The Origin of Scripture

From previous articles we have addressed the topics of the “Reliability of Scripture” (Part 1 O.T. and Part 2 N.T.) and further investigated the development of the New Testament Canon of Scripture.

In this article we will take a look at the “Origin” of Scripture.  Is it simply the writings of men, the writings of God, or some synthesis of the writings of both?

The key verses that clarify the “origin” of scripture are found in the following 3 verses. There are others but these are the mainstay.

II Pet 1:20,21;  II Tim 3:16,17;  Acts 1:16

1) II Pet 1:20, 21 “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,  for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

The first of these verses is from II Peter 1:20,21 and this verse  indicates that “prophecy” is not an act of the human will but men were moved “carried along (as found in some translations)” by the Holy Spirit and, therefore, the men “spoke from God”.  We are tempted to believe from this verse that just the “prophetic parts” of scripture are directly from God.  Indeed, we could be confined to this view if this were the only scripture to observe in the bible but we will show (shortly)  that the same is true of all of scripture.  The text before us at the very least introduces the concept that the origin of prophecy is not from the will of man; it is exclusively and entirely divine in its origin.

2) II Tim 3:16,17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

II Tim 3:16 compels us further to view “ALL” of scripture as inspired by God.

What this passage does not mean:

This verse is not teaching that people who read the bible become inspired as the read the scriptures nor is this verse teaching that the writers were in-breathed by God and while they were in this condition they wrote down the message (we would not exclude this possibility, however).

What this passage does mean:

What is being communicated is that  the scriptures themselves are inspired and therefore authoritative enough for teaching, reproof, correction and training.  The Greek “theopneustos” literally means “God-breathed” and interpreted as in-breathed by God from which we obtain the modern term inspire (in spire = in breath).  The word is found nowhere earlier in all of Greek literature but for centuries has never been of doubtful interpretation.   The leading lexicographers affirm this interpretation that the scriptures are in-breathed by the breath of God.

Paul makes no explanation of the process of how God in-breathed life into the scriptures only that since it is in-breathed it is God’s word and, therefore, we can use it as a standard, as an authority, as the tool by which we reprove, correct, and instruct and teach so as to bring about change in those who hear it and need it.

3) Acts 1:16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

Acts 1:16 lays out the authoritative nature of the scriptures being irresistible in its outcome….. the “scripture had to be fulfilled”.  The writer affirms the divine origin of the scripture.  There is POWER in the scripture because it came from the ALL-POWERFUL Divine Being.  Our Lord affirms this when speaking to the Sadducees.  “You do err not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God”.  The scriptures had to be fulfilled because their origin is from this divine being.

The words of Christ are meant to be a warning;  “YOU DO ERR” not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God.  May we kindly suggest that viewing any part of the scriptures as solely the work of men who are simply teaching good and moral things is to err “not knowing the power of God”.  The origin of all scripture is divine and is, therefore, profitable to submit to its teaching.

For further research and scholarly reading click on this link:

http://vintage.aomin.org/THEOPNEU.html

 

The New Testament Canon of Scripture

It is well known that the  New Testament Canon of Scripture (the 27 books of our New Testament bible today) received approval and official status at the Synod of Rome in 382 A.D.  Subsequent Synods in other countries confirmed the same canonicity.

Practically, however, a collection of scriptures (no less than 22 of the 27 books) was already circulating among the churches in Europe, Greece, Syria and Africa as early as 170 – 220 A.D.

Our knowledge of this early canonicity comes from 4 main sources who write about the collection they were using:

1. The Muratorian Canon        2. Irenaeus (ca.130 – 200)                                         3. Tertullian (ca.160-220)        4. Origen (ca.185 -254)

In general, approximately 23 of the 27 books of the canon were given status by the above four authorities before the year 200 A.D.  The remaining 5 books are often called the catholic books (catholic meaning “universal” ) and are I Peter  I& II John, Jude, and Revelation .  They received official status at a later date.

Only one  of the apocrypha books were given any consideration as having any authority but this writing …. “The Shepherd of Hermes” …. was not universally accepted so was dropped from consideration.  The rest of the apocrypha was never acknowledged by any reputable church leader or “the churches” as scripture.

There is clear and abundant evidence of a very early formation for the canon of scripture without a single  body of officials giving approval to this circulating canon. The Synod of Rome in 382 A.D., therefore, only confirmed what was already practically acknowledged and in use by early churches nearly 200 years earlier.

Do we have the right bible?  Are all the correct books in this canon of scripture?  We answer with a resounding yes.  Read more here for confirmation:

http://www.bible-researcher.com/voorwinde1.html

The Reliability of Scripture- Part 2

In this second part of the topic “The Reliability of Scripture” we entertain the question “What about the New Testament?” is it reliable as the Word of God or is it simply a collection of writings portraying the opinions of fallible Jewish men who had their own biases to contend with.

Most of the New Testament  books were  written by the disciples of Jesus such as Matthew, John and Peter but a large portion of the New Testament (approximately 1/2  of the books) was written by the Apostle Paul or by his companion (Luke through dictation).  Because of this fact, we will first focus upon the Paul’s writings since they were extensively circulated throughout the early church and had a tremendous effect upon the development of the Judo-Christian philosophy that dominated much of the western culture for centuries.

Before coming to a final and informed opinion about the writings of the Apostle Paul it would seem prudent to answer these four questions:

1) “Just where did Paul get his information?”

2)  “What did Paul think about his own writings?”

3) “What did the early churches think of Paul’s writings?”

4) “What did the other apostles think of Paul’s writings?”

These four questions are critical to our understanding of the authority of the New Testament as the “Word of God” being equitable to the scriptures of the Old Testament.

1) “Where did Paul get his information”

Upon his conversion Paul did not confer or consult with any man. Instead he traveled to Arabia.  It is believed that during this stay he was taught by revelation directly by Jesus Christ.  He communicates this through his letters to the churches.

Galations 1:15

15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.”

Galations 1:11

11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

So Paul informs us that the gospel that he communicates by letter is not something passed on to him from the other apostles or other men but rather a direct communication by revelation through Jesus Christ.

2) What did the Apostle Paul think about his own writings?

As to those who claimed to be somebody or thought themselves to be spiritual or above his authority, the Apostle Paul wrote:

I Cor 14:37

37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.

The apostle did not view his writings as his own. He viewed them as the Lord’s commandments having all the weight of heaven itself.

3) “What did the early churches think of Paul’s writings?”

Did the early churches view Paul’s writings as just the opinions of a man?  Did they view Paul’s letters as fallible human opinions? Or did they receive his writings and his words as “The Word of God”? and did the apostle Paul want them to receive his writings as “The Word of God”?

I Thess 2:13

13For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the Word of God

The word of men and the Word of God are in contradistinction, that is,  …… opposed to each other.  Further, the apostle praises them for receiving his writings in this way.  This confirms what he thought of his own writings and confirms what the churches thought of Paul’s epistles…. they were received as the Word of God.

4) “What did the other apostles think about Paul’s writings?”

Did the other apostles receive Paul’s writings as scripture i.e. as the Word of God?  Did they elevate his writings to this high regard or did they relegate them to the “opinions of Paul” ?

II Pet 3:16

15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,  16  as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. ”

It is clear that Peter (known as the Apostle to the Jews) regarded Paul’s  writings (the Apostle to the Gentiles) as among “the rest of the Scriptures”.   To emphasize how important his writings were Peter indicates that those opposing the scriptures wrestle with them to their own destruction…… not writings to be taken lightly.

Conclusion:

It is clear from these quotations that the writings of Paul were unanimously regarded  as the Word of God having all the authority of the “other” scriptures.  This was endorsed by the Apostle Paul himself, by the Apostle of the Jews (Peter), and by the churches at large.  Can we take his writings as just the “word of men”?  Can we relegate them to some middle ground as a combination of the Word of God and the word of men at the same time?  Is this option even given to us? Or do we acquiesce and take sides with the early church fathers, the churches of the first century, and the apostles themselves and accept his writings as the Word of God?

 

The Reliability of Scripture – Part 1

Many people today are unsure about the reliability of scripture.  Some treat the Bible as the writings of fallible men; others as the inerrant Word of God containing no human scribal errors.  Many suggest it is an authority of some type for today but perhaps there is much bias in the writings since they have been brought to us by the agency of men who, as we know, are fallible.

At least, as far as the Old Testament is concerned, much of this can be settled by the way in which Christ handled the scriptures.  If we  believe that Christ was the Son of God incapable of lying or being self deceived, then examining what He thought about the scriptures is a worthy pursuit.  But if we believe he was a fallible man like any other man, then our entire faith is in jeopardy let alone our belief in the scriptures.

Let us assume, for now, that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God and incapable of lying.   We are presented from scriptures all we need to know of what he thought about the Old Testament.  Here is how he handled the scriptures and what he thought of their reliability.

  1. Source of Authority
    1. When confronted by Satan, Jesus appealed to the Old Testament as a source of authority by stating, “It is written,” (Matt. 4:4710).
  2. Imperishability
    1. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished,” (NASB, Matt. 5:18).
  3. Unbreakability
    1. “The Scripture cannot be broken,” (NASB, Jn. 10:35).
  4. Source of Doctrinal Authority
    1. Jesus appealed to Scripture when correcting false doctrine stating, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God,” (NASB, Matt. 22:29).
  5. Truthfulness
    1. “Your word is truth,” (NASB, Jn. 17:17).
  6. Historical Reliability
    1. Jesus affirmed the historical existence of Jonah (Matt. 12:40), Noah (Matt. 24:37-38), and Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4-6).
  7. Scientific Reliability
    1. Jesus affirmed that God created the world (Mk. 13:19; cf. Matt. 19:4).
  8. Old Testament Canonicity1
    1. Jesus made reference to the Law and Prophets as a unit, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill,” (Matt. 5:17).
    2. Jesus explained the Scriptures, “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures,” (NASB, Luke 24:27).
    3. Jesus referred to the entire Canon by mentioning all the prophets from Abel (from Genesis, the first book and first martyr) to Zechariah (Chronicles, the last book, and the last martyr) (Matt. 23:35).2

If we do not hold to the same view as Jesus concerning the reliability of the Old Testament then what does that tell us about our belief in the person of Jesus Christ?  Can we, on the one hand, believe in His deity and trust his character and at the same time not believe the same things as He did concerning the reliability of the Old Testament?

If, on the other hand, we acquiesce to this reality that the scriptures just might be the Word of God and that they are  authoritative for all things pertaining to spiritual and moral life, then we have grounds to believe that there is a basis for an objective moral code and a basis for believing that life does, after all, have a meaning beyond what we can give it.

Christianity is Unique Among World Religions

If we allow the Bible to define what true Christianity is all about we will conclude that the Christian faith is indeed unique among world religions.   We are making a distinction here between Christendom  (the secular view of the Christianity) and Christianity (the biblical view of the work and worth of Christ).

1) In Christianity, God is presented as a Unique Being:

Christianity uniquely presents a monotheistic God manifested in 3 Persons…… the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  There is no other religion that does so.  This provides us with answers to the puzzling if not perplexing philosophical question to the eternal nature of love.  In the eternal state before time if there were only one Person, love could not exist since there would be no recipient object or other being to receive it.  But a monotheistic God of plural beings can share that love among each member of the Godhead.  The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father and the Holy Spirit completes this circle of love.

2) The founder of Christianity is a person like no other who has ever lived.

Jesus (by the claims he made and as recorded in scripture) had his origin from heaven. He had no earthly father but an earthly mother. He was born of a virgin. His birth was miraculous in that he was conceived of the Holy Ghost. He was sinless and did no sin and knew no sin as scripture declares.

a)  He had power over life, demonstrating this by raising the dead and by healing the sick.

b)  He had power over nature, calming the storms so that the winds and seas obeyed him.

c) He had power over death, raising himself from the dead so that he now lives forever seated on the right hand of God the Father.

3) In Christianity, the message of Salvation is without an equivalent.

World religions unanimously present a moral code or law that is set forth as the standard by which one lives his/her life in order to procure salvation.  Christianity’s most basic and earliest teaching digresses dramatically from this representation.

In the Bible, man is described as without any hope of meeting all the just requirements of a moral code or standard so it is beyond his ability to save himself.   Instead, God provides a remedy for this “illness” called sin,  a sin that is wholly  and completely debilitating.  God’s remedy is salvation found completely and exclusively in His Son.

In the Christian faith,  as taught by the scriptures, achieving salvation requires one to simply trust in what God has already done on his/her behalf.  But what has God done?  He has sent His Son to be our Saviour.  A Saviour is required because we cannot save ourselves.  This is a true meaning of what is meant by a “Saviour”.  Using this definition no other religion offers a true Saviour.

What is the basis for His ability to do this?  Jesus was the perfect sinless man (being the Son of God) who fulfilled the just requirements of the Law on our behalf and in doing so, became our sacrificial lamb.  He bore our sins in his own body on the cross and died in our place.    The law allows us to go free once we place trust in Jesus Christ and we are declared righteous  once and for all time by the higher courts of Heaven.

This is an act of grace. Our faith in Christ’s death is the only requirement to guarantee our salvation.  This type of salvation is both complete (lacking no other requirement) and final (not needing it to be repeated) and so this salvation finds no equivalency in the world’s religions.

How you trusted Christ for your salvation?  Will you place your faith in Christ if you have not already done so?   Will you resign yourself to God’s plan of salvation and abandon all other vain attempts at acquiring heaven by your own means.  Trust Christ today! Don’t delay!

Christianity Provides a Coherent, Cohesive World View

All World Views presented by religion and humanists must deal with the following four elements:

1) Origin of Life

2) Meaning of Life

3) Morality in Life

4) Destiny of Life

Any worldview, if it is to be at all sensible, must present these four elements as coherent and cohesive.  Only the Christian worldview does so.

For Christians, their Origin is from God and, therefore, they have a designed purpose and function in living.

The Meaning of Life follows logically and coherently from that design.  The Christian does not struggle to find meaning because it is defined for them by the purpose for which they are created……  to know God, to discover His being and to live for the glory of God.

The Moral basis for life springs from the character of God. The moral code that we are presented with  is, therefore, objective in nature, outside of ourselves, and unable to be tampered with.  We can measure rightness and wrongness by that moral code.  Loving God and  one’s neighbour is the greatest of moral codes. Self-sacrifice trumps self preservation.

Lastly Christians need not struggle with hopelessness of life as we do not ask if there is life after death.   There is a  Destiny, a place go after we die, eternal bliss, or eternal death.  Justice is ultimately fulfilled. Unfairness is ultimately ended.

The Atheist struggles to make these 4 elements cohesive and coherent.

The Origin of Life must come from the random, meaningless, purposeless, interactions of inanimate molecules that eventually give rise to  Life.

The Meaning to Life is observed to be the preservation of self and the propagation of the species.  It follows that the Atheist struggles for a Moral Basis of Life.

The Moral Basis for Life can only be subjective.  For one culture eating one’s neighbour may be necessary to preserve one’s life and to further the propagation of the species.  For another culture, loving one’s neighbour may prove to be a virtue to be aspired to.  Depending upon which neighbour you meet first, he may love you or eat you.  There is no coherency or cohesiveness in this subjective approach to morality.

Because there is no Destiny beyond the grave there is a struggle to believe that life has any fairness.  Suffering quietly, therefore, at the hands of an unjust men, unjust laws, and unjust nations has no purpose.  Evil men and deeds will mostly remain unpunished forever.  Justice remains unfulfilled. Unfairness lives eternal; bitterness finds no resolution.

The Christian World View alone can give “Meaning” a cohesive and coherent frame work in which to be understood  and “Morality” a framework in which to resolve issues of justice and equity.

With these thoughts fresh on our minds, the meaning and power of John 10:10 is impressed anew upon our hearts……. ” I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly”.

 

 

 

Christianity stands out uniquely from World Philosophies

Jan 22 2015

If we could summarize the differences between the Christian philosophy of life and all other religions / philosophies of the world it would appear as follows:

Greece – Be wise, Know yourself

Rome – Be strong, Acquit yourself

Confucianism – Be Superior, Correct yourself

Shintoism – Be Loyal, Suppress yourself

Buddhism – Be Disillusioned, Annihilate yourself

Hinduism – Be Absorbed, Merge yourself

Islam- Be submissive, Resign yourself

Judaism – Be Holy, Conform yourself

Modern Psychology – Be self confident, Fulfill yourself

Modern Materialism – Be Acquisitive, Enjoy yourself

Christianity –  Be Christlike, Give yourself

Thought: Christianity is Christ centred and his disciples are constrained by love to give as he gave …… “even unto death”.

McLeod Hill Assembly- Website Startup

JUNE 8 2014

McLeod Hill is adding a new website this month. The fresh look has several convenient features with a side panel to the left for location of and times of meetings and a carousel to the right to access up to date announcements for the week’s activities.

Several new ventures are planned for this year with a new growth strategy underway.  For the first time in many years we are planning a DVBS for the summer month of August.  Nothing yet finalized but work in the Hawkins Street area has been on going for several months now with some of us working through Boaz Ministries.

In other areas we are encouraged that many of our young people are willing and eager to take on leadership roles and with this, a new approach to Sunday Evening Services.  We are thrilled that so many want to participate in the evening service sharing their experiences with God.

Wednesday  evenings we have our weekly bible studies and recently  we have taken on the task of covering the book of Genesis.  We have had interesting discussions on what it means to be a human made in the image of God and the significance and meaning of how Eve was made from the side of Adam.

We are looking forward to what the Lord has in store for McLeod Hill Assembly this year.