In two previous posts, we’ve considered how the church currently seems to be in need of revival, and also outlined the Biblical ministry of admonition from God’s word, which directs us to not receive the grace of God in vain.
We have thus demonstrated that the church is experiencing symptoms that indicate a grave problem, and we’ve prescribed the method of applying the cure. The question we still have to answer, however, is what the root cause of the problem is, and then what medicine is needed.
We have, in fact, suggested that it would seem the word of God holds the key to the cure. This is, however, rather mundane and cliché. Much of the church would readily agree with the suggestion, but they would also be quick to point out that there is nary a congregation in the land that is not weekly admonished from the word of God. How can the solution rest in something so unoriginal, something which is so conventional that it represents the very definition of the church’s daily operation?
But what if it is possible to misapply the cure? What if the word of God can be taught and preached in a manner that actually exacerbates the problem, rather than administering the solution? If we consider medical doctoring, it is certain that a drug misapplied can wreak havoc, even resulting in death. It can take but a little error for a healing potion to become a deadly poison. It is therefore always necessary to use medicine as the doctor directs. How much more should we then heed the prescriptions of the Great Physician of souls?
It is necessary therefore to consider whether we are using the word of God in the form and fashion that accords with God’s own instructions to us. Otherwise our best efforts as physicians may be, through our well-intentioned ignorance, worsening the body’s condition. Are we truly using the correct medicine, and as He so directs?
In this series of posts we will consider this question in light of that divine prescription for the human race, the Bible.
Washing of Water #
Let us begin with a look at God’s words by his apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5:
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
In these verses we are told that it is Christ’s desire that his bride be holy and without blemish. And to achieve this he gave his life for us, so that we could be cleansed with the washing of water by the word.
The word of God, in the gospel and beyond, is thus intended to be a clear and clean water which washes and purifies us.
This would suggest that the word of God, when applied, must itself be clean and pure. If we wash something with dirty water, it may clean it to some degree, but it will inevitably leave some kind of residue behind. And when the water is muddy enough, it will actually make whatever you “wash” with it dirtier rather than cleaner. It would thus seem imperative that when we teach and preach the word, that word should be clean and pure, that it might cleanse and purify those that hear it.
Few would argue with such a suggestion, but how seldom do we consider whether the water we use is pure! Reflection must call the heart of all those learned in the textual basis of our modern translations, to acknowledge that these versions of the Bible do not flow from a pure stream. It is acknowledged by all that the Alexandrian manuscripts from which the Greek texts now employed are composed, cannot be pure, but are corrupted by many revisionists. How many pastors, without thought, have led their sheep to washing in water that they know to be fouled? How many sheep have washed themselves daily in a word which they do not realize to be unclean?
Many would argue that while it is true that the Alexandrian texts—and thus all of the modern versions which are created from them—are not pure, that there is no water that is clean. They would say that all of the water of the word is dirty, and that they are simply using the cleanest that is available. But how does that compare with Christ’s earnest love for the church, his earnest desire for her cleansing, and his willingness to lay down his life that that pure word might be provided her, and she might be washed and made clean? The scriptures are unequivocal: Christ’s church will be purified so that it has no spot or blemish. Shall dirty water be employed in such a holy washing?
If we deny the presence of a pure water of life on this earth, then how can we ever hope to see Christ’s bride cleansed and revived?
But as we pointed out in our post on the purity of the word, God has indeed provided us with a pure water for cleansing, if only we would use it. The text which the church has received, passed down from its forefathers, has not been corrupted. The pure water of God still flows in that text found in the vast and tiding ocean of Majority manuscripts, from which sprang the faithful old English Bibles, like the King James.
Is it then any wonder, that as the church has left those crystal pools for the muddied waters of lost and corrupted texts, she has ceased to be thoroughly cleansed from her filthiness?
We scrub and scrub our body, and wonder why it doesn’t get clean. Consider carefully if we are not using dirty water!
This is, of course, but one of many areas in which we have come short in our handling of the word, however earnest we have been. In future posts we will continue to search the scriptures for direction on how we ought to employ God’s word in the revival of men’s souls.