Friday, January 26, 2007

The Holy Bible

In the beginning God created man in their image and according to the likeness of the Trinity( Gen. 1:26-28), giving him rational thought and the ability to communicate. At this time, Adam and Eve had direct communication with God even walking in the garden of Eden with Him ( Gen. 3:8,9). Due to the fall of man through disobedience this relationship was divorced. Man because of sin died spiritually that day and began the process of physical death. Man being separated from his creator began to experience turmoil, frustration and distress. God, however, in his grace and mercy promised a savior. God knew as the generations passed Man would forget what God had told him and so God set forth a way to communicate his instructions and reveal His Son the promised Saviour to him. Beginning with Moses, God would start what would become, what we call today, the Holy Bible.

Although the 66 books of the Bible were written by over 40 different people, every writer was inspired by God in their authorship (2 Tim. 3:16). This inspiration was not the inspiration of William Shakespeare to write his stories, however, but a moving of the exhaling of God as we learn in 2 Peter 1:20,21 "...that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." This inspiration is seen in the fact that these multiple authors writing over a span of over 1500 years coming from different stations in life as some were kings and some fishermen and others in-between all had a unanimity of purpose and design with historical and scientific accurateness. The Bible sets the standard for any work claiming to be from God, as it does, in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 18 in verse 22 where it says "when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." In the Bible we read in the book of Isaiah chapter 44 starting in verse 28 that a man named Cyrus would rebuild the temple of Jerusalem. At the time of the writing the temple was still standing and Cyrus had not been born. It wasn't until approximately 100 years later that King Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the temple and then another 60 years that a Persian king named Cyrus would rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Another example of scriptures accuracy in prophecy is 700 years before Jesus was born Isaiah wrote " therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel."(Isa. 7:14) and in Luke 1:35 we learn that an angel tells Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God even though she is a virgin. These are just a small sampling of the many fulfilled prophecies which set the Bible apart from other books, even books claimed to be God's word as the Koran and the Book of Mormon are.The accurateness, detail, purpose, consistency and origin also set the Bible apart from the false prophesies of men like Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce and the false books known as the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha.

The Inerrancy of Scripture

The writers of scripture, having been inspired by God, were inerrant in that writing. The scrolls penned by their hand in writing Scripture were infallible and authoritative to the church. This, however, does not mean the humans themselves were perfect or that everything they wrote was binding. In Galatians 2:11 we learn the apostle Peter had to be corrected by the apostle Paul for discrimination of the gentiles and 1 Corinthians 5:9 tells us of a letter written by Paul that was not Biblical. In writing the Bible, however, they were writing from God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:37 "... that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord." and in Colossians 4:16 he commands his letter be sent to the other churches to be read by them as well( the Epistle in Laodicea coming to the Colossians was originally sent to the Ephesian church and was later given the name Ephesians). Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:15,16 " and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." in which he clearly compares Paul's writings and his own to the other Scriptures. In the writing of Scripture, God used the authors personalities and unctions in most cases as in Luke 1:3 we read "it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus" but obviously in some cases God directly dictated to the author as in the case of Moses in writing the creation account in Genesis. Although the doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy only applies to the authors that actually penned the Scriptures in the original autographs, God has preserved his word through accurate and reliable copies throughout history . We read in Proverbs 25:1 that the proverbs of Solomon were copied by the men of Hezekiah, in Joshua 8:32 Joshua wrote a copy of the law of Moses, Jesus undoubtedly read from copies in Luke 4:16-21 and the parchments Paul called for in 2 Timothy 4:13 were most likely copies. Even today we have over 4700 copies of the Greek New Testament manuscripts. In some cases, as in 1 Samuel 13:1 the numbers have been lost over the years, but in none of the cases have any doctrines been lost.

The Authority of Scripture

The fact that the Bible is God's Word gives it authority. God as our creator and sustainer has a right to rule over us.The Bible is full of prescriptions of a religious, moral and ethical and professional nature. The Bible teaches us how to be proper husbands and wives (Eph.5:22-31), proper parents and children (Eph. 6:1-4), proper employees and employers (Eph. 6:5-9), proper neighbors (Matt. 22:39), proper citizens and rulers (Rom. 13:1-7) and most importantly, proper worshippers of the one true God (Matt. 22:37). The Bible forbids murder (Ex. 20:13),adultery (Ex. 20:14), stealing (Ex. 20:15), lying (Ex. 20:16), covetousness (Ex. 20:17), pride (Prov. 16:18), greed (1 Tim. 6:10), hate (Matt. 5:43), lust (Rom. 1:24), homosexuality (Rom. 1:26), false worship (Rom.1:25) and a host of other vices. Jesus, being God in the flesh the promised Saviour and Messiah, spoke with authority (Matt. 7:29). The Apostles also were given authority in the writing of scripture (2 Cor. 10:8).They were given the ability to perform miracles to authenticate their message and to reveal who they were (Matt. 10:1-4, Act 2). Apostles were ones who had seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21,22) and were called by him to be an Apostle (Acts 9:1-16). To deny the Bible is to deny God's rule, His Son and to forfeit salvation and heaven.

Sola Scriptura

The Formal principal of the Reformation, this Latin term means Scripture Alone. Martin Luther came to see that the edicts of the Pope and the practices of the Catholic church, with its addition of the Apocrypha, were not in accord with the Scriptures and so he started the reformation. Martin held fast to Jesus rebuke of human tradition over God's word as taught in Mark 7:5-17. The true church of Christ believes that the man of God is "equipped for every good work" by the scriptures alone (2 Tim.3:16,17) and that in walking in them we "lack nothing" (1 Thess. 4:12). The Bible has been completed. We have no apostles alive today as Paul was the last called Apostle (1 Cor. 15:8) and the Apostle John wrote the last book of the Bible in Revelation. We believe in the Bible to the exclusion of any Pope, Guru, Swami or cult leader. Although churches have pastors and elders to keep order and preach the truth (1 Tim. 3), they are to be checked ,as the Apostles were, by the Bible (Acts 17:10,11). We use Statements of Faith, Creeds and Catechisms to explain and summarize what we believe but this again is only secondary to the Holy Bible.Churches with so-called apostles in them today and ones that use books not of divine origin like the apocrypha and the Book of Mormon are false churches and deceiving people. Revelation is the last book of the Bible and we are not to add or take away from that book (Rev. 22:18,19).

3 Extremes to be Refuted

As with almost everything certain extremes have crept into the precious doctrine of Scripture Alone. The first is the idea that Scripture is the only truth we can know. Gary Crampton in his otherwise excellent book By Scripture Alone: the Sufficiency of Scripture states that "The Bible is sufficient for all the truth we need and all the knowledge we can have" (p89, italics mine). Earlier on the same page he stated that neither science,history or philosophy were needed to give knowledge.I would hope that the Doctor preparing to give surgery had read other books as well as the Bible. I am sure that the Geometry professor is using a book other than the Bible as a textbook and this is not wrong. Tying our shoes and a host of other things we can know are not in the Bible. This extreme should be avoided.

The second extreme builds on the first and is advocated by Kenneth Good in his book Are Baptists Reformed ?.This book is, as the other, a good read and has a good section on Baptist ecclesiology with which I agree. Kenneth, however, takes the position that the doctrine of necessary consequence is a violation of Scripture Alone.Necessary consequence says that Scripture has implicit teachings as well as explicit ones. To Kenneth this is Rationalism. What Kenneth fails to see is his own view is actually Irrationalism. The Bible teaches just as surely by implication as by explicit teaching. For instance, nowhere is Genesis does it say God created in a 24 hour day but we know he did because he says throughout the creation process the "morning and evening" were one day (Gen. 1).This extreme should be avoided.

The third extreme changes the doctrine of Scripture Alone to The King James Version Alone. This extreme says in essence that the King James translators were inspired by God as the Apostles were. This is clearly error as we saw earlier from scripture that Paul was the last called Apostle and only the Apostles were inerrant in their writing of scripture. This view also says only those who can speak english can read the Bible.Two good books discussing this aberrant view are The King James Only Controversy by James White and The King James Version Debate by D.A. Carson. This extreme should be avoided.

Nature and Scripture

While it is true that both nature and Scripture reveal truth, we must take into account which truths in distinction from one another they reveal. The Bible is clear in Psalm 19 that "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork".The word declare in Hebrew is Saphar and means to make known. Romans 1:20 also teaches that God is seen by the existence of creation. God uses his control over nature as proof of his authority over man in Job 38-42. Jesus expected some knowledge of nature as he says in Matthew 6:26 to look at the birds and in verse 28 to consider the lilies. He also assumed his disciples knew what salt was and what it was for in Matthew 5:13. Scripture alone ,however, reveals the good news of Jesus Christ as the virgin born Son of God, died in the place of sinners and was buried and three days later rose from the grave (1 Cor. 15:1-11).No mathematical formulation will reveal this. No archaelogical find will tell this truth.No microscope or telescope reveals this.Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). So whereas nature is not a 67th book of the Bible as claimed in the book Creation and Time by Hugh Ross neither is nature to be refused its proper place.

Scripture is comprehensive and sufficient but not exhaustive. The glory and grandeur of God exceeds the binding of even the largest Bible.As we read in John 21:25 "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen". Amen

Soli Deo Gloria

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