before our minds. Therefore this divine revelation is designated "the glorious Gospel of the Blessed God." (I Timothy 1:11) Further evidence of the Divinity of the Gospel is in the solution it offers to the problem of 'how then, can a man be justified with God? The problem is two-fold; legal and moral, respecting man's relation to the Divine law, and his fitness for the kingdom of God. Man is a transgressor to God's law. Every member of the human race is such. Anything short of perfect and perpetual obedience to the divine commandments in thought word or deed constitutes one a transgressor. Measured by such a standard every man must plead guilty. The law condemns us how then can we be acquitted? WE TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT THE ELEMENTS THAT ENTER INTO THE PROBLEM OF OUR BEING ACQUITTED. FIRST, THERE ARE THE REQUIREMENTS OF LAW. THEY ARE FOUNDED UPON THE PERFECTION OF THE LAW GIVER, THEREFORE NOTHING LESS THAN SPOTLESS HOLINESS IS DEMANDED OF US. NEGATIVELY, THE LAW PROSCRIBES NOT ONLY WRONG DEEDS AND CORRUPT COUNSELS OF THE HEART, BUT AS NO HUMAN LEGISLATION EVER DID, IT ALSO PROHIBITS EVIL DESIRES AND PROPENSITIES, SO THAT ALL UNCHASTE IMAGINATIONS ARE FORBIDDEN. ALSO THE SPIRIT OF DISCONTENT, ENVY, REVENGE, ANYTHING THAT IS CONTRARY TO THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD HIMSELF IS FORBIDDEN. POSITIVELY THE LAW DEMANDS FROM US AN ENTIRE, UNRESERVED, AND UNINTERRUPTED YIELDING OF OUR SOUL AND BODY, UNTO GOD. THE LAW REQUIRES NOT ONLY THAT I LOVE GOD WITH ALL MY HEART, BUT THAT LOVE TO HIM MUST REGULATE ALL MY ACTIONS. THE SECOND ELEMENT IS THE CHARGE AGAINST US: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS NO NOT ONE." (ROMANS 3:10) NOT ONE MEMBER OF THE FALLEN RACE MEETS THE REQUIREMENTS OF GOD. THEREFORE, "ALL THE WORLD STANDS GUILTY BEFORE GOD." (ROMANS 3:19) The third element that enters into the problem of our being acquitted is the sentence of the Law. This is clearly stated, "cursed is everyone that continueth not in all the things, which are written in the book of the law." (Galatians 3:10) No allowance is made for ignorance, no distinction is made between persons, "the soul that sinneth shall die." No exception is made between old and young, rich or poor, Jew and Gentile: "the wages of sin is death." Problem number four, the judge Himself is inflexibly just, "that will by no means clear the guilty." (Exodus 34:7) In the high court of heaven the Judge interprets the law in its sternest aspect and judges according to the strictness of the letter. "He is a holy God, He is a jealous God: He will not forgive your transgression, and you sins." (Joshua 24:9) Here then is the problem. How can God justify the willful transgressor of His law without justifying sin? That is a problem, which no jurist of earth can solve: yet God in His infinite wisdom devised a way whereby He can deal with the chief of sinners as though he was entirely innocent. The solution is summed up in one word, 'substitution.' God decreed that salvation should be provided for transgressors and, in order that His righteousness might not be compromised, determined that another should take their place. Such a substitute must be sinless, where could such a one be found? "The things that are impossible with men are possible with God." (Luke 18:27 ) That problem which was far above the compass of all creatures was solved by omniscience. God selected His own Son the undertaking. There was another problem; namely, the Son was absolutely sovereign in Himself; how then could He serve. ? He was infinitely above law; how then could He perform obedience to the law? He was the Lord of Glory, worshiped by all the hosts of heaven; how then could He be substituted in the place of worms of the earth? Moreover, as their substitute, he must not only fulfill all the requirements of the law, but he must also take upon Him their sins. He must suffer the laws condemnation, endure its penalty, receive its awful wages of sin. How could this infinitely holy one be judicially 'made' sin for them. THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD DETERMINED THAT THIS SON SHOULD BECOME THE REPRESENTATIVE AND SURETY OF SINNERS, AND SO BE SUBSTITUTED IN THEIR PLACE. FOR THAT SON TO BE THE SINNERS SURETY, HE MUST RENDER SATISFACTION TO THE LAW IN MAN'S OWN NATURE! NOT ONLY WAS THE INFINITE TO BECOME FINITE, THE ANCIENT OF DAYS AN INFANT, BUT THAT HE SHOULD BE BORN OF A WOMAN WITHOUT THE TAINT OF SIN. THE INCARNATION WAS NO MYSTERY TO DIVINE WISDOM. THE SON OF GOD BECAME THE SON OF MAN. A WORD MUST BE ADDED UPON THE APPLICATION OF CHRIST'S WORK TO HIS PEOPLE. HOW SHALL THEY PARTAKE OF THE BENEFITS OF HIS REDEMPTION WITHOUT ROBBING HIM OF HIS GLORY? IT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT IMPARTING TO THEM A NEW NATURE. "IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST THERE IS A NEW CREATURE." I SUBMIT TO YOU THAT WHEN IMPARTIALLY EXAMINED, IT IS SELF EVIDENT THAT THE GOSPEL IS NOT OF HUMAN ORIGIN. CERTAINLY THE JEWS DID NOT INVENT IT, FOR THEY WERE ITS BITTEREST ENEMIES. THE GENTILES DID NOT INVENT IT, FOR THEY KNEW NOTHING ABOUT IT UNTIL THE APOSTLES PREACHED TO THEM. THE APOSTLES DID NOT INVENT IT, FOR AT THE FIRST THEY WERE OFFENDED BY IT. THE GOSPEL IS OF GOD, AND AS SUCH IT IS THE ANSWER TO ALL PROBLEMS. GOD'S COMMAND IS FOR US TO PREACH AND LIVE THE GOSPEL AND EVERYTHING ELSE WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF.
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