In our lessons presented this week (which has included both new and old material-- 07/12/10, 07/13/10, 08/06/05, 08/13/05, 08/20,05), we have begun presenting some thoughts regarding Bible authority and what it means to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent. There are many more points on these themes and related matters that we'd like to address, some of which we will bring up at this time and the rest we will tackle next week. Particularly, we will endeavor to hone our understanding of the silence of the Scriptures, what our response should be to this silence, the difference between silence and implication, and some commonly affirmed fallacies pertaining to Biblical silence.
THERE IS NOTHING INHERENTLY WRONG WITH LOGIC & REASONING
First, let us consider some important passages on logic and reasoning, as they pertain to God's word:
Some speak out against Aristotelian logic, as if Aristotle created logic! Logic is not an invention of men but is from God. He has given us the ability to reason and clearly expects us to employ such (as the passages above indicate). He has given reasoning abilities to humans that help enable us to distinguish between truth and error and between right and wrong. Nebuchadnezzar wasn't against logic; he was very pleased when his reason returned to him (cf. Dan. 4:36). Our God-given reasoning abilities are not bad and should not be disregarded or minimized for to be without them makes us like brute animals (which is essentially what the Babylonian king was for a span of time)! To attempt to approach God's word without logic and reason is a grave mistake. We must use the reasoning abilities God has given us when we open the Scriptures and endeavor to understand how we should interpret its silence.
SINCE GOD'S SILENCE IS INTENTIONAL, IT IS NOT PERMISSIVE
When God is silent on a matter, it is not accidental but intentional. This can be deduced from II Peter 1:3 and Jude 3. Since God has given to us "all things that pertain to life and godliness," then there is nothing of value that He has neglected to share. This truth cannot be overstated. "The faith" has been delivered once for all time. This implies that God has nothing more to reveal to us, and the things He did reveal are precisely what He wanted to reveal. God didn't forget anything in His word; His silence on certain matters is intentional! We are presumptuous if we think we can or need to improve upon the Scriptures in any way. If we desire to be disciples of Christ, we must abide in His word (John 8:31,32)--which is impossible if we interpret Biblical silence as permissive. If we conclude that where God's word doesn't specifically forbid something then we are free to practice it (i.e., the silence-is-permissive approach), we are making a terrible mistake.
Let us consider three passages to elaborate on this point: II Corinthians 5:7 coupled with Romans 10:17 and Hebrews 11:6. We are to "walk by faith" and "faith comes by hearing" God's word and "without faith it is impossible to please Him." In other words, if we desire to please God, we must walk by the word of God. To affirm certain practices as acceptable because the Bible is silent about them is not to walk by faith since faith only comes from hearing the word of God (not silence). This principle of faith is broad and universally applicable in any context.
Further proof of this principle can be seen in John 4:24 coupled with John 17:17 regarding a specific subject--worship. We must worship in truth, and God's word is truth. Thus, we must worship according to God's word (specifically the New Testament today). But, if the New Testament is silent about an act of worship that we might consider adopting (e.g., using mechanical instruments to accompany our singing), then we cannot engage in that act of worship in truth. Therefore, Bible silence on worship forbids.
To pile up even more evidence, consider these related passages on the importance of basing our faith and practices on what the Bible actually says and not upon silence:
If we embrace certain beliefs and practices because the Bible doesn't specifically forbid them, are we not, in essence, adding to the word of God? We must walk by what is revealed if we are to please God! Our job is not to speculate on what God did not reveal (or why) but to carefully observe that which He has revealed! A genuine servant doesn't care why his master gave certain instructions and didn't mention other things; he simply tries to faithfully obey with all his might. He does not interpret the silence of his master on a certain matter as permissive. Isn't that how Jesus behaved toward His Master, the Father in heaven?
Look at these quotes from our Lord as you consider what His approach was to silence from the Father on any subject:
Our Lord's words resonate so clearly: Bible silence is not permissive! Jesus only cared about teaching and doing precisely what the Father wanted. Jesus knew what the Father wanted based upon what He told and showed Jesus, not based upon silence. Shouldn't we follow Jesus' example?
We will continue our studies on this theme in our next lesson. Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.