Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Systematic Theology, Part 8

Chapter 4, The four characteristics of Scripture:  (1) Authority.

How do we know that the Bible is God's word?

This chapter will be dealing with the question of Biblical authority in such a way that, as Grudem says,
"What does the whole Bible teach us about itself?"  It's not what Grudem teaches us, or what we want the Bible to say about a topic, but in fact, what does the Bible teach about itself?

Grudem hits on a big problem in culture these days, when he says:

"....Authority of scripture means that all the words in scripture are God's word in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey ANY word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey GOD."

Now, Grudem mentions that all the words in scripture are God's words, and confirms that through:

1. This is what the Bible claims for itself.  Hundreds of times, there is a phrase, "Thus says the Lord," in the Old Testament.

2.  Then Grudem points out that in the New Testament, it is written, "All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness." This verse refers to the Old Testament.

3.  Then we look at 2 Peter 1:21, For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 

There are many verses pointing to a pattern of attributing to God the words of the Old Testament Scripture.  Go read the book if you want all the verses!

What about New Testament scripture?

In two places in the New Testament, we see New Testament writings also being called, "scripture" in 2 Peter 3:16, and 1 Tim 5:18. 

So in 1 Corinthians 14:37, Paul says, "What I am writing to you is a command of the Lord,"  thus adding to the strength of the New Testament words as God's words. 

BUT.  Paul does say, in 1 Cor. 7:12, "To the rest I say, not the Lord..."  So he is giving his own opinion on an issue, and pointing out clearly that this is not an "inspired" issue. 

Ok ok, so Grudem points out how the Bible claims to be God's words.  Are we convinced of it? 

Grudem says, our conviction that the words of the Bible are God's words come only when the Holy Spirit speaks IN and THROUGH the words of the Bible to our hearts and gives us an inner assurance that these are the words of our Creator speaking to us. 

This goes right along with John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." 

In addition to all of this, it is helpful to know that the Bible is historically accurate, internally consistent, containing prophecies which are fulfilled hundreds of years later,  it has influenced the course of human history more than any other book, etc.

Grudem notes very interestingly, that the words of scripture are "Self attesting."  The Bible is the highest authority, and if you tried to appeal to historical accuracy or logical consistency, then you are making the Bible to be less than highest or most absolute. 

God used a wide variety of processes to bring forth his words in the Bible. 

Sometimes, God dictated directly, both in Old and New Testament. 

And on the other end of the spectrum: 

Hebrews 1:1 says that God spoke to our fathers by the prophets "in many and various ways."  Luke, for example gives an "orderly account," which was more or less a gathering of historical data.

Think about it this way, says Grudem (summarized):  God made the men who wrote in the Bible exactly how he wanted them to be, personality and all, so that when they put pen to paper, the words were fully their words but also fully the words that God wanted them to write, words that God would also claim as his own. 

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