Archive for the ‘Revelation’ Category
Underestimated light. Nothing compares to the Word of God for true illumination. The faint gleams of natural revelation and human reason are light, to be sure, but they are distant candles to the present white light of God’s holy Word. And yet how ready we are to wander around in the gloom, imagining that we see well and sufficiently while we are for the most part blind.
Read it all at Reformation21.
Isaac Ambrose via Rich Barcellos:
Keep still Jesus Christ in your eye, in the perusal of the Scriptures, as the end, scope and substance thereof: what are the whole Scriptures, but as it were the spiritual swaddling clothes of the holy child Jesus? 1. Christ is the truth and substance of all the types and shadows. 2. Christ is the substance and matter of the Covenant of Grace, and all administrations thereof; under the Old Testament Christ is veiled, under the New Covenant revealed. 3. Christ is the centre and meeting place of all the promises; for in him the promises of God are yea and Amen. 4. Christ is the thing signified, sealed and exhibited in the Sacraments of the Old and New Testament. 5. Scripture genealogies use to lead us on to the true line of Christ. 6. Scripture chronologies are to discover to us the times and seasons of Christ. 7. Scripture-laws are our schoolmasters to bring us to Christ, the moral by correcting, the ceremonial by directing. 8. Scripture-gospel is Christ’s light, whereby we hear and follow him; Christ’s cords of love, whereby we are drawn into sweet union and communion with him; yea it is the very power of God unto salvation unto all them that believe in Christ Jesus; and therefore think of Christ as the very substance, marrow, soul and scope of the whole Scriptures.
Isaac Ambrose, Works (1701), 201, as quoted in Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 103.
Spurgeon offers an antidote to the epidemic of haziness in the allegedly-evangelical would-be mind:
Know what you know, and, knowing it cling to it. Hold fast the form of sound doctrine. Do not be as some are, of doubtful mind, who know nothing, and even dare to say that nothing can be known. To such the highest wisdom is to suspect the truth of everything they once knew, and to hang in doubt as to whether there are any fundamentals at all. I should like an answer from the Broad Church divines to one short and plain question. What truth is so certain and important as to justify a man in sacrificing his life to maintain it? Is there any doctrine for which a wise man should yield his body to be burned? According to all that I can understand of modern liberalism, religion is a mere matter of opinion, and no opinion is of sufficient importance to be worth contending for. The martyrs might have saved themselves a world of loss and pain if they had been of this school, and the Reformers might have spared the world all this din about Popery and Protestantism. I deplore the spread of this infidel spirit, it will eat as doth a canker. Where is the strength of a church when its faith is held in such low esteem? Where is conscience? Where is love of truth? Where soon will be common honesty? In these days with some men, in religious matters, black is white, and all things are whichever colour may happen to be in your own eye, the colour being nowhere but in your eye, theology being only a set of opinions, a bundle of views and persuasions. The Bible to these gentry is a nose of wax which everybody may shape just as he pleases. Beloved, beware of falling into this state of mind; for if you do so I boldly assert that you are not Christian at all, for the Spirit which dwells in believers hates falsehood, and clings firmly to the truth. Our great Lord and Master taught mankind certain great truths plainly and definitely, stamping them with his “Verily, verily;” and as to the marrow of them he did not hesitate to say, “He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned;” a sentence very abhorrent to modern charity, but infallible nevertheless. Jesus never gave countenance to the baseborn charity which teaches that it is no injury to a man’s nature to believe a lie. Beloved, be firm, be stedfast, be positive. There are certain things which are true; find them out, grapple them to you as with hooks of steel. Buy the truth at any price and sell it at no price.
“Although charismatics and Pentecostals have both claimed him as an advocate of their views, a careful reading of ML-J establishes that they have misunderstood him.” So states Dr. Eryl Davies in his Themelios article entitled, Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: An Introduction.
But avalanches, unfortunately, do not come upon us, stone by stone, one at a time, courteously leaving us opportunity to withdraw from the pathway of each in turn: but all at once, in a roaring mass of destruction.
Dan Phillips reminds us of Warfield’s illustration about the textual evidence for inspiration.
We know this fight.
A Christian believes, not because everything in life reveals the love of God, but rather despite everything that raises doubt. In Scripture too there is much that raises doubt. All believers know from experience that this is true. Those who engage in biblical criticism frequently talk as if simple church people know nothing about the objections that are advanced against Scripture and are insensitive to the difficulty of continuing to believe in Scripture. But that is a false picture. Certainly, simple Christians do not know all the obstacles that science raises to belief in Scripture. But they do to a greater or lesser degree know the hard struggle fought both in head and heart against Scripture. There is not a single Christian who has not in his or her own way learned to know the antithesis between the “wisdom of the world” and “the foolishness of God.” It is one and the same battle, an ever-continuing battle, which has to be waged by all Christians, learned or unlearned, to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Here on earth no one ever rises above that battle. Throughout the whole domain of faith, there remain “crosses” (cruces) that have to be overcome. There is no faith without struggle. To believe is to struggle, to struggle against the appearance of things. As long as people still believe in anything, their belief is challenged from all directions.
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic, 2003), 441.
via The Old Guys.
As Craig Blomberg has written, “Dan Wallace has clearly become evangelical Christianity’s premier active textual critic today.” In addition to teaching New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, he serves as executive director of the cutting-edge Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM). He recently made quite a stir when he announced that next year an academic publication will reveal the discovery of a first-century fragment from the Gospel of Mark. (See, for example, this interview with Hugh Hewitt.)
He was kind enough to answer some questions about the discipline of textual criticism, the number of manuscripts, the earliest manuscripts (including the soon-to-be famous fragment), why the process of copying is nothing like the “telephone game,” and other questions.
Justin Taylor provides a fascinating interview with Daniel B. Wallace.
If Scripture is the account of the revelation of God in Christ, it is bound to arouse the same opposition as Christ himself who came into the world for judgement and is “set for the fall and rising of man” [Luke 2:34]. He brings separation between light and darkness and reveals the thoughts of many hearts. Similarly Scripture is a living and active word, a “discerner” of the thoughts and intentions of the heart [cf. Heb. 4:12]. It not only was inspired but is still “God-breathed” and “God-breathing.” Just as there is much that precedes the act of inspiration (all the activity of the Holy Spirit in nature, history, revelation, regeneration), so there is much that follows it as well. Inspiration is not an isolated event. The Holy Spirit does not, after the act of inspiration, withdraw from Holy Scripture and abandon it to its fate but sustains and animates it and in many ways brings its content to humanity, to its heart and conscience. By means of Scripture as the word of God, the Holy Spirit continually wars against the thoughts and intentions of the “unspiritual” person. By itself, therefore, it need not surprise us in the least that Scripture has at all times encountered contradiction and opposition. Christ bore a cross, and the servant [Scripture] is not greater than its master. Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ. It shares in his defamation and arouses the hostility of sinful humanity.
Herman Bavinck in Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic; 2003) p. 439-440.
via The Old Guys.
While confessing that I cannot reconcile all the tensions nor follow all the nuances of John Piper’s “continuationism,” I did appreciate this stirring post on hearing the voice of God.
Tim Challies has begun what looks like it might be an interesting brief series on how God is speaking today, not least in the matter of discerning the Lord’s will. I appreciated his rooting the reality in the inscripturated, final Word of the living God.
I was glad to see that he pointed us toward the Lord Christ: he is our High High Priest; he is our sole Sovereign; and, he is our final and sufficient Prophet.
There is no situation in which we are placed, no demand that arises, for which Scripture as the deposit of the manifold wisdom of God is not adequate and sufficient. It is the Scripture that provides the equipment, the furnishings, the investments, that prepare us for the kingdom of God, ’till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ’ and are ‘filled unto all the fulness of God’. (Works, 3:261)
The imperative task of the dogmatician is to think God’s thoughts after him and to trace their unity. His work is not finished until he has mentally absorbed this unity and set it forth in a dogmatics. Accordingly, he does not come to God’s revelation with a ready-made system in order, as best he can, to force its content into it. On the contrary, even in his system a theologian’s sole responsibility is to think God’s thoughts after him and to reproduce the unity that is objectively present in the thoughts of god and has been recorded for the eye of faith in Scripture. (Reformed Dogmatics, 1:44)
Watch for a fascinating insight into the weighty words of God’s Word:
How do you read the Gospels? What do you expect? What do you look for? Perhaps more accurately, in what spirit do you read the Gospels? Does it bear any resemblance to the spirit manifest in some of the opening and in the closing words of John Brown’s commentary on The Four Gospels?
The Fourfold Gospel is the central portion of Divine Revelation. Into it, as a Reservoir, all the foregoing revelations pour their full tide, and out of it, as a Fountain, flow all subsequent revelations. In other parts of Scripture we hear Christ by the hearing of the ear; but here our eye seeth Him. Elsewhere we see Him through a glass darkly; but here, face to face. The orthodox Fathers of the Church well understood this peculiar feature of the Gospels, and expressed it emphatically by their usages – some of them questionable, others almost childish. Nor did the heretical sects differ from them in this; the best proof of which is, that nearly all the heresies of the first four or five centuries turned upon the Person of Christ as represented in the Gospels. As to the heathen enemies of Christianity, their determined opposition was directed against the facts regarding Christ recorded in the Gospels. And it is the same still. The battle of Christianity, and with it of all Revealed Religion, must be fought on the field of the Fourfold Gospel. If its Credibility and Divine Authority cannot be made good – if we must give way to some who would despoil us of its miracles, or to others who, under the insidious name of ‘the higher criticism,’ would weaken its historical claims – all Christianity is undermined, and will sooner or later dissolve in our hands. But so long as the Gospels maintain their place in the enlightened convictions of the Church, as the Divine record of God manifest in the flesh, believers, reassured, will put to flight the armies of the aliens.
David Brown, The Four Gospels (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1969, repr. 1993), iii-iv.
Thus end these peerless Histories – this Fourfold Gospel. And who that has walked with us through this Garden of the Lord, these ‘beds of spices,’ has not often said, with Peter on the mount of transfiguration, It is good to be here here! Who that has reverentially and lovingly bent over the sacred text has not found himself in the presence of the Word made flesh – has not beheld the glory of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth – has not felt His warm, tender hand upon him, and heard that voice saying to himself, as so often to the disciples of old, “Fear not!” Well, dear reader, “Abide in Him,” and let “His words” – as here recorded – “abide in thee.” This Fourfold Gospel is the Sun of the Scripture, from which all the rest derives its light. It is, as observed in the Introduction, the serenest spot in the paradise of God; it is the four rivers of the water of life, the streams whereof make glad the City of God. Into it, as a Reservoir, all the foregoing revelations pour their full tide, and out of it, as a Fountain, flow all subsequent revelations. Till the day dawn, then, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to this mountain of myrrh, this hill of frankincense! (Song iv. 6.)
David Brown, The Four Gospels (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1969, repr. 1993), 486.
Paul Helm gives a helpful analysis of elements of B. B. Warfield’s thoughts on inerrancy.
Kevin DeYoung has an interesting post on maintaining simplicity and clarity in interpreting the Scriptures, based in part on the environment in which the original recipients of the gospels and epistles especially would have heard the good news.
In my edition of Thomas Watson’s Heaven Taken By Storm: Showing The Holy Violence A Christian is to Put Forth in the Pursuit After Glory (how’s that for a title? So much for today’s recovery of all this Fight Clubby, Wrestlemaniacal, “More hair on my chest than you!” Christian manliness – Watson is there way before us) . . . where was I? . . . oh, yes – in my edition there is an appendix (actually, the second appendix) containing a sermon on Deuteronomy 17.19: “And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them.” The title of the sermon is “How we may read the Scriptures with most spiritual profit”.
What follows is a digest of his main points. Please do not be discouraged by the number of suggestions – no-one can put them all into practice at once. Concentrate on developing over a period of time the habits and attitudes that will help you to profit from Bible-reading.
- Remove those things that will prevent you profiting: (1) remove the love of every sin; (2) take heed of the thorns that will choke the Word read. These ‘thorns’ are those covetous cares that keep our minds on material matters when they should be concentrating on spiritual things; (3) take heed of joking with or making light of Scripture.
- Prepare your hearts before the reading of the Word (1Sam 7.3). (1) Summon your thoughts to attend to this serious work; (2) cleanse yourself of the unclean affections that take away the desire to read.
- Read the Scriptures with reverence; think about every line you read; God is speaking to you.
- Read the Bible with a method, perhaps in order. Order and method are a help to memory.
- Get a right understanding of Scripture (Ps 119.73). Compare texts with each other, talk to others, use other books and helps.
- Read the Word with seriousness. It is the savour of life to those who read it with seriousness, for it deals with everything that is most dear to us. Consider its subject matter – eternal life and death, heaven and hell, the labour of faith. Who can read these things and not be serious? Read, therefore, with a solemn and composed spirit.
- Labour to remember what you read. Satan will try to steal the Word from our minds; we should guard it jealously. If we cannot remember what we read, it will not be of use to us.
- Meditate upon what you read (Ps 119.15). This means to fix your thoughts upon what you are reading. Meditation without reading is foolish; reading without meditation is empty.
- Come to read with humble hearts, acknowledging your unworthiness to have God reveal Himself to you in His Word. An arrogant man who feels he has nothing to learn is unlikely to gain any profit.
- Believe that what you read is the very Word of God, that it is all divinely inspired (2Tim 3.16). All the countless excellencies of Scripture testify that it is of God. Note the effect that the Bible has upon the hearts of men, now and throughout history. You will not obey something that you do not believe.
- Highly prize the Scriptures (Ps 119.72). Treasure it above all other books. It contains the things we must believe and do. It is the breeder and feeder of grace. A believer is born and fed by the Word of truth.
- Get a fervent love for the Word. Prizing (point 11) refers to the judgement of a man, but love means also the affections. We should delight to be in the pages of God’s Word; we must learn to delight in its comforts and in its reproofs and corrections.
- Come to read the Word with honest hearts: (1) read with hearts willing to know the whole counsel of God, and not willing to have any truth concealed. You cannot pick and choose Scriptures; (2) read in order that you might be made better. The Word is the means of our sanctification. Go to God’s Word to find the truths that will make you more like Christ.
- Learn to apply Scripture; take every word as if spoken to yourselves. When the Word talks of the punishment of sin, it means my sin; when it tells me of duty, it means my duty.
- Observe the commands of the Word, as well as its promises. Use the commands to direct you, and the promises to comfort you. Do not look more to comfort than to duty, or you might find your comforts false.
- Let your thoughts dwell most upon the most useful parts of Scripture. Although all parts are excellent, some are more emphatic or vital than others. Spend more time reading of faith and the new man in Christ, than in the genealogies of dead kings!
- Compare yourselves with the Word; see how Scripture and your hearts agree. Is your heart a mirror of the Word? Is the Word written upon your heart? By comparing ourselves with the Word, we get to know the true state of our souls, and see what evidences we have for heaven.
- Take special notice of those Scriptures that speak to your particular case. Pay careful attention to those paragraphs of Scripture that are most appropriate to your particular situation. Watson identifies three particular situations – affliction, desertion, and sin – and gives a number of appropriate texts to consider. In reading, read all the Bible, but mark those verses that apply most to your own person.
- Take special notice of the examples in Scripture, and make the examples living sermons to yourself. (1) Observe the examples of God’s judgement upon sinners: they are warnings, lamps to keep us from the rocks; (2) observe the examples of God’s mercy to saints: they are props to our faith and spurs to holiness.
- Do not stop reading the Bible until you find your heart warmed. Read the Word not only as a history, but strive to be affected by it.
- Determine to practise whatever you read (Ps 119.66). Christians should be walking Bibles, living the truths written. The Word is not only a guide to knowledge, but a guide to obedience. A blessed reading of God’s Word results in our fleeing from sins and practising the duties commanded.
- Make right use of Christ in His prophetic office. It is one thing to read a promise, another really to know it to be true. If we would read with profit, we must have Christ as our teacher: when Christ taught, He opened not only men’s eyes, but their understandings (Lk 24.45).
- Be at all the appointed services of the church, and spend much time in hearing the Word preached. Be diligent in attending upon a Biblical, faithful ministry. Ministers are God’s interpreters; it is their work to open up and expound dark places of Scripture.
- Pray that God would make you profit (Is 48.17). It is when God’s Spirit joins Himself to the Word that it takes effect in our hearts and minds.
- Do not be content with simply reading the Scriptures, but labour to find some spiritual benefit and profit. Get the Word inscribed upon your heart.
- If you do profit from your reading, be sure to adore the grace of God. Bless God that He has not only given you His Word, but some ability to understand it.
If you struggle to profit from your reading, then take note of the following encouragements:
- You can profit from reading the Scriptures even if you do not attain to the level of others. Do not judge yourself according to the standard of others. The Lord called it all good ground, whether it brought forth thirty, sixty or a hundred-fold (Mt 13.8); so you may not get as much profit as others, but the profit you do get is still most worthwhile.
- You can still profit from reading the Word if you are not the most intelligent of people. Some give up or become discouraged because they are slow to understand. You may even have weaker judgements but stronger affections. A weak understanding can keep you from sin, as weak sight can keep a man from falling into deep water. If you have some vision you cannot be all blind.
- You can profit from reading the Scriptures although you may not have an excellent memory. You can have a good heart without having a good memory. Also, even if you don’t remember all that you read, you can remember the most important part. The lamp burns even when it is not full of oil; our hearts can burn with love when our memories are not full of Scripture.
Paul Wallace has this withering quote from James Montgomery Boice:
Evangelicals are not heretics, at least not consciously. If we ask whether the Bible is the authoritative and inerrant Word of God, most will answer affirmatively, at least if the question is asked in traditional ways. Is the Bible God’s Word? Of course! All evangelicals know that. Is it authoritative? Yes, that too. Inerrant? Most evangelicals will affirm inerrancy. But many evangelicals have abandoned the Bible all the same simply because they do not think it adequate for the challenges we face today. They do not think it is sufficient for winning people to Christ in this age, so they turn to felt-need sermons, or entertainment or “signs and wonders” instead. They do not think the Bible is sufficient for achieving Christian growth, so they turn to therapy groups or Christian counselling. They do not think it is sufficient for making God’s will known, so they look for external signs or revelations. They do not think it is adequate for changing our society, so they establish evangelical lobby groups in Washington and work to elect “Christian” congressman, senators, presidents, and other officials. They seek change by power politics and money. (Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace, Paternoster Lifestyle, 24)
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Psalm 19.1-6)