Saturday, May 28, 2016

Who Controlled the Writing of the Word of God?

2Pe 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.

One thing I have learned in 37 years of preparing Bible lessons and sermons is that most doctrines relate in some way to the attributes of God.  If we get the doctrines of the person and nature of God wrongly we many times will develop shortcomings in other areas of the Bible.  Most notably when we see the Lord as anything other than absolutely sovereign in all things or that he hasn’t ordained every detail of history to work out exactly as he has determined before the world began.   If instead one assumes that man or Satan or nature can act independently of his decrees so that at times things happen that he does not want to happen but was unable to control, we find ourselves unable to deal biblically with his providence because we don’t see trials as providence but bad things overcoming the providence of a loving but weak God.

When we deny God’s sovereignty in every detail we also set ourselves up for weakness in another area; the infallible, inspiration of the Bible.  To be fair there are plenty of people who deny God is sovereign in all things that do believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, but their doctrine of God makes them inconsistent.  Many more, because they don’t really believe God can do what the Bible says he can do assume that the Bible is merely a few men’s attempt to write down some things they experienced but we should not think that God actually led them to write down only what he wanted them to, no more and no less.  This second group is consistent, the first group is not.  Let me try to explain.

While the Calvinist states that all men are dependent on the Lord initiating and effectually calling, saving and justifying them and that left to their own devises no man can be saved, the Arminian argues that all men have a morally free will that can tell God no or choose to believe but that it is the individual and not God that makes the final determination.  This is an old debate and I will not address it in this article but let me say that this position causes another problem.

If man can resist the sovereign leading of God then who is to say that the writers of the Bible didn’t add a few of their own thoughts while writing their books?  If they didn’t add words how do we know that they didn’t delete a few ideas that they didn’t like?  Once you take a position that God cannot force anyone to do his will, even by making him willing, you undermine the infallible, inspiration of the entire Bible.  You can’t have it both ways; we can resist the Holy Spirit’s sovereign role in saving the elect one moment but that God can absolutely make sure we do just what he wants us to do the next moment. 

It is a little like the atheist who wants to live with a moral worldview that he owes to the God of the Bible while he denies the very God who has given us our sense of morality.  So the Arminian wants to believe that God is sovereign to move men to write down his infallible words and make it to Heaven someday but refuses to believe that he is powerful enough to overrule the affairs of men and angels.  But the fact of the matter is that the only way God can know how the history of man was going to end thousands of years into the future is if he is in total control of every detail, at all times and in all things.  This is the God we worship when we gather at church and I don’t think worship that robs him of his power and glory is worship worthy of our Lord.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Root and the Shoot

Isa 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. Isa 11:10  In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

Rev 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."

There are many ways the divinity of Jesus and his eternal nature are taught in Scripture.  Some are rather obvious as the prologue of the Gospel of John and others are mentioned in an almost matter of fact way couched in a metaphor as in the above verses.  What I like about these verses is that it shows the unity of the Old and New Testaments as they teach the divinity of Jesus.

In Isa. 11:1 Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah shall shoot forth as a branch from the dead stump of Jesse.  After the Babylonian captivity the kingly line all but disappeared from the world stage.  The Monarchy was for all appearances dead.  But when Jesus came to earth born of the line of Jesse, the stump all of the sudden is alive again.  In this case Jesse was the root from which Jesus sprung forth as Isa. 11:1 states as well as Rev 5:5  And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."  In Revelation David is the root or progenitor of Jesus’ humanity.

But in Isa. 11:10 the Messiah is all of the sudden referred to as the root of Jesse!  So who is coming from whom?  Isaiah didn’t make a typo nor was he confused because Jesus as the eternal Son of God is the source of all life and yet in the incarnation he was born of the virgin Mary of the lineage of David. 

But just to seal the deal Jesus at the very end of the Bible brings this all together in Rev. 22:16 above where he states plainly that he is at the same time the root of David and yet a descendant of David; he is the root and the shoot!  He isn’t just saying that he existed before Jesse and David which could be taken to mean at some point he came into existence before they did.  By saying that he is the root he is claiming that Jesse and David came from him thereby claiming to be the God of creation.  If that wasn’t enough back in vs. 13 he says it another way, Rev 22:13  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."  He couldn’t have come into existence because nothing was before him.  

No wonder all creation gives him the worship reserved for God alone in Rev. 5; Rev 5:12  saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" Rev 5:13  And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" Rev 5:14  And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.