Scripture and the Church

'Do Not Diminish A Word' - The Individual Believer's Responsibility

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Are we willing to submit ourselves to the two-edged sword of Scripture?

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part 7 (final) of a series. Read part 6.

Are we willing to submit ourselves to the two-edged sword of Scripture?

Thus says the Lord: "Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord's house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word." (Jeremiah 26:2)

As we conclude this series we take up the third aspect of the threefold responsibility God places upon believers in this world to "not diminish a word" of His truth.

We have seen, first, that those whom our Lord Jesus Christ has appointed as ministers of the Word bear this vital responsibility in their preaching, in shepherding of the flock of God under their care, and in personal conduct. What the preacher brings to the pulpit must be the overflow of a life spent comprehensively and continuously searching the Scriptures.

Secondly, the church as a body of believers, in all that it says, and does, and is, bears the same responsibility to "not diminish a word." The pastor's example is indispensible.

Finally, the same duty to "diminish not a word" also rests upon each Christian individually. We, as believers in Christ, the adopted sons of God, cannot omit from our lives a single word of all that God has placed before us in the pages of Scripture.

Solomon's Failure of the Flesh

Scripture sets before us the tragic example of a man who did that. His name was Solomon. Solomon tried to spiritually compartmentalize his life. He failed.

We read in First Kings chapter 3 that at the beginning of his reign, Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David. But even then, the passage goes on to say, even at a very early stage of his adult life, Solomon was making sacrifices and burning incense on the high places, in direct disobedience to the commandment of God.

As time went on, Solomon diminished the Word in his life even more. He made alliances with the pagan nations that God had forbidden to be made. Solomon took a multitude of wives from among the pagan nations. He did this by ignoring and suppressing, in his thinking and living, those parts of the Word of God that commanded him not to take wives from the other nations because, God said, "they will turn away your heart after their gods." And that is exactly what happened to Solomon.

And we are told in First Kings chapter 11 that the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from the Lord God of Israel who had appeared to him twice.

So we come to the book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, and we have that great tragic statement of the king in his later years, as he looks back over his life: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." It is the lament of a man who, though still a believer, realizes what a ruin he has made of his spiritual life and seeks to warn a younger generation to shun the path he willfully took.

Paul's Triumph in the Spirit

On the other hand, we have the great positive example of the Apostle Paul. Paul, the great Hebrew of the Hebrews, who thought that he did God a great favor by persecuting the church. And then the Lord Jesus stopped him in his tracks on the road to Damascus. Paul tells us that after that, the Lord Jesus personally taught him the truth of the Gospel. Jesus Himself showed him the glorious fulfillment of all the types and symbols and prophecies of the Old Testament concerning His person and His work. And that is what Paul then preached and taught. That is what we find in his epistles.

By the authority of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul did not hesitate to embrace the truth of the Gospel - even though it was completely contrary to the legalism in which he had previously trusted. He diminished not a word. And so in Philippians chapter 3 Paul gives this great testimony:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

"The excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" - the unsurpassing value of knowing Christ. Paul does not compartmentalize his life. It all belongs to Christ. And so Paul testifies to Timothy, near the end of his life:

I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.

And so, in the very next words he exhorts Timothy,

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

"Hold fast the form of sound words" - more literally, keep hold of the standard of sound words. Keep hold of the standard of the unadulterated Word of God. Do not diminish a word.

Where Are You?

Dear friends, where are we in relation to these great truths? Where are you today? Of what do we need to repent? What parts of the Word have we diminished - as God's ministers, as Christ's church, as individual believers? Doubtless, as sinners saved by grace but still living in bodies that experience the warfare between the flesh and the Spirit, we have done such things. Are we willing to submit ourselves to the two-edged sword of Scripture, piercing to the depths of our souls, and to repent of and forsake that which grieves the Holy Spirit?

If we would see revival in our day - if we would see an unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit in saving and edifying power - if we would see Reformation in our day, in such a time as this - let us "not diminish a word." May the whole, undiminished, unadulterated Word of God - living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword - be the infallible critic of the thoughts and intents of our hearts.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)



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