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pastorway

And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Belt of Truth

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

NOTE: THIS SERIES WILL BE CONTINUED AT MY NEW SITE
http://timeintheword.wordpress.com



Verse of the Day - Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

Daily Scripture Reading - Genesis 3

Puritan Catechism
Question #54 - What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?

Answer - The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is, a promise of long life and prosperity — as far as it shall serve for God's glory, and their own good — to all such as keep this commandment (Eph. 6:2-3).

Devotional Thoughts
As we have taken a look at why we have been given the whole armor of God, and why we are commanded to wear it and use it, we will now begin to look at this armor piece by piece. What is the armor we have been given? How does the armor function, or better asked, how do we use it effectively?

The first piece of armor is really not viewed as armor. It is a belt. But why is the first piece of armor mentioned a belt? Simply put, because without a belt everything else falls apart!

Paul would have been referencing the armor of a Roman soldier to illustrate this spiritual truth and we learn that the physical and spiritual reality are amazingly similar. For the soldier, who wore a loose fitting outer tunic, when it came time to fight, those loose ends and the flowing material of this garment would be a hindrance or even give the enemy something to exploit and grab a hold of. So the tunic was pulled up and tucked into the belt. This leather belt around the waist gave him a place to tie it all up. In fact, as we examine the armor we will learn that most every other piece was linked to the belt in some way.

Looking outside of a military application, we see this used to reference those who wore robes when they had hard work or had to run, they would "gird up their loins", meaning that they pulled the ends of the robe up and either tied them around the waist or tucked them into a belt so as to be able to work or run without being tripped up.

Spiritually speaking we are told in 1 Peter 1:13 to "gird up the loins of your mind", that is, to pull in all the loose ends of our thinking, to reign in a wandering mind so that we might be ready and able to think clearly and discern wisely as we make decisions. It is a willful removal of those things that would otherwise confuse and confound us so that we might think what we ought to think (Phil 4:8).

So what is this belt? What is it that we are to use to gird up our loins/mind so that we might be able and ready to think, work, or fight without hindrance or confusion? It is called the belt of truth. More than just truthful content this refers to truthfulness. We gird up our minds with truthfulness. It is an attitude of being true and an action of seeking out and holding to truth. It is at the same time a rejection of lies and dishonesty.

So what is this truth? It is the pure, infallible, inerrant, and inspired Word of God. It is His truth. It is not only things that are true, as in true facts and figures. It is pure truth. Remember, we are to use this armor to stand against the schemes of the devil. How can we even recognize those schemes unless we know the truth of God's Word? If we do not know the truth we will not know the counterfeit or the lie.

In seeing that it is God's Word that is the foundation of our armor in this belt of truth, it is that which holds all of the rest of our armor together. We see that the Bible is the very Words of God and as 2 Timothy 3 tells us, it is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." The Bible is not a mere book. It is alive and active (Heb.4:12), eternal (Isa.40:8; Mat.24:35), perfect (Psalm 19:7), pure (Prov 30:5), and it is truth (John 17:17).

Is it any wonder then that in order to achieve a victory over us the devil would first attack the Word of God? Think about the temptation in the garden. His first question was "Did God really say?" As he tempted Eve he started by calling the Word of God into question. He persuaded Adam and Eve to doubt God's Word (Gen 3:1), to deny God's Word (Gen 3:4-5), and then to disobey God's Word (Gen 3:6).

Throughout history we see attempts by heretics and false teachers to deny the truthfulness of the Word of God. Whether it is liberalism in its many manifestations, legalism, antinomianism, or any of the other many -isms and heresies that keep popping up we see at the root of each an attack on the Word of God. Satan knows that if we take the belt off we have nothing to prevent obstacles or provide stability as we fight. In fact, once the belt is off we are no longer fighting but are already conquered.

As we face liberalism in its many forms, the latest of which is the emergent church movement, we find at the very foundational levels of thinking and faith a rejection of the absolute truthfulness of the Word of God. The Word is removed or reduced and counterfeits and mystical substitutes are provided that may make us think and feel good but in reality once the truth is gone we have no way to know right from wrong and no basis to believe anything at all. Liberalism denies inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility. Liberalism denies miracles in favor of "scientific reason" which is actually neither. Liberalism denies the truth of the gospel and the exclusivity of salvation in Christ.

As many denominations have fallen to liberalism others have fought it off, but the danger for them is to take the Word for granted. Many who claim to uphold the truth of the Bible refuse to do what the Bible says - as if it is enough to have the Bible but a step too far to actually obey the Bible. These kinds of people will fight tooth and nail over tradition but all the while reserve the right to interpret the Bible for themselves, believing that whatever they think the Bible says is truth for them. This relativism reduces the Bible to a superstitious or ritualistic object to be waved while the church has no clue as to what it actually says or means. This too denies the absolute truthfulness of the Word of God.

How important is the Bible when it comes to putting on the whole armor of God? It is absolutely necessary. The breastplate and helmet are tied to it. It holds the sword. It keeps the tunic out of the way. It makes it possible for us to fight in close quarters, effectively and without getting tangled up. In other words, if we do not have the truth of God's Word then we have no armor at all.

There have been a few things that have happened recently that have demonstrated how we really do view the Word of God and its relevance to life and faith. I want to look at these examples today in order to give a warning. We must still fight for truth. We must hear and do the Word of God. We must gird our loins by putting on the belt of truth. Why?

Because these three examples are taken from mainstream evangelical churches that claim to believe the Bible:

The first example comes from a worship service my wife and I attended recently at a local church. It was absolutely idolatrous. The "special music" did not even mention God or Christ, it was not even a religious song or a song of worship, but an emotional song about daughters in trouble and how they could count on their mothers to stand with them through the hard times. Totally man centered (or woman centered I should say), and completely inappropriate for the worship of God. Then the pastor started his message by talking about the cultic roots of pagan practice and showing how many in our culture are involved in the same activities today. But he never once actually used the Word of God to make his point about right and wrong. His basis for determining what was right and wrong came from a movie he had seen, not from the pages of Scripture. And so the congregation was encouraged to take the lesson of this movie and take it to heart in order to know the truth about how to act and think in certain situations. The other problem with this approach was that the scene in the movie that he used to make his point was absolutely contrary to the Scriptures. How pathetic and infuriating. We left before the service ended.

The second example we experienced years ago. A pastor from a church in our area broadcast his services on the radio and we heard one day that he was preaching a new series of messages that were aimed at helping Christians understand their new nature in Christ. His text? Well, there was no Biblical text. He actually said that his congregation and those listening on the radio would not need their Bibles for the next several services, so they could be left at home! Then he proceeded to "preach" four passages taken from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein!! I am not making this up. In order to be "relevant" and in order to reach people with "the truth", he set the Bible aside and preached a work of literature that is science fiction.

The third left me shaking my head in disbelief as Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron decided to debate two atheists on television recently and proclaimed that they could prove the existence of God without the Bible or any appeal to faith. They could do it 100% scientifically they said. Now, these two brothers in the Lord were surely well meaning, and they both have good things to offer the church especially in teaching us how to evangelize and share our faith. But where they failed from the very start was where they removed the very foundation of the gospel by claiming that they could talk meaningfully about the gospel without the Bible.

The Word of God is His revelation of Himself to us. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). It is the Word of God that the Spirit uses to convict us of our sin, to call us to new life in Christ and convert us! Look at Psalm 19:7-11. The Bible is the truth. It is effective. And without it there is NO GOSPEL! What is the point of trying to prove the existence of God if our goal in doing so is not to call sinners to repentance and faith in Christ?

As our own Confession of faith states:

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.

Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation.

Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in diverse manners to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His church;

- and afterward, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church, protecting it against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and the world,

- it pleased the Lord to commit His revealed Truth wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, those former ways by which God revealed His will unto His people having now ceased.

From these examples we must ask the question, "What is wrong with the church when we think we can do anything without the Word of God as our basis?" Benjamin Keach sums this up nicely in his work The Travels of True Godliness as he defines true godliness. He writes:

Godliness consists in the right knowledge of divine truths, or the fundamental principles of the gospel. Secondly, Godliness is a holy conformity to these sacred and divine principles.

Keach warns us not to be deceived by false godliness but to be sure to receive the power of godliness, for godliness without power is no godliness at all. As a result we must not add to or take away from the Word of God, nor must we ever believe that God needs us to make it any more true or beautiful than it is.

The truth of God's Word is foundational to standing against the wiles of the devil. The belt of truth must be worn, used, and relied upon if we are to fight and overcome. If we take off the belt, we will not fight and we will not win. If we take off the belt we have nothing to believe and nothing for which to live or die. If we take off the belt, we will fall into sin.

Today, let us look around us and examine ways that we and others try to lay the belt of truth aside as an inconvenient or useless garment. And when we see these things let us commit even more stridently to put on the belt and keep it on, believing God and taking Him at His Word. The way we handle the truth, the way it is preached, heard, and obeyed tells us everything we need to know about our churches and our lives.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Useful Directions For Reading and Searching the Scriptures by Thomas Boston
God Has Spoken by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


NOTE: THIS SERIES WILL BE CONTINUED AT MY NEW SITE
http://timeintheword.wordpress.com


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9 Comments:

Blogger Rev. said...

Why do you have pictures of men in skirts on your blog? ;)

Thanks for this post. It is a good one!

12:24 PM  
Blogger Phillip M. Way said...

Hey, if you want to mock a Roman soldier, be my guest!

Just be glad it was not a picture of YOU in a skirt....shudder....

:)

~pw

5:26 PM  
Blogger Sista Cala said...

Thank you for such an informative post. Much about the belt, I knew; but you brought out some truths about it that I had not thought of.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Could you please clarify what you mean by saying that God's existence cannot be proved without the Bible? Are you saying that people groups deep in the heart of the jungle, who have never seen nor heard of a Bible, have no evidence of God? That without the Bible they have no proof of His existence, and He will therefore not hold them accountable for their sin? We know that isn't true. And what about the billions of people who lived before the Bible was available?

The Bible tells us that all people everywhere have knowledge of God--proof of His existence--as Romans 1:18-20 teaches. You quoted Rom. 10:17, but I urge you to read on to verse 18:

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

Here Paul is quoting Psalm 19:4. Psalm 19:1-4 tell us that the voice is that of creation, speaking of God's existence; these are the "words" that have gone out to the ends of the world so that all have heard. The "word" here is not the printed Bible, but creation itself that "reveals knowledge" of God (v. 2). You stated that claiming to "prove the existence of God without the Bible or any appeal to faith" is "utter nonsense." But how do you interpret these verses, where God inspired both Paul and David to say that creation is proof of God?

Keep in mind that Ray explained that "scientific" (Latin scientificus) means "producing knowledge." The Bible tells us that since Adam, all mankind has had 100% "scientific" (knowledge-producing) evidence that God exists. And all of these people mentioned in the Bible lived before the Bible was complete and in printed form. Would you not agree that one can indeed "prove the existence of God without the Bible"? In fact, the Bible assures us that God has already done so, through creation.

You mentioned Psalm 19:7-11, which I encourage you to review. These verses speak of God's law, testimony, statutes, commandments, and judgments, and fear of God. Again, these are not referring to the printed Bible, because it was not yet compiled. Psalm 19:7 is a foundational truth of Ray and Kirk's ministry--it is the "law of the Lord" that converts the soul. That Law (the Ten Commandments) is written on the heart, and the conscience bears witness (Rom. 2:15); it stops every mouth of justification, brings the knowledge of sin, and makes the whole world guilty before God (Rom. 3:19,20). The Law makes sin exceedingly sinful, and is a tutor to lead us to Christ (Rom. 7:13; Gal. 3:24). Those powerful functions of the Law are precisely why Ray went through the Ten Commandments--to follow the biblical model of witnessing with the "goal in doing so...to call sinners to repentance and faith in Christ."

Since, according to the Bible, creation is knowledge-producing ("scientific") evidence of God, Ray therefore brought out the truth that creation proves a Creator. Our God-given conscience ("con" = with; "science" = knowledge") gives each of us knowledge of right and wrong, convicting us when we sin. Ray therefore went through the Law, relying on the biblical truth that it is the Law, written on the heart, that converts souls and leads them to Christ. This approach is the method that God gives us in the Bible to reach the lost and show them their need for the Savior. I'm afraid I disagree with you that following it is "utter nonsense." Ray and Kirk gave what the Bible says is the evidence of God's existence, and then boldly declared the biblical gospel to millions. I'm not sure why they embarrassed you, but do you believe that in God's eyes they were "an embarrassment" and "failed completely"?

10:00 AM  
Blogger Phillip M. Way said...

I simply do not have time to respond thoroughly, so this will be brief:

I never said that the existence of God cannot be proved without the Bible. I said that the gospel cannot be preached without the Bible.

Yes, Creation declares the glory of God and reveals His nature and existence to us. But Creation is merely “general revelation.” The gospel is not contained in nature. Knowing God exists is not the same as knowing God, and while Romans 1 makes it clear that all men know that God exists, they repress that knowledge and do not know Him. To know Him is to have eternal life (John 17:3)

Psalm 19:7-11 refers directly and specifically to the written Word of God. The Bible does not have to have been “complete” in order for people to have the Word of God. And if we are not using the Bible to make our case, then we cannot use the Ten Commandments – for they are not revealed in nature but are part of what we call “Special Revelation”, i.e. the Bible.

I am afraid that the point being missed is a point best summed up in this time tested description of revelation and the Word of God:

"The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in diverse manners to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His church; and afterward, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church, protecting it against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and the world, it pleased the Lord to commit His revealed Truth wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, those former ways by which God revealed His will unto His people having now ceased."

(2 Timothy 3:15-17; Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:29, 31; Ephesians 2:20; Romans 1:19-21; Romans 2:14,15; Psalms 19:1-3; Hebrews 1:1; Proverbs 22:19-21; Romans 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19,20; 2 Timothy 3:16; Luke 24:27, 44; Romans 3:2; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 5:9 ; John 16:13,14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Galatians 1:8,9; John 6:45; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12; 1 Corinthians 11:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 14:26,40; 2 Peter 3:16; Psalms 19:7; Psalms 119:130; Romans 3:2; Isaiah 8:20; Acts 15:15; John 5:39; 1 Corinthians 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 28; Colossians 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Acts 15:15, 16; Matthew 22:29, 31, 32; Ephesians 2:20; Acts 28:23)

I stand by what I have written. Any attempt to preach the gospel without using the Bible is futile because the gospel is only found in the written Word of God. We are not commanded in Scripture to “preach nature” nor are we exhorted to “prove God exists.” Men know He exists. We are commanded to “preach the Word… in season and out of season”, encouraging all men everywhere to “repent” and “believe on the Lord Jesus”, for “whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It is God’s written Word that is alive, active, powerful, and promised to never return void. Why use science or nature when we have the Bible and are given HIS GUARANTEE – when it is sent forth it NEVER returns without accomplishing the purposes for which God sends it forth?

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” and the Scriptures testify of Him.

Plainly stated, if the Bible is not preached then the gospel is not preached.

~pastorway

11:37 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Thank you for your response. Based on what you've said, I'm not sure what your point was in criticizing Ray and Kirk. You stated, "I never said that the existence of God cannot be proved without the Bible."

In your original post you wrote that they "proclaimed that they could prove the existence of God without the Bible or any appeal to faith. They could do it 100% scientifically they said. What utter nonsense."

As I pointed out, it is not only not "utter nonsense" but is entirely biblical--God's Word declares that His existence can be proved without the Bible. This fact contradicts your original post, so it seems you are now "retracting" that criticism, and are in agreement that God's existence can be proved "scientifically" (producing knowledge) through creation, as Ray claimed. This is a truth that every Christian should be in agreement on, since God's Word says it.

You also said "they failed completely...by claiming that they could talk meaningfully about God without the Bible." In beginning the conversation by pointing to creation and God as the Creator, they were merely following Paul's model as he spoke at the Areopagus. Christians can (and Ray did) talk meaningfully with the lost about God with His existence as our starting point.

I'm confused by your second point: "I said that the gospel cannot be preached without the Bible. ... I stand by what I have written. Any attempt to preach the gospel without using the Bible is futile because the gospel is only found in the written Word of God."

Ray and Kirk never claimed to be able to "preach the gospel without the Bible," so it's not clear why you said that. In fact, they clearly stated up front that they would be using the Bible (since their goal was to have a venue to preach the gospel). And they did! After presenting creation as proof of the Creator, Ray went on to preach the biblical gospel--using the Bible, of course (where the Ten Commandments and the gospel message are found). They faithfully followed the biblical command to "preach the Word," using only truths stated in the Bible.

So at this point I'm not sure what your reason was for criticizing them. Since the gospel was preached, the Bible was preached. Why do you think they "failed completely"?

7:39 AM  
Blogger Phillip M. Way said...

I have edited my original post to be more clear about the things about which I am being critical.

The bottom line is this: If we are not wearing the Belt of Truth then we are not ready for battle. Without the Word of God we should not even try to enter the fight!

I hope to get back to the rest of the armor soon and apologize for being too busy with work to write more at this time.

More to Come.

~pastorway

11:37 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

How do you put on the belt of truth? Great info on what the belt of truth is. You did not explain this practically. I mean I have a church member or a teen in my church that is struggling in areas of their lives. How do I tell them to put on the “Belt of Truth” and get victory? It is more then believe the Bible, obey God. How? Thanks Christopher

8:43 PM  
Blogger Phillip M. Way said...

In order to put the belt on we have to know what the belt is. Once we know what it is then we do need to be taught the role it plays in the "whole armor of God." And, while I will be touching on the practicalities of how to put the armor on in future posts I have to say that I think I did explain practically how to use the belt of truth in this post.

I wrote:

"Spiritually speaking we are told in 1 Peter 1:13 to "gird up the loins of your mind", that is, to pull in all the loose ends of our thinking, to reign in a wandering mind so that we might be ready and able to think clearly and discern wisely as we make decisions. It is a willful removal of those things that would otherwise confuse and confound us so that we might think what we ought to think (Phil 4:8).

So what is this belt? What is it that we are to use to gird up our loins/mind so that we might be able and ready to think, work, or fight without hindrance or confusion? It is called the belt of truth. More than just truthful content this refers to truthfulness. We gird up our minds with truthfulness. It is an attitude of being true and an action of seeking out and holding to truth. It is at the same time a rejection of lies and dishonesty."

To put on the belt is to gird up the loins of our mind. We do this by reading, memorizing, and meditating on the Word of God (Ps. 1:1-3). So if a person needs to knonw how to have victory and what role the belt of truth plays in the process then we must always take every question, every doubt, every struggle, every temptation, and every sin right to the Word of God.

We put on the belt every time we go to His Word and ask the question, "What does God have to say about this?"

Ultimately we learn to put on all of the armor when we "put on Christ", but I will save that for later.

Hope that helps,

~pastorway

9:18 PM  

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