Hebrews Lesson 50 April 20, 2006
NKJ Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
Two problems we have been studying the last three or four weeks have to do with how we think. It is very difficult for people to think about thinking. This is not simple stuff. Most of you are doing pretty good slugging your way through this. I was thinking this week about a good illustration for this. The only illustration that I could think of relates to the concept of foundation because knowledge is our foundation for everything. What is the foundation for your views on life? Everybody has a philosophy of life. You may not have ever thought about it.
I remember having a conversation with one old East Texas country boy about 30 years ago.
I made the comment, "That is your philosophy."
"I ain't no philosopher."
He may not be. He has an unthought-through philosophy of life. He probably has an inconsistent philosophy of life. But, everybody has a philosophy of life. It includes all of your values, your view of what is right and what is wrong, your views on politics, your views on marriage, and your work ethic. All of these things are part of your philosophy of life. Your philosophy of life is grounded in some sense in what is true versus what you think is false. So at the very root of everything are people's ideas of right and wrong, truth and error, that which is absolute and eternal and that which is not absolute and eternal. Even if you believe there are no absolutes you have a problem because you have a hidden absolute there that there are no absolutes. So everybody has a philosophy of life. They interpret whatever is going on in life through that grid. That is the foundation on which we build that house that is our life.
Jesus used the illustration of a man who can either build a house on quick sand and shifting sands or there are those who build their house on solid rock. It is that foundation idea. What are you building your house on? The house in that analogy is your whole worldview - how you interact with everything in life. That foundation has to do with your view of truth, your view of absolutes, and your view of that which is eternal. You see by the time that most of us got saved and even for those like me who got saved at an early age, you still have years that go by where you are loading up that foundation with a lot of human viewpoint. It is a foundation that is made with solid elements that are necessary to have good solid rock concrete foundation. We all import into that a lot of stuff that shouldn't go in there. It produces a fairly crumbly foundation. Once you are saved and you start the process of spiritual growth and sanctification, what you really have to do is go in and not just tear down the house that is built on that foundation, but you have to go in and tear down the foundation. If the foundation is the cultural way of thinking about truth that surrounds you, (That is either going to be empiricism, ultimate truth sense knowledge or your cultural view is rationalism where everything is ultimately determined by rigorous logic and reason or whether it is mysticism whatever that worldview of foundation of truth is.) when you come in and you try to build the Christian life on that foundation, what is going to happen? When the storms of life come and they get really bad and you hit Hurricane Katrina in your spiritual life, then that foundation that has incorporated elements of autonomous rationalism or autonomous empiricism or mysticism is going to crumble. That foundation that has incorporated elements of autonomous rationalism, autonomous empiricism, or mysticism, then it is going to crumble. This is sometimes very difficult to spot. I personally believe that God sends certain storms into our lives because only when certain storms hit your life do you begin to realize that there is some element in that foundation underneath it that really isn't as stable as you thought it was. All of a sudden things start to come unglued and unraveled. Sometimes no matter how long you have been a Christian you might even start questioning the goodness of God, the plan of God, the consistency of God. Like Job you are a mature believer, but there are things that are going to be exposed by this storm that you need to deal with in your own spiritual life. So that is why I am going through this.
Another reason I am going through this is that we live in an era when there is a lot of fuzzy thinking about this. I am always amazed at how few seminary trained pastors that come out recently (I am including my own generation) … I look around sometimes and one of my closer friends when I was at seminary has been a full board charismatic for the last 20 years. I went back the other day and I was reading someone in the late 19th century and they were talking about how everything was falling apart culturally. So this deterioration has been going on for at least 150 years, probably more. I would trace the source to Emanuel Kant at the end of the 18th century. Whatever the worldview is the culture around the church, the church always imitates that. There is a simple explanation for that. Everybody in the church comes out of that cesspool. So they come into the church dragging all of that nasty baggage with them. It takes a while to get rid of it. Some people never do quite get rid of it. It hangs on down through the centuries.
Last time I pointed out that in the early church you had two key figures—Origin and Augustine of Hippo who was the Bishop of Hippo—who front loaded Christianity in that era even though there were a lot of their contemporaries who rejected what they were doing. They brought in all of this baggage from Platonism and neo-Platonism that introduced a lot of mysticism to the church today. It stayed in the church all through the Middle Ages and elements continue to plague the church even today.
In fact I was doing some background study on CS Lewis. I have never been a Lewis scholar. I knew several people when I was in college that loved CS Lewis. They read everything that CS Lewis wrote. I read the "Screw Tape Letters". If you haven't read the "Screw Tape Letter" you ought to read it some time. He had a great imagination. It is letters between an older demon to his charge who is a young neophyte demon who is like a Class 1, just getting into the business. He has got to tempt this Christian. He has got to cause him to fail in his spiritual life. So the older demon is giving advice to this young rookie as to how he can be successful. He has a lot of insights. I read that the year before I went to seminary. I had to read books that he wrote on miracles, "Mere Christianity", and some other writings of his when I took an apologetics class in seminary. That was fine but Lewis never floated my boat. I like to read Josh McDowell and Cornelius Van Til and Francis Schafer. But Lewis before he was saved (just like you see this paradigm) he was an idealist and a Platonist. That element of his view of knowledge always impacted (very subtlety but it is there) his view of apologetics, his view of reasoning and his view of where that common ground was in communication between a believer and an unbeliever. If you get these human viewpoint elements in your foundation they do tend to bubble up at different times and expose certain weaknesses in whatever you are building on top of this foundation.
Now I finished up with that last week and I just want to start with this one slide so that you know why I am doing this. The reason I am doing this is because there is this reference in Hebrews 5:11 these advancing believers who had advanced had gone into regression in the spiritual life. They were now lazy and dull of hearing. We are going to take some time exploring this whole idea of how this happens in the Christian life because you see all kinds of people who when they are young new believers they are excited and they are learning and there is this tremendous momentum. They are at Bible class two or three times a week and they are listening to tapes the rest of the time. There is this hunger and then they tend to reach this plateau. Then the next thing you know, they get married (especially if they are young) and have kids and their jobs make demands on them. The next thing you know the details of life begin to crowd out their priority of the Word of God.
In the initial stages of the Christian life so often we are often driven because we have questions that we want answered. How do I know there is a God? How do I live the Christian life? What do I need to do in the faith rest drill? How do I handle this situation or that situation and all of these other things? But once we get these questions answered, then that part of our motivation dries up. We tend to coast a little bit and that is an important time in the Christian life because we start switching motivation. The motivation is no longer driven by intellectual curiosity. Now it needs to be driven more by our desire to learn more about the Lord and to serve the Lord. That is when we start going through those shifts that occur in spiritual adolescence. A lot of folks hit that level and they start to coast. Other things come into their lives and the next thing they know they are being distracted by the details of life and they go into spiritual regression. Most folks will talk to you about sin. That is what you will hear from most preachers.
"It is sin in your life."
There is a basis for that because Peter talks about the fleshly lusts that war against the soul. Of course the internal enemy of the believer is the sin nature. But what I am pointing out is that there is something more insidious that can go on inside of our souls making war against our spiritual life than simply propensity to sin in the usual categories of sin that present themselves. That is within the realm of our thinking. This is where the weakness in the foundation starts to bubble up.
So we talked about cosmic degeneracy that involves immoral degeneracy, overtly which has a complementary role in the way we think. It produces irrationalism, mysticism, licentiousness. Mysticism is basically anti-authoritarianism when applied to knowledge.
"Whatever I want to do."
In other words it is a counterpart to moral relativism and displayed by that phrase in Judges - everyone did what is right in his own eyes. It is bubbling up from inside.
"Whatever I want to do is right."
That is mysticism in the extreme.
On the other hand you have moral degeneracy where you have this rigid authoritarianism that comes out of some sort of moral or religious code or even a philosophical code. Many of the ancient philosophies had rigorous procedures that you had to go through in order to grow and advance in their goal towards the ultimate good or whatever it was that was there in order to fulfill their spiritual selves. So it produced asceticism or self-righteousness. This was typical in Platonism and many forms of Gnosticism. All of that had consequent impacts on the church. So we looked at the Bible and saw the two extremes indicated by the fertility or the prosperity worshippers on the one hand illustrating immoral degeneracy and the Pharisees on the other hand.
That is our backdrop. We are looking at how the sin nature pressures us in these areas. I went back to CS Lewis a minute ago. Last time I ended up and I want to go over it again this issue of how we know truth comes into play is in the realm of apologetics when you as a believer are trying to communicate the gospel to an unbeliever. You are talking to an unbeliever. I am not talking about witnessing to a child. This may come into play when children ask perceptive questions at times. You are witnessing to someone who is a little more astute. They are older perhaps and have heard all of these objections to Christianity. They have legitimate questions.
It is always difficult when you are witnessing to unbelievers to decide which questions are legitimate questions and which questions are merely diversions. They are trying to throw a red herring across the trail to change the conversation. And you can talk to people who have been around awhile and have heard this objection to Christianity, that objection to Christianity and this misrepresentation.
They think it is legitimate. For them it is really an issue because they don't want to put their brains in neutral and accept some religious viewpoint or accept the Bible just because somebody says so. They have significant questions about what the Bible says. Many times they are coming from a wrong position. We need to help them with those questions and answer them never getting diverted off the course of focusing on the cross and the need for salvation. Sometimes you have to lay that foundation and it takes time. You may be the one who is planting the seed. Someone else comes along and provides a little water. Somebody else comes along and provides some light. Then eventually God is the one who makes it clear to them. God the Holy Spirit makes it clear to them in salvation. In the process what we are doing is we are talking to them about truth. We are talking to the other person about how you know what is true. What is the criterion for evaluating a truth claim? If I am going to say, "Jesus is God." how do you know that? What is your basis for saying that?
You are talking to someone who is an unbeliever and they say, "What is the ultimate validation? How do you know that Jesus is God? How do you know that that wasn't something that the church added because they were so impressed with the tradition that they started talking about Jesus as God? He never made those claims."
You have to know some things about the Bible in order to go back and answer that.
Then they are going to ask the question, "How do you really trust the Bible?'
Ultimately it comes back to this foundational issue - how do we know truth? What is the ultimate criterion for determining whether this is true or this is false? That is your foundation. When you do that, when you answer that question, sometimes if you are talking with someone who is really bright; you can really stub your toe here. We have all done it. God is gracious enough so that often He manages to use it anyway or get around their objection.
Let me give you an illustration. I threw this chart up last week and I didn't differentiate things so I wanted to do that this time. Here is the believer. On the other side is the unbeliever. They are trying to talk. Remember that the believer is hopefully talking from a position of divine viewpoint and absolute truth. So he has an accurate view of reality as defined by God and defined by the Scripture. But he is talking to this unbeliever.
Here I am going to get very much like CS Lewis. I thought I would throw this in since we are going to see the film on Saturday night. CS Lewis emphasized that God defines the real. Throughout his apologetics and philosophy was this idea that man in arrogance was living in an unreal world. I think he is right about that. In arrogance we construct our own view of reality. We try to live within that view of reality, but it is not the way that God created the world. The unbeliever has generated this castle in the sky that is his view of reality. The believer on the other hand is in a rock solid biblical worldview. They are trying to talk to each other. They can go this way and that way and completely miss each other because they are talking from two completely different perspectives.
Now the pressure that is on you as a believer is to try to step across the aisle as it were to help this guy to get back to your side of the aisle. That is where you get into trouble. We are struggling to find what our point of common ground is. Where is the point that we can agree on something and build an understanding and discussion so that I can bring him back over to divine viewpoint? We have to struggle with this issue. You might not have thought about it quite this way. If you have ever tried to witness to an unbeliever you have all wrestled with this. It is almost as good as a conservative Republican trying to talk to a liberal Democrat.
It is two completely different constructs of reality. They are trying to figure out something they can agree on. For the believer and the unbeliever the difference is more extreme than that. So you have to ask the question - what is the common ground? Now in doing that we can't give away or commit a strategic error. The unbeliever may be looking to reason as his ultimate authority to determine truth and error.
We sit back and say, "The Bible is rational."
God of course is ultimate reason and ultimate truth. God is logic. After all we call Jesus the Logos. Where did we get the word logic if we didn't get it from the Greek word logos? It is from the same root. Reason is embedded in logos. We believe that the Bible is ultimately rational. The Bible is only ultimately rational if you don't presuppose the Bible as true. If you don't presuppose the Bible as true and you are coming and reading the Bible as a Hindu or agnostic or an atheist then it sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook to you because you are coming from a false position. So we think that we can go to logic and rationalism. This is an apologetic strategy.
There are a number of apologies that use this kind of strategy. I have mentioned Gordon Clark in the past and there are a number of others. Norm Geisler is another one. This is the main issue - to appeal to logic. There is a way to appeal to logic within an apologetic strategy without out appealing to autonomous logic. The unbeliever looks at reason as autonomous – existing independent from the mind of God. But you as a believer are not looking at reason as independent from the mind of God, are you? So you aren't looking at reason the same way. That is important.
That may seem really abstract, and it is. Let's say that you and I go outside and we are talking with the head of the Biology or Botany Department at the University of Houston. We are talking about a tree across the parking lot in a green space. There are a lot of things we can agree on about that tree – color, shape, size, kind, quality, genus, and species. But you see for the unbeliever head of the Biology Department at the University of Houston that tree is a product of raw chance. It is an accident. But for you as a believer, that tree is not an accident. It is the result of the planning and purpose of God. It is perfectly designed and it is always going to produce (if it is an oak tree) acorns. In many ways you can agree on a lot of different things; but ultimately your concept of a tree is not his concept of a tree, is it? His concept of a tree is something of an accident and yours isn't. So there is a foundational area of disagreement. That is what is going on here and what I am trying to show in this chart. When we appeal to autonomous reason as that point of contact then the believer comes in and he is going to have to argue. He will walk across the aisle to the unbeliever's concept of autonomous reason and then on the basis of autonomous reason try to argue the guy back across the aisle to a dependent concept of reason. Do you think that is going to work? It works a lot of times only because people don't think very well. They are inconsistent. They don't understand what is happening. It is not methodologically consistent with Scripture.
The other way in which we often see this done is the unbeliever views reality as historical evidence. It is empiricism. He views history, that which is recorded, as objective reality. That is your ultimate appeal for what is true. So when the believer comes along and agrees with the unbeliever on empiricism then he is looking at historical evidence. But, the believer is looking at historical evidence coming out of what kind of history? You see the believer should understand history as the out working of the plan of God, that it is guided and directed by God foreseen and overseen from eternity past. So his view of history is not the view of the unbeliever who sees history like Henry Ford who said, "One damn thing after another." It is just random events that have happened. So ultimately when they are appealing to historical evidence, they have completely different views of what that historical evidence is.
So you can't go over as a believer to an autonomous view of empiricism and try to argue the guy back to a dependent view of empiricism. What is your ultimate criterion? If you use his ultimate view of criterion then you have a problem.
Now the next view is mysticism. The apologist's strategy here is called fideism from the Latin word fide meaning faith. It is the idea of "just believe." It doesn't matter if the tomb was empty or not. It doesn't matter if Jesus was God or not. It doesn't matter if He died as a substitute for your sins or as an example of how to live. You just have to have meaning and purpose in your life. So take that existential leap of faith and believe. Now you will have meaning in your life. Don't use any reason or logic at all. It totally divorces itself from reason, logic or history. That is a mystical approach. So you see how each view of how you think about truth affects your strategy for how you are going to communicate to the unbeliever.
I believe if you are going to be consistently biblical and you are looking for that point of common ground with the unbeliever - this is why what I think is very helpful for Christians. A lot of times we get enmeshed in a lot of dialogue with unbelievers and the next thing you know - I don't know the answers to all of these questions and I feel so inadequate. They are asking this and that and I don't know the answers. We feel overwhelmed because we have bought into either the rationalist approach or the empirical approach. We think that we have to be able to marshal all of this evidence to prove our point. You see the role of evidence isn't to prove. It isn't the ultimate criterion. The role of evidence simply validates. There is a difference between being ultimate truth and simply being corroboration or validation. The ultimate issue is revelation. God speaks.
Remember the chart that I put up with the different views of knowledge. You have got rationalism, empiricism and mysticism all out of autonomous human viewpoint. Then there is that separate category - the difference between the creature and creation (that important creator-creation distinction) is that God has spoken. In Romans 1:19-20 God tells us something. He tells us that dialoguing with that unbeliever, that unbeliever has an inner knowledge of certainly about truth already. We don't have to go to history to prove that God exists. He already knows that God exists. In other words the point of contact is in the image of God that he has. As warped as it is by sin, we don't have to go to the five truths of Aquinas. Those arguments philosophically (this may blow you away) never work. They have never been constructed in such a way that doesn't give away the boat. You have the argument and the anthropological argument and the moral argument. My favorite was always the ontological argument. That is what I wrote my master's thesis on. But they don't work because they are never built on a biblical presupposition. They all go over to the autonomous categories of the unbeliever, try to win him over by the dependent categories of the Scripture.
NKJ Romans 1:19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
NKJ Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
It is in them. It is made clear to them. The "them" here is unbelievers. Every unbeliever knows in the core of his soul that God exists, that he has violated God's righteousness, and that there is accountability. What he has been going all along is trying to suppress this knowledge.
You have to know the truth before you can suppress it. To suppress it means to hold it down and reshape it and reformulate it according to your own agenda. So from day one the carnal mind of the unbeliever is trying to redefine reality in terms of its independence from God.
It's not fuzzy. At the Great White Throne Judgment God is not going to accept from anybody the view that "Well, it just wasn't clear."
God says, "It couldn't have been more clear and you know it."
Now they are going to know it. They will be there without excuse. That is what this says.
The word that I find there that is so fascinating is the negative side. It is like unapologetic instead of apologetic. Apologetic is a positive defense that is given in a courtroom given for a defense.
Without excuse means that they are without defense before the bar of God's judgment. That is how clear God says the evidence of His existence is. No matter how atheistic they claim to be or no matter how agnostic they claim to be, in the core of their soul they know that God exists and they know they are created in the image of God. They know that they are sinners. Not only that, when we start witnessing to them according to John 16 the Holy Spirit is taking the message that we are communicating and He is using that to convict them in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment.
So when you are communicating to an unbeliever, you have two things in your favor. Don't ever be intimidated by some PhD or smart aleck who thinks he knows all of this stuff. You have got the reality of what God's Word says that they know that God exists. They are just suppressing it. The Holy Spirit is going to take what you say and He is going to use it to peel back that suppressive camouflage that they are using to expose it. That may really get them angry. They may resist. They may reject. They may become hostile and they may continue to be hostile toward Christianity and toward you because your use of the Word is exposing their strategy of suppression. Just because they don't believe doesn't mean you didn't do your job. Our job is simply to explain the gospel as clearly as we can and answer as Peter says in I Peter 3:15…
NKJ 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
Try not to make strategic errors in the way we present the gospel. God is always going to work around whatever flaws we have. That is what is great. It gives us great confidence that when we use this approach to apologetics and witnessing. It is called the pre-suppositional approach because the presupposition is that they already know that God exists. So we are operating on that presupposition. We are not going to give up our beliefs. We are not going to compromise our view of dependent reason and empiricism in order to bring them over to our view. By doing this we are in a greater way relying on God the Holy Spirit to make things very clear to them.
So Paul talks about that at the beginning of Romans. This is how important it is to maintain the foundation of truth.
Now I want to move to the next area in the study we are doing. We have gone through mysticism. Then we looked at rationalism. Now we have been looking at these examples of how they affect our view of knowledge. How do we know what we should do? How do we know what is right? There is one subject that comes up that is related to our study in Genesis on Tuesday night related to divine guidance. That is the subject of the leading of the Holy Spirit. How do we know when God the Holy Spirit is leading? The big question is, is the leading of the Spirit the same as divine guidance? The reason I ask that question is because in common everyday fuzzy terminology we equate the two. Good theologians do it. There are only two places in the Scripture that talk about the leading of the Holy Spirit.
So what we have to do is look at how those terms are used in those two passages and then after we understand how it is used in those two passages then we come back and say, "Is this talking about divine guidance?"
Now let me define divine guidance. By divine guidance I am talking about God helping us, communicating enabling us in the decision making process overly guiding us in the course of our life.
So what is the leading of the Holy Spirit? I am going to use a quote from Charles Ryrie. Charles Ryrie makes a statement in the book "Basic Theology". First let me read the core verses to you that we are going to talk about. These are the only two places that talk about the leading of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.
NKJ Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
NKJ Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Those are the only two passages that talk about the leading of the Holy Spirit. Now what is interesting is that if you read the surrounding context of both of these verses, what you discover is that Paul is talking about the same thing. That is, the contrast between the believer who is living his life in the filling of the Holy Spirit on the basis of the Holy Spirit and in the light of the Holy Spirit versus the believer who is living his life in the power of the sin nature, walking according to the flesh. That is the context in both passages. Neither passage is talking about how to make decisions. Neither passage is talking about God's special revelation or internal revelation or direction in life. Neither of those passages is talking about the will of God in that sense. Both of these passages are talking about the contrast the believers who are living their life energized by God the Holy Spirit versus those who are energized by the sin nature. It is important for us to understand this so we get a grasp of what this is saying.
I hear this terminology from believer after believer after believer that it is how a pastor is led to teach or this person was led to be a missionary in Africa or that person is led to do this. Where do they get this terminology? Is this biblical? I don't think it is. Words are important. Words reflect ideas. If you start describing these things with the wrong words you end up going to the wrong place in your thinking. So we have to do a little self-correction here and look at how the Bible is using these words.
If you don't get anything out of sitting under my ministry when people start saying things, ask "Okay, where do you get that from the Bible? Let's look at the text. Let's look at what the Scripture says. Let's not talk about what some theologian said. Let's not talk about what your favorite pastor said. Let's not talk about what Robby said. Let's look at what the Scripture says. Go through the Scripture.
I am not picking on Dr. Ryrie. Dr. Ryrie was one of my favorite professors at Dallas Seminary. I spent time in his office discussing different things with him. I remember at different times going in and complaining about some other professors and poor theology with Tommy Ice. We were trouble-makers from day 1.
We would go in and say, "Dr. Ryrie, we can't believe that they would let this guy teach this in seminary."
We always had a receptive ear. But I don't agree with everything that Dr. Ryrie said. Just to give you a little background. What happens when you are going through a good seminary is you learn who is who and who says what and who teaches what. You learn something about the strain of ideas that go through the history Christianity. You don't what just hear one person teaches that the Bible says. You learn that none of us just popped up out a vacuum. We were all influenced by various pastors, teachers, professors and parents all through our life. You can trace out where these ideas come from. There are some tremendous theologians within our heritage. Dr. Ryrie is one of them. I remember when I was probably in college I read his book "A Survey of Bible Doctrine". I can't tell you how many times I have used that and referred to it when I have gone through basic series. I have used it as a textbook on basic theology. It is tremendous. The work that Dr. Ryrie has done especially in the field of the authority of Scripture and bibliology as well as in dispensations is just tremendous.
I will never forget this. In my first day of class sitting in a large lecture auditorium in Lamb Hall would seat about 200 students sitting there about the fourth row back sitting there.
I thought, "Pinch me. I am sitting in a classroom and that is Dr Ryrie speaking. I get to sit in here two days a week for a whole semester and listen to him teach. This is just tremendous."
He must have been about 50 at that time. I think he is 81 or 82 now. He was frail. It looked like if anyone breathed hard it would knock him down. He has had some real health problems over the years. His theology while it is very good in a number of places also had some areas that are not so good especially in the area of the Christian life and the Holy Spirit. He has made several changes down through the years.
I remember I was in a Bible class over here at Spring Branch Community Church some 33 or 34 years ago. We were reading "Balancing the Christian Life".
I kept thinking, "There are things in here that just don't jive with what I have been taught."
I didn't realize until later on that Ryrie at that time was the head of the Theology Department at Dallas Seminary did not have the same view of the spiritual life that Dr. Chaffer had or that Dr. Walvoord had. A lot of people don't pick up on these differences.
Even within Dallas Seminary at that time there were different ways and I believe conflicting ways professors viewed how to live the Christian life and conflicting ways on how they taught the filling of the Spirit, leading of the Spirit and walking by the Spirit. You can go back through Dr. Ryrie's writings and I can identify three distinct positions over the years - different positions (not just refinements) that he has taken with regard to some of these issues. In fact I ran across this quote a few weeks ago and was stunned. As much as I have learned from Dr. Ryrie on the whole issue of revelation, one of his (that is what I had him for at Dallas – bibliology) several books dealing with bibliology - that revelation has ceased. Yet he has made this extremely fuzzy statement. He probably lifted it from an earlier book that was written on the doctrines of the Holy Spirit. He quotes this in his chapter on the "Holy Spirit in Basic Theology". I still recommend Basic Theology." It is a great textbook and I encourage people if they are interested in studying theology that they should read through this. You will find things that perhaps you don't agree with. That is fine. You will rarely find a work that you agree with 100%. That helps you learn how to think. He begins this paragraph on the leading of the Spirit by quoting our text here in Romans 8:14.
"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God these are the sons of God."
Leading is a confirmation of sonship, for sons are led. This work of guidance is particularly the work of the Spirit.
Then he gives his biblical support.
Romans 8:14 states it and the book of Acts amply illustrates it.
The ministry of the Spirit is one of the most assuring ones for the Christian. The child of God never needs to walk in the dark. He is always free to ask and receive directions from the Spirit Himself.
Does the Spirit act independently from the Scriptures to communicate this? He is not clear here. Ryrie would say yes. I know that. This is just fuzzy terminology. There are a couple of things that I want to point out so that maybe you will read a little more intelligently when you read things.
Notice how he interprets this phrase "the sons of God."
He is equating sonship here to every believer. That is an important exegetical decision. Is sonship in Romans 8:14 a term that refers to every believer or is it a term that refers to only certain kinds of believers? Now you don't have to guess at that. It is clear from the Greek. When you get over into John 1: 12…
NKJ John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
It is the same phrase in the English but there are different words in the Greek. In the Greek he used the word teknonover in John 1, which refers to a child. In Romans 8:14 Paul uses the word huios, which refers to an adult or a mature son. There is a difference.
There is an important difference. If Romans 8:4 is talking about maturity and not just being a member of the family, then we are talking about something quite different. But that is not how he does it. The interesting thing is that 3 or 4 pages later Ryrie points out the difference between a teknon and a huios. But he didn't make it clear here. It could have been because he drew this paragraph out of a book he wrote on the Holy Spirit in the early 50's and he may not have clearly thought it through precisely then. The next statement, this word "guidance" - what has he just done? He has just equated divine guidance with what this passage is talking about. The question we are asking is if this passage talking about divine guidance or is it talking about something else? What is important for you to know (I like to give you these little insights in history) is that we have these great icons in dispensational theology that we love to read and honor - men like Scofield, Chafer, Walvoord, Ryrie, and others. But, they didn't always get it right.
Scofield in his Scofield Reference Bible indicates that an Old Testament believer can be saved by keeping the law. That is wrong. It led him to a number of erroneous statements in his study notes related to the law.
Chaffer thought that when John the Baptist baptized Jesus it was sprinkling. That is because Chafer was a Presbyterian.
Did you know that? Most people don't. Walvoord was a Presbyterian. Guess what? John Walvoord sprinkled his infant sons when they were babies because he was a Presbyterian. These guys didn't hold everything right.
When John Walvoord in the early 80's took on a project to abridge Dr. Chafer's systematic theology, he abridged it to 2 volumes. I think it was a horrendous mistake. I can understand why they did it. Most people don't know this.
Chafer looked at the 8 volumes and he said, "Wow."
And you start reading it and you realize that on about every other page he quotes some other theologian. And sometimes he will quote Shedd or Benjamin Warfield for 5 pages of fine print. Why is he doing this? At the time he was writing his systematic theology as a dispensationalist Presbyterian he was under attack from Presbyterians that dispensationalism wasn't orthodox. And so what he is doing in his systematic theology is as he goes through theology proper Christology and pneumatology, he is quoting from all of these orthodox theologians (Shedd, Warfield, Calvin) to show that as dispensationalists we don't disagree with the foundations of what these men are saying. We are not heretics. It is an apologetic approach to systematic theology. That is why it is there. So what Walvoord was doing was going in and getting rid of all of these quotes and making it read smoothly. That would reduce the size of his systematic theology by at least 2/3rds because it had so many quotes in it. That got in the way for a lot of people. But Walvoord did something else.
At the time that he did this I was in PhD studies in historical theology under John Hannah. John Hannah had written his PhD dissertation on origins and the foundation of the Evangelical Theological College which was the original name of Dallas Seminary. As Walvoord was redoing this, Hannah read it. Hannah went into Walvoord and told him that he had changed Walvoord in at least 70 different places.
"You the opposite of what he originally said."
Walvoord said, "That is because he was wrong."
Walvoord was probably as close a student follower of Chaffer as you can be. You read Walvoord's book on the Holy Spirit. It is a thinly massaged redo of Chaffer's book on the Holy Spirit. He just changes the organization a little bit. It is so obvious that Chafer mentored him. He is so close to Chafer. He hardly drifts at all. But he disagreed with him in at least 70 different places. He couldn't go along. He had to change it. That isn't the right thing to do. If you are going to abridge something, abridge it. Don't change it. Don't make them say something that they didn't say originally. So we have these men and they said some great and wonderful things and taught some things. But they also have some things in their thinking that aren't quite kosher in our look at the word. So let's look at these verses. Ryrie says are support. I don't want to hit all the verses; I just want to hit a couple of them.
In Acts 8:28 Philip is to witness to the Ethiopian eunuch. It was in the transition period of the early church when miracles are still going on. It is probably in the early months of Christianity. Phillip as one of the 6 to help the apostles is up in Samaria when the Holy Spirit transports him just like we saw in Star Trek. He gets transported from Samaria down to the southern part of Israel right to the spot where the Ethiopian is on his way home. He stops his chariot and takes a little break. He is thinking through the Scriptures. He is reading Isaiah. The Holy Spirit moves him down there and says...
NKJ Acts 8:29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot."
What do we have here? We have a miraculous transportation number one. That doesn't happen today. We have the Holy Spirit giving specific special revelation and guidance. This isn't what we talked about in terms of this inner guidance of the leadership of the Holy Spirit. This is special revelation.
NKJ Acts 10:19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 "Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them."
Peter is being told to go from the men of Cornelius to take them the gospel and to officially take the gospel for the first time to gentiles the Spirit said …
"Behold three men are seeking you."
This isn't some sort of vibration, liver quiver, sense or impression. This is special revelation. This is specific revelation.
NKJ Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
This is specific special revelation. It may have been overt. It is audible voice from the Holy Spirit that everybody in that group heard.
NKJ Acts 16:6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.
I don't know how he did it because that is all it says. Whether there was it was through overt revelation or circumstances it is not clear. It seems to be another case of special revelation.
NKJ Acts 20:22 "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul is talking on the way to Jerusalem.
Prophecy was still active. If you keep going to Jerusalem instead of Rome then the Holy Spirit is going to have you arrested so you will get hauled off to Rome the hard way.
Paul in his stubbornness just kept going. The point is that the Holy Spirit is testifying in every city. That is special revelation. This isn't some internal liver quiver, impression movement, some sense of weightiness. It is none of that. It is special revelation.
So our conclusion is that when Dr. Ryrie gives all of these verses that it doesn't fit what he is talking about. If that is not talking about divine guidance of the Holy Spirit in terms that we talk about divine guidance then what about Romans 8:14? Now we have to understand what Romans 8:14 says. In order to do that, we locate it in the context of Romans - two of the most important passages – bedrock passages in the New Testament for understanding the spiritual life. If you don't interpret these chapters right you are going to be hosed in your spiritual life. You will try to live life mystically, morally, any way but on the basis of the supernatural means that God has provided in terms of walking by the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray.