A Brief Theology of Inspiration part one

inspiration OT

A Brief Theology of Inspiration

In previous articles we saw that Jesus and the apostles viewed the Old Testament Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God. It is my aim in the next few articles to consider the doctrine of inspiration. As we do so, we shall briefly look back over the Old Testament testimony, the New Testament testimony to the Old Testament Scriptures, the meaning of “given by inspiration of God,” and the New Testament testimony to its own inspiration.

The Inspiration of The Old Testament

There Old Testament does not present us with an explicit statement of its inspiration. That should not discourage us, however, because there is an abundance of testimony to the inspiration of the Old Testament to be found within its pages.

One noticeable thing is that there were times that we find God commanding men to write things down for posterity. For example, when Israel fought against Amalek and conquered them, YHWH told Moses to write a memorial of the battle in a book so that it would be remembered. “And the Lordsaid unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14, AV 1873) We also see that God spoke the words of the law, and then Moses wrote them down (Exodus 20:1;24:4). Not only so, but later those records which Moses wrote down were spoken of as being written with the finger of God (Exodus 31:18;32:15-16;34:1-4,27-28). Instead of thinking that God actually has physical fingers with which He writes, I believe we should understand this as God speaking the words and Moses recording them as He spoke. The end result was that Moses, as the finger of God, wrote God’s words. Commenting on the phrase “written with the finger of God,” John MacArthur says it is “A figurative way of attributing the law to God.[1]” We could certainly say along with others that “The phrase ‘finger of God’ is best understood as an anthropomorphism, that is, a metaphor comparing some aspect of God with the traits of a human being. The phrase does not assert that the Lord God possesses a human body; it affirms that God, and not Moses, was ultimately responsible for the creation of the text inscribed on the stones (cp. 24:12; 32:16; Dt 4:13; 5:22; 9:10). The wording suggests that the means by which the words were recorded was supernatural, but does not indicate the exact method God chose to inscribe them.[2]” If we do subscribe to a miraculous recording of the law instead of Moses writing them, we still have a document that is the very Word of God.

After the tablets containing the law were broken by Moses, he was instructed to write them again. The command to Moses was, “Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.” (Exodus 34:27, AV 1873) We see that Moses was given specific words to write as he recorded the covenant that YHWH was making with Israel. Those words were the words of God, though written by Moses. JFB comments on this verse saying, “Write thou these words—that is, the ceremonial and judicial injunctions comprehended above (Ex 34:11–26); while the rewriting of the ten commandments on the newly prepared slabs was done by God Himself.[3]” Their thoughts were that God re-wrote the tablets of the law and commanded Moses to write some additional words regarding the covenant with YHWH. This does seem to be what happened, as Moses later said, “At that time the Lordsaid unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand. And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the Lordspake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the Lordgave them unto me.” (Deuteronomy 10:1–4, AV 1873)

At the end of Moses’ life he wrote even more and commanded Israel to keep it in the ark of God along with the tablets of the law: “And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,” (Deuteronomy 31:9–10, AV 1873).  Later he was commanded to write more concerning Israel and their covenant with God (Deuteronomy 31:16-27).   John Calvin commented on this passage and said, “Since the two Tables were enclosed in the Ark of the Covenant, a place at the side was assigned to the interpretation, so that they might have no doubt but that it proceeded from the same Divine Author…[4]” His understanding of this passage was that the Word of God as given to/through Moses was more than the ten commandments, but included the rest of Moses’ writings. It is instructive to note the context here, because Moses told Israel to keep all of the commandments which he had given them regarding the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 31:1-5). This leads us to the reasonable conclusion that  all of Moses’ writings were indeed the Word of God. When he concluded his writings he commanded the elders of Israel to put them in the ark of the covenant along with the law of God (Deuteronomy 31:24-26), thus signifying that they were equal to the ten commandments in their authority and origins. We have good reason to conclude that Moses’ writings were the inspired words of God.

Time and space do not permit us to exhaustively survey the Old Testament for testimonies to its inspiration, but we do find numerous instances in which other Old Testament writers and prophets declared that they were presenting the very words of God. David understood that he recorded some of the words of God (2Samuel 23:1-2). He also acknowledged the inspiration of the five books of Moses saying, “He hath remembered his covenant for ever, The word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, And his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, And to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, The lot of your inheritance: When they were but a few men in number; Yea, very few, and strangers in it.” (Psalm 105:8–12, AV 1873) David speaks of the Genesis account of God’s promise to Abraham as being God’s Word, as well as the promises to Isaac and Jacob. All of these things, and the law, are listed as part of God’s covenant with Israel. God’s covenant is His word of promise to Israel to be their God, and they His people. We can conclude from this that David recognized the Pentateuch as the Word of God. In Isaiah chapters six and eight we find Isaiah given commandments to speak God’s Word and to write God’s Word. Jeremiah was commanded to speak God’s words which God would put in his mouth (Jeremiah 1:1-10), and later spoke of those same words burning within him (Jeremiah 20:9). We also have record of Jeremiah being commanded to write God’s Word in a book: “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Thus speaketh the LordGod of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.” (Jeremiah 30:1–2, AV 1873) We find again in Jeremiah 36:1-2 that he is commanded to write God’s words in a book. This book was destroyed by king Jehoiakim, yet Jeremiah was commanded to write the words of God once again (Jeremiah 36:27-30). Ezekiel, too, was given a command to write God’s words (Ezekiel 43:10-11). So, too, was Hakkuk commanded to write the vision that he had seen (Habakkuk 2:1-2). If we couple this with the multiple instances in which we read of God’s words coming to people, men speaking the words of YHWH to Israel, and the many times that “thus saith the LORD” is cited, we find that the Old Testament certainly claims to be the inspired Word of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1]MacArthur, John F., Jr. The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible.Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006.

[2]Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, 136 (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007).

[3]Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al., A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, Ex 34:27–28 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[4]John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Dt 31:14 (Galaxie Software, 2002; 2002).

The Inerrancy Of The Scriptures

5 God Scrip Inerr 1.docx

“In apologetic argument, as in everything else we do, we must presuppose the truth of God’s Word. We either accept God’s authority or we do not, and not to do so is sin”[1]

 

It is supposed by some that we cannot and should not approach any issue with presuppositions. First of all, that in itself is a presuppositional approach; one that supposes one can be absolutely neutral and objective, which is impossible. We may be able to come near to objectivity and neutrality, but we must honestly accept that we all have presuppositions and biases. Those who argue against presuppositions actually live their lives by presuppositions. Simply by scheduling their activities they live by the presupposition that the world is ordered by a uniform movement of the earth in relation to the sun. They live by the presupposition that a week is seven days long and that each month is regulated by the lunar cycles. One simply cannot live without presuppositions. Thus it is that I shall attempt to lay out some presuppositions relating to the inerrancy of the Scriptures.[2]

Presupposition One: God As The Source Of All Knowledge And Truth

We all assume that we have knowledge. Even the person who seeks to tell us that we cannot know anything thinks that he knows what he is saying, and he expects us to understand him.

Where does knowledge come from? Is knowledge based upon certain nervous impulses and hormonal changes? Is knowledge simply the result of observation? If this is the case, knowledge for one person will certainly not be necessarily the knowledge that another thinks that he has. In fact, knowledge would be relative and thus be only opinion. On the other hand, if knowledge is something that can be held in common by humans, knowledge must have an absolute and objective source that determines the truth or falsity of a matter.

For there to be an absolute source and standard of knowledge and truth that source must possess all knowledge and truth. The Christian Theist understands this source of all knowledge and truth to be the God of the Bible.[3]

If God is the source and standard of all truth and all knowledge, then we have a standard by which we can measure all truth claims. If we do not have God as this source and standard of knowledge and truth, we descend into relativism and irrationality.

 

Presupposition Two: God Reveals Himself To His Creatures

When we presuppose God as the source of knowledge and truth we are led to consider that God also is the source of all the media in which knowledge and truth reside: i.e. He is the creator of all things. If God is the creator of all things, then He is also the source of the persons that are human.[4]If that is so, God must be the ultimate person; otherwise how could God relate to us on a personal level if He were not a person?

If we presuppose the personhood of God, then we are left wondering about God relating His purposes to man. How will man know what God wants from him? We don’t see God with our eyes. We don’t physically feel God. How, then, can we know God and His will for us? This leads us to the presupposition that God reveals Himself to His creatures.

Presupposition Three: The Lordship of God

If God is the source of knowledge, truth, personhood, and all of creation, we then find ourselves confronted with the idea that God is Lord and ruler of all. Thus the presupposition of the lordship of God.

The lordship of God means that He must be obeyed. We must yield to Him and His demands, commands, wishes, and purpose for us.[5]

 

Presupposition Four: The Inerrancy Of The Bible[6]

Why presuppose the inerrancy of the Bible? Why not attribute this to the Koran, or the Hindu holy books, or the holy books of other religions?

The inerrancy of the Bible should be presupposed for two reasons:

  1. The one who accepts the authority of the Bible and does not approach it skeptically can easily tell that it is a book that is coherent and reliable in what it says.
  2. Since the Bible is coherent and reliable we can with good reason take it at its word that it is inspired[7], and thus is the Word of God and that it is God’s revelation of Himself and that His plan for us is contained in it[8]. In fact, it is this very inspiration that provides for us the unity and reliability of the Bible.

Since the Bible is the Word of God, we should remember that God is true. It then follows that God’s Word is true[9].

Those who believe that God is the source of all truth, and that He is the Lord who reveals Himself, have no problem establishing the inerrancy of Scripture. It is only in Scripture that we find a God-centered worldview that teaches us that the supreme being is a person who reveals truth. It is no surprise, then, that we find Scripture claiming to be true. Neither is it surprising that we find Scripture claiming to be pure and without error. To deny inerrancy is to throw doubt upon the Scriptures and leave us asking where the Word of God is to be found, and which parts of the Scripture can we determine to be the Word of God.

 

Practical Considerations

The practical side of this is the one to which we should turn. While we do well to accept the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures, we can certainly profess that we believe them without obeying their teachings. There is certainly a need for us to move from theory to practice.

We are bound to yield to God’s Word. God has spoken and man must listen. If we are to learn, we must certainly do so with God’s Word setting the standard for us. This does not mean that we approach the Bible as a science or mathematics textbook. It does mean that we allow the Word of God to guide us as we study mathematics, science, history, etc. Scripture tells us that “The fear of the Lordis the beginning of wisdom: A good understanding have all they that do his commandments: His praise endureth for ever.” (Psalm 111:10) And again, “The fear of the Lordis the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7) Our learning should be shaped by the Word of God.

Inerrancy means, too, that our Bible can be trusted. We do not have to wonder whether or not God has spoken. He has. We need not live in doubt about which parts of Scripture are true and which are not. Scripture is truth. We should trust God because He has spoken to us plainly and truthfully.

 

 

[1]John Frame, Apologetics to The Glory of God, pg 9, P&R Publishing

[2]For those who think that we should not hold to the presupposition of inerrancy we say, there is only one alternative: the presupposition of errancy. One cannot be neutral on this issue.

[3]Deuteronomy 32:4;1Samuel 2:3;John 1:1-4,14;Colossians 2:3 and many more.

[4]I say, “Persons that are human” not to say that there are non-human persons, but so that I don’t attribute to God the creation of the persons that humans are; i.e. sinful persons.

[5]Jesus said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) See also Psalm 95, which tells us that our Creator is to be worshiped and obeyed.

[6]We attribute inerrancy to the original manuscripts of the biblical books and not to copies and translations of them, though we are convinced that we have reliable copies and translations available to us.

[7]2Timothy 3:16-17;2Peter 1:16-21

[8]We do not mean that the Bible is the only revelation of God. Christians believe that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God.

[9]See John 17:17;Romans 3:1-3;2Timothy 2:11-13;Revelation 21:5;22:6

Three Things The Bible Does

hermeneutics 3 things

(And If You Miss Them, You Will Misunderstand It Terribly.)

 

There are a number of different approaches taken by those who read the Bible. Many of those approaches are errant and only lead to more error.

Among the approaches taken is the approach of declaring that the Bible is either morally wrong, or inconsistent due to there being mentions of such things as polygamy.

The problem with this approach to interpreting the Bible is manifold, but glaringly evident is the fact that the persons making such claims miss the three things that the Bible does.

What are the three things that the Bible does? The reader of the Bible must recognize these three things, or he will misunderstand it and terribly misinterpret it. The Bible prescribes, describes, and circumscribes.

Let me demonstrate this by using the example of polygamy.

 

The Bible prescribes something concerning marriage. What the Bible prescribes is monogamy. The Bible tells us that God Himself said that two (a man and a woman) become one flesh in marriage (See Genesis 2:17-25;Matthew 19:1-6). No more than two are in a marriage. The Bible prescribes monogamy in marriage.

 

The Bible describes polygamy. Over and again we find polygamy described. Many times God’s children fell into this sin. Solomon is an extreme example of this. Lest we should think that the description of polygamy is a condoning of polygamy, we need to recall Solomon’s being rebuked because of this. We should also recognize that Scripture often describes the problems that arose from polygamous relationships. Description is not prescription.

 

Finally, the Bible circumscribes polygamy in that, knowing that some people would be wicked enough to disobey God in this matter, rules were given to Israel about how they were to deal with the issue (See Deuteronomy 21:15-17;Exodus 21:7-11). To circumscribe something is not to say that the whole of the issue is not problematic and sinful. To circumscribe something is not to prescribe that thing that is circumscribed.

 

Far too many people believe that the Scriptures prescribe things that it often only describes or circumscribes. Wise is the one who will recognize the need to approach that Bible carefully, and seeks to recognize these three things.

The Unity Of The Bible

The Unity Of The Bible

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)

 

God Is God Of Order

From the very beginning, when we read of God creating all things, we see that God is orderly. Though the earth was at first a sort of shapeless blob, God very quickly set it in order, gave everything its place, and did it all with a purpose. God does not work in a disjointed, chaotic way. “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) This verse is very relevant to our study, as God is not one who introduces discord and disorder. If God is the author of peace in His churches, certainly we can have confidence that His Word will reveal this in the order and unity that exists within it. If not, then we have the problem of chaos, and that is not of God.

The very nature of God as truth also informs us of the unity of the Bible. “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: For all his ways are judgment: A God of truth and without iniquity, Just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) God does all that He does perfectly. There is no error and untruth mixed in with what He does; and that includes Scripture, which is breathed out by Him (See 2 Timothy 3:16). Truth is coherent. It is united. It does not conflict with itself. We are told this in God’s Word (See 1 John 2:21). This being so, we can expect to find that the Bible is a coherent book from Genesis through Revelation.

 

God Has An Eternal Plan Revealed In His Word

Another reason to expect the Bible to be united from beginning to end is the fact that it tells us that God’s plan is an eternal plan. Paul speaks of God’s “having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he had purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” (Ephesians 1:9–10) This tells us that God’s plan is an eternal plan in which He intends to redeem His creation. We also read the words of Paul saying, “of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36) In other words, God made everything, and everything returns to God’s eternal glory and honor. Again, this shows us that God has an eternal purpose for all that He does, and He has made that known to us in His Word. John also saw a vision in which he learned, “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:7) This passage tells us that God’s eternal purpose, as revealed in His Word, is coming to its culmination.

The above verses speak to us of God’s eternal purpose. They tell us of the reason for which God made the world. They also demonstrate to us that God has the singular purpose of getting honor from the demonstration and enjoyment of His glory in this world. From one age to the next, God has been working with one mind, and His Word reflects that, not only in that it presents us His purpose, but also because the books of Scripture are united in teaching us of His eternal plan.

 

Creation An Example Of The Unity Of The Bible

The best way to teach the unity of the Bible is to demonstrate it, so here I shall use creation as an example of this unity.

Scripture tells us that God created all things in the beginning (See Genesis 1:1-2:25), and this theme permeates the Scriptures. After mankind’s fall, there was one promised who would overcome the serpent introduced mankind to sin (Genesis 3:15). After God’s destruction of the earth in the flood, we find that in a sense God re-created the earth (Genesis 8:1-22). From there God began to create for Himself a people through whom He would bring the Savior into the world, and thus He called Abraham, justified him by faith, and promised Him that all the earth would be blessed in his seed (Genesis 12:1-3;15:1-6;22:18). This promise continues to be seen and fulfilled in the history of Israel, and the prophets looked forward to the day that God would overcome sin and redeem this earth (See Isaiah chapters 63-66). The Old Testament ends with the promise of a new creation, saying, “For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; And all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: And the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lordof hosts, That it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise With healing in his wings; And ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet In the day that I shall do this, saith the Lordof hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, Which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, And the heart of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:1–6) From Genesis to Malachi, the Old Testament bears witness to the creative work of God and the promise of the new creation.

This thematic unity continues in the New Testament as the creation motif continues in John’s introduction of Jesus: “Inthe beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1–4) This continues as we see that Jesus was born, died, and rose again as the promised seed who would conquer the serpent (See Galatians 4:1-5;Romans 14:9;Hebrews 2:14). We also find that He makes us new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17;Ephesians 2:8-10), and gives us His Holy Spirit to promise and assure us that He will keep His promise, made in the Old Testament, to create a new world (Isaiah 32:14-20;Ephesians 1:13-14). Finally, we find the New Testament ending with the vision of the promise being fulfilled, as the prophet writes, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:1–7) This creation theme demonstrates that, from beginning to end, the Bible is a book of unity.

 

Practical Applications

What does this mean to us? First of all, we must recognize the duty of believing and obeying the Scriptures. Understanding the unity of the Bible should give us confidence in the Scriptures. Since the Bible is not a disjointed, self-contradictory book, we can be assured that it is trustworthy in what it says. If we have confidence in the Scriptures, we can then go forward in believing the Word of God and obeying it.

Understanding the unity of the Bible should also have a great influence on how we interpret and understand the Bible. Too many times we try to interpret and understand the New Testament in isolation from the Old Testament. This is virtually an impossibility. The unity of the Bible means that the New Testament builds upon the Old Testament. It means that the discontinuity that many people think exists between the Old and New Testaments does not exist. Many times the New Testament tells us that Jesus came and fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures (See Romans 15:8;2 Corinthians 1:20). For example, as we look back on the example of the creation theme in the Scriptures, we find that the Genesis account of the creation and fall of man gives us much insight into the promise of a new creation, and it also helps us understand the imagery of that new creation as it is presented to us in the Revelation. This understanding should cause us to study the New Testament knowing that there will be many things that will be better understood if we interpret study and interpret them in light of the Old Testament Scriptures.

 

A Brief Look At The New Testament Use of The Old Testament

A Brief Look At The New Testament Use of The Old Testament

In my time of studying the Bible I have often wondered about the New Testament use of the Old Testament.   Of special concern were Matthew 2:11-15 and Galatians 3:16.   Did the New Testament writers use some sort of Holy Ghost exegesis that led them to their conclusions?  Did they simply impose their doctrine upon the Old Testament texts?  Neither of these things truly seemed to be in keeping with the integrity of a Christian character, nor did they seem to be consistent with Divine inspiration.  What was I to do, then?  What was I to believe about this issue?  This short paper is my effort to come to a conclusion based upon the two texts above.

In this article I shall begin in Genesis and work my way through several Old Testament texts in an effort to show that the New Testament writers were actually using the texts in a manner that would be consistent with the understanding of the Old Testament writers.

The passage in Matthew 2 reads:

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. ” (Matthew 2:13–15, KJV)

The Galatians 3 reads:

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. ” (Galatians 3:16, KJV)

 

It is my contention that the Old Testament writers did indeed have Christ in mind as they wrote.

The expectation of the people of God in the OT was that there would come a deliver.  God’s promise in Genesis explicitly promises a son to come.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. ” (Genesis 3:15, KJV)

Not only does God promise a son, He promises a seed (singular).  Thus, in the very beginning, the expectation of the savior would that one who is both seed (singular) and son.

The expectation of the people no doubt grew when Jacob prophesied of the coming Messiah saying:

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. ” (Genesis 49:10, KJV)

Later, the LORD would speak of the nation of Israel as “my son” when He sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt (cf Exodus 4:22).  Later the nation of Israel would be spoken of again in the singular in a reference that is no doubt Messianic in nature:
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought! Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain. ” (Numbers 23:21–24, KJV)

In verse 24 the prophecy moves from “the people” to “he shall rise up as a great lion…”  This lion-like man will conquer his enemies.

Balaam prophesied again of the coming Messiah saying:
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city. ” (Numbers 24:17–19, KJV)

Note that the expectation is that there will be a seed out of Jacob.  Though he does not use the word “seed”, yet the Messiah, the coming King shall be a descendant of Jacob.  Not only that, but the prophecy speaks of one man, not many just as Paul shall later do in Galatians 3:16.

 

Later a prophet like Moses would be promised (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) and that would lead the people even further in their expectation of this one man who would come to be their deliverer.

David had an especially significant event in his life when he realized the this deliverer would be a descendant of his.

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. ” (2 Samuel 7:12–15, KJV)

And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God. And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said. And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee. ” (2 Samuel 7:23–26, KJV)

Again, the prophecy is regarding one seed who shall be king.  This seed is the seed of David, yet he is to be the son of God.  (cf Psalm 2:6-12;89:19-29;Isaiah 9:6-7)

Later, Isaiah would speak further of Him (Isaiah 11:1-10), as would Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:5-6;33:15-16), and Daniel would have a vision of Him coming to rule the world:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. ” (Daniel 7:13–14, KJV)

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. ” (Daniel 7:27, KJV)

Having seen the development of the expectation of the Messiah as one who is the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, the son of God, and the king of all, I am not surprised to see the following verse used in reference to Jesus the Christ being the son of God:

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. ” (Hosea 11:1, KJV) (cf Matthew 2:13-15)

After all, the people of Israel looked for this One who is the seed of Abraham (cf Genesis 22:18) and the embodiment of all that God expected Israel as a nation to be, and Jesus is the ultimate Israelite.  He is the Son of God and the son of man.  The seed of the woman (cf Galatians 4:1-5), the seed of Abraham, and the Son of God.  Through the years the people knew that their Messiah would be what they were not – perfect.  He would rule over all as the ultimate Israelite/descendant of Abraham, and the One to whom all of Israel’s history was leading them.  Thus the prophecy of Israel coming out of Egypt could indeed apply to the Messiah as the Son of God.

Considering the Galatian passage we find that it, too, is interpreting the Old Testament text correctly, because the Old Testament prophecies clearly anticipated the coming Christ, the seed of Abraham.

As we read the New Testament we find that there was a very well developed Christological expectation in existence at the time of the birth of Jesus.  The reader will recall that Simeon spoke to Mary about Jesus and even hinted that His work would actually be one that would bring grief to His mother (See Luke 2:25-35).  In so speaking, it is obvious that Simeon’s expectation of Jesus’ work was not simply that of an exalted king who would rule over all.  Simeon evidently understood somewhat of the suffering that was to come to Jesus.  It is most likely that he had this understanding based upon the Old Testament Scriptures and not solely on the basis of any spiritual experience he may have had.

As the Baptizer came on the scene we find that there was much musing about him.  He was questioned whether he were the Messiah or not, showing us that there was a Messianic expectation.  John’s response was to preach Jesus as one who would be a sacrificial lamb given as a sin offering: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29, KJV)  For this to have made any sense to anyone listening there would have of necessity been an expectation of a suffering Christ who would forgive sins.  Again, that expectation would have had its roots in the Old Testament prophecies and promises.

Jesus, Himself, testified to this expectation when He told the people that the Scriptures testified of Him (See John 5:39), that Abraham rejoiced because he saw the day of Christ (See John 8:56), and when He rebuked the disciples because they did not believe the Old Testament Scriptures which prophesied of His coming, suffering, and subsequent glory:  “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. ” (Luke 24:25–27, KJV)  The Old Testament prophecies of Jesus were so clear that Jesus rebuked them for not believing them.  This would have been impossible if the prophecies were vague, imprecise, and could only have been interpreted in light of the New Testament after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.

When we come to an Old Testament quotation in our New Testament which gives us pause to think that there is a difference between the NT writer’s meaning and the OT meaning, then we should seriously consider what the body of OT truth has to say about the matter before we hastily declare that the NT writers were inspired to use the OT in a way inconsistent with the intent of the OT writers, or that the NT writers added meaning to the OT texts.  When writing inspired Scripture the NT writers did not miss anything about the OT texts, but we may very well be missing much.  I am sure that we are.  I trust that this study will help us to consider how we must carefully approach the Scriptures when we study them, and that we should certainly appreciate the richness of the OT texts more than we do.

 

 

 

Jesus’ View of The Scriptures

Jesus View of The Scriptures

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. ” (Matthew 19:3–9, KJV)

Authoritative 

As Jesus responded to the question of the Pharisees we note that He referred them to the Scriptures. Over and over again we find Jesus turning the people back to the Scriptures to get the answers to their questions.  Here he asks, “Have you not read..?”  Jesus then quoted to them the instance in which God gave Adam his wife and explained to them that, since the two were joined together by God, they should not be divided.

Jesus viewed the Scriptures as the authority for doctrine and morality.

 

Inspired

 

Jesus also viewed the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God.  Note how Jesus used Genesis 2:24-25.  He takes the words penned by Moses and says, “He which made them at the beginning..said…”  In other words, Jesus was stating that while Moses wrote it, God had spoken it. Jesus viewed the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God.

 

Inerrant

 

Jesus also viewed the Scriptures as the inerrant Word of God.  He did not seek to correct the creation account of Genesis chapters one and two.  He did not even add any words of qualification as though He had reservations about the cosmology of the creation account.  Jesus simply accepted and asserted that the Genesis creation account was correct!

Someone may reply saying, “Yes, but people in Jesus day, and Jesus Himself, didn’t have the scientific knowledge that we have today!  There was no way for them to understand that the earth could not have come into being in six literal, twenty-four hour days.”  To the one who replies in such a fashion I must ask this question: Do you truly think that the eternal Son of God was that ignorant?  Do you think that Jesus was fallible in His reasoning?  If so, you need to reevaluate your understanding of Jesus.

Another may reply, “Well, Jesus knew better, but was simply speaking in an accommodating manner.” To which I can only sigh and remind said person that if Jesus did so, He was being deceitful- and that is sinful. If that is how you view Jesus, I must ask you why you even have any respect for Him or the Bible.  Such a view should certainly be repented of.

 

Verbally Inspired

 

Finally, Jesus believed that the Scriptures were verbally inspired.  He applied the Scriptures with the understanding that the very words were given by God.  While the Pharisees stated the Moses “commanded” them to give a writing of divorcement, Jesus replied that Moses “suffered”, or allowed, them to do so. In other words, there is a difference between “command” and “suffer”.  The word “suffer” (allow) was the word given in Deuteronomy chapter twenty-four.  Jesus took the fact that the word “suffer” was used and explained that something that is allowed is not necessarily commanded.  There is a difference.  He could only have done so if the very words of Scripture were given by inspiration.

 

Our View

How do you view the Scriptures?

Too often we find people today who have accepted much of the old German higher critical scholarship. I have no problem stating that I am a Fundamentalist.  I have no problem accepting the Scriptures and holding to a high view of the Scriptures.

Should there arise a conflict between science and the Scriptures, I shall accept the fact that

  1. my interpretation of the Scripture is incorrect

or

  1. science in incorrect

I see no alternative. When we bring the Scriptures into question and doubt their veracity we question the very character and veracity of the sinless Son of God Who preached and taught the Scriptures as being authoritative, verbally inspired, and inerrant.

That is absolutely unacceptable.

Biblical Inerrancy: Of Truth And Morality

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In a previous article I spoke of God as the source of truth and the ultimate standard of truth. We all live as if this were true, whether we accept the foregoing statement as true or not. We live by a standard of truth and expect others to live by the same standard. For example, when I go to the bank to deposit my money, I expect the tellers to come to the same total as I do when they have completed their addition. Why? Because I know that there is a standard by which we operate. Two plus two always equals four. The fact that we live by such a standard points to the reality of the absolute and ultimate standard. There could be no standard of truth if there were no Christian God. The God of the Bible is not only all knowing, but is the source of all knowledge and truth. He is truth.

The above statements may seem to be somewhat of a leap, but consider that morality also exists. There is an ought-ness about certain things in life; and that ought-ness is personal, and presupposes an absolute person who cares about what we do. We do not live in an impersonal world. We interact with persons all the time. We live in a world that is so full of personality that we often give inanimate objects personal names, and many men refer to their cars as “she” and “her”. We have no true moral responsibility to inanimate objects as such. We may have a moral responsibility to God and to others in regard to how we deal with inanimate objects, but we are not morally responsible to an inanimate object itself.

Morals demand one to whom we are morally responsible. They also demand an absolute standard of morality. Since morality is impossible without personality, it follows that there is an absolute person who is the final arbiter and ultimate standard of morality. The God of the Bible certainly fits this description. He is called the God of truth who is without iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4;2Corinthians 1:18) and all men will give account to Him in the judgment (Romans 14:10-12).

What does morality have to do with truth? That is the question that some will ask. It is a good and valid question. It is also a question that must be answered. The answer is that truth must be respected, honored, and adhered to. If we do not do so we are being immoral. To commit an offense against the absolute standard of truth is to commit a moral offense. An offense against God is an issue of moral consequence. God cares what we believe. It matters to God whether we believe the truth or not. He cares whether we speak truly or not. To stray from the absolute standard of truth is to offend against the absolute person who is the standard of morality and the judge of all men.

It may be argued that there is no moral culpability when one commits an error due to ignorance. We don’t truly live this way, however. Should I be fully convinced that a new bridge which will shorten people’s commute times by fifty percent is opened, and I inform everyone I see that it is opened though it is not; I can assure you that there will be a large number of people who will hold me responsible for giving them wrong information and causing them to be late for work. Ignorance will be accepted as no excuse. We also know that ignorance of the law will not excuse us in court if we have broken the law. Ignorance may be considered by many to be a mitigating circumstance, but it is not an excusing circumstance. Many times we find ourselves gaining new information and thinking, “Well, I’m glad that I know better now.” Scripture does not allow us to do that. Scripture compels us to look back on our ignorance with shame, and then commands us to repent ( See  Leviticus 4:1-35;Acts 17:30).

Let’s take this a step further. Scripture intimately connects our loyalty to truth to our morality. You see, we are morally obligated to fear the Lord. That is commanded many times in the Scriptures. At the same time we are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). Only by the fear of the Lord will we know the truth. As I am morally obligated to fear the Lord, and I am morally obligated to believe and speak the truth, truth and morality are inextricably connected.

I fear that many fail to see that man’s fall was a rejection of truth, and that man’s sinful state is one in which he suppresses the truth (Romans 1:18). Man’s fall was a rejection of truth in that he did not give glory to the one who is truly glorious (Romans 1:20), accepted the word of the one who is a liar (Genesis 3:1-7;John 8:44), and corrupted their own understanding and knowledge, thus becoming fools (Romans 1:22). This immoral rejection of truth then led, and still leads, to a rejection of the truth of God and a perversion of the truth of God.

The connection between morality and truth could hardly be more plainly seen than in a verse in the “love chapter” of the Bible, 1Corinthians 13. In 1Corinthians 13:6 Paul stated that love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in truth. We would be correct to say that the opposite of unrighteousness is righteousness, but it is also correct to say that the opposite of unrighteousness is truth. Think of it: the opposite of immorality then is truth. Truth is a moral issue.

Paul, speaking to the church at Corinth, declared that he worked to bring everyone’s thoughts under submission to God (2Corinthians 10:5). It did not matter to Paul from what school one originated. What mattered to Paul is that every thought was submitted to the Lordship of Christ, and that is a moral as well as a religious issue.

The letter to the Ephesians most definitely shows that Paul considered truth and morality to be related issues. His desire for the Ephesians was that they would not live by the standards of the world (See Ephesians 4:17-24). He explained to them that those outside of Christ lived in the futility of their thoughts, and that their minds were blinded because they were ignorant of the truth. Their ignorance of the truth was not only a sinful thing, but it led to more sin in that they went head-long after sin and gross immorality.

In common, everyday life we live as if these things are true. We expect our banker to hold to the  truth about addition, subtraction, multiplication, because we are relatively sure that, if he doesn’t, he will err on the side of immorality and take our money instead of erring so as to give us more money. When people speak to us, we expect them to speak the truth to us and we don’t accept ignorance as an excuse when someone is harmed due to being given wrong information. Ivory tower academics and philosophers may quibble about this, but they also deposit money in the bank, and their expectations are the same as those of the common man. It is reasonable to conclude that there is an unbreakable link between truth and morality.

There is one application that needs to be made before concluding this article. That application relates to the debate surrounding the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Not only are there some who deny that the Scriptures are inerrant, but they plainly state that there are mistakes in the Bible. Not only so, but some go so far as to say that Jesus Himself erred and ignorantly spoke things that were not true. If that is so, we cannot accept that Bible as what it claims to be: a holy book which is the true Word of God that teaches us the way of righteousness and salvation. Neither can we take Jesus to be what the Bible claims Him to be: the sinless Son of God. To insinuate error in Christ and the Bible is to insinuate sin in them. There is no way to escape that. Those who do so, no matter what they may claim about adoring Christ and accepting the authority of the Scriptures, are grossly in error and would do well to reconsider their position. What true Christian wishes to be guilty of implicitly accusing Jesus of sin and Scriptures of being deceitful and misleading?

Presuppositions And Biblical Inerrancy

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“In apologetic argument, as in everything else we do, we must presuppose the truth of God’s Word. We either accept God’s authority or we do not, and not to do so is sin”[1]

 

It is supposed by some that we cannot and should not approach any issue with presuppositions. First of all, that in itself is a presuppositional approach; one that supposes one can be absolutely neutral and objective, which is impossible. We may be able to come near to objectivity and neutrality, but we must honestly accept that we all have presuppositions and biases. Those who argue against presuppositions actually live their lives by presuppositions. Simply by scheduling their activities they live by the presupposition that the world is ordered by a uniform movement of the earth in relation to the sun. They live by the presupposition that a week is seven days long and that each month is regulated by the lunar cycles. One simply cannot live without presuppositions. Thus it is that I shall attempt to lay out some presuppositions relating to the inerrancy of the Scriptures.[2]

Presupposition One: God As The Source Of All Knowledge And Truth

We all assume that we have knowledge. Even the person who seeks to tell us that we cannot know anything thinks that he knows what he is saying, and he expects us to understand him.

Where does knowledge come from? Is knowledge based upon certain nervous impulses and hormonal changes? Is knowledge simply the result of observation? If this is the case, knowledge for one person will certainly not be necessarily the knowledge that another thinks that he has. In fact, knowledge would be relative and thus be only opinion. On the other hand, if knowledge is something that can be held in common by humans, knowledge must have an absolute and objective source that determines the truth or falsity of a matter.

For there to be an absolute source and standard of knowledge and truth that source must possess all knowledge and truth. The Christian Theist understands this source of all knowledge and truth to be the God of the Bible.[3]

If God is the source and standard of all truth and all knowledge, then we have a standard by which we can measure all truth claims. If we do not have God as this source and standard of knowledge and truth, we descend into relativism and irrationality.

 

Presupposition Two: God Reveals Himself To His Creatures

When we presuppose God as the source of knowledge and truth we are led to consider that God also is the source of all the media in which knowledge and truth reside: i.e. He is the creator of all things. If God is the creator of all things, then He is also the source of the persons that are human.[4]If that is so, God must be the ultimate person; otherwise how could God relate to us on a personal level if He were not a person?

If we presuppose the personhood of God, then we are left wondering about God relating His purposes to man. How will man know what God wants from him? We don’t see God with our eyes. We don’t physically feel God. How, then, can we know God and His will for us? This leads us to the presupposition that God reveals Himself to His creatures.

Presupposition Three: The Lordship of God

If God is the source of knowledge, truth, personhood, and all of creation, we then find ourselves confronted with the idea that God is Lord and ruler of all. Thus the presupposition of the lordship of God.

The lordship of God means that He must be obeyed. We must yield to Him and His demands, commands, wishes, and purpose for us.[5]

 

Presupposition Four: The Inerrancy Of The Bible[6]

Why presuppose the inerrancy of the Bible? Why not attribute this to the Koran, or the Hindu holy books, or the holy books of other religions?

The inerrancy of the Bible should be presupposed for two reasons:

  1. The one who accepts the authority of the Bible and does not approach it skeptically can easily tell that it is a book that is coherent and reliable in what it says.
  2. Since the Bible is coherent and reliable we can with good reason take it at its word that it is inspired[7], and thus is the Word of God and that it is God’s revelation of Himself and that His plan for us is contained in it[8]. In fact, it is this very inspiration that provides for us the unity and reliability of the Bible.

Since the Bible is the Word of God, we should remember that God is true. It then follows that God’s Word is true[9].

Those who believe that God is the source of all truth, and that He is the Lord who reveals Himself, have no problem establishing the inerrancy of Scripture. It is only in Scripture that we find a God-centered worldview that teaches us that the supreme being is a person who reveals truth. It is no surprise, then, that we find Scripture claiming to be true. Neither is it surprising that we find Scripture claiming to be pure and without error. To deny inerrancy is to throw doubt upon the Scriptures and leave us asking where the Word of God is to be found, and which parts of the Scripture can we determine to be the Word of God.

 

Practical Considerations

The practical side of this is the one to which we should turn. While we do well to accept the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures, we can certainly profess that we believe them without obeying their teachings. There is certainly a need for us to move from theory to practice.

We are bound to yield to God’s Word. God has spoken and man must listen. If we are to learn, we must certainly do so with God’s Word setting the standard for us. This does not mean that we approach the Bible as a science or mathematics textbook. It does mean that we allow the Word of God to guide us as we study mathematics, science, history, etc. Scripture tells us that “The fear of the Lordis the beginning of wisdom: A good understanding have all they that do his commandments: His praise endureth for ever.” (Psalm 111:10) And again, “The fear of the Lordis the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7) Our learning should be shaped by the Word of God.

Inerrancy means, too, that our Bible can be trusted. We do not have to wonder whether or not God has spoken. He has. We need not live in doubt about which parts of Scripture are true and which are not. Scripture is truth. We should trust God because He has spoken to us plainly and truthfully.

 

 

[1]John Frame, Apologetics to The Glory of God, pg 9, P&R Publishing

[2]For those who think that we should not hold to the presupposition of inerrancy we say, there is only one alternative: the presupposition of errancy. One cannot be neutral on this issue.

[3]Deuteronomy 32:4;1Samuel 2:3;John 1:1-4,14;Colossians 2:3 and many more.

[4]I say, “Persons that are human” not to say that there are non-human persons, but so that I don’t attribute to God the creation of the persons that humans are; i.e. sinful persons.

[5]Jesus said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) See also Psalm 95, which tells us that our Creator is to be worshiped and obeyed.

[6]We attribute inerrancy to the original manuscripts of the biblical books and not to copies and translations of them, though we are convinced that we have reliable copies and translations available to us.

[7]2Timothy 3:16-17;2Peter 1:16-21

[8]We do not mean that the Bible is the only revelation of God. Christians believe that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God.

[9]See John 17:17;Romans 3:1-3;2Timothy 2:11-13;Revelation 21:5;22:6