HAS GOD’S WORD FAILED?
by Shawn Brasseaux
THE (REALLY) BAD NEWS
Notice a Christian minister’s observations from 50 years ago: “The condition of so many denominational churches seems hopeless. If we look only at the visible church we see more parties than prayer-meetings, more suppers and soup sales than revivals, more ‘gimmicks’ than Gospel preaching!… The Church is not in the world to entertain people with carnivals, bazaars, fairs, fish-fries, bingo, and dances in the church basement!” That brother, now in heaven with the Lord, had no idea of the stains and stigmas Christendom would associate itself with in the coming decades. If “so many denominational churches [seemed] hopeless” a half-century ago, what would he say if he were here today in this age of “ecclesiastical entertainment?!”
Indubitably, Christians should be known for a clear Gospel message. In reality, most professing Christians have no idea what the Gospel even is! When people think of “Christians,” they usually think of thousands of confusing denominations. They think of superstitions, fanaticism, scams, foolishness, and so on. They call to memory stained-glass windows, robes, sex scandals, complex prayer patterns, candles, rituals, strict obligations, self-righteousness, jumping and screaming, “judgmentalism,” preachers’ private jets, multi-million-dollar “church” mansions, et cetera. As Christians, we have the greatest message the world has ever known or will ever know, and we are too busy focusing on stupid things—making sure we keep every last church ordinance, paying every last penny to the collection plate, smiling and dancing on stage, hosting parties and ‘worship’ extravaganzas, uttering the prescribed prayers at a certain amount said at the predetermined times of day, traveling with our ‘healing’ campaigns as we grow older and sicker ourselves, and so on. Beloved, no wonder people laugh at the name of “Jesus Christ!” Notice the 40,000-plus groups that claim Him as their Leader. For centuries, these same groups have constantly argued about what He taught and commanded. When people think of “Christians,” they usually think of some political position (here in the United States, the so-called “right-wing nuts” and “paranoid conspiracy theorists who question everything”). No wonder people say, “Hopeless!”
After glancing at the professing “Christian Church” today, the average person—lost or saved—cannot help but conclude God’s Word has failed. Perhaps they would voice it more bluntly with, “Ha! The Bible is ‘God’s Word,’ yeah sure. And just where is this ‘God’ in the ‘Christian Church?’ Where is this ‘God’ in that ‘religion’ claiming to have the ‘absolute truth’ and yet abounds with hypocrites, scams, deep divisions, perverts, shallowness, absurd teachings, charlatans, blind followers of men, fanatics, boring rituals, and wishy-washiness?!” The onlooker sees no reason why he or she should ever pick up a Bible and read it. Millions upon millions upon millions of minds all confused about the Bible, and utterly clueless about what it teaches. Millions upon millions upon millions of hearts discouraged because they have used the Bible and not gotten the results they expected. No wonder people say, “Utterly hopeless!”
You would think that, after 2,000 years of having a completed Bible, the professing “church” would have more spiritual sense than it does. Alas, the vast majority of purported “Christian” groups have no idea what they are doing and no idea what they are expected to believe and do. Talk to them and see what they tell you. Read their literature. Listen to their television and radio programs. Browse their websites. So much loyalty was (and is) given to denominations, so much trust was (and is) given to denominations, and so much money was (and is) given to denominations, there was (and is) literally nothing left to give the Lord Jesus Christ! Religion took their hearts, their minds, their pocketbooks, their time, and one day, they will wake up in hell to realize it took their souls, too. Oh, dear friends, may we be motivated to get off of our behinds and teach God’s Word rightly divided to the ignorant masses! It is not “hopeless.”
THE (REALLY) GOOD NEWS
There are many people angry with God. They should not be. There are many people who are upset with the Bible. They should not be. They need to redirect their anger at sinful man. It is not God’s fault that people use His name to commit evil and dastardly deeds. It is not God’s fault that people have misused His precious words. Do not throw away the Bible simply because somebody does not know how to extract its wisdom. Friend, you go find out how to use the Bible and then rejoice in it, ignoring the people who abuse it. You go and find people who use God’s Word God’s way, and fellowship with them, and learn how to reach others with that clear system of Bible study. Avoid the people who abuse it; do not waste your time with them. There is a remnant of believers, and this proves that God’s Word has not failed. The problem is neither God nor His Word. The problem is sinful man!
Please note the parallel in Romans chapter 9: “ Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.  For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.  And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)  It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”
The above is summarized as follows: The Jews blamed God’s Word for not working. It was a blame-shifting effort to explain what had happened to their nation during the Acts period. Why had Israel fallen? Supposedly, God’s Word was weak, “[it] hath not taken effect” (verse 6). This was not a valid argument. Israel and her program have been set aside, yes, but it was not because God’s Word was ineffectual, unable to do what God intended. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul proceeded to give evidence as to what was faulty and what was not (verses 6-13). By the way, for a Jew to say that God’s Word was ineffectual meant he or she was completely ignorant of the writings of Moses. God’s spoken Word had caused the Heaven and the Earth to appear out of nothing. “Let there be…” is a phrase common in the first chapter of Genesis. God’s Word always produces what He wants, but, at the same time, God allows man to refuse to participate. (We will look at this later.)
In Romans chapter 9, verse 7 and onward, Paul argues that God’s Word had always produced a remnant of believers in the nation Israel. We can look at Abraham’s son Isaac, Isaac’s son Jacob, and Jacob’s 12 sons (see the verses quoted above). These are the arguments that the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul puts forth in Romans chapter 9. “God’s word is ineffective” is not what caused Israel’s fall and her program’s temporary pause. It was because only a few believed God’s Word. That faithful remnant, that “Little Flock” (Luke 12:32) proved God’s Word does work mightily in people’s lives. The key is to “believe” that Word of God. First Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” God’s Word will have an “effect” in your life, it will work in your life. Friend, you just have to “believe” it (trust it with your heart). What if the Christian’s, or the church’s, behavior does not match the Bible? Is it the Bible’s fault? (No.) Is it God’s fault? (No.) The blame is on people. The hearer of God’s Word is not a believer of God’s Word. There is no power of God present because there is no faith.
In a manner similar to what Paul described in Romans chapter 9, there is a remnant of believers today. While there are many professing Christians today (over two billion), the number of actual Christians is much less. Many of these “professing Christians” are nothing more than church members. They have joined the church, they have walked aisles, they have partaken of “the sacraments,” they have confessed their sins, they have groveled before pulpits, they have given to charities, and that is all. There was no passing from death to life, no trusting Jesus Christ as personal Saviour. While there is a mental assent, they have no heart belief in that fact that Jesus Christ died for their sins, He was buried to put away those sins, and He was raised again to give them life (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Rather, they “went through the religious motions” and are no better than before. Again, this is no surprise. They have not believed God’s Word. This is why there is no real divine power in their lives. This is why there is no Holy Spirit working in them to produce the life of Jesus Christ.
Dear friends, we must always remember that the God of the Bible has never had most of the world following Him. However, He has always had some of the world following Him. Perhaps the clearest, best example of “the remnant” in Scripture is Noah, “the eighth person” (2 Peter 2:5). Imagine that. Eight people on the whole planet believed God’s Word at the time of the Great Flood! God’s Word certainly did not fail. It could, and did, save eight. The eight souls who wanted to believe. What about the others? The rest of the world’s population at the time—millions upon millions—could not care less about God’s warning. They perished in a watery grave, and woke up in hellfire!
Think about the Prophet Elijah’s ministry. During the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, wicked apostates that they were, Baal worship was declared the official state religion of Israel (the Northern Kingdom). In the midst of this national pagan idolatry, Elijah had a powerful ministry for JEHOVAH God. The very well known account of 1 Kings chapter 18 involves Elijah conducting a test to prove the prophets of Baal as frauds. When they are demonstrated to be liars, their lives are taken in an attempt to right wayward Israel (1 Kings 18:40; Deuteronomy 13:1-11, especially verses 6-11). Jezebel, very upset, threatens to take Elijah’s life for disrupting and ruining her religious system. Elijah, scared (relying on the flesh instead of on God), flees and hides in 1 Kings chapter 19. Elijah tells God, “I, even I only, am left” (verse 10). He repeats it in verse 14, “I, even I only, am left.” God tells Elijah, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (verse 18). Paul quotes this in Romans 11:4 to defend the “Israel’s-believing-remnant” principle he first mentioned in chapter 9. In your own time, you can read the opening verses of chapter 11 to see Israel’s Little Flock. When you think about it, Israel having “7000” believers in Elijah’s day, that was indeed just a remnant. A nation, Israel, with a population of several million, and only 7000 people believed God’s Word! But, at least those few believed!
The Word of God has certainly not failed. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I know that am saved from sin, death, and hell today. God’s righteousness has been imputed to my account, once and forever. I am sure that Jesus Christ has reserved a spot for me in heaven—either He did enough, or not. On the basis of my works, there is certainly no hope for me, so I am not even going to attempt working to heaven. God’s Word has made a difference in my life in the 20-plus years since I trusted Christ as my personal Saviour. So again, God’s Word has not failed me. I could say the same about countless others who I know. They too are members of the Church the Body of Christ, children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. They too have forgiveness of sins and will play a role one day in God’s restoration of heaven unto Himself. The problem is not that God’s Word has failed. The problem is that the world has failed to apply God’s Word. Indeed, God’s Word did not fail. Rather, people failed to use God’s Word God’s way.
Think about your own testimony. Somehow, beyond belief, the Gospel of the Grace of God reached you, friend. Somehow, despite all the odds, dispensational Bible study reached you. There were faithful Christians somewhere who, many years ago, treasured and loved God’s Word so much that they made sure it reached us today. Go back 400 years. Our King James Bible translators were ever so diligent and faithful in rendering God’s words in modern English, so we could have them and enjoy them today. To those people, it looked “hopeless.” Yet, Christianity survived to reach us today, 400 years ago—nay, 20 centuries after Jesus Christ’s blood was shed on Calvary for our sins.
We read JEHOVAH God telling Israel in Isaiah 55:11: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” As we noted earlier, God’s Word has all the power that went into the creation of the universe from nothing. As it prospered with “Let there be…” so it will flourish even today. Because of man’s free will, sinners are not always going to be converted. Still, the Bible will convict them and show them their need for salvation from sin.
Colossians 1:5-6 is one example of sinners converted from satanic bondage and slavery to sin: “ For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;  Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:” Make no mistake, the Gospel of Grace will do its work. We just need to get it out there, friends. (Some faithful saints from the time of the writing of Colossians, all the way up to the 21st century, passed on that Gospel so we could have it today. We need to do the same for future generations!)
Even in his day, 700 B.C., the Prophet Isaiah had a difficult time getting people to listen to and believe God’s Word spoken and written through him. “Who hath believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1). There was “a very small remnant” of believers in Israel when Isaiah began his ministry (Isaiah 1:9). Centuries later, even after Christ performed many miracles before people, “they believed not on him” (John 12:37-38)—John the Apostle quoted Isaiah 53:1 as fulfilled there. Some years later, the Apostle Paul took the verse and applied it to Israel refusing to listen to God’s Word through him during the Acts period (Romans 10:16). What was the problem? Over and over and over, it was never God’s Word at fault. The problem was the audience did not believe the Word of God spoken to them!
The nation Israel was largely apostate when Paul began his ministry in early Acts. After all, he, as Saul of Tarsus, had come out of that spiritual blindness himself. One of the Lord’s goals for Paul’s ministry was to save Jews from their apostate nation (as he himself had once been saved). It was always forefront in Paul’s mind that he would never be able to convert many or most. He admitted twice that he conducted his ministry in such a way so it would “save some of them [lost Jews]” (Romans 11:14, 1 Corinthians 9:22).
We call to memory the Lord Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:13-14: “ Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” This is just a common fact throughout the Scripture, just as true today as it was in Noah’s day, or Isaiah’s day, or Jesus’ day, or Paul’s day. It needs no further comment.
Before God’s apostle of the Gentiles left this planet, he penned in his final epistle: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). These Christians did not leave the Lord. Rather, they left the ministry and message that the Lord had given the Apostle Paul. Friends, before “church history” as we know it began, the Body of Christ (in modern-day Turkey—once a major hotspot for grace doctrine) had already fallen away from God’s spokesman to them! Ephesus (Acts chapter 19), Antioch of Pisidia (Acts chapter 13), Colosse, Lystra and Derbe (Acts chapters 14 and 16), and Galatia (Acts chapters 14 and 18) had once been chief cities and regions in Paul’s ministry in Asia Minor. Now, at the writing of 2 Timothy, his ministry and earthly life drawing to a close, Asia has fallen away. They have abandoned God’s grace, and returned to the Law, works-religion (1 Timothy 1:3-11). Years earlier, Galatia had had problems with legalism. Now, it has spread to all grace assemblies in Turkey. While there are a few faithful Christians still committed to the grace message in Asia Minor, most believers have fallen into the trap of which the Holy Spirit warned in Acts 20:28-35. The “grievous wolves” have entered in, and they have corrupted God’s people with “perverse things.” God’s Word had not failed. Rather, they failed to stay true to the doctrine that the Lord Jesus Christ had spoken to them through the Apostle Paul! Beloved, may we take these examples to heart, that we not abandon the grace doctrines committed to us through the Apostle Paul.
Whoever says, upon looking at Christendom, “God’s Word has failed,” he or she is repeating the Jews’ objection that the Apostle Paul faced during the Acts period. If God had indeed set Israel aside temporarily, and He had, if He had indeed paused their program, and He had, there was a problem. What was the problem? Whatever the problem, unbelieving Israel refused to take the blame. Rather, they placed the blame on God’s Word. You can read Romans chapter 9 and see four objections (or questions) that the Jews used to explain why God had momentarily suspended their status and program. They are in verses 6, 14, 19, and 30. The Holy Spirit’s answers through Paul immediately followed the questions.
The very first objection/question was verse 6, which Paul answered with “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.” God’s Word had not failed. There was a believing remnant in Israel who had accepted that divine revelation. The only logical conclusion would be that Israel’s program had temporarily paused because there was a lack of faith on her part. All of Israel had not been converted to Jesus Christ. Just a “little flock” (Luke 12:32)—and notice the word “little”—had seen prophecy fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. No, God’s Word was not the problem. Unbelief—rejecting/doubting the Word of God—was the problem.
Likewise, today, all the confusion and ignorance in “Christian” churches and organizations is not God’s fault. People did not listen to and believe His Words found in the Holy Bible rightly divided. They followed church tradition, they followed philosophy, they followed anything and everything but the Word of God dispensationally-delivered. They largely ignored the Apostle Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Had they listened to God’s Word to and about them, they would have avoided the spiritual disaster we see all around us today. Instead, they did not learn the lesson from Israel’s history. They too failed to believe God’s Word.
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