This is my last post in this series, but I do hope other contributors to Jess’s site will continue it in their own personal ways. The previous post, I admit, was something of a prickly pear, but it was helpful to get some things off my chest. For this post, I’d like to spend some time considering some of those (unspoken) beliefs and assumptions we have concerning the Faith.

When it comes to the Bible, orthodox Christians have a number of assumptions, two of which are that: A) the Bible is truthful, and B) the Bible is relevant to people in all ages and places. Now these are pretty basic and obvious assumptions, but I’m bringing them up because they are often unspoken (except when discussing the Faith with outsiders). How often, when you open the Word, do you think to yourself, ‘This is true; this has something to say to me today”? You probably don’t consciously think those thoughts often, but you couldn’t get by without those basic beliefs. Biblical morality would be meaningless in our lives if we didn’t think that the Bible was: A) authoritative; B) truthful; C) relevant to one’s current predicament; D) powerful to change us inside-out for the better.

In broader and eternal terms, many Christians stake their eternal destinies on the promises of God as found in the Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is God who saves us and He calls us all to meet Him. But for most, the revelation and the contents of God’s promises come to them through what He has said in the Bible.

So underneath all this is a set of beliefs – perhaps they don’t permeate every area of our lives, but as we learn to walk with God they will over time. We believe that God is trustworthy and we believe that the Bible is His Word to mankind. Because He is trustworthy, His Word is trustworthy. That is important and lies behind some of these Biblical phrases and images that are perhaps foreign to modern, Western culture.

Sometimes people ask, “Why is there so much talk about the name of God in the Bible, why so much about His glory and His covenants? Why do people say, ‘Blessed be the name of the LORD’ rather than, ‘Blessed be the LORD’?” It is because these things pertain to God’s character and how we relate to Him. A useful way of understanding it is to consider the old proverb, “A man is as good as his word.” “Word” in that phrase has a variety of meanings, but it basically comes down to two things: promises and truthfulness.

If you find out later that someone has lied to you, it will undermine or even completely destroy the trust that existed between the two of you. You will ask yourself, “What else did he lie about? How can I know when he’s lying in the future?” If someone breaks a promise that they made to you (and the word “vow” is another word for promise but with added nuance), again the trust that existed between you and that person will be damaged. You may ask yourself why that person broke his promise. There may be any number of obvious reasons why the promise was broken: cowardice, lack of money or ability, other clashing commitments, accident etc. But underneath these – at least in serious cases – will be a nagging concern regarding the person’s character or ability: in other words, moral weakness or practical weakness.

It is my firm belief that God wants us to enjoy a full, deep relationship with Him. An important part of that relationship is trust. Trust is built upon the proven, good character of the person making the promise. Furthermore, trust works with faith: you have trust in the person and faith that they will keep their end of the agreement, and you live in a state of openness to any future promises and demands that person may make in the future. A perceived lie or broken promise will lead to distrust, and distrust leads to a number of problems. Two of the main ones are a refusal to believe anything the other person says and a refusal to accept anything they ask or offer.

This is why the name of God – in other words, His reputation – is so important. His covenants may also be understood as His promises. This is why, for me personally at least, Israel is so important. Israel is the evidence that: A) there is a God; B) He is the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; C) He keeps His promises.

It is written: “Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.”

(Jeremiah 31:35-37, KJV)

And not only is this a testimony to me, but to all the world, as many as have eyes to see and ears to hear.

What we believe about God and His Word affects how we related to Him and to other Christians.

I leave it here, and hope that others will take up this line of thought.