What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found?…
1. "Scripture." means writing. Generally, when the Bible, as a volume, is spoken of, the expression "the Scriptures" is used, because it is made up of many writings. When some particular part is alluded to, then it is said "the Scripture." For instance (John 5:39), Christ said, "Search the Scriptures," because the whole Bible, from first to last, more or less testified to Him. But when He selects any particular part, then He says, "that Scripture" (Matthew 12:10). Now in the text Paul does not Say, "What saith the Scriptures?" speaking of the whole Bible, but "What says this particular part of Scripture which I am now quoting?"
2. From this we gather that the Bible is infallible. When Jesus quotes it, it is with a view to settle all dispute; or when Paul has proved what he has to say by the Bible, he has decided the matter which is in controversy. "To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to that Word it is because they have no light in them." Note —
I. WHAT THE TEXT DOES NOT SAY. It does not say —
1. "What says reason?" Many a man says that. Appeal to their reason and they are satisfied. But what is reason? That which is reason to one man is not reason to another. Must I listen to any infidel who chooses to put the Bible aside and say, "Listen to me, I am reason"? It is true that one man has more mental faculty than another. But when we come to weigh mind against mind, who have displayed greater powers of mind than those who have believed the Bible? And am I to set aside the reason of these men, and take up the reason of other men who are immeasurably their inferiors, and be told that the Bible is not a book to be believed because it is contrary to reason? To me it is the most reasonable thing to believe in the Bible.
2. "What saith science?" Some men say they can disprove the Bible by scientific discoveries. One geologist will tell you that the Bible has false statements with regard to the antiquity of the world; but another says that science and the Book of God are in perfect harmony. Well, then, which am I to believe? Science is always changing. Until Galileo made his discovery that the earth moved round the sun, science declared that the earth stood still and the sun moved round it.
3. "What saith the Church?" "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture do we understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church." Good; that is the doctrine of all the Churches that hold the "truth as it is in Jesus." And right that they should do so. They do not bring a man's interpretation, creeds, decrees, and councils, and say, "Take this to be your faith." But they all say, "What saith the Scripture?"
II. WHAT THE TEXT DOES SAY.
1. As to doctrine, Abraham believed God, and it was "counted to him for righteousness." There is the doctrine, then; it is salvation "by faith" alone, "without the deeds of the law." Now many object to this, and say, "That is unreasonable; God will expect me to do something." "No," the Scripture saith, and with reason. If you look to the law, you must do all the works of the law, or none — "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things in the law." As one leak will sink a ship, so one sin will damn a soul. But is not this a dangerous doctrine? Does it not make a man neglect good works? I cannot help that. Men may abuse the doctrine, as they do other good things, but that is no valid objection against the doctrine itself.
2. As to duty. Having taught that doctrine, we proceed to say that faith will never be without works. As there will always be light and heat in the rays of the sun, so there will always be works following and accompanying faith. "Faith worketh by love." "Love is the fulfilling of the law." What saith the Scripture? "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour." But there are those who speak of faith but show no works. Now, that is not the faith of God's elect. You will find it described in James 2:20-23. This bears upon the subject. The Holy Ghost says that although Abraham was accounted righteous in the sight of God by faith, he justified his character in the sight of men by works. What, then, saith the Scripture to that man who lives as most men live; to that man who is neglectful of secret prayer, who is living in sin, serving divers lusts and pleasures, setting his affection on things below? Why, they condemn him from first to last. "He that believeth not is condemned already." He is not a believer; his life proves it. According to the Word of God, where there is faith there will be works.
(R. W. Dibdin, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?