Understanding the Inspiration and Inerrancy
1 Peter 1:10–11
1 Peter Lesson #035
December 3, 2015
“Father, we come to You this evening. We recognize that we are living in incredibly chaotic times. We have a lack of leadership from the upper levels of government all the way down to the bottom. We have people in leadership who are more concerned about maintaining their power and privileges than they are about serving the people and serving the Constitution of this nation.
We have people who have turned a blind eye to the fact that we have an enemy who has declared war against us and though not all Muslims have declared war, the enemy who has declared war are those who all hold to the Islamic religion which is not just a religion but is a political ideology as well.
Father, by not being willing and not having the guts to identify the enemy we leave ourselves open to greater attack. If we can’t identify a problem, we can’t solve the problem. All they have is false solutions. This is just another form of idolatry. It’s another form of arrogance.
Father, we pray that you would protect this nation. That you would give us leaders who would have the courage to stand up and speak the truth and have the wisdom to know how to approach a resolution of the problem.
Father, we pray above all that we, as believers, might be a light to others and be willing to stand firm and communicate the gospel to those who are searching for truth, those who question whether there is truth, and those who are just wandering around in the darkness. The Scripture says we are to shine as lights in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. Give us the courage to do that.
Father, because we have Your Word, we can understand truth. In the Psalms we read that it is in Your light that we see light. May we come to understand that Your truth will be more and more enlightened each time we study it. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.”
We’re studying in 1 Peter. Since a major theme in 1 Peter has to do with suffering, one of the things I’ve been doing is taking a look at different examples that come out of the period of the Reformation in England. I’ll be getting to some others as well. These are examples of Christians who have faced and endured and suffered through some pretty intense persecution, hostility, torture, and things of that nature.
Three names that were well known in Scotland in the 1500s and 1600s were the names of Patrick Hamilton, John Knox, and George Wishart. We’ll look at each one of these as we go through this. Patrick Hamilton is the one I’m going to talk about tonight. He was born in 1504. Let’s contextualize that just a little bit.
This is a period of the greatest debauchery and the greatest perversion and the greatest corruption in the Roman Catholic Church. I’m not picking on Roman Catholics. It’s an historical reality.
In the context of the early 1500s you had a massive reform movement that developed within the church. It was part of a counter-reformation movement that was called the Jesuits. That began in the 1520s.
We’re in 1504 and we’re just about twelve years after the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, or the western hemisphere when this man Patrick Hamilton is born in Scotland near Glasgow. As he grew up which was true in many, many generations and through several centuries in Scotland and England, children learned the Bible at the feet of their parents.
Their mothers read Bible stories to them and read the Bible to them. This is probably one of the most significant things any parent can do. It’s better than reading them anything else. Just tell them Bible stories over and over again.
As a result of that, the Word of God dominated in Patrick Hamilton’s life. His father wanted a church career for him. Remember this is a time as he reached adulthood that he goes through that shift between the end of the Roman Catholic dominance and the beginnings, just the very beginnings of the Protestant Reformation which began October 31, 1517.
Now when Patrick was thirteen years old in 1517 his father secured for him his first work at a church. It’s Roman Catholic because Luther is just beginning to become known. Actually at the time Patrick didn’t want anything to do with church work so he left home and he went to Paris.
He went to the Sorbonne at the University of Paris where he became a student and heard about Luther’s protest. For an entire year the Sorbonne studied nothing but Luther’s writings in order to come to understand what these issues were.
He graduated from the Sorbonne in 1520 and went back to Scotland to study at the University of St. Andrews. He eventually joined the faculty. The Scottish parliament at this time condemned Lutheranism as heresy. If you were guilty of heresy you would be executed because they still had this unity between the church and the state. To reject the church religion was an act of treason.
Patrick by this time had adopted Lutheran views, the views of the Reformation. He immediately began to be sought after for arrest. He fled the country, went to Germany, and spent time with Luther and other Reformation leaders.
He determined to go back to Scotland in order to preach the gospel of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. Crowds, huge crowds came to hear him and many were converted. In 1528 he was arrested. They tried and sentence him to death.
At high noon on February 29, 1528 they led him out to be hanged. He handed a friend his copy of the gospels, took off his cap and gown which were part of his garments as an academician in the University. The executioner chained him to the post and attempted to set the wood on fire.
The wood was damp and did not burn well. It burned for six hours before he died. When it appeared the fire was at last going to kill him, his last words were, “How long, O God, shall darkness cover this kingdom?”
Those were the men whose deaths lit up England for the gospel of Jesus Christ. There may come a time in our futures when we may face something very similar. It’s going on in places like Syria and Iraq and it’s happened recently in Egypt and other places in the Middle East.
There is no necessary reason why Islam, radical Islam, has declared war on us that this would not happen here as long as we refuse to recognize that we have an enemy that seeks our destruction.
We’re studying about how to endure testings. I want to go over some things we covered last time. We’re in this three-verse section as we move through the first chapter where Peter writes, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what or what manner of time [what kind of circumstances] the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.”
There’s a lot that’s touched on in these three verses. We have various doctrines that are here. I need to go back and develop some of what I was developing last week. Last week I was going to just look at a brief summary of inerrancy and infallibility but through the miracle of our website, I searched and realized I really haven’t taught in depth or a lot on inerrancy or infallibility in a long time, so we need to drill down on that a little bit in the next couple of weeks.
So the key word that we see here, as I pointed out last time, includes the word salvation. Does that refer to eternal deliverance from the Lake of Fire or is that talking about deliverance from trials and testing in the here and now? Surviving them. Being delivered from them so we can move on to the next.
As I pointed out last time, that’s the context. It’s not talking about future deliverance from the Lake of Fire but of deliverance in time. So “Of this deliverance” would be a better translation. “Of this deliverance the prophets have inquired and searched carefully.”
As we look at this we see at the end of verse 11 this emphasis on the “sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow”. That is really an important phrase because as we go through this section down through verse 12 we’re still in the introduction to this epistle. What any good writer does in his introduction is to do what? To introduce that which he’s going to be talking about.
What we’re being introduced to from verse 6 all the way down to verse 12 is the topic related to suffering and how to survive suffering and adversity in this life. It’s connected here to glory. The focal point here isn’t on Messianic prophecies about Christ’s sufferings on the Cross. That’s not ignored but it’s more than that. It’s a much more robust concept.
It’s focusing on the fact that what the Bible emphasizes about Christ is that His suffering would be followed by glorification. The focal point, as we’ll see, is going to be on glorification.
This whole issue of suffering leading to glorification is what angels desire to look into. This is something they don’t understand from their own experience.
So what I pointed out last time, “Of this deliverance from temporal testing which brought glory to God, the prophets have inquired and searched carefully … the Spirit of Christ … testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” Those two things have to be understood. It’s a deep connection grammatically.
This salvation is a phase 2 salvation.
Just as a reminder, we have three phases of salvation, three phases. Someone called them three tenses of salvation. We’re saved when we trust in Christ in a moment of time which is justification. We are saved from the penalty of sin.
In phase 2 we are saved from the power of sin. In phase 3 we’re saved from the presence of sin. Peter is writing about this deliverance from trials in our spiritual life.
In these three verses we get an insight into how the prophets function in relation to the revelation that God gave them. The more I thought about this the last week I realized it’s just remarkable. It’s an important part of Bibliology. Bibliology is that branch of Systematic Theology that studies the nature and the history of the text of the Bible.
Part of Bibliology looks at the origin of the Bible, the origin in terms of the divine inspiration and inerrancy as God spoke and revealed His will and His message to and through the prophets.
They did not always understand or fully grasp all that they wrote. They were just communicators of a message. As they looked at that message, they struggled to grasp all of its meaning so they’re investigating the meaning of the passage itself.
That’s what these two words are focused on. EKZETEO and EXERAUNAO. If you notice, both of these words begin with EK. That is the Greek preposition which means “out of” like exegesis, getting something out of the Scripture. It has that same prefix.
What this is emphasizing is that this prefix just intensifies these words. They’re really investigating, studying, analyzing, thinking, meditating, figuring out all that’s been revealed to them so that they can understand it.
They talked about the grace that would come to them. I pointed out last time that there are several different categories of grace: common, saving, sanctifying, dying, and other categories of grace but those are the main ones.
What they’re examining is the grace that would come to you. In context that is the grace to survive testing and trials. Whatever that may be, whether it has to do with your own emotions, your own psychology, your own background, or whatever is going on between your ears and what influenced that in your background to external things.
There are three enemies we talk about in the spiritual life. Right? We talk about the world, the flesh, and the devil although the order should be the devil, the world, and the flesh.
The devil and the world are outside influences. The flesh is the inside enemy which constantly seeks to influence us to thinking that it’s really a good idea to do it our way instead of God’s way.
We’re so inclined to follow the flesh that it’s like we’re three miles down the road before we realize, “I did it again.” It’s like when you’re on a diet and all of a sudden you sit down and start eating a dessert and you think, “I really shouldn’t have done that.” It’s our inclination, our habit because we’re just done it so much.
So they are prophesying of how God’s grace supplies us with what we need to survive and be delivered from these trials.
They were “searching what or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”
A couple of things I wanted to go back over in this verse. First of all, this word searching is the root verb of EXERAUNAO which we saw back in verse 10. It’s just reinforcing their investigation, their examination of what has been given them.
Here you have a prophet. What happens in terms of the mechanics is that God reveals to him either internally through a dream or externally through a vision or maybe audibly, God communicates something to him. The prophet writes it down. We know that what he writes down is overseen by God the Holy Spirit so it’s free from error.
He doesn’t obliterate the personality of the prophet. In a few cases, what they write is like dictation. But inspiration is not a dictation theory. For example, the Mosaic Law was dictation. God wrote it with His fingers. In other cases, God is allowing the author to write in terms of his own personality, his own background, his own strengths and weaknesses, and his own experiences. All of that comes through.
God the Holy Spirit oversees the process so that it is going to be free from error. So they get this and they write it down and they look at it. “What did God tell me? Hmm, that’s really interesting. What does that mean?” So they start thinking that through.
They know other passages. They start trying to put these things together to figure out what they are. That’s that examination.
You have two words, searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating [NKJV]. This is in reference to inspiration they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This isn’t the same indwelling as the New Testament. I think this is the first time I’ve seen an indication of an indwelling. It’s not an external thing but it’s a temporary indwelling or filling. It might be comparable with what the New Testament refers to with the term PIMPLEMI because that’s a word that’s often used. It’s not PLEROO which is a word that is used to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. We quote that all the time, again and again. Most people probably have that memorized by this point.
A related word is PIMPLEMI. PIMPLEMI always shows up when the Holy Spirit filled Mary and then you have the Magnificat of Mary. The Holy Spirit fills Peter in Acts 2 and then you have Peter’s sermon. Later on it’s Paul. This happened several times in Scripture where you have the use of this word PIMPLEMI and then they speak. That’s describing a specific kind of indwelling for the purpose of revelation that occurs with the authors of Scripture.
The Spirit of Christ is in them and it’s indicating certain things. This phrase “searching what or what manner of time” which I have in these two blocks on the slide. “Into what” is the Greek word EIS which means directed towards something. EIS TINA is a pronoun that could be into what or into who, or it could be as BDAG, the Greek Lexicon says, it could be what sort of. So it’s searching what sort of.
The next phrase is different terminology and it could be into what time and what circumstances the Spirit indicated. What’s going on here is that they’re looking at these Messianic prophecies that He’s going to suffer and He’s going to be glorified. They’re asking the question, “What are the circumstances going to be when the God-man comes? What are the circumstances going to be when you have this God-man Savior that’s on the earth? What’s that going to be like and how does He handle this suffering that’s going to come?”
They’re thinking through these questions. That’s what Peter is saying. This isn’t a passage that’s asking what is often thought, that they’re asking when the Messiah will come. It’s much more profound than that. They have understood roughly when the Messiah is coming.
They’re trying to figure out how this works that you have a God-man who is going to go through suffering and what those circumstances are going to be like and how God’s going to sustain Him. That’s what they’re trying to figure out.
They have limitations on them in the Old Testament but Peter is saying that’s what they were working at. They were trying to figure out what that time, when it would be and what it would be like.
Once again verse 11 talks about the Spirit of Christ was indicating something, DELOO. That is related to inspiration. The Holy Spirit is instructing and teaching them, trying to reveal or explain things and they’re trying to figure this out.
Don’t get this idea which we often do and I can understand why that, “The Holy Spirit revealed it to them so they really understood it just instantly.” What this verse is saying that no, they didn’t grasp it instantly. They wrote it down and then they had to figure it out.
The second word, PROMARTUROMAI indicates that was indeed genuine prophecy that was testified before hand.
Then we get to these two words: PATHEMA and DOXA. DOXA is glory. PATHEMA is suffering. These are the sufferings related to Christ and the glories that would follow. You can’t separate these. They’re linked by a conjunction grammatically but the issue here is suffering followed by glory.
That’s what you see all the way through 1 Peter. I want to point this out to you. I want to run through this a little bit and give you a rundown and look at these verses that are given in 1 Peter related to Christ and suffering and glory.
Here are the verses. 1 Peter 1:7, 11, 21, 24 and 1 Peter 4:11, 13, 14; 5:1, 4, 10. There are ten times in 1 Peter when you have the word “glory”. One time it’s talking about the glory of man and that’s in 1 Peter 1:24. The rest of the time it just shows that nine times Peter refers to glory.
Notice how they’re grouped, in the first chapter and the fourth and fifth chapters. That tells us something. In this first chapter we’ve already had this one reference that the genuineness of your faith being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it’s tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation.
What do we have? We have that there’s testing and various trials in 1 Peter 1:6 that result in praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is part of the introduction.
He comes back and connects them again in verse 11 which is the verse we’re looking at now, the sufferings and the glories of Christ. Your suffering will lead to glory just like Christ’s suffering led to glory. If you want to understand how your present time suffering is going to lead to glory, then you need to pay attention to the example of Jesus Christ.
That’s the focal point of this whole epistle. It really starts pulling together when you get to 1 Peter 4 starting in verse 11. As we look at this in 1 Peter 4:1 we read, “Therefore since Christ suffered for us in the flesh.” So we see through this section the emphasis on Christ’s suffering and what is going on in terms of that suffering.
Let’s go back to 1 Peter 2:21, “For to this you were called: because Christ also suffered for us.” There’s an emphasis on Christ’s suffering. Then in 1 Peter 2:23 it says, “He was reviled and He did not revile in return when He suffered. He didn’t threaten but committed Himself to Him who judges rightly.” Then in verse 24 it says, “He bore our sins on the tree and it was by His stripes [the whipping He was given with the Roman scourge was His suffering].” Look at this emphasis on Jesus’ suffering. He was beaten. He’s whipped. He bears our sins.
Then we get into 1 Peter 4. That’s the pattern He sets up to understand suffering and authority at the end of chapter 3 where he gives more examples. Then in chapter 4 he draws a conclusion from these examples. In 1 Peter 4:1 he says, “Christ suffered for us in the flesh. Arm yourselves also with the same mind.”
This is our example. We’re to look at how Jesus suffered in the flesh. “For He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Of course, Jesus didn’t cease from sin because He never sinned, but He’s ceasing from living in a sinful world. He’s going on to glorification. We’ll look at this when we get to that chapter.
The point I’m saying is that in verses 1 Peter 1:10–12, this suffering and glory is connected in verse 11. It is just introducing the importance of that connection with Jesus as our example. That’s what gets fleshed out and developed when we get into the main body of this epistle.
1 Peter 4:1 comes back and says, “Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind.” He goes on to develop this a little more in 1 Peter 4:11–16. That really becomes the heart, the focal point of this whole epistle. He says, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified.” You ought to circle that word in your Bible every time you see the word suffering or glorified or a synonym thereof, you ought to circle it or highlight it in your Bible.
In 1 Peter 4:12, Peter says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial [suffering] which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” When it really gets bad, don’t think that somehow God lost control.
“But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings that when His glory is revealed [suffering followed by glory].” This pattern was set in Christ and we can follow that. In 1 Peter 4:14 he says, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory [that word again] and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.” Suffering leads to glorification.
Then he says in verse 15, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.” In 2 Peter he’s going to make the point that when you suffer for doing bad, you deserve it. If you suffer for doing what’s right, that is what has value for your spiritual life.
In verse 16 he says, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” So these are the verses relating suffering and glorification and the key part is in 1 Peter 4:11–12. All of that is just to sort of catch us up and see how all of this fits together.
I’m exegeting myself through these three verses and then we’re going to come back and study the related doctrines that are touched on in this verse. 1 Peter 1:12 says, “To them it was revealed …” Notice the word “revealed”. What doctrine is that? Inspiration. It’s part of Bibliology. Categorize it that way.
“To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.”
This first word. “To them.” To who? To the prophets. To these Old Testament prophets it was revealed. We’ve already talked about the initial revelation given to them. I think this touches more on illumination here that as they studied, as they examined, as they investigated, it became clear to them what the significance of the text was.
I think that God the Holy Spirit was helping them to understand to some degree the significance of their revelation regarding the suffering and the glorification of the Messiah. This is a problem, I believe, that happened in the history of Judaism is that they forgot about the suffering Messiah in Isaiah. They focused on the glorious Messiah. Or they divided them between two different Messiahs.
The focus or the thrust of Isaiah is that there’s first going to be a suffering Messiah who will justify His people. That’s Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. First you have a suffering Messiah who dies. “He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us that the righteousness of God might be found in us.” First you have a suffering Messiah, then you have the glorified Messiah. Suffering is followed by glorification.
The use of APOKALUPTO here, which is where we get our word apocalyptic, just means revelation or disclosure or the unveiling of something. “To them it was revealed that, not to themselves.” What he’s saying there is that while it was revealed to them the application of what was going on wasn’t directed toward them and their generation but it was in the future. It was to those who would come after the suffering of the Messiah.
“Not to themselves but to us [Church Age believers] they are ministering.” What they were writing was really targeted to strengthening those believers who came after the suffering. DIAKONEO means to serve. That’s where you get this idea of a deacon. He serves a congregation. That’s the noun form, DIAKONOS.
It means to wait on someone, to minister to someone, to support, and to aid them and or help them. So this information that’s coming in the Old Testament is designed to help us, to aid us, as we face suffering that will be followed by glorification. It’s interesting and grammatically it’s an imperfect verb which indicates it’s an ongoing action. It wasn’t just one time that they revealed something but it’s something that went on and on through the ministry of these unnamed prophets.
They were ministering to us what? The things. What does that describe? The things. This is a plural pronoun from AUTOS which means those things. It just describes certain things which you get from the context. Here it refers to the doctrine that would develop from understanding the relationship of suffering that is followed by glorification.
So “to them [the Old Testament prophets] it was revealed.” They came to understand that the application wasn’t to themselves but that they were ministering the things, the doctrines related to the suffering that would be followed by glorification which has now been reported. That’s the word meaning to announce or proclaim something. This is referring to the fact that they heard the gospel, the Old Testament Torah taught, and now they’ve come to understand this important teaching that glorification follows suffering.
Then he says that it’s now been reported to you, it’s now been announced to you through those who have preached the gospel. It’s DIA which emphasizes the human means by which the information was transmitted: the prophets, the apostles, the pastors, and the evangelists. The verb here, even though it takes seven words to translate this into English, it’s only three words in the Greek. It’s a preposition, an article and the verb EUAGGELIZO which means to evangelize.
It’s now been reported or announced to you through those who have evangelized you, those who gave you the gospel, and those who taught you about Jesus as the Messiah. Remember he’s talking to a primarily Jewish background audience. They had understood passages like Isaiah 53 and passages from Zechariah, passages from Isaiah 7:14, passages from Isaiah 9:6, and other passages in the Old Testament that predicted the first coming of the Messiah. They knew that fit Jesus.
They had heard the good news and this news was proclaimed to them by the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven. They had the Holy Spirit in them which gave them their spiritual gift in them, apostle, prophet, or pastor-teacher, or evangelist. It was the Holy Spirit who was empowering their proclamation of the gospel.
We see this predicted by Jesus in John 14:16 in the Upper Room discourse, the night before Jesus went to the Cross. He’s giving His final instruction to His disciples before He’s arrested. He’s explaining what’s going to happen. He’s going to get arrested, He’s going to be tortured, He’s going to be crucified, and He’s going to be buried. He’s told them He would rise from the dead. Then He tells them that He’s got to leave and go to Heaven where He will prepare a place for them.
God’s not going to leave them alone. He’s going to send to them another Comforter, another of the same kind.
In John 14:16 Jesus says, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.” Another is ALLOS which means another of the same kind. It’s another Helper, a divine Comforter. This is a prophecy on Jesus’ part telling them that the coming of the Holy Spirit would be not too far off. Fifty days later on the Day of Pentecost they would receive the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.” It’s a reference of the Triune action of God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each of whom are involved in this.
John 15:26, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” This is a very important doctrine that was developed in the early Church and it talks about the procession of the Holy Spirit. This is one of those things that divided Eastern Orthodoxy from the Western Church because they disagreed about the Holy Spirit proceeding from both the Father and the Son, not just from the Father. It emphasizes the equality of the authority of both Father and Son in the Trinity.
John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” Again we see Jesus is involved in the sending, the Father is involved in the sending, and both Father and Son send the Holy Spirit who descends upon the Church on the Day of Pentecost and that’s described in Acts 2.
So what have they done? The recipients of the epistle heard the gospel that was revealed to them by gifted men gifted by the Holy Spirit and it’s these things, the things here which angels desire to look into is related back to the things here. The first things. What did I say that described? The doctrine related to the suffering followed by glorification.
This whole concept of how God brings us to glorification through suffering is what the angels desire to look into. They’re watching to see how we handle the suffering. They’re watching the whole panorama to see how it leads to glorification at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
“Desire” here is to want something, to desire something, to long for something. So the angels want to look into this. That’s the only way they can learn about this because this dynamic didn’t take place in the angelic realm.
To look into is an interesting verb. PARAKUPTO means to stoop down and take a long, hard look at something, to really analyze and study something. Think about this. The next time you go through a little adversity, things are a little difficult, you have to pick up that phone and call customer service and that’s always a challenge. Just think, there’s an angel sitting right there and he’s just looking at you. How are you going to handle this? I’m trying to learn about the grace of God and I’m watching you. That doesn’t seem very gracious what you just called that guy. This isn’t a good lesson. Go read “The Screwtape Letters” sometime by C.S. Lewis.
So this is what’s going on. The focus here is encouraging that we are going through a process Jesus is going through, suffering leading to glorification. This is a pattern that actually goes back into the Old Testament. Suffering and glorification. Suffering and then glorification comes later.
We look at everything in such incremental, tiny, tiny segments right here, right now. We have to think, as my mother used to say, beyond the end of our nose and look at the long game. The long game is glorifying God over the course of our spiritual growth and maturation. He takes us through these different categories of suffering in order to bring us to maturity.
Now we’ve come to understand how this fits within the passage. But this really has a lot of implications for our understanding of the doctrine of inerrancy and the doctrine of inspiration. As I said at the beginning, I haven’t taught through this in some time apparently so I thought it’s a good time to review.
One of the reasons I’m reviewing this which I mentioned last week is this article Dr. Bob Wilkin recently wrote for “Grace in Focus”. It’s a bi-monthly publication put out by the Grace Evangelical Society of which Wilkin is the director. You can go to their website. It’s faithalone.org. In the left hand column there’s a place where you can click on the “Grace in Focus Journal” and that will pop up. At the top you’ll see the article I’m referencing because that’s the most recent. Just under that you’ll see the May/June article which was entitled “Can We Trust New Testament Professors?”
I alluded to that some time past and also the last time I mentioned this particular article. I just want to point out a couple of things about this. In the previous article, “Can We Trust New Testament Professors?” he was primarily evaluating trends that are going on in evangelical scholarship related to understanding the Bible inerrancy and can we trust it. What got him really focused on this was a book review of Dr. Craig Blomberg’s book called “Can We Still Believe the Bible?”
What’s interesting is I get e-mails all the time from people asking questions. Sometime back someone asked me about Blomberg. At the time I’d been scanning different parts of his commentary on Matthew but nothing had really red-flagged. That’s what happens a lot of times like that, you don’t really see certain things that stand out that you question.
Blomberg is a professor at Denver Seminary. He’s written a book called “Can We Still Believe the Bible?” He comes down to what I would call this real squishy new position on inerrancy. He would stand up and say he believes in the inerrancy of Scripture but listen to a couple of things he says.
One of the things I thought that y’all would like or eat up or spit out is that in his introduction he makes this statement, “I refuse ever to be suckered back into the view of my young adult years when I actually believed the end of times would play out as Hal Lindsey claimed they would.” You know, this is just another guy, as Tommy Ice and I would phrase it, who said I was a teenage dispensationalist. Like that was a really bad thing. But now he’s a scholar and thinks he’s learned so much and has moved beyond that. That was just so juvenile, he’s saying. The trouble is that his theology is pretty border-line heretical as far as I’m concerned.
Anyway, just quoting from some things that Wilkin says. He talks about how he misrepresented Blomberg a couple of ways because Blomberg was representing other people’s opinions, not his own, and that was not clarified by Wilkin. Also he made some statements about what Dr. Darrell Bock believed. Dr. Bock is a New Testament professor at Dallas Seminary.
Bock called him up and objected to several of the things he said. Wilkin said, “He objected to the implication that the men I cited believed there was nothing at all historical about the biblical accounts.” Wilkin goes on to say, “My apologies to Bock and the DTS faculty for leaving some readers the mistaken impression that I was saying they considered the creation account, the worldwide flood, and Jonah, and Job as pure fiction. I should have been clearer. What I meant as I shall now explain is that they do not consider all of these accounts to be literal history.”
He goes on to say, “What many of the DTS professors believe [not men in the Bible Exposition department]…” Klinger, he’s in the Bible Ex department. I only talk to guys over there in the Bible Ex department because they’re pretty solid. He goes on and says that in his conversations with Darrell Bock, Bock said that passages like Genesis 1–3 can be read in three ways. As literal history, as poetic history, or poetic fiction.
Wilkin points out that to read Genesis 1–3 as literal history means that Adam and Eve were historical persons created in precisely the way described by the text. Wilkin says, “This is my view. [My view too] However, my view is not mainstream today. Most evangelical scholars today hold to option 2, that Genesis 1–3 is poetic history.” Reading Genesis 1–3 as poetic history means that Adam and Eve were historical persons but the story of their creation and fall is told using poetic, that is, figurative language. There has to be a kernel of truth [quote from Blomberg]. However is figurative and symbolic is up for debate.
For example, D. A. Carson [Carson is brilliant, brilliantly wrong in a number of places. He teaches up at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in New Testament]. Carson, in his book “The God Who is There”, says, “I hold that the Genesis account is a mixed genre that feels like history and really does give us some historical particulars [he doesn’t tell us which ones]. At the same time it is full of demonstrable symbolism. Sorting out what is symbolic and what is not is very difficult.”
You see, guys like this, in their little egghead ivory towers they miss that something can be literal and symbolic at the same time. Like the Ark of the Covenant. It was a literal box covered in literal gold which was symbolic of Jesus. Just because it’s symbolic doesn’t mean it’s not literal and historical. There are lots of things that are literal and historical but they’re also symbolic, like manna. Be careful when you read something that says something is symbolic. Don’t think that symbolic means it automatically denies literal historicity.
Then Wilkins has a quote from another New Testament scholar, Craig Keener. I’m just trying to give you an idea of where things are going. These guys would all claim to hold to inerrancy. Keener writes, “Apart from some Israelite parables, nowhere else in the Bible do we read anything like this: a talking serpent convinces man and wife to pluck a fruit that is knowledge. Not surprisingly many biblical scholars including evangelical biblical scholars suspect some figurative language here.”
Like I just said, figurative language doesn’t exclude literal historicity. My question would be that we have literal history and poetic history, but isn’t history history? Right? What are we missing there? It can be poetic history but that doesn’t mean it’s not telling real history, real people, and real events. But that’s how they play fast and loose with things.
When we get in a society that loses truth, what falls apart is communication. This is what happens in hermeneutics because words don’t mean anything anymore when there’s not an ultimate reference point. We’re battling this at where? Where else are we battling this? Trying to understand the Constitution as a living document. We can’t interpret anything anymore.
Let’s face it. We had a couple of people in military gear with vests on and everything attached with names that are clearly, clearly Arab and Islamic. I mean, how many people here are named Farook? How many people here know anybody named Farook? We don’t have Farooks in the Christian community but the first thing you hear a lot of people saying was “this is a Christian right-wing guy who just missed the target of the Planned Parenthood.”
Things just don’t mean anything anymore. Someone yells “Allah Akbar”. He’s got to be a Christian right-wing extremist. Truth is so flexible and so fluid we no longer know what it means. You can’t talk about anything. Communication breaks down. The more communication we seem to have today the less anyone communicates anything related to truth. They’re afraid of truth.
I had a conversation with a guy today. He said, “People in my generation [he’s a young guy] don’t have any convictions. They don’t want to have convictions. They don’t believe anything is true. If you believe something is true, you’re being discriminatory against everybody else that doesn’t believe that truth. So they don’t want to believe in truth because if you believe any one thing is true, you’re being judgmental just by believing one thing is true.”
I said, “Man, I’ve been teaching that for fifteen years.” That’s where post-modernism leads you. It destroys language. This is why we have a president who can’t come out and say it’s Islamic terrorism because words have real meaning and he’s trying to avoid that. He doesn’t want to believe that words have real meaning.
Anyway, back to Keener. Wilkin says, “As Keener himself confirms, many Biblical scholars hold this view. From my discussions with Bock it also appears to be the majority position at Dallas Seminary and within the Evangelical Theological Society.”
I think that’s important to recognize this. We live in an era today when a lot of people who work hard and contribute to ministries like Dallas Seminary don’t know what’s going on. These seminaries are taking the hard earned money of lovely wonderful conservative fundamentalist Christians under false pretenses, I believe. They have men on their faculty whose interpretation of what their doctrinal statement means is not the interpretation of Lewis Sperry Chafer or John Walvord or Charles Ryrie.
I had the great privilege in 1976 to come to Dallas Seminary. My first semester I sat in my second class and the professor was Charles Ryrie. I thought, “The Rapture can come now. I’m done. This is great.” He was about fifty years old and he was always frail. He’s still alive. He’s ninety. I saw a picture posted on Facebook. Someone took a picture with him at a Free Grace Alliance meeting in Dallas a couple of months ago. He still looks like a strong wind of one mile an hour would blow him into the next county. He was always that way. But what a mind! A great mind. In areas of dispensationalism and free grace and others, he’s just tremendous. He’s not so great on sanctification. He got away from Chafer but he’s really great in a lot of areas. On Bibliology he was just tremendous.
Just to comment on another thing, setting up why we need to study inerrancy and infallibility. Wilkin goes on to say, “As I read Blomberg’s book ‘Can We Still Trust the Bible?’ I was struck by how broadly he defined inerrancy. I suggested in my review that most New Testament scholars, even those who claim to believe in inerrancy, consider the events of Genesis 1–3 and Jonah and Job to be historical only in a limited sense. In fact from the quotes from Keener and Carson above and my conversations with Bock only confirm that most evangelical scholars hold to viewing that holding Genesis 1–3 as poetical history and almost all think that taking Genesis 1–3 as poetic and figurative is a view that is at least discussable within the framework of inerrancy.”
In the Blomberg’s book he says, “Parnell [who graduated from Dallas with his Th.D. in New Testament and wrote a great book with Bob Thomas dealing with how they have a lot of problems with the New Testament Department on how they view Jesus], Thomas [who taught here at the 2009 Chafer Conference], Norm Geisler, and Roach were to be consistent and chastise every Old and New Testament commentary whose views match those they demonize, they would scarcely find a Biblical scholar left in the Evangelical Theological Society who would pass muster in their eyes.”
If you’re interested in this, you can find The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy here. It’s a PDF and you can read it. It’s about four or five pages long. There were between 200 and 300 scholars from different institutions, different schools, who participated in crafting that document. They all signed it. They were men like Dwight Pentecost of Dallas Seminary, Charles Ryrie, Elliot Johnson [who spoke here at the 2014 Chafer Conference], Bob Thomas, Norm Geisler, and many others.
That was the benchmark of biblical inerrancy and infallibility in 1978. But here’s the issue. That’s still what I hold. That’s what Bob Wilkin holds. We didn’t move. Everybody else shifted left. Now we’re the radical, hyper inerrant fringe. That’s insane. That’s what is going on.
Blomberg goes on to say, “It cannot be stressed strongly enough that the Thomases and Geislers of the world do not speak for the vast majority of evangelicals and inerrantists around the globe.”
Then he quotes a statement from the president-elect of the Evangelical Society, Dan Wallace. At the end of this statement, Wallace says, “If our starting point is embracing propositional truths about the nature of Scripture rather than personally embracing Jesus Christ as our Lord and King, we’ll be on that slippery slope and take a lot of folks down with us.” The slippery slope is getting into theological error. Earlier he mentioned inerrancy as a peripheral document.
“If our starting point is embracing propositional truths about the nature of Scripture.” Wait a minute. How you view Scripture is the foundation of everything else. So how you view Scripture is the first domino. Ryrie has a great little book out called “What You Should Know about Inerrancy”. He starts off this illustration where as a kid you played dominoes. We all had this experience where you line up the dominoes and you topple the first one and everything else falls. How you understand the Bible is that first domino. When that falls, everything else falls.
This idea that Dan Wallace states that if our starting point is embracing propositional truths, that is that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, rather than personally embracing Jesus, how do you know anything about Jesus without first embracing the Scripture as absolute truth? Answer that question.
We don’t ever know Jesus directly. We only know Jesus through the Word of God. We only know Jesus by reading the Scripture and believing that what it says is true and that the words that are there are God’s words. Otherwise you’re just making it up. This is how far we have fallen.
This is why it’s necessary that we go through a study on the doctrine on the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. It’s to come to understand what does the Scripture say about itself. This is foundational. I never thought I would see this. Here you have a large number of men on the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary, according to this article, who don’t believe in inerrancy the way it was defined by the faculty when I was a student there.
That tells us something. That is a vast warning because that puts us more and more on the fringe.
“Father, thank You for this time we have to study Your Word and to be reminded that You are the Author of Scripture. These are Your words reflecting Your thoughts. The very words of Scripture have been breathed out by You so that we can rely upon them.
We can trust in them. When life is difficult, we know that we have an absolute rock of the Scripture to stand on and it is true. We don’t have to say that maybe this is one of those verses that isn’t quite true.
Father, we thank You that we have the Living Word, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins. He is the living expression, the living communication of who You Are. By trusting in Him and Him alone we have eternal life.
We pray that we might be challenged by what we study and it would cause us to think and investigate for ourselves more into the nature of Your Word that we may truly understand it and it may strengthen our faith and strengthen our understanding of our salvation and your plan for our life.
We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”