Thursday, June 29, 2017

Scripture: Infallibility

Scripture: Infallibility
   The infallibility of Scripture simply means that the word of God cannot err. Not only is Scripture inerrant- does not contain errors or contradictions- but it cannot and is incapable of failing to communicate God's predetermined truth. In other words, the Bible will not fail in its purpose to reveal the One True God and his amazing plan of salvation to undeserving sinners. The word of God is indefectible. The Bible will not deceive or mislead anyone who trusts the God who both declared its words and had them written and preserved.
   This is a very important doctrine. After all, Scripture is at the center of the Christian life. We are saved by hearing the word of God, the gospel, proclaimed and the Spirit making God's words effectual in our souls.  We are sanctified by studying and hearing the word of God and the Spirit convicting and conforming us more into the image of Christ our Lord. We are comforted by the words of God. We pray the words of God. We sing the word of God. We feed upon the word of God. It is the word of God that guides, sustains, encourages, satisfies, reveals, heals, shepherds, warns, protects, and teaches. What kind of God gives us a word that cannot be trusted? Can't God preserve his word? Would God allow errors within his holy, inspired, inerrant word? Of course not! God is completely trustworthy. His word can be trusted and obeyed. The doctrines of Scripture cannot be divorced from one another. They build upon each other. Because Scripture is inspired, it is inerrant. Since Scripture is inerrant, it is also infallible. You do not have one without the others. If one of these truths is removed, the entire structure crumbles- the word of God could not be trusted. But, praise God! The Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible.
   The word of God cannot err for two reasons. First, God cannot lie. If the Bible is the word of God and God cannot lie, then it follows that the Bible will not contain any errors, misinform, or misdirect. “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Num. 23:19) “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began...” (Tit. 1:1-2) “ So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” (Heb. 6:17-18)
    Second, God is not ignorant of anything. Errors come from imperfections and ignorance. God is perfect and not encumbered by any of these. God knows all things perfectly. Hence, his word can be trusted because it cannot err. “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” (Ps. 147:5) “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13) “God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” (1Jn. 3:20)
   The word of God is true because God is truth. Truth is without errors and mistakes. God does not make mistakes. His word is exactly what he desires mankind to have.
   God is true. “ By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, 'That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.'” (Rom. 3:4) “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” (Ps. 51:4) “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (Jn. 17:3)
   God's word is the word of truth. “And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.” (Ps. 119:43) “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Ps. 119:160) “ Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (Jn. 17:17)
God's law is truth. “Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.” (Ps. 119:142) “But you are near, O LORD, and all your commandments are true.” (Ps. 119:151) “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Ps. 19:7-11)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Scripture: Inerrancy

Scripture: Inerrancy
    Inerrancy means that the Bible does not contain errors or contradictions. This applies only to the original autographs. Put simply, when God moved authors to write, they wrote what God willed them to write, and since the Lord is perfect and cannot ere, what was written originally was without error. The word of God is always true. The Bible is never false in anything it affirms, whether it be doctrine, ethics, or science (such as social, physical, or life science).
    Inerrancy extends only to the original manuscripts. Copies and copies of copies may contain errors because they were copied by fallible humans who make mistakes. These errors or inaccuracies are always minor. They are usually copying errors and do not change or affect doctrine or anything of importance. Other errors may be in translations. Words or phrases may be interpreted or translated incorrectly (the Latin Vulgate is an example of this).
    However, God in his providence has overseen thousands of copies and their transmission. What we have today, since the originals have been lost to time, is what God desires his church and children to possess. When manuscripts are compared to older manuscripts (which have less copyist errors because they are older and have been copied from copies closer to the original source), errors can be detected and corrected. It is believed that the copies of Scripture we possess today are 99% accurate in comparison to the originals. The more copies that are compared, the more errors are discovered. The more errors that are discovered, the more errors that can be fixed in order to get that much closer to the original manuscript.
    The Bible itself argues for inerrancy. In fact, inspiration requires inerrancy (2Tim. 3:16). If the word of God is breathed out by God, then it follows that since God is indeed perfect, his word is without mistakes or errors. Divine messages are absolutely true and trustworthy. But, what is false fails. God explained this through Moses in Deuteronomy.
    “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” (Deut. 13:1-5)
    “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.' And if you say in your heart, 'How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?'- when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” (Deut. 18:20-22)
    If what was said happened, it was from God. If the words failed, the prophet was false. The main thing to see is that God gave his people a way to test the message and messengers. This would not be possible if the words of God contained errors. Since they were given criteria to distinguish the true from the false, it follows that God's word is always true.
   The Bible is also authoritative which requires inerrancy. Matthew 5:17-20 and John 10:34-35 demonstrate that the law's authority hinges on the fact that it must be fulfilled. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-20)
    “Jesus answered them, 'Is it not written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came-and Scripture cannot be broken...'” (Jn. 10:34-35)
    Scripture cannot be broken and is, therefore, binding and authoritative. In order for something to be absolutely authoritative it cannot contain errors. The trustworthiness and inerrancy of Scripture derives from the character of God. God cannot lie, make mistakes, or communicate errors (Num. 23:19; 1Sam. 15:29; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). He is perfect.
    What cements the inerrancy of the word of God is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” As was already discussed, the Scripture is exhaled or breathed out by a perfect God. He has given the church his word in order to equip her for good works that result in God being glorified. Also, the word of God is central to the life of the church. God's words are profitable. They teach, reprove, correct, and train. This would be impossible, however, if the word of God contained errors.
    Remember, God gave his church his word. It is to grow and glorify God by following his word. How would this be possible if his word contained errors? If it misled? If it taught something that was wrong? If it could not be trusted? The word of God is inspired, and as a result, the word of God is inerrant. Scripture can be trusted because our great God is trustworthy and able to communicate truthfully and accurately his will to his church.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Scripture: Inspiration

Scripture: Inspiration
     The word “inspiration” literally means “breathed out” or “exhaled.” The word of God, the Bible, is breathed out or exhaled by God. The inspiration of Scripture, therefore, is the supernatural influence by the Holy Spirit which resulted in the biblical writer's writings being trustworthy, authoritative, inerrant, and the very words of God. God is the author of Scripture. Scripture is the creation of God's creative breath. Yet mysteriously, he used fallen human beings to communicate and record his words.
     There are several theories of inspiration. The last of these is the classical view and is the most accurate and biblically sound. First, some believe that the Bible is not inspired as we have defined above, but only inspirational. The Bible is just like other books in that it inspires people. Second, some teach that the Bible is only partially inspired. The theological parts of Scripture are inspired, but not the scientific or historical. The Bible, then, is only a record of God's saving acts. It contains the words of God but is not the word of God. Obviously, this is flawed for many reasons. To mention only a few, if this was the case, who determines what is inspired and what is not? Can we even trust the Bible? Can we trust the God of this Bible if he cannot even give us an inspired word? Who determines what is the word of God from the words of man?
     A third theory is that the Bible is inspired without the use of human authors. This view is explained by insisting that the writers only wrote what was dictated to them. This is often called the mechanical dictation theory. This fails because the Bible is clearly written in the styles of the authors. The Spirit “carried along” the authors and used their backgrounds, words, experiences, gifts, and own styles to accurately record the word of God (2Pet. 1:21). There is no evidence of dictation; Scripture is the word of God written by living personalities, and those personalities come out and shine throughout Scripture. This is why the word of God is so amazing- God used sinful men to pen his word to sinful men!
     The fourth theory, and the most logical and biblical, is that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God because he concurrently acted on and with human agents to produce the written words he desired. The authors were not mere robots or secretaries recording dictation. God sovereignly acted upon, guided, and carried along the authors in such a way that they wrote what God wanted them to write, but it was from them- their minds, hearts, personalities, etc. What this means is that God used men to pen his words, but because God is sovereign and providentially guides all history to his desired end, the authors wrote exactly what God wanted and only what God wanted. Yet, they were not infringed upon. God orchestrated this in such a way, that the authors were driven to write but they desired to write because their hearts overflowed with the glory of God, and hearts as these naturally obey and do the works of God because of his supernatural work within them.
     Is this indeed scriptural? Two passages will be quoted and briefly commented on to demonstrate the biblical teaching of inspiration. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness...” (2Tim. 3:16). This passage teaches that all Scripture is breathed out by God. Scripture, then, is inspired and is the very words of God. This means much more than the idea that the Bible inspires readers or the fact that the authors of Scripture were inspired. This verse shows that Scripture is inspired, Scripture is the word of God- all of it. The Bible is what God desires for man to possess. It is his word of redemption to fallen humanity.
     “For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,' we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2Pet. 1:17-21).
    These verses teach that humans were instruments used by the Spirit to communicate God's word, but the origin of Scripture is God himself. Men were carried along by the Spirit. This means more than merely guiding and directing. The Spirit determined, constrained, and influenced the writers. The Spirit achieved this by using the human agent, as well as his style, personality, abilities, experiences, vocabulary, strengths, weaknesses, etc. The end result was the actualization of the divine initiative- the inspired word of God.
     The words of Scripture are God's words. Old Testament passages identify the Law and the messages of the prophets as God's words (1Kng. 22:8-16; Neh. 8; Ps. 119; Jer. 25:1-13, 36). The New Testament views the Old Testament as the very oracles of God, prophetic, and written by men carried along by the Spirit (Rom. 3:2, 16:26; 2Pet. 1:21). Christ and the Apostles quoted Old Testament passages not merely as what men said, but as what God said (Mk. 7:6, 12:36; Rom. 10:5, 20, 11:9; Acts 4:25, 28:25). And, Old Testament statements that were not made directly by God are quoted in the New Testament as God's words (Matt. 19:4; Heb. 3:7; Acts 13:34, citing Gen. 2:24; Ps. 95:7; Is. 55:2).
     Scripture, therefore, is the inspired word of God. As such, it is profitable. Believers need to hear the word of God proclaimed and taught, read it themselves, know it, memorize it, treasure it, pray it, believe it, follow it, and praise God for it. It is the word of God that sanctifies us, equips us to do the works of God, convicts us when we sin, guides us, soothes us, comforts us, corrects us, and penetrates our souls with the very words of our great God. God gave us his word. We have the privilege of reading of his glory and grace, his salvation, his plan of redemption, but most of all- Him. We get to read about God!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Scripture: Why Preach the Bible?

Scripture: Why Preach the Bible?
    The Bible is at the center of Christianity. Indeed, it should be at the center of the Christian life. Believers ought to immerse themselves in word of God. After all, it is just that, the very words of the living God! We should read it, know it, believe it, live it, sing it, memorize it, trust it, meditate on it, preach it, teach it, hear it, and obey it. In a word, Christians need to feast on the scriptures. The Bible is our food, light, guide, and drink. The Bible reveals to us our great God, his amazing salvation, the Son, the Spirit, the work of the Trinity, the glory of God, and a myriad of other life-shattering and eternal truths.
    The word of God is to be preached. Why? Because of the examples of teaching that have come before us. Here are many examples of preaching and proclamation throughout Scripture.
  1. God preached (Ex. 33:19, 34:5; Is. 62:11)
  2. Moses preached (Deut. 31-33)
  3. Joshua preached (Josh. 23:2-16, 24:2-27)
  4. David preached, proclaimed the message of God in his Psalms (8, 9, 16, 22, 24, 34, 68, 75, 89, 93, 105, 110, 119, 136, 145, 1, 23, 32, 37, 40, 46, 50, 66, 78, 92, 100, 104, 106, 118, 128, 150)
  5. Solomon preached (Prov. 1:2-3; 2 Chron. 6:1-42; Ecc. 1:1, 1:12-13, 12:9-10)
  6. Prophets proclaimed the word of God (Is. 1:2-31, 6; Dan. 9; 1 Sam. 12:23; Is. 30:9; Jer. 32:33; Mal. 2:9)
  7. Kings preached (2 Kin. 22-23; Ecc. 1:1)
  8. John the Baptist preached (Matt. 3:1; Jn. 1, 3:22-30; Mk. 1:4; Jn. 1:15, 29)
  9. Christ preached (Mk. 1:14-15; Matt. 5-7; Lk. 4:16-30; Matt. 9:35)
  10. Disciples preached (Mk. 16:20; Lk. 9:6; Acts 2:14-36, 15:14-21)
  11. Paul preached (Acts 17:16-31, 28:31; 1 Cor. 1:23, 2:1-2, 15:1-3; Col. 1:28)
  12. Scripture preached (Gal. 3:8)
  13. Preachers are to preach (1 Tim. 4:13, 6:2; 2 Tim. 4:2-5)
    The next question is, what do I preach? Well, you preach the word of God. To begin, preach Christ. Christ is at the heart of the Bible and the Bible's message of God's great works of creation, providence, and redemption. Proclaim Christ. After all, there are many examples in the New Testament of this very thing...
  1. Jesus preached himself (Matt. 7:21-23, 11:28-30; Lk. 4:16-21, 24:27, 24:44-47; Jn. 3:14-15, 3:16-18, 6:35-40, 8:12, 8:31-36, 10:9, 10:11, 11:25-26, 14:6, 15:1, 17:3)
  2. Apostles preached Christ (Acts 8:5, 8:35, 9:20, 10:36, 17:3)
  3. Paul preached Christ (1 Cor. 1:23, 2:2, 15:1-5; 2 Cor. 4:5; Eph. 3:8; Col. 1:28)
  4. Author of Hebrews preached Christ (Heb. 1:1-13, 4:14-16, 9:11-14, 10:12-14, 12:2, 13:12-15)
  5. James proclaimed Christ (Jms. 1:1, 2:1)
  6. Peter preached Christ (1 Pet. 1:3, 1:19-21, 2:5-8, 2:21-25, 3:18; 2 Pet. 1:8-11, 1:16-17, 3:18)
  7. John preached Christ (1 Jn. 1:1-3, 1:7, 2:1-2, 3:16, 5:1, 5:20; Rev. 1:5-8, 5:9-14)
  8. Jude proclaimed Christ (5, 14-15, 21, 24-25)
    Preachers ought to proclaim the truth. We preach truth because Jesus is truth (Jn. 14:6). Failure to love and preach the truth results in disaster (2Thess. 2:10). Salvation depends on the proclamation of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ (2Thess. 2:13). Also, Christian living is grounded in the truth of God's word (Rom. 6:1-16; Jms. 4:4). With this being said, preachers, then, must preach the word of God to the minds and hearts of their people (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:23; Col. 3:10; Acts 2:37; Rom. 10:9-10).
     Preaching should have goals. What are the goal preachers should have in mind when proclaiming the word? They are...
  1. The glory of God (Rom. 9:17, 11:33-36; 1 Cor. 1:18, 21, 31; 2 Cor. 4:1-6; Col. 1:27-28; 1 Pet. 2:9)
  2. Christlikeness (2 Cor. 3:15-18; Col. 1:28)
  3. Conversion (Mk. 1:14-15; Acts 3:17-21, 10:42-43, 11:20-21, 20:21; 1 Cor. 15:14; 2 Cor. 5:16-21)
  4. Edification (Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 3:17)
  5. Instruction (Acts 20:27; Eph. 4:11-14; Col. 1:28)
  6. Application (Lk. 3:3-14; Matt. 5-7; Acts 2:37-39; Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)
    Did you know that preaching is worship? Believers are to worship God alone. Christians learn about God in Scripture. Believers also hear from God through the Bible when it is read, taught, and preached. It follows that, believers who know God and are known by God naturally desire to worship God. Scripture, then is to be at the center of worship (private and corporate worship). Scriptures are to be read, expounded, taught, sung, preached, prayed, discussed, understood, memorized, known, loved, searched, devoured, applied, lived out, cherished, contemplated, desired, and heard. How can a believer possibly worship apart from the Bible? It is impossible. It is only in the Bible that we find what God desires of his people, how he is to be approached, the ordinances, sacred duties, how a believer is to live to the glory of God, and the good news of Christ.
   The scriptures are to be preached and heard. The best way to achieve this is to preach expositionally. This means that the message has Scripture as its sole source. The message is taken from Scripture through careful study and exegesis. Preparation includes correctly interpreting the passage in its normal sense and in its context. Good exegesis explains the original, God-intended message. Then, the passage is to be applied to the current context of believers. This is preaching. This is the proclamation of God's word.