home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > December 9th > THUS SAITH THE LORD

Has God spoken to us in His written Word? We trust that He has! Nearly everything we do is built on trust. When we eat we trust that we will not be poisoned by the cook. When we go for a walk we trust that other walkers will not bump us out of their way. When someone tells us something we trust that they are telling us the truth. In fact, there is hardly anything we do in our everyday lives that does not involve trust. While we generally trust those we have come to know, we readily trust some people whom we do not know if they are people possessing appropriate authority such as a policeman, or a medical doctor or an airline pilot. The right authority invites and engenders trust. Christians trust the Bible because it derives from the highest authority – God. In fact, Christians have good reasons for believing that the Bible is divinely inspired and the only infallible and authoritative written Word of God.

The Bible is not the only ‘book’ that God has given mankind. Christians believe that God has given two ‘books’ to mankind – the written, authoritative Word of God, and the ‘book of nature’ – and that by either a person may come to know the Creator. But Article 2 of the Belgic Confession (originally written in 1559) states why it is only the Bible which is authoritative:

We know him by two means: first, by the creation, preservation and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely, His power and divinity, as the apostle Paul saith, Romans 1:20. All which things are sufficient to convince men, and leave them without excuse. Secondly, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and our salvation.

 

HOW THE BIBLE WAS COMPOSED

Christians believe that the Bible was composed as a result of God superintending certain people, whom He at times: (i) commanded to write His words (Exod. 17:14); or (ii) directed them to record certain historic accounts from their perspective (Num. 33:2); or (iii) guided them to record their prayers and devotional reflections (eg. Psalm 48); or (iv) had them document their verbalised worship of God which could be sung by others (eg. Ps. 9:2); or (v) write letters to address errors and wrong practices among certain believers (eg. Paul’s epistles to churches); or, (vi) write down certain visions they may have received from the Lord (eg. Daniel 10:8ff; Rev. 1:11ff). God also used editors and compilers to produce and preserve parts of His Word (eg. First and Second Kings). For example, king Hezekiah’s scribes had access to some of king Solomon’s proverbs which they compiled together. “These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied” (Prov. 25:1). It also believed that the five books comprising the Psalms, which originated after the Jews return from their exile, was compiled by Ezra who contributed two of the one hundred fifty psalms (Psalm 1 and 119).

 

HOW THE BIBLE WAS DIVINELY INSPIRED

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is a written statement of belief formulated by more than 200 evangelical leaders at a conference convened by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy and held in Chicago in October 1978. These theologians and church leaders formulated a statement of 19 declarations. 

“Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit,
is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed,
as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms, obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires;
embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises”
(The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Shorter Statement Article 2).

The Bible was composed by God’s superintending of its composition. Having noted that this included God directly revealing His Word to some whom He then commanded to write it down (eg. Rev. 1:11; 14:13; 19:9), we also noted that God directed, led, guided, and moved (2 Pet. 1:21) certain others to write His Word to mankind. This was done by His Holy Spirit “breathing” upon these writers. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It therefore appears that some of those used by God to write His Word were aware that this would be result. “The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now…But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Dan. 8:26; 12:4). While others may not have been aware of this. “To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her” (1 Cor. 7:12).

The mystery of how God inspired His Word extends to biblical writers sharing their lack of knowledge of certain events and the Holy Spirit ensuring that this inability to recall was recorded accurately and honestly. For example, “(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else)” (1 Cor. 1:16). At other times, it is even the same author who is not aware that they are writing what the Spirit has said, but what they are writing comes from the omniscient mind of God! “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

 

HOW THE BIBLE IS INFALLIBLE

Christians do not consider that the Bible was divinely mechanically dictated to its writers (unlike Muslims who claim this about their Qur’an). Rather, the Bible’s intended meaning was divinely inspired and infallible (incapable of being wrong) in a way that it is not entirely dependent upon a precise series of words. This feature of the Bible’s divine inspiration has enabled it to be translated into any language from its original source languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek). Translators strive for precision in what the original autographs resembled by doing textual criticism (comparing all the known ancient manuscripts of the Biblical documents to ascertain where scribes and copyists had made errors) and incorporating any new discoveries of more ancient and reliable manuscripts.

Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching,
no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history,
and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
(The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Shorter Statement, Article 4)

As our scientific knowledge of the natural world increases, and confirmation of historic events described in the Bible based on archaeological discoveries including discoveries of ancient near eastern (ANE) writings (sometimes recorded on earthenware pottery and tablets) have silenced the criticisms of the Bible’s reliability from yesteryear. For example, the Bible’s scientific claims – such as the creation of the world out of nothing, now referred to scientifically as the Big Bang, was once mocked by critics such as Sir Fred Hoyle (professor of astronomy, Cambridge University) prior to the mid-twentieth century before Edwin Hubble’s discovery of “red shift” was confirmed that the universe must have indeed had a beginning.

In recent times, critics of the Bible have mocked its sexual ethics, particularly its prohibitions against homosexuality and formication, as being out-of-date and written by ‘unenlightened’ people. Some, who claim to be Christians and who affirm that the Bible is indeed God’s Word, yet practice homosexuality, often assert that those parts of the Bible which condemn homosexuality are not divinely inspired. The problem these “gay Christians” have is the irreconcilable words of Christ about gender, sexuality, and marriage in Matthew 15:19-20, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone” and Matthew 19:4-6, “He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Many ‘gay Christians’ such as activist Matthew Vines now admit that the Bible can not be used to make their case for the compatibility of homosexuality and Christianity.

The Bible’s infallibility is also frequently challenged by those responding to faulty interpretations of the Scriptures, rather than what the Bible actually teaches. For example, as Prof. Daniel Graetzer (Professor of Natural Science and Mathematics, Northwest University, Kirkland Washington) points out, there are things assumed by some Christians which are not stated in the Bible (such as the age of the universe, or the age of our planet, or the date of when homo sapiens appeared on earth) yet are declared as if it does. He notes, “A significant minority of scientists hold this view…The YEC [Young Earth Creation] view is also popular among laypersons who vary in their grasp of the scientific issues involved” (Studies in Human Biology, p. 34).

Often the criticisms of the Bible made by its opponents are based on an interpretation of what it says rather than what it actually says. This is why it is important to understand the principles of hermeneutics – the art and science of interpreting literature – which accommodates how we understand poetry, metaphors, similes, and hyperboles. For example, no one believes that Jesus was claiming He had door-frame hinges just because He said He was a “door”! “So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7).

 

WHY THE BIBLE IS AUTHORITATIVE

The Bible is authoritative because it claims to be the Word of God. “This God—His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him” (Psa. 18:30). The prophets whom God used to write His Word specifically describe these moments of divine inspiration with the expression, “Then the word of the Lord came to me” (for eg. Jer. 42:7; 43:8; Ezek. 1:3; 3:16; 6:1; 7:1; 11:14; 12:1;13:1; 14:2). Jesus described the record of these divinely inspired messages as “the word of God” (Matt. 15:6) and referred to it as “Scripture” (‘the writings’) and declared that “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Jesus also stated that the “Scripture must be fulfilled” in Him (Luke 22:37; John 13:18; Acts 1:16).

In the New Testament epistles we have internal references to the teaching of the apostles recorded in the Bible as Scripture which the writer of Second Peter states, “Our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:15b-16).

We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historicaI exegesis,
taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.
We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it
that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizlng, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.
(The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Shorter Statement, Article XVIII)

Within the sixty-six books of Scriptures we have a unified and coherent revelation from God about His identity as the Creator, the Law-giver, the Redeemer, the Saviour, and the Final Judge. Its sixty-six books tell one story – God’s plan of redemption and conquest over and ultimate vanquishing of evil. Within the Scripture is the revelation of how to be reconciled to God by having our sins forgiven through Christ. It is the Scriptures which assure us that we have one mediator between us and God the Father – Jesus the Christ (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15; 12:24) through whom we can directly appeal. It is within the Scriptures that we find the commands of God for how we are to live, conduct our lives, order our affairs, treat others, and prioritise our worship of God. Thus, we are not permitted to just be “hearers” of God’s Word, we are to accept its authority and be compliant with its commands and imperatives (Rom. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:16; James 1:22-23) – because it is the Word of God. Has God spoken to us in His written Word? We trust that He has! Does the world know what it says? I doubt it. This is why we need to tell them and declare, “Thus saith the Lord!

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    AMEN

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

YOU CAN DO IT!

Both ‘adulting’ and letting kids really grow up can be too challenging for some! We generally don’t like change and tend to love comfort. Change is difficult. It is uncomfortable. On the other hand ‘comfort’ seems easy and familiar. But think about your life journey thus far. You began life literally being held by your mother. Then nine months or so – everything changed. And it changed because you had grown! In fact, ‘growth’ and ‘change’ are partners! One day you were in a basinet, then in a cradle, then in a cot, then in a bed – and were still not yet four years old! We are not meant to stay the same (although, as we get older staying the same in appearance would have been quite nice!!). You may have heard the saying that “God loves you just as you are, but loves you too much to leave you the way you are.” God knows that change will be rewarding and lead to you having a more fulfilling life. You may not like change, or even want to change – but you’re already an expert at it – and may not even realise it!

THE 10 BIBLICAL PRIORITIES AND PURPOSES FOR A LOCAL CHURCH

Christianity is both a vertical and a horizontal relationship. It is a vertical relationship of the believer with God; and, it is a horizontal relationship of a believer with other believers who are also a part of the body of Christ. This horizontal relationship is transacted within a local context in which God places the believer. Below are the ten priorities and purposes for a local church in which the believer is a vital participant…

KNOWING GOD THROUGH THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

When someone takes up residency in a new home they set about adding their own touch to their home. It might be as simple as a coat of paint or new curtains, but it could also be as major as renovation work like a new kitchen or bathroom. So they leave their imprint on the home. The same should be apparent when the Holy Spirit takes up residency in our lives. There should be a visible imprint of the renovations that have taken place.

PENTECOSTALISM, THE TWO SIDES OF REVIVAL

home > Pastor's Desk > 2024 >June 21st > PENTECOSTALISM, THE SIDES OF REVIVAL Pentecostalism began with a move of God - a revival. This happened on a Jewish Festival called the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). This was when the Holy Spirit was given and poured...

MY BIGGEST BURDENS

A burden is something that weighs on you. You could be burdened emotionally because a relationship that is weighing on you. You could be burdened psychologically because of the weight of a looming deadline. You could be burdened spiritually because of the weight of guilt you are carrying. You could be burdened physically because of your weight and depleted strength. We all carry burdens. There are seasons in our lives where some burdens a big and you do not feel that you will be able to bear up under the enormous pressure you are under. Those seasons will pass. For those in leadership there is the constant burden of the weight of responsibility that must be carried. (Have you ever noticed what this kind burden bearing does physically to a President or Prime Minister over their term in office?) In the Bible we read that GOD actually gives people burdens so that they become stronger, wealthier, happier, and more productive. These types of burdens always involve caring for others. (Have you ever considered why Jesus was sweating great drops of blood as He was praying just before He went to the Cross via His hours of humiliating pummelling, beating, scourging, hair-pulling, and mockery?) I want to share you with you why I am now carrying an enormous burden that I would consider that biggest burden I have ever had to carry. I do so in the hope that this might help you to bear your burdens with greatest expertise and joy. Yes, joy.

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

This year we have been laying a foundation for knowing God and then each Sunday building upon it. Throughout June we are focusing on how knowing God enables us to find our joy in Him and consequently to discover that He enables us to find joy in our relationships with others. But sadly, for many people who have vowed to love, serve, and follow Jesus, this has not always been easy to do. This is why the current sub-theme of humility is critically important if someone desires to truly experience joy in each of their various relationships with others. 

KNOWING GOD

In the past few months, we have been hearing in Church and also by reading the Pastor’s Desks that through the Psalms and by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can know God more. The Psalms show God as our Shepherd, God’s character is unchanging, we can be still and know Him, and that He is poetic. The Fruit of the Spirit reminds us that God is faithful, gentle and kind, and that we need to stay close to Him in the same way a baby gets nutrients from its mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing these things, we can become more like God as He helps us outwork His character in our lives. Philippians 3:10 challenged me in this regard some time ago.

RULES RULES AND MORE RULES

What comes to mind when you hear the word Rules? For some, it is a welcome relief to all the chaos surrounding us. Rules can provide comfort, safety, stability, predictability and protection. But for many others, as soon as you hear the word rules, it causes you to sigh loudly, followed by the instant urge to do the opposite. It can cause an immense sense of frustration along with that feeling of being boxed or caged in. Then some rules are plain silly as they make no sense, or there appears to be no apparent reason for why the rule/s exists in the first place. 

The Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing FruitThe Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing Fruit

Jesus’ allegory in John 15:1-17 of the vine and the branches provides a beautiful picture of the intimate and living relationship available to those who would abide in Him, the true Vine; and it illustrates how naturally the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit in the lives of those who are willing to be branches abiding in the vine.

Knowing God Through The Fruit Of The Spirit

I’m sure you can picture an occasion where food delicacies are served and someone is there who has lost all sense of decorum to the point of being rude to get to the food before others and is unable or unwilling to engage in any level of conversation for the sake of finding the choicest of foods. Maybe that was you or me on occasions. Or an All You Can Eat challenge restaurant. It is a picture of complete lack of self-restraint (especially if Homer Simpson is involved). Whilst we are away, I am looking forward to visiting a town (Kenilworth) with a bakery tourist attraction that sells 1kg doughnuts. I’m not sure what will happen there, but I can imagine many have risen to a challenge.