How We Learn
From The Bible
The Silence of Scripture
There are many popular religious practices and doctrines, not specifically mentioned in the Bible that are justified on the principle of silence. Since the practice or doctrine is not even mentioned, or alluded to, many feel perfectly free to teach and practice what pleases them. The one proviso is that it must not be specifically forbidden by inspiration.
Such an attitude is quite presumptuous. To presume something is to speak or act without warrant or proudly. It presumes to know the mind of God. Such an attitude seeks to make up God's mind for him. No mere man has the power or right to invade the secret precincts of God's mind and declare what God approves or disapproves. Sadly, many do.
One hallmark of the Lord's church has been the slogan, "We speak where
the Bible speaks and where the Bible is silent, we are silent." Whatever
comes next is presumption. Whether God approves counting beads, using candles
and incense to aid prayer cannot be learned by direct statement, approved apostolic
example, or necessary inference. The only authority for it is what God hasn't
revealed. It can only be "authorized" by human wisdom and human
Sincere Bible students never deny that the knowledge of God's mind is possible. Some are mixed up on how to find where God has revealed his mind. Paul wrote, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" - 1 Cor. 2:9-10.
Only what is revealed is the basis of authorized teaching and practice. All else is not only presumptuous; it is amounts to going beyond the teaching of our Lord - 2 John 9-11. No mere man knows the mind of God outside what the Lord reveals in scripture - Rom. 11:33-36. His mind is revealed to us through apostolic authority - Eph. 3:1-5.
The ancient prophet cried out, "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" - Jer. 10:23. Solomon wrote, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" - Prov. 14:12.
God's silence didn't authorize Nadab and Abihu to offer any other fire than what the Lord authorized. They paid for their presumption - Lev. 10:1-2. Hebrews 7:14 reads: "For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood." Only those of the specified tribe of Levi could scripturally perform priestly duties. The Lord didn't specifically say none could be priests from other tribes. He simply specified the one tribe from which priests could legitimately serve.
The scriptures are divinely revealed and tell mankind what pleases God. There is no other source of such information. The only way to please God, to have the unity the Bible requires, and to glorify and honor God is to confine all teaching and religious activity to that which is revealed. There is also a slogan that still rings true: "In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; and in all things love."
Next, but what about Bible classes, multiple communion cups, meeting houses, etc." That comes in the next installment.
Go to part five
By Dudley Ross Spears
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