The apostle Peter wrote, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11). To speak as the oracles of God is to speak words of divine origin. There are only two possible sources of authority for the doctrines that we hold and the practices that we keep. These two sources are God or man. The chief priest and elders once asked Jesus, “By what authority doest thou these things?”. Jesus answered their question with a question. He asked, “The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men?” (Matt. 21:23-25). His answer shows that the only two sources of authority in the realm of religion are God and man. To speak as the oracles of God is to speak from the divine authority rather than from the human authority. We wish to consider two applications of this principle in this brief article.
First, when speaking of Bible things, it is needful for us to speak using the terminology used in the Bible. Certainly it is permissible to use synonyms for clarification purposes, but let us be sure that the words used are not only saying the same thing as God said, but that it will be understood as that by those who hear or read our words. Often man devises his own vernacular, using words or phrases that they, or other men, have devised rather than that which God said, and leaving people wondering just what it means. For instance, we often hear someone say, “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior”. Now, what does that mean? That phrase is not found in the Bible any where! The word “accept” is used only one time in the New Testament and it is not speaking of Christ in that one time. Whenever such terminology is used, there must of necessity be an explanation of what they mean by it, for not all will understand it to mean the same thing. It is also important that even when using words used in the Bible that one makes sure that the true meaning of the word is given. For instance the word “baptize” is found in several forms a number of times in the New Testament. If one will look it up in the dictionary, they will find several different definitions. The important question is, what did it mean when the inspired writer used it? Concerning the word “baptize” the original meaning of the word was “to dip or immerse”. Over the centuries, man has deviated from the practice authorized in heaven, but still uses the same word in reference to what they are doing. If one were to say “I was baptized”, one might wonder, “baptized by which definition”. It would certainly be much better for man to just speak as the oracles of God rather than devise their own vernacular.
Secondly, “speaking as the oracles of God” points to the necessity of having authority, yea, Bible authority for all that we say and do in the realm of Christianity. This is a principle that many seem to either be ignorant of or dismiss as unimportant. When God authorizes something, by way of His inspired word, it is authorized. Now, if God said nothing, then nothing would be authorized, but if God says something, anything else besides that is unauthorized. Any practice by any church that calls itself Christian, must have Bible authority. “Well, God didn’t say don’t do it” will not suffice, for that still leaves it without divine authority, thus the following of man rather than God. An easy to see illustration of this can be seen in the elements used on the communion table. Bread and fruit of the vine are authorized by God (I Cor. 11:23-25). May we leave out the bread and just use the fruit of the vine? No, that would be to remove that which God authorized. Can we add some soft drink and a honey bun? No, that would be adding that which is not authorized. By specifying the bread and the fruit of the vine, God ruled out all other elements. In Leviticus 10:1-2 we read of two priests, Nadab and Abihu. They were the sons of Aaron and it was their job to burn incense in the tabernacle. The text says that they offered strange fire, which the Lord had not commanded. The result, they were destroyed by fire from heaven.
It is a very serious offence to take it upon ourselves to determine what we will or will not do in the realm of serving God, for it is God that has all authority, not man. Nadab and Abihu learned this the hard way, maybe we should take an easier route.
Let us do our best to “speak as the oracles of God”. Let us use Bible terminology to speak of Bible things, that all may better understand our speech. Let us make sure that every doctrine that we speak and everything that we practice is back up by authority from God. To do otherwise is to put our souls and the souls of those we influence in jeopardy of eternal damnation.
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