Let's study the means whereby God has made known to us our redemption, and the means whereby a man becomes a new creature in Christ. Our heavenly Father has given to us a revelation of our redemption in Christ which is a revelation of God the Father Himself. He has also given a revelation of the new creation in Christ. This revelation is not only a witness of Himself, but also a witness of the New Creation, its privileges, authority, and responsibility.
That Revelation is His word, the Bible. Words can give no adequate estimation of the place the Word of God holds in redemption and the life of God's child. It is my aim in this lesson to show forth the utter sacredness of God's Word, and the vital place it holds in the life of the Christian. It is also my aim in this lesson to show forth that the Word is the food of the New Creation, the nourishment of the Christian, and his source of strength and power. God's people are literally destroyed for their lack of knowledge of the Word.
Satan has always bitterly and subtly fought God's word, because God works through His word. When God desired to create a Universe, He brought it into being by the power of His spoken word.
Hebrews 11:3 tells us that the worlds were created by the Word of God. Every Child of God is begotten, or born, of the Word of God. "Of His own will He brought again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever." (1 Peter 1:23; also James 1:18)
Then, after man has become God's child, the food, the sustenance, the maintenance of his spiritual life is the Word of God.
Matthew 4:4 - "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." It is the Word which feeds our lives.
Philippians 2:13 - "For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to work His good pleasure." He is working in us through His word.
Colossians 1:5-6 - "Wherefore you heard before in the word of truth of the gospel which is come unto you even as it is also in all the world, bearing fruit and increasing as it doth in you since the day you heard it."
History reveals that every period of spiritual declension has been marked by a low conception of God's word, the Bible. When Satan found that the torturing and martyrdom of the Christians, and the destruction and burning of Bibles would not keep the church from growth, he employed a more successful method and he has been subtly attacking the Word of God, so that it was made powerless and ineffectual in the life of man.
For a period of one thousand years before the reformation, the Word was not given its place in Christian circles. James Lord in his writings, Beacon Lights of History, shows that it was Oriental philosophy that for a period of a thousand years usurped the authority of the Word and ruled and controlled the Christian world.
When the Word lost its place, Redemption lost its place, and faith became unknown. For a thousand years the Bible was locked up in monasteries, locked in a language that the common people could not understand. It was written in Latin only, and just the clergy had access to it. This is the reason for the spiritual darkness of the middle ages. This is why God seemed inactive during that dark period. When His word lost its place, Christ lost His place in the lives of men. It was out of oriental philosophy, that penance, purgatory, monasteries, and the crusades grew. One will look in vain for such doctrines in the Bible.
When the reformation came, it came when the Word began to work in the lives of men. These men caught a glimpse of its place and gave it to the common people. It was the working of God's word in the lives of men that brought light and life to humanity. The spread of Bibles into the homes of the common people cannot be separated from the reformation.
Yet Satan had not ceased to try to make the Word inactive. When he could no longer lock it up within the monasteries in a language that the common people could not understand, he locked it up within creeds and doctrines. The reformation and the cheaper means of printing made it possible for every home to possess the Bible.
Right after the reformation, Satan caused men to build creeds and doctrines about the lives and teachings of the leading men of the reformation, thus hindering themselves from growth and development, and preventing the dark regions of the earth to share in the truth they possessed by their preoccupation over doctrines.
No single leader of the reformation possessed all the light. God raised up these men and gave to each a portion of light. Yet, these men themselves were largely the product of the Middle Ages. Whenever a man locks himself up within a set of creeds, he shuts out further light on the Word and hinders truth and growth. This has caused the divisions among the Church, and made her a reproach to the world.
This has hindered the true presentation of Christianity to the world, so that Redemption has never had a fair chance to work in the lives of men. This has caused furious battle to be waged over the Deity of and the authority of the scriptures that has resulted in the present day condition.
Many churches are preaching in place of the Word, other themes which they consider more practical and in harmony with modern civilization. The procedure is explained with one word: "relevance". While on the other hand, those who today are preaching the truth and are considered the most spiritual, have no true conception of the sacredness of the Word, and the place it should hold in their lives.
The utter commonness of the Word which should have been our deliverance from ignorance and the bondage, Satan has used to hinder the working of the Word in our midst.
The greatest weapon that Satan is using today to make the Word ineffectual is the weapon of "Mental Assent." This weapon is utterly dangerous, because it is so subtle. Mental assent is hard to recognize because it comes clothed in the term "Faith."
Before we can understand the difference between Mental Assent and Faith, we must understand the meaning of each. Faith is action upon the Word. Believing is fearlessly acting upon the Word. Mental Assent is agreement to the fact that the Bible is true, but it is without corresponding action.
Perhaps a few illustrations will make it more clear. A man seeking to become a Christian who really believes, says the following: "I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, I take Him as my savior and confess Him as my Lord. Therefore, I am saved because His Word in Romans 10:9-10 declares so." He confesses that he is saved before he receives the witness within himself. He believes the Word to be God's. Therefore, he acts fearlessly upon it regardless of his feelings because he knows it cannot be broken. He boldly makes the Word his confession. There is no believing that does not result in confessing.
A Mental Assenter who is seeking to become a Christian will speak similiarily the following: "I believe the Bible is God's Word. I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God. I have been trying to be saved for a long time. I've asked Him in, but I am not saved." This one would be insulted if he were told he did not believe. Yet, his attitude is one of mental assent. He professed to believe but he has no conception of acting upon the Word. If he had believed, he would have said, "God's Word is true. I believe, therefore, I have eternal life." (John 5:24) Mental Assent produces no action; it has no confession. Mental assent has robbed many of their healing.
A believer says this: "By His stripes I am healed." The disease may be manifest in his body, yet he is acting upon the Word, by confessing that by the stripes of Jesus he is healed. It may be that after he has been prayed for, he has witnessed no healing; yet he says I am healed, because God's word declares that in Jesus' Name they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. The believer cannot help making this confession of faith, anymore than the Mental Assenter can help confessing his doubts.
A Christian who is a Mental Assenter has the following attitude: "I believe the Bible is true. I have believed these scriptures all of my life. I have had so many pray for me; I can't understand why I am not healed."
How many of God's children have suffered years with a disease, not realizing their difficulty, thinking that their Mental Assent was Faith!
Many Christians who are living in the realm of mental Assent today are living barren and fruitless spiritual lives. All their lives they have been seeking power with God in their lives and prayers. They have never learned to live by the Word. They live in weakness, and failure and want, because they have no conception of acting upon the Word. The Word declares that they have been made a New Creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17); that they have been made the very righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21); that they are joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17); that the authority of His Name is theirs in prayer (John 16:23-24); and that God will supply every need of theirs (Philippians 4:19).
Yet they have no consciousness of righteousness, or of their authority in the Name of Jesus or strength. This is due to the fact that their attitude has been one of mental Assent, and Satan has robbed them of their inheritance in Christ.
The cause of Mental Assent has been our utter familiarity with the Word. Perhaps all of us have had the Bible in the home from childhood. We have always been familiar with its teachings.
Many of us, long before we accepted Christ as savior and Lord, personally believed the Bible to be true. However, our attitude toward it all these years was "Mental Assent." We professed to believe it was God's Word long before we acted upon it. After we were born again this same Mental Assent followed us through life. We will explain this more completely.
As a child, our attitude toward it was Mental Assent. Through life this attitude of mental Assent followed us. Perhaps for years the Bible lay on the bookshelf, or on the study table; yet, we never studied it as we were so occupied with other things.
However, if anyone had refuted the fact that it was God's Word, we would have earnestly taken our stand for it. Perhaps many times we professed our faith that it was God's Word. Yet if this attitude had been more than Mental Assent we would have zealously studied it continually seeking to discover what God really had for us in His own Word or message to us.
We said, we believed it, but our actions were contrary. We did not study it, we did not speak of it often. We were perhaps ashamed to carry it publicly.
Later the time came when we were actually born again. The Bible became a new book to us. We were able to understand it. We found it to be our help, our food. Yet how much of our attitude toward it was still Mental Assent. How little we really dared to act upon it.
We lived in weakness, we felt that our prayer life was powerless. We did not possess the ability to testify and pray for the sick. We felt our need was a deeper experience that would fill our lives with power. We sought experiences, we received blessings many times. Yet we realized the life of victory was still in the future. We did not realize that the heart of our difficulty was the fact that in our Mental Assent we were not acting on the Word. We did not seem to realize, that God had already made us what we were trying to be. We didn't realize that the authority we sought was already really ours.
We memorized scriptures, and quoted them often without ever really acting upon them. In the presence of His word which declared that God had made Christ our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30), and that we had actually become the righteousness, the Righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21), we spoke instead of our sinful and weak state. We actually considered it a form of humility to approach God as unworthy worms of the dust, confessing and repenting continually of our sinful nature. Yet never in our efforts arriving!
By our confession, we made more of sin and its power, than of our redemption, which had made us absolutely righteous. Righteousness is the ability to stand in the presence of God as free from sin or condemnation as if sin had never entered the world.
Prayer was a weeping and a crying for God to hear us and answer us. We failed to realize that our place as joint heirs with Christ and the authority of the Name of Jesus gave to us the legal rights in prayer. However, we knew all the prayer promises; we had memorized everyone of them!
One translation of James 1:26 is the following: "Faith without corresponding actions is dead." This is the Bible definition of Mental Assent. Faith without corresponding action is Mental Assent. It means nothing to our heavenly Father. It robs us of our inheritance in Christ. If I profess to believe the Word, and yet if I do not act upon it, my actions do not correspond with what I assent to!
The secret of a life of victory in Christ which everyone may possess is found in Revelation 12:11. Here He declares that we overcome Satan by the blood of the lamb, which signifies the completeness of our redemption in Christ, and by the word of our testimony, which means acting fearlessly on the Word. We must make God's word our confession in the midst of every circumstance. We say, "I am the righteousness of God because His Word declares it. Sin shall not have dominion over me. I have authority over Satan. I am healed by the stripes of Christ. In all things I am more than a conqueror. My God shall supply every need; I will not be anxious."
In the face of every contradictory circumstance, we must hold fast to our confession of our faith. We made His Word our word. What He declares in His Word, we declare with our mouths. We are freed from Mental Assent, when we act upon the Word of God.