Inspiration and Inerrancy – Part 3
1 Peter 1:10–11
1 Peter Lesson #037
January 28, 2016
“Father, it’s a great privilege we have to come together in freedom in this nation to study Your Word, to really think it through and to work through the implications and the applications so that we might have our thinking transformed as we continue to grow, not being conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Father, we’re thankful for Jim and his ministry and the impact they’ve had in Kiev and Ukraine. We continue to pray for the various challenges that ministry faces. These are challenges that all biblically sound ministries face today.
We pray that you would encourage us through the teaching of Your Word that we might know and have our faith strengthened and that we might trust in Your Word as the absolute truth. We pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”
When I was in seminary, the first year I was in seminary, I roomed with three guys who were going to Dallas Bible College. There were some girls who went to Dallas Bible College who lived in the same apartment complex. There was always some kind of argument going on between a couple of my roommates and a couple of these girls. One day we were having some sort of discussion and I said something and this girl turned around and said, “Well, you’re just like Ron. You’re another militant Biblicist.”
I’ve always liked that term. I’m not a fundamentalist. I’m not an evangelical. I’m a militant Biblicist. That’s why I like Jim Myers because Jim is another militant Biblicist. Our numbers are shrinking. That’s one reason that Jim and I have always enjoyed working together and ministering today. It’s why I go over there every year.
There are several things that go on when I go over there. One is that I usually teach at their church. This year I went over to Zhytomyr which is a town of about three or four hundred thousand, located about 120 miles to the west of Kiev. That’s where Igor Smolyar, one of the graduates from the Word of God Bible Institute, works. Igor works with a church there that has a building that was made available to them many, many years ago.
It was originally a Lutheran Church built at the turn of the last century, the early 1900s. It’s a great facility. Through the gracious donations of a number of Christians in Holland, they were able to build a new building and a Sunday School building along with the old church. They really have a wonderful facility. It’s the largest Baptist Church in Zhytomyr. So Igor has a great ministry. We support Igor as one of our missionaries and send financial support his way every month.
I just wanted to give a report. I spoke at the church there. The pastor is 87 years old and like some 87-year-old pastors, doesn’t want to give up the reins and move into retirement. Now, though, he’s spending at least half a year with his son who lives in Santa Barbara, California.
That gives the assistant pastor a little freer rein while I am there. Anyhow, Igor gets an opportunity to speak about four to six times a week depending on things that are going on. He’s just one of several graduates of the Word of God Bible College that are really having impact.
On Sunday morning I talked about Sasha who was down in Donetsk and worked for Denver Seminary’s campus there for many years until the Russians moved in. Then there’s another student, Zinya. She has a great ministry so it’s great to see how they have spread out over Ukraine from this school that Jim had a vision to start some fifteen years ago.
It’s a two-year curriculum to run through. I think it’s one of the best curricula that I have seen. One of the emphasis is that these kids have to memorize a tremendous amount of Scripture each year and that’s part of what determines whether or not they can graduate. That’s a lost emphasis today, memorizing Scripture. They have to read the Bible all the way through I don’t know how many times.
They’re taught the original languages, Greek and Hebrew. Anyway Jim will give a little report on some of the transition things going on in the ministry there. It was a good time. I taught covenants and dispensationalism this year. I teach that every other year and then in-between I teach on rewards and judgments. It’s good because that curriculum has pretty much been set and it’s not like I have to do a whole lot of work to prepare for that when I go over there.
I always set some goals to have a lot of time alone. There’s no television. There’s no telephone. There’s e-mail now and a few other things that are distracting but generally I get a lot of time to catch up on a lot of reading and catch up on a lot of things. Every pastor needs that.
A comment made on a Facebook page from Bob Bolender’s Austin Bible Church was about the fact he was on vacation. He had to take from his vacation to study and prepare for Sunday morning. I made the comment that I learned in my first year as a pastor is that if you’re going to take a vacation (and every pastor needs to take vacations and ought to take vacations.) It gives them time to think and reflect. You can’t have a vacation that ends before Sunday because if Sunday’s coming, then on Thursday you have to start thinking about what you’re going to do on Sunday. That wipes out your vacation. You’re having to work. You’re having to study.
Not that I’m advocating this but just to tell you why this is important is that one of the most significant pastors in the English language, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who was the pastors of one of the largest and most influential churches in England in the Victorian era has a book out called “Lectures to My Students”. They had training there. He advocated that every pastor needs to have at least three months’ vacation every summer to study.
He understood the principle that when you’re cranking out three, four, or five times a week you don’t have enough time to sit and reflect and let it really soak through your own soul. You need to have time. I don’t think that’s viable in our culture. Things were very different in the slow-downed Victorian era when it takes you some time to get somewhere on vacation. Now you can just fly somewhere.
That’s important. That’s one reason I go over there and I value that time. It’s a good time to minister there. It’s a good time to just reflect and catch up on some various issues.
I asked Jim to come up and say a couple of things about how things are going right now before we get into the Word. He can tell us what he anticipates coming up like his trip to Africa.
Good evening. We’re back here for just a short time. I’m going to go up to Chicago on Sunday. We’ll have the 50th reunion of my graduating class from Moody Bible Institute. I’ll go and see how many survivors there are who were able to make it. I’m looking forward to that. Then I will be speaking at a Bible Conference in southern Indiana.
Then we’ll fly back to Houston for a day and then go back to Kiev. It is really an exciting time for us right now. This is the busiest I have ever been in my life. This past season, starting in September, when I went back there I taught in September and October for six weeks either at our Bible College or at a seminary over in eastern Ukraine.
I went to Zambia and was there for three weeks in December where I had three conferences there teaching three or four hours a day. That was very exciting. I came back to Kiev and have been teaching there. We’ve got the conference this week. When I get back to Kiev, then I’ll be teaching at the Bible College again. Then I’m going to be going back to eastern Ukraine to teach a seminary course there.
When I come back, I’ll go to Zhytomyr for a week to teach a course there. In March I’m going to Brazil for three weeks to teach Bible conferences. In April, I’ll go back to Zambia for two more weeks to teach there. Somewhere in between I’ve got to teach another course at the Bible College.
I haven’t had a lot of time to just sit down and relax but it’s been great! I am so excited about doing this and I am so grateful that the Lord has opened the doors of opportunity. I am very grateful that He has given me the health and the strength to do this.
I want to say thank you for praying. I’m just so blessed when people walk up to me and say, “I’ve been praying for you. How is this? How is that?” I know you have seen our requests and you have brought these before the Father and I am so grateful for your part in our ministry. I can’t do this alone.
We need someone to hold the rope on this end. You know, it’s no good to have a rope tied around your waist if no one’s holding the other end. So, thank you for holding the rope and holding up before the Throne of Grace.
What’s going on in Ukraine? It’s turmoil there just as it is here in America as far as politics are concerned. Things are not copacetic there. People are disturbed with the Prime Minister. They have billboards out now telling him to “Hit the road, Jack. We don’t want you in office anymore.”
Things are not very good as far as the economy is concerned. Part of this is related to the situation with Russia. It’s also related to just bad economic decisions that are being made. From that standpoint, it’s not good.
The military situation there, I don’t know. The Russians still have a large military presence just to the eastern border of Ukraine. The Russians are occupying yet a number of cities in eastern Ukraine and what’s going to happen there, I don’t know. Russia still has control of the Crimean Peninsula. The President of Ukraine says they’re going to take that back from Russia this year. How he plans to do it, I don’t know.
Is there going to be fighting? I don’t know. Right now things are fairly calm. There doesn’t seem to be panic or fear at this point but I can tell you that there are a lot of people in eastern Ukraine who are suffering because so much of the infrastructure there has been damaged by the fighting.
There are a lot of people, yet, in some of the cities in the east who do not have electricity, do not have running water, and do not have heat in their buildings. I can tell you that it’s been cold. Robby will tell you it’s been cold. We were down in single digits last week and I guess the day before we flew here it warmed up to 24. I asked Phyllis if I needed a coat when I went out. It felt so balmy at 24 because we have been down around 0. It’s not as bad, though, as up in Connecticut and places up in the northeast U.S.
Other things that are happening. Week before last they told us that the church where we’d been meeting for six years that this was our last Sunday here. They wouldn’t give us two weeks’ notice. They just said we were done. Of course, they did this after church. We didn’t have time to announce it to the people.
We had to go out and scramble to try to find another place to meet and so we spent several days looking around trying to find a suitable meeting place. The Lord provided this for us. We didn’t get it until Friday. We had to try to inform everyone in the church where we would be meeting.
Actually it’s a very convenient place. The rent is the right price. We met there last Sunday. We were very pleased with the venue and so the Lord has provided that for us. Thank you for praying. I know that you have been praying because some of you walked up and said, “Have you found a place to meet yet?” Yes. Praise God, He has provided a place for us.
The only downside of what we found is that we have to meet at 9:00 in the mornings, instead of the 11:00 we’re accustomed to. Not a problem for me. Some people say, “Well, we don’t like to come so early.” But they came anyway. The owner of the place said that perhaps in a month or two we might be able to meet at 11:00. There’s a group that meets in that same room at 11:00 and they may be moving. We may be able to get a better time.
Another change that has taken place is with Nina. Nina became a student of mine back around 1988 when there used to be what was called the Ukraine Bible Institute. I taught there. Nina was a student. We started the church and she came with our church. We started the Bible College and she went through the Bible College and then she stayed on to work with us. She became secretary for the college. This is a woman that has an amazing facility for languages. She just absolutely fell in love with the original languages of Scripture.
I will tell you that she can read Greek and Hebrew probably better than 99% of the pastors in America. She’s amazing. She’s also a very gifted teacher. She has been teaching our language courses for a number of years and she’s very good at it. She decided that after fifteen years of doing this, she wanted a change and so she will leave for Israel tomorrow. She’s going to work for a ministry in the Old City in Jerusalem.
I’m saying, “Okay, what are we going to do for a language teacher?” We have it set up where she’s going to be able to do this via the Internet. I was sweating bullets there about what I was going to do at least until the end of the year but we’re going to have these classes continue without a break. She’ll be able to do this from Israel. We’re just delighted about that.
We have a wonderful time to be alive. It’s exciting. All sorts of things going on in the world. The world is a mess. This is all over the world. I don’t care where you go. Things are really in turmoil, politically, economically, and just about any way you can think of it. Ethically, morally, it’s just a horrible, horrible world.
But we know who’s in control and it’s exciting that we are here at this time because no matter what the world situation, I know God has a plan for me. God has a purpose for me. God wants you to be alive right now because He wants you to do something in the midst of all this mess. I’m just so grateful that we can have a part in that.
I’m also grateful for this church, one of the few churches left in the world where you have sound Bible teaching, verse by verse, exegetical, expository, categorical teaching. This is a rarity. You have a rare opportunity and you have a great privilege of getting this kind of teaching.
This is the only thing that’s going to prepare you to be able to stand up in the midst of all the turmoil going on around you. I appreciate this church and your ministry. You are having an impact also, all around the world. It’s dependent on your faithfulness.
I’m glad to see you here. It’s a blessing for me to come and see you here.
Thank you. One of the ways in which different things happen in God’s plan is that about three years ago when I was in Kiev I met Idon Peysahovich who was here just a month ago, you remember. He gave a report. As a result of going to the Jewish Agency for Israel, Jim went over and met with them, and Nina found out about it. She started going over there to take some conversational Hebrew classes to strengthen her Hebrew.
They asked her to teach children Hebrew over there. She was so good at that they started sending her scholarships to go to Israel during the summer to study Hebrew and that has led to her change right now. You never really know how things are going to work out.
One of the things Jim and I did when we were there this time is that we went down to find out about this Jewish orphanage and school in a town called Bila Tserkva. There are pictures of those kids in that orphanage on the DBM website on the news site. You can take a look at that. This is a Christian ministry that comes out of England and Holland. They’re working to provide a lot of staff for these kids that come from some really tragic backgrounds. The work they are doing is just incredible. That was an interesting thing we did while we were there.
Open your Bibles with me to 2 Timothy 3:16. We’re in 1 Peter 1:10–11. What happens as you know is that when you go through any passage verse by verse it will come to certain passages that touch on certain significant topics or doctrines. So in the midst of a verse-by-verse exposition of a book, I will frequently stop and we will pause and do a topical study on something that is significant.
We started this back about seven or eight weeks ago but we had a break because of Christmas and the trip to Kiev so the last time I taught this in 1 Peter was on December 10th. That’s been about six weeks and so we’re going to have a little review because we don’t all remember. I had to go back and listen to the last fifteen minutes of the last lesson this afternoon so I could figure out where I stopped and what I was teaching and try to regain the flow of thought that I had six weeks ago.
We’re studying this doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy because this continues to be a very heated argument and as I pointed out, if you remember reading from a couple of sections from articles that Bob Wilkin wrote where there’s a “Grace in Focus” newsletter, that evangelicals today have basically slipped their anchor on the Word of God. They still affirm inerrancy but they have gradually managed to erode and dilute the meaning of that and they’ve done that through hermeneutics.
That was warned about back in the late 1970s when they had the meetings in Chicago. The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy met and they wrote this statement on the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. You can go online and read it. A couple of years later they came out with a second volume. They published several books that came out on inerrancy around the period of 1976 and 1977 or so. Then in 1978 they published a huge 2” thick book called “Hermeneutics and Inerrancy and the Bible”.
They saw at that time that what you have is that you can hold to inerrancy but if you come up with certain ideas related to genre interpretation or different ways in which you want to try to interpret it, whether it’s poetry or it’s some kind of idiomatic language that doesn’t really mean literal history or a literal event, you saw this kind of erosion take place. It’s important to go back and look at this.
It’s important for us as believers. Whenever we review a doctrine like this and go through it in a little more detail, it should be reminding us that we really do have a solid rock of truth that we rest upon, the Word of God. It is absolute truth. It is true truth. It is earth-shattering revolutionary truth. It is due to the Bible and the influence of the Bible that we everything that we have in our lives today.
If Western Civilization had not been transformed by the impact and the influence of Christianity starting with the Apostle Paul when he went on his journeys and first took the gospel across into Europe into Asia Minor, we wouldn’t have the music tradition we have in Western Civilization. We wouldn’t have the concepts of law we have. We wouldn’t have the concepts of freedom that we have. We wouldn’t have the concepts of literature that we have. We wouldn’t have the concepts of personal identity and the importance of the individual and all of the things we treasure as part of our Christian beliefs.
They are under attack today. I spent some time when I was gone looking at some of the videos, the same group that did the expose of the Planned Parenthood body parts selling things, has also done something related to the Common Core curriculum. One of the things that came out is that they were secretly filming the comments from the publishers who are publishing this Common Core curriculum is that they hate Christianity.
They say, “Christianity has to go. We have to get Christianity out of the history of America. We’ve got to quit thinking about what those dead white guys thought about the Constitution. The Constitution is no longer relevant.” These are their ideas that Christianity has got to go. That’s their viewpoint. As far as they’re concerned it’s all about money. It’s all about making money. It’s all about re-educating and transforming the thinking of the kids in school so that they no longer think about or know anything about the founding of America. They are rewriting history.
This is what happens whenever there is a true social revolution. They rewrite history. This is what the Bolsheviks did. The Soviets did this. They rewrote history in order to have their own narrative to explain everything. Out of that comes a focused assault on the Bible and biblical truth. We, as believers, better know why we believe what we believe from the text of Scripture.
People in our everyday life are going to question us. As we’ll see when we go further into our study of 1 Peter, Peter says we have to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. Why do we believe the Bible is the Word of God?
Just to give you just a quick idea of this I had a conversation with one of my former CrossFit coaches. This CrossFit coach and I were talking one day and he kept telling me about this chiropractor that he went to. He said this chiropractor was interested in and always talking about the creation and evolution debate.
The chiropractor had told this guy that he needed to listen to the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. So he went home and listened to it and he thought that Ken Ham really won that debate. [He has a fairly good Christian background.] He kept telling me about this chiropractor he goes to that was really interested in creation.
Finally I said, “Well, where is this guy?”
“He’s over in the Heights.”
“Really. My chiropractor in the Heights.”
Well, it’s was the same guy I go to. Somebody else goes to him and there are two or three persons who go to 1st Baptist and 2nd Baptist that go to him. They’re all talking to this guy about creation. He asked me a question not long ago when we were off site bringing up all these questions about the Bible and why we couldn’t really trust it.
Now, can you answer those questions? I’m trying to train this guy, this CrossFit coach, how to answer these questions. He says he wants to know what I know.
We’ve got to be able to give an answer for the hope that is within us when someone says something that they’ve heard and they’re just regurgitating what they’ve heard on the Discovery Channel or the History Channel, liberally controlled networks. They just go and talk to people that are really negative to the Bible and don’t believe anything about Bible. They think it’s just another religious book like the “Bhagavad Gita” or the “Book of Mormon” or some ancient Mesopotamian text of something like that. We’ve got to know why the Bible is different.
That’s why we’re taking the time to go look at this. There is a challenge. We’re being attacked from inside the evangelical church and seminary professors at Dallas Seminary, Denver Seminary, and almost every evangelical seminary you can name. That’s one reason we’re going to make that the focus of the Chafer Conference in 2017. The keynote speaker is going to be a guy named David Farnell. Tommy Ice was with Farnell in a prophecy conference last weekend. Tommy keeps up with this stuff about as much as anyone.
Tommy said, “I knew things were bad but after listening to Farnell last week, I found out things are horrible. I can’t even in good conscience recommend anyone to go to those seminaries at all.” He named two or three. That’s the danger we’re in.
We’re under assault from inside the camp and we’re under assault from outside the camp. We have to be fortified in our souls and know the truth. We started off in 1 Peter 1:10–11 which talks about the process of inspiration that the prophets were given revelation from God. They also inquired and searched carefully.
That introduces the process of inspiration but they still had to study. It wasn’t just some sort of magical thing where they automatically understood everything they were given. It’s revealed by God.
I’m going to just run through many of these slides to get us back to where we were. Here we looked at this definition. It starts with the underlying phrase, “God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture”. Inspiration is primarily the domain and responsibility of God the Holy Spirit who originates the text.
The word inspiration translates the Greek word THEOPNEUSTOS which literally means “God-breathed”. It originates with God. He exhales it into the souls of the writers of Scripture. They inhale it and then exhale it into Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:15–17 are benchmark verses. The reason I add verse 15 is that Paul is talking to Timothy and reminds him that from childhood he knew the “sacred writings”, that is the holy writings, those that were set apart and that’s how he refers to the Old Testament. They are distinctive writings. They are a set group and this indicates there is a limited number of books. It’s the Old Testament Canon.
It did not include the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha were a group of about 12–14 books, depending on which group uses them, which are related to the Old Testament and the inter-Testamental period. The Jews never accepted them as authoritative. They’re good for history and they’re good for some other things and unfortunately, Jerome, included them in his translation of the Vulgate, even though in his preface [which no one reads] he says those books weren’t inspired. Since they’re there with the other sixty-six books, people assume they must be inspired so over time they got accepted. Finally at the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church affirmed that the Apocrypha was part of the Word of God, but it’s not.
Paul is only talking about the thirty-nine books that we have in our own Old Testament. They’re the ones that are breathed out by God. We started looking at this last time, that it’s God the Holy Spirit who supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture.
In 2 Peter 1:20–21 Peter says, “Knowing this first,” That’s the word PROTOS. This is your starting point. Every philosophical system has certain foundational beliefs that are their starting point. These are certain assumptions, certain axioms that they start with that are identified as sort of unprovable assumptions.
This is where we start as an unbeliever. We start with the Word of God assuming it to be true. The Bible doesn’t start off trying to prove this is the Word of God. It’s self-evident. It’s self-authenticated. So we believe that.
So we looked last time at 2 Peter 1:20–21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” Now that doesn’t mean it’s talking about the individuals who are reading it aren’t interpreting it privately, but that the writers were not generating this from their own ideas.
There’s a double use of the word PHERO there, that prophecy never came or was carried or brought by the will of man. It doesn’t originate with the will of man. It originated with God. “Holy men of God [set apart men, chosen by God] spoke as they were moved.” That’s the word PHERO, as they were moved, the aorist passive which relates to that verb.
That word is also used to describe how winds drive a ship. They’re unseen but they direct the ship across the ocean. It’s that idea. They didn’t know where they were going but they were being driven by an unseen force, God the Holy Spirit.
Then following that we looked at various other Scriptures that affirm that the author of Scripture was the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Samuel 23:2, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His Word was on my tongue.”
Passages like Mark 12:36 that refer back to what David has written, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand.’ ” That’s Psalm 110: 1. And it says He said that by the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:16, Peter says, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before.” The Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture.
Then we closed out last time looking at passages such as 1 Timothy 5:18 which quotes Deuteronomy 25:4, an Old Testament passage, and a New Testament gospel passage, Matthew 10:10 and treats them as of equal authority. The gospel of Matthew, by the time Paul writes 1 Timothy toward the end of his ministry, the gospel of Matthew has already been written and it’s accepted as authoritative as the Old Testament.
Then we looked at passages like 1 Corinthians 2:10 and 13 and 1 Corinthians 14:37 talking about the fact that these things are from God. They originate with God. So this is the first part of the definition, “God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture.”
The Holy Spirit is the member of the Trinity who is the primary Author, the divine Author of both the Old and New Testaments. The Scripture has two authors: the human author and the divine Author. We’re going to see how they work together.
We studied about prophets the other day. A prophet was a person who spoke or wrote what God told him to say. It’s a simple, rational process. An unbeliever who rejects supernaturalism would say that’s not rational. The only thing he can think of is the irrationalism of the mystics. I pointed out in our study on Tuesday in Samuel that there’s no evidence of mysticism, trance-like behavior, no sense of anyone trying to work themselves up to generate some sort of mind or mental situation where they could then get in touch with God. That’s the modus operandi (method of operation or MO) of the pagans but it’s not the MO that you find in the Scripture.
As we read this we see there are two authors, the divine Author which we focused on so far and then there’s the human author. This is what’s brought about in Zechariah 7:12, “Yes, they made their hearts like flint, [talking about the Jews who hardened their hearts], refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts (Yahweh Sabaoth, referring to God the Father] had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets.”
The former prophets are the early prophets. The prophets such as Moses, Joshua, who probably wrote most of Joshua, whoever wrote Judges and Samuel, such as Samuel who probably wrote Judges and 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and Kings. These were the early prophets. The latter prophets were Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and so forth. “The Lord of hosts has sent by His Spirit through the former prophets.” So you have the divine Author who originated it and then the human author.
How does God do that? What is the technique? One of the things that people think is that it’s dictation. Now there are some things that were either dictated or personally written by God. He wrote the Ten Commandments, the Law was written by the finger of God in Exodus. But that is only restricted to the 613 commandments being dictated by God directly.
The rest of it was not so done. It was done through various writers. We don’t know all of the sources that Moses had before him but there’s an indication in Genesis. You see these verses that are repeated again and again, “This is what happened to the generations of Adam, this is what happened to the generations of Noah, this is what happened to the generations of Isaac, and Jacob” and all the way through. That indicates these patriarchs were probably keeping historical records that were passed down and kept and were available for Moses to use under divine inspiration.
So he has these sources and God the Holy Spirit is taking from this material and the writer is being guided and directed by God the Holy Spirit to write a divine editorial on the history of mankind from God’s original creation in Genesis 1:1 all the way through the exodus and the redemption of the Jewish people.
Moses wrote that in his style. There’s evidence where Moses tells of what is going on. We’ll see this as we go along. Then he’ll comment on it. His comment is just as much inspired by God as what God says. That’s the problem with red-letter Bibles. It makes people think that those red-letter statements by Jesus in the gospels are somehow more significant than the rest of the Bible, but they’re not.
Jesus Christ said it all. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth is just as much a statement of the Trinity as any red-letter statement in the gospels. But how does God do this? He does this without destroying or overriding or removing the personality, the education, or the background of each individual writer of Scripture.
God’s truth is able to become incarnate in terms of the original words of the manuscripts without violating the personality of the writers or being tainted by the fact that they’re sinners. It’s sort of like the incarnation of the Living Word, that Mary is a fallen sinner and yet God worked out a way whereby there would be a miraculous conception and birth of the Living Word who would not be tainted by Adam’s original sin through His mother. That which was given birth by Mary was without sin. That which is written by the prophets and the apostles is without error.
Norm Geisler is one of the outstanding defenders of inerrancy today. In his “Systematic Theology” he writes, “Furthermore, judging by the various vocabulary, grammar, styles, figures of speech, and human interest of the various authors, God did not disregard the personality and culture of the biblical writers when He providentially guided them to be the vehicles through which He revealed His written Word to humankind. On the contrary, the Bible is a thoroughly human book in every respect, except that it is without error.”
There he recognizes that you have vast vocabulary differences between Moses and Samuel. The writer of Samuel has a very earthy vocabulary. He uses a lot of strong descriptive barn-yard language that is not the high language of Nehemiah or Moses. It’s very different.
We have to remember these authors came from different backgrounds. Abraham came from a wealthy family, aristocracy, from the city of Ur of the Chaldees. Moses was trained in the highest education, the highest schools conceivable in Egypt. He got the best of their education.
Joshua was a former slave who rose to be a brilliant general. Amos, one of the Minor Prophets, was a herdsman and a fig farmer. Peter was a fisherman. Paul was a rabbi. Daniel was trained to be a bureaucrat to serve the king of Babylon and rose to the position of prime minister.
Moses came out of a pagan, Egyptian culture. Abraham came out of the culture and the paganism of Ur of the Chaldees where he talks about his family. His father and grandfathers were sun and moon worshippers. Luke was reared in the Greco-Roman culture.
They wrote over a period of 2,000 years with no contradiction and talked about the same themes, some of the most controversial themes in all of human history. Yet they did not contradict each other.
God is powerful enough and great enough to where He’s not limited by the individual personalities and styles of the individuals and He uses that. That’s very different if you compare that to the Koran which is given in a verbal revelation one time to Mohammad and he doesn’t write anything down for about fifty years.
You look at the “Book of Mormon”. It’s given in one shot to Joseph Smith and he’s got to have a special pair of glasses to read it and interpret it. He’s writing this down in the 1820s and he’s writing it down in early 17th century Elizabethan English. It doesn’t even make sense.
We see quite a bit of contrast between the Bible and how it’s written and revealed and other religious writings.
So God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture, that without waiving their human intelligence, their human vocabulary, their individuality, their literary style, their personality, their personal feelings or any other human factor.”
The reason I’m quoting this whole thing is that this is what’s in the doctrinal statement of West Houston Bible Church which you may or may not have read or you just read it at one time and thought that it sounded great. Now we’re understanding all the nuances of what is written there.
God uses the individual human being and guarantees that what He wrote in the original was without error. We go on to read that His complete and coherent message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy. So the key words there are that it’s complete. It is total. It is sufficient. It’s more than enough for us to learn about every detail of life. It teaches us to think about everything.
God didn’t say, “Now wait a minute. Wait a minute. We’re only going to teach you about these things. There’s a little bit about law but we don’t address certain areas like music. Music is going to be neutral. Or technology is going to be neutral. Or labor is going to be neutral.”
God doesn’t say that. It addresses every area of God’s creation because God as the omniscient Creator can inform us to give us a framework to be able to think about everything in His creation without leaving something out.
The reason I point that out about music is that you often run into people today, especially in discussions about contemporary worship, who think that somehow music, as music, is neutral. That you can take the Word of God and put it with any kind of music and it somehow sanctifies the music.
That shows a tremendous ignorance of philosophy. It shows a tremendous ignorance of God’s Word and God’s creation. When you have a diluted, truncated view of creation, then you can get away with that. That’s why creation is so important. It’s not some secondary doctrine.
Again and again in the Old Testament God describes Himself as the God who made the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that is in them. That’s what distinguishes Him from all the other gods and goddesses in other cultures. The Bible teaches us how to think about every detail of life, whether it’s technology, engineering, or mathematics. Nothing is neutral. There’s nothing left out.
One of the things that has developed in terms of the Christian culture, especially back in the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s was Christians who on the basis of this understanding of Scripture laid the foundation for modern science and modern math. It’s because they understood in a world God created, there would be stability and there would be order and there would be predictability.
In a world of chaos and chance, you don’t have stability and you don’t have predictability. Therefore, you don’t really develop science.
So God’s message is complete, addressing every area of human intellectual activity from politics to sociology to psychology and you don’t need anything else. That doesn’t mean that we can’t learn some things from either the use of reason or the use of empiricism, but it’s done within the framework and on the basis of divine revelation.
Second, it points out it’s coherent. That means we can understand it. It all fits together. There are no logical inconsistencies between the Pentateuch and the Minor Prophets or the gospels and Revelation. It all fits perfectly together. It’s all harmonious. There are no places that can’t be understood.
There may be places that are a little more difficult for us to understand because we’re reading something about a culture and a situation that occurred some 2,000 or 3,000 years ago in quite a different culture and in a different language. But it can be understood. The starting point is we can understand it.
That doesn’t mean we will, but it is all designed to be understood. God is not trying to obfuscate His truth. He’s not trying to hide it from us. He has written this. It’s revelation which means to unveil or to disclose something. The assumption is that it’s designed to illuminate, to enlighten, and to educate.
God wrote to communicate specific information. He’s not writing to be vague or to be tricky or to hide His Word. There are times when it’s written that way. For example, Jesus used parables to sort of cloak His Word from unbelievers, not from believers, not from His disciples.
It’s a message we read here that it is a message to mankind. It is written to humanity. It is not written to any other lifeforms. It’s not written to Klingons or Vulcans or Wookies or anyone else. It’s written to humanity because mankind is created in God’s image.
That’s so important, because God creates man in His image and likeness so He’s creating Him with the right receptors in His brain so that God’s communication can be received and understood. If you’re producing an FM signal and all they have is an AM receiver, then no communication is going to take place.
God created man with the right equipment to be able to receive and understand God’s communication. What you have in so much religion which includes religiosity in Christianity is the idea that this is so difficult to understand. As soon as you hear that it’s not long before you hear, “Well, let’s just all get together and hug each other and sing ‘Kum Ba Yah’ ” so that we can have harmony but it’s always at the expense of truth.
It’s always at the expense of truly understanding God’s Word. It idolizes the emotions rather than focusing on an assumption that God wrote this to be understood and to be clear. Usually what happens is that people who know exactly what it means but are not comfortable with it say that it’s not clear what God meant there.
It’s a message to mankind, not to angels, not to lower life forms but to humanity. Then we read that it’s written with perfect accuracy in the original languages of Scripture. It’s communicated in Hebrew, some Aramaic in the Old Testament, and Koine Greek in the New Testament. In the original revelation, in the original recording of what’s called the autographs of Scripture, that’s where inerrancy applies.
Inerrancy doesn’t apply to your King James Bible. That’s going to really shake up some of those “King James only people”. It doesn’t apply to the New King James, the NASB, or to the ESV or to the RSV or the NRSV, or any of the other translations. It doesn’t even apply to your Greek text or your Hebrew text. It applies to the original.
There’s corruption that occurred at some places. We have more manuscripts relating to the New Testament than we have of any other ancient document by an order of over five or six thousand, either complete manuscripts or partial manuscripts or citations of the New Testament. If we lost or had no access whatsoever to the New Testament, we could go back and go through all the writings of the early church fathers and their sermons, we could almost reconstruct the entire New Testament just from the quotations that we have in the early church fathers.
It’s remarkable! Yet when we look at things like “The Gallic Wars of Caesar” and we look at the “Iliad: and “The Odyssey”, we think this is exactly what was originally written. The truth is many of those works are 400 or 500 to 800 years after the original writing. We may have one manuscript or two manuscripts that are 800 or 900 years after their original writing.
We don’t question their authenticity. With the Bible we have hundreds of manuscripts within just a few decades of their original writing. Yet modern scholars come along and say that we can’t trust it. It’s a different standard.
So, it’s perfect accuracy in the original autographs.
Then we go on to read in the definition: the very words bearing the authority of divine authorship. This relates to a doctrine called the “self-authenticating knowledge of God’s Word”. If we were to hear God speak audibly right now, not one person here would say, “Who was that?” It would carry its own authentication.
We would all fall on our faces before God because we would know that was His voice. That’s how God has made us. The Word of God is self-authenticating and carries its own authority.
We see things throughout the Bible, phrases like “thus says the Lord.” This is used 415 times in the Old Testament you have the exact phrase, “thus says the Lord”. Forty-four times you have the phrase, “God said.” 232 times you have the phrase “the Lord said”. 138 times we have the phrase “the Lord spoke”. Fifty-eight times we have the phrase “The Word of the Lord came to me”. You also have other phrases that occur such as “The Lord spoke to Moses”. That is included in the phrase “The Lord spoke”. You have all of these phrases indicating that the Bible, what was written, comes directly from God. That is the self-authenticating nature of Scripture.
We’ll go on next time and we’ll look at some more evidence of how the Bible treats itself. Does the Bible treat all of itself as being the Word of God? Or does it treat parts of the revelations being not quite as accurate? What’s the internal evidence in the Scriptures?
“Father, we thank You that You have given us Your Word and that all Scripture has been breathed out by You. Not most. Not some. Not the majority. But all has been breathed out by You. It originated with You. We need to come to grips with that in our own lives.
You have spoken and the old saying, “God said it, that settles it, I believe it” applies. Because you have spoken we may not fully understand all of its implications or ramifications but nevertheless, we need to start from the presupposition that You have spoken and that makes it absolute truth.
Therefore, we are to trust it. We are to rely upon it. It needs to challenge our thinking at the very core of what we believe and what we think. This calls for us to reflect upon our thinking and to go back and examine it under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, thinking through all aspects of our belief system and assumptions that we might conform every aspect of our thinking to Your Word.
Father, challenge us to do that. May we be distinctive because we trust Your Word more than anything else. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”