Daily Archives: April 22, 2008

Did God actually say….?

Many evangelicals, such as myself, are often accused of being the most arrogant people–all because we believe and preach the Bible as God’s word. We clearly preach the Bible in this manner: “What God says the Bible says and what the Bible says God says.” So, because we believe God has spoken, we are laughed at as being unbelievably arrogant, backwards, oppressive, and misogynistic fuddy-duddies.

Some time ago, many new scientific theories and the baggage of the enlightenment cast doubt on the veracity of the Biblical account, especially the miraculous. Many so-called theologians became convinced that the Bible and modern, enlightened persons were like oil and water and, therefore, began teaching a “new and improved” theology which sought to minimize or even eliminate the miraculous nature of the Bible. These so-called theologians thought this would make the Bible and Christianity more acceptable to modern man, thereby increasing the numbers in their churches.

Unfortunately, the attempts to make Christianity more palatable to sophisticated, modern people served to destroy what Jude called “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Gone was the idea that God parted the Red Sea; gone was the notion of God creating mankind ex nihilo (out of nothing); gone was the idea that Christ was raised from the dead. All these things require a belief in the miraculous.

In the aftermath of this blasphemous movement, some (perhaps) unexpected and unintended consequences emerged. If it is acceptable to discount and deny the miraculous parts of Scripture, then it would be a very short journey to deny the entirety of Scripture. This is exactly what happened.

Now, rather than dedicating ourselves to live “by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), we align ourselves with the Serpent of the Garden and repeat his venomous question “did God actually say?”

GOD HAS SPOKEN

The Bible itself claims to be the very word of God. Many passages could be referenced simply because there are many passages which make this very point. Hebrews 1:1 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets.” The author to the Hebrews is making the point that God speaks–He takes the initiative and He does speak.

In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself to Abraham (then called Abram). Abraham’s actions show that he thought God to be worth listening to. In accordance with His relationship with Abraham and His promises to Abraham, God rescued the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. Part of that rescue was the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai.

The Law was given in a very common form known in that day. The form is referred to as a “Suzerain-vassal treaty.” God was the “Strong” party (the Suzerain) and Israel was the “weak” party (the vassal). Because God is absolutely sovereign and supreme, He alone is allowed to make the rules, and God gave rules in the form of the Law. Make no mistake, God initiated this covenant. The Israelites were the beneficiaries of God’s grace.

The covenant of the Law given at Mt. Sinai included the customary “Blessings” and “Curses.” If the Israelites kept the Law, God would bless them (by sustaining them in the promised land), but if they broke the Law, they would be subject to God’s curse (expulsion from the promised land). As history shows, the Israelites did not keep the Law and they were expelled from the land. The expulsion of the Israelites shows God takes His words and His law very seriously.

What Did King David Think?

In Psalm 19, King David writes about God’s Law. From his writing, it is abundantly clear that David took God’s word (His Law and statutes) as being very important.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

David’s writing shows a respect for God’s word that has been lost, for the most part, in the theological confusion of our day.

David’s words show us if we want to know God intimately, as well as know about Him, we must look at His law and His word. If we want to know what pleases God, we must look at His law and His word. Since God has chosen to reveal Himself through specific, written revelation given to mankind, we are dependent on His revelation if we are to know anything about Him. He has not left us guessing, He has told us exactly who He is and exactly what He requires of us.

It is important to note that the Book of Psalms is Scripture. God spoke through David and God is saying His words are important and are authoritative.

What Did Jesus Think?

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (recorded in Matthew 4), He makes two very informative statements: (1) “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” and (2) “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

Now the context is that Jesus is answering Satan’s tempting challenges. If you read the entirety of Matthew 4, it is clear that Satan is quoting Scripture to Christ–but, Satan is mis-quoting the Scripture. Satan is asking the same, age-old question, “Did God actually say?” If you read the account of the Fall in Genesis, Satan misquotes God to Eve and she falls for it! Jesus doesn’t fall (like Eve did) for Satan’s trap because He knows the Scriptures and His defense is to quote Scripture.

From this episode, we see Jesus quoting Scripture and, therefore, showing Scripture to be authoritative. In short, Jesus is saying that God has spoken and His words are words to live by.

Also, we can see Jesus’ statements about the Law and the Prophets–the Old Testament Scriptures.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)

Not only does this passage show Jesus’ commitment to the Old Testament Scripture, it shows, from the mouth of God Himself, the Scripture to be much more than a collection of stories. Jesus’ statement shows that God intends the Old Testament to be seen as His words to His people. Jesus, who is God, says that greatness in the Kingdom of God is related to how you treat the words of Scripture–and that is no small thing.

Jesus also confirmed the historicity and veracity of the Old Testament when said the entire Old Testament pointed to Him–“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)

ARE BIBLE-BELIEVERS THE ARROGANT ONES?

The conclusion to this question is very simple. The Bible clearly claims to be the very words of God. If God has spoken, which He has, it is not arrogant to live your life by the Scriptures and to call others to do the same. Why? Paul gives the answer in Acts 17:

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

It is clearly not arrogant to call people to leave their sinful ways and their sinful lifestyles. If God “commands all people everywhere to repent” and if God “will judge the world in righteousness by [Christ],” and He will do these things, then it is the most loving thing to call the unbelieving world to repent from their sinful ways and escape the coming judgment.

In fact, if God has spoken, then it is truly the height of arrogance to say that we can nullify what He has said.

The Book of Revelation contains a very scary warning in relation to this matter. Of course, Revelation is the final book of the Bible and as such, this warning can be said to apply to the entirety of the Bible. The Apostle John writes:

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

For a Christian, there is no choice, we must believe and affirm the entirety of Scripture. If you are unwilling to do this, you are identifying yourself with non-Christians and you ought not to play games and deceive yourself and others by calling yourself a Christian. To say the Bible is not God’s word is to sound more like Satan asking, “did God actually say?”

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