Saturday, March 31, 2012

Delicious Morsels from *The Explicit Gospel* by Matt Chandler

. . . which you need to read in its entirety, because there is so much more goodness than what I can highlight in one blog post, but here are a few bites to savor as a nice appetizer. ;-)
  • We are saved, sanctified, and sustained by what Jesus did for us on the cross and through the power of the resurrection. If you add to or subtract from the cross, even if it is to factor in biblically mandated religious practices like prayer and evangelism, you rob God of his glory and Christ of his sufficiency.
  • There is nothing confining God. His creativity is transcendent because his very being is transcendent. Everything that is is his, and he can make more of anything he wants out of nothing at all. There is no human category for this kind of richness. It makes Bill Gates a pauper, Rockefeller a beggar, and one of those island-owning sheiks in the Middle East a hobo.
  • Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss. It is a foolish act predicated on a foolish overestimation of human intellect and ability.
  • Romans 11:33 tells us that God is incomprehensibly immense, exceedingly expansive, and eternally powerful, and so much so that time and time again our response to many of the things of God ought to be "I don't know." Rather than respond to his incalculable God-ness with our slide rules and flowcharts, we would do better to worship him with reverence and awe.
  • God's sovereign knowing is so beyond our control and knowledge that acting like we're his GPS or like he's our personal valet is not just laughable but sinful. In Romans 11:34 God becomes terrifying: "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" The answer is nobody.
  • He has revealed enough of his character and attributes to save us, or preclude us from excuses for irresponsibility in not being saved, but he has not given us enough information to ever, with even a shred of integrity, second-guess him. Nobody gets to counsel God. Nobody gets to give God advice. Nobody gets to straighten God's path. No one.
  • A God who is ultimately most focused on his own glory will be about the business of restoring us, who are all broken images of him. His glory demands it. So we should be thankful for a self-sufficient God whose self-regard is glorious.
  • . . .what if the Bible isn't about us at all? What if we aren't the story of God's revelation? . . . the Bible is a book about God. To paraphrase Herbert Lockyer, the Bible is for us, but it's not about us.
  • We are allergic to the idea that everything exists, including us, not for ourselves but for the glory of God.
  • The glory of God is God's vision and his plan for seeing it fulfilled. Habakkuk 2:14 promises that "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." The supremacy of God's glory is everywhere in the Bible because God's plan is for it to be supreme everywhere in the world.
  • Worship. . . is larger and more encompassing than singing some songs at a church service a couple of times a week. It is the way of life for those entranced by and passionate for the glory of God. We worship God when, while we partake of his good gifts, something occurs in the deepest parts of our soul that forbids glory terminating on the gift itself or on our enjoyment of it but that runs deeper into and extends out to the Giver.
  • God's responses of kindness and severity both come from his perfect and holy self-sufficiency, and they are both extended justly to his creation, but the chief difference between them--and the reason we don't talk about it as much--is that only severity is deserved.
  • The grace of God by definition is unearned. You can't deserve it. That's kind of the point. "Otherwise," Paul says, "grace would no longer be grace" (Rom. 11:6). Grace is a free gift given to someone who has not earned and cannot earn it.
  • To discount the enormity of God's severity, as if we aren't really that bad and really deserve mostly kindness, is to discount the enormity of God's holiness. It is very easy, in this trajectory of logic, to switch things up, completely disregard the Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus, and move into the idea that it's we who are good, and God who is fallen.
  • You cannot scare anyone into heaven. Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it's a place for those who love God.
  • God's love--of which so many hell deniers are such cheerleaders--fails to carry the weight of eternal glory when we don't believe it saves us from much.
  • We have to feel the weight of God's severity, because without feeling the weight of his severity, we won't know the weight of his kindness, and we won't be able to worship him and him alone.
  • We have fallen short of the glory of God, and this shortfall must be justified if God is to manifest his sovereign justice. The place the gospel holds out for us is where God's kindness and his severity meet. This place is called the cross, and it is where grace and wrath intersect. It is at this place of shame and victory that God, in the form of the man Jesus of Nazareth, the long-expected Messiah, offered in his death the blood atonement, necessary to satisfy God's justice and secure our salvation.
  • Nothing runs to the center of God's kindness and severity, demonstrating his justice, his love, and his glory all at once, besides his incarnate Son's sacrifice on the scandalous cross.
  • The gospel is such power that it necessitates reaction. . . . The heart of the hearer of the gospel must move, either toward Christ or away from him. Pastor Chan Kilgore puts it this way: "True gospel preaching always changes the heart. It either awakens it or hardens it."
  • Because we are stained with sin from conception, we are rushing headlong into the fires of hell before we can even walk. Jesus lays his body across the path; there is no ignoring him. If it's headlong into hell we want to go, we have to step over Jesus to get there.
  • The moralism that passes for Christian faith today is a devastating hobby if you have no intention of submitting your life fully to God and chasing him in Christ.
  • There is a sentimentalization of the faith that occurs when you sanitize the gospel of Christ crucified or sift it from the substance of the Christian religion. The result is a malleable Jesus, a tame Jesus. The result is, as Michael Spencer says, "a spirituality that has Jesus on the cover but not in the book."
  • At the end of the day, our hope is not that all the poor on earth will be fed. That's simply not going to happen. I'm not saying we shouldn't feed and rescue the poor; I'm saying that salvation isn't having a full belly or a college education or whatever. Making people comfortable on earth before an eternity in hell is wasteful.
  • Scientists say that most sufferers of anaplastic oligodendroglioma live only two to three years after diagnosis. They may be right. But they are not factoring in the God of the universe who holds healing in his hands. Science has severe limitations that the God who created all observational data does not. So I think I can be excused when I doubt what scientists are saying today. I'm too afraid of what they'll be saying tomorrow. And I'm foundationally too confident in what God said yesterday. (LOVE that last line!)
  • We see throughout the Scriptures that the fuller gospel story has in view something larger than just our fulfillment, our security, our joy, and our personal relationship with God.
  • And while individual salvation is at the tipping point of God's gospel--the kingdom is in the midst of us, after all (Luke 17:21)--the designation kingdom itself tells us that the gospel is God's plan not just to restore mankind, but to restore "all things" for mankind's enjoyment, Christ's lordship, and his triune self's glory.
  • We can all look at life and agree that there are some parts that have no purpose--like neckties or cats. (Ok, not the *most* profound statement in the book, but I couldn't resist. . . )
  • Faithless religion is vanity. No matter how many people it practically helps, no matter how good it makes you feel, religious effort not rooted in the gospel is rooted in self-justifying self-worth. This is meaningless.
  • When sin entered the world and fractured it, Romans 1:23 tells us that you and I exchanged the infinite creator God for his creation. When that took place, we began to settle for temporary fleeting pleasures rather than for what is eternal and soul-satisfying.
  • Colossians 1 wants us to see Christ's lordship as very, very big. He is certainly not less than our personal Lord and savior, but he is certainly fathoms, light-years, and eons more than that.
  • The idea, for instance, that "the Bible is God's love letter to you" has a kernel of truth to it, but it is illustrative of how easily we trade the centrality of God's glory for the centrality of our need.
  • The gospel of Colossians 1 is epic; it posits a cross that is cosmic. We see that the peace that is made by the blood of the cross covers "all things." The scope of Christ's reconciling work on the cross spans the brokenness between man and God and the brokenness between earth and heaven.
  • For the reconciliation enacted by the cross to be cosmic, it must encompass more than just our individual relationship with God. We each may be saved as an individual life, but we are not saved to an individual life. We stand as part of God's restoring of all things, and we are brought into the missional witness to God's restorative gospel, the body of Christ.
  • So when we look at our jobs, for instance, no matter what our job is, we view it not as our purpose in life but rather as where God has sovereignly placed us for the purpose of making Christ known and his name great. If you are a teacher, if you are a politician, if you are a businessman, if you are in agriculture, if you are in construction, if you are in technology, if you are in the arts, then you should not be saying, "I need to find my life's purpose in this work," but rather, "I need to bring God's purpose to this work."
  • Cycles of violence such as we've seen in Rwanda and witnessed in Sudan get interrupted not by ordinary acts of charity but by the gospel.
  • Missional power comes not from our good intentions but from the gospel itself. This knowledge demands missional humility. We can't transform. Only God does that. We're not what makes anything new. It's not our act that renews the city. It's the cross that enacts renewal.
  • What is the difference between moralistic deism and grace-driven effort? There are essentially five components to a right understanding of grace-driven effort, and what they all revolve around is not our religious performance but Christ's saving performance on our behalf. These components revolve around Christ's cross, not our bootstraps.
  • We must abandon the idea that our good behavior somehow rubs the spiritual lamp that inclines God, like a genie, to emerge and give us the things we wish for.
  • When we fight sin, we don't do so with our own unction. We fight sin with the weapons that grace gives us: the blood of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and the promise of the new covenant, that Christ has paid for our shortcomings in obedience to the law by his perfect life imputed to us.
  • But when all is said and done, if we don't kill the root of sin, we will keep seeing the branches of sin.
  • What ends up happening to so many of us is that we spend so much time trying to put sin to death that we don't spend enough time striving to know God deeply, trying to gaze upon the wonder of Jesus Christ and have that transform our affections to the point where our love and hope are steadfastly on Christ. The goal is this: that Christ would become more beautiful and desirable than the allure of sin.
  • From the standpoint of moralistic legalism, root issues aren't of utmost importance; appearing obedient is. The moralist is far more interested in external actions, which still gives sin quarters in his heart. Moralistic, therapeutic deism is fine with sin hiding in a foxhole. The gospel wants to nuke the hole.
  • We are after a gospel that is resolutely centered on the atoning work of Christ and scaled to the glory of God. Let the explicit gospel drive us to worship with all the "fullness of God" (Eph. 3:19) and in awe of both God's immense, universe-subsuming glory and his deep, personal love for sinners.
WHEW! I know that's a lot, but believe it or not, that isn't even *half* of what I underlined and highlighted. Sweet Jesus and his gospel permeate every single page of this book. So refreshing and so helpful. I highly recommend and encourage reading the book in its entirety. Maybe 2 or 3 times. ;-)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Systematic Theology--Chapter 6

The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (2) Clarity
Can only Bible scholars understand the Bible rightly?

A. The Bible Frequently Affirms Its Own Clarity

  • The Bible itself emphasizes that it is the general responsibility of all believers to read and understand Scripture. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 commands the need to understand Scripture well enough to teach it to children and discuss it during the course of normal daily activities:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

  • The "blessed man" in Psalm 1:2 is one that all believers should try to emulate by meditating on Scripture. Again, this suggests that there must be sufficient understanding in order to meditate effectively:
. . . but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

  • Psalm 19:7
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

  • Psalm 119:130
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

    • Here the "simple" person (Heb. peti) is not merely one who lacks intellectual ability, but one who lacks sound judgment, who is prone to making mistakes, and who is easily led astray. God's Word is so understandable, so clear, that even this kind of person is made wise by it. This should be a great encouragement to all believers: no believer should think himself or herself too foolish to read Scripture and understand it sufficiently to be made wise by it. p. 106
  • It should be noted that Paul doesn't limit his writing to the church leaders, but instead addresses entire congregations. (See 1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2; and Phil. 1:1 for examples.) This is because Paul assumes that all of his hearers will understand. Often, he even encourages the churches to share their letters with other congregations.
B. The Moral and Spiritual Qualities Needed for Right Understanding

  • The New Testament writers frequently state that the ability to understand Scripture rightly is more a moral and spiritual than intellectual ability.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:14
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

  • 2 Corinthians 3:14-16
But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

  • Hebrews 5:14
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

  • Although the New Testament authors affirm that the Bible is written clearly, they also affirm that it will not be understood rightly by those who are unwilling to receive its teachings.
  • Because of the Holy Spirit, Scripture can be understood by all unbelievers who read it sincerely seeking salvation and by all believers who read it while seeking God's help in understanding it.
C. Definition of the Clarity of Scripture
The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God's help and being willing to follow it.
D. Why Do People Misunderstand Scripture?

  • Lack of faith
  • Hardness of heart
  • Human shortcoming
   While we can never expect imperfect human beings to have perfect interpretations and responses to Scripture, the following practices can be helpful in understanding the Bible more fully.

  • exegesis: the process of interpreting a text of Scripture
  • hermeneutics: the study of correct methods of interpretation
  • To continue to increase our understanding of Scripture, we should study the principles of interpretation (hermeneutics) and then apply those principles to the biblical text (exegesis).
E. Practical Encouragement From This Doctrine

  • There are only 2 possible causes for doctrinal or ethical disagreement (over issues like baptism or church government or predestination):
    • It may be that we are seeking to make affirmations where Scripture itself is silent.
    • It is possible that we have made mistakes in our interpretation of Scripture.
  • Both of these issues tend to become less problematic with long-term practice at biblical study and interpretation. This practice should NOT be left only to the "experts."
  • There is a vast amount of agreement among vital Christians throughout all of the world on the central doctrines of the Christian faith. No matter what the society, culture, or denominational affiliation, this is true because they all have been reading and believing the same Bible, and its primary teachings have been clear. p. 110
F. The Role of Scholars

  1. They can teach Scripture clearly, communicating its content to others and thus fulfilling the office of "teacher" mentioned in the New Testament. (See 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11)
  2. They can explore new areas of understanding the teachings of Scripture. This could involve: a) application of Scripture to new areas of life, b) answering difficult questions that have been raised at each new period in history, c) refining and making more precise the church's understanding of detailed points of interpretation
  3. They can defend the teachings of the Bible against attacks. 
    • Titus 1:9: He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
    • Titus 2:7-8: Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
    • 2 Timothy 2:25a: . . . correcting his opponents with gentleness.
     4. They can supplement the study of Scripture for the benefit of the church.


The Bible is my oxygen.  --Ray Ortlund, Jr.

If you're God's child, you're freed from getting identity from people's approval. Because of Christ, you have the approval of the Father.  --Paul Tripp

Lent's not about making anybody acceptable *to* a Savior--but about making everybody aware of *why they need a Savior.*  --Ann VosKamp

When you pray, you are touching the hopeful heart of God. When you know that, prayer becomes an adventure.  --Paul Miller

Fasting is the soul's focused feast on the all-satisfying Christ.   --John Piper

Joy is the music that plays when our hearts are dialed to the gospel's frequency.  --Jared Wilson

Pick someone to pray for every day. Then do it. --Tara-Leigh Cobble

Jesus didn’t have to die despite God’s love; he had to die because of God’s love. And it had to be this way because all life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice.
Think about it. If you love a person whose life is all put together and has no major needs, it costs you nothing. It’s delightful. There are probably four or five people like that where you live. You ought to find them and become their friend. But if you ever try to love somebody who has needs, someone who is in trouble or who is persecuted or emotionally wounded, it’s going to cost you. You can’t love them without taking a hit yourself. A transfer of some kind is required, so that somehow their troubles, their problems, transfer to you.  --Timothy Keller

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Good List 3-28-12

10. Boiled crawfish. Jared finally got some for the first time in about 5 years. I only ate one, but it was delicious.
9. This dude, who hangs out with me every morning while I do my Bible study at a table by the window.

8. Having my morning cup of coffee in a hot tub in the woodsy mountains last Thursday morning. That was an unexpected and fabulous treat!
7. This painting that my niece did for my Mom. I want one! Leah?

6. Hanging out with my family last weekend. Always a good time.
5. Hanging out with Jared's family last weekend--some that we hadn't seen in 10 years or more. Gotta love weddings! :-D
4. THIS! It finally gets to graduate from my "to read" list to my "currently reading" list. Awesome.

3. Brothers. I love these guys.

2. I now have my first (and hopefully only since I don't have any brothers and Jared only has one :-D) sister-in-law! And she's wonderful!
1. Jeremy and Danielle are married!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I wonder. . .

In a wooded area just beyond my back porch stand (well sorta. . .  more like "lean") the remains of an old building whose walls I really wish could talk. What is the story? How long ago was it built? And for what purpose?

I wonder. . .

Was it a playhouse or clubhouse for a big family of cousins who needed a place to gather and giggle? Was it a toolshed or workshop for a hard-working man with leathery hands? 

Every time I see an old abandoned building. . .

I wonder. . .

Who looked through that window? A little girl who was playing house but had to check every few minutes so that she wouldn't miss that moment when her Dad finally got home from working all day? A young man who was waiting for his friend down the road to show up with a fishing pole and some bait? An older man who was crafting a beautiful dollhouse for his daughter and needed to keep watch and make sure she wasn't coming close enough to see his work before it was finished?

I wonder. . .

Who crouched in that corner? A young Mom playing hide and go seek with her children? A big brother who needed 5 minutes of peace from his little sister full of questions? Maybe a family of bunnies looking for a warm spot on a cold autumn night when winter temperatures arrived much sooner than usual?

I wonder. . .

Did a baby fawn press against the warm wall that the sun shone against on the first day of spring? And on that very same day just after the fawn scampered away, did someone start stacking wood in there again after emptying it all out during the winter?

I just wonder. . .

Old (even dilapidated) buildings fascinate me. And make me very curious. Am I the only one? What has this effect on you? What makes you wonder?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Good List 3-21-12

10. Butter Toffee coffee. Yum.
9. Colorful kites
8. Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian. It's fiction, but it was set primarily in Vermont, New Hampshire and upstate New York, so it was fun to read about familiar settings and situations.
7. Bare feet in green grass
6. Open windows on a warm, breezy day
5. The spring chorus of birds surrounding my house every day lately
4. Gracie has a new pen-pal, and she is super excited about it!
3. Jo and Jon finally got to close on their house earlier this week. Interestingly, all of their "things" were already pretty much moved in (don't ask questions--we live in Vermont), so I know it was a HUGE treat to actually get to LIVE in their beautiful new, already freshly painted and fully furnished home the very day they closed. God is good.
2. Jeremy and Danielle are getting married!!! On Sunday!!!
1. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of god may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Systematic Theology--Chapter 5

The Inerrancy of Scripture: Are there any Errors in the Bible?

A. The Meaning of Inerrancy

The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. (Also see notes on Chapter 4 for arguments concerning the authority of Scripture.)

In simple terms, the Bible always tells the truth, and it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about.

   1. The Bible can be inerrant and still speak in the ordinary language of everyday speech.

  • This is especially true of scientific descriptions of facts or events (e.g. The Bible can speak of the sun rising even though we know that the literal truth is that the earth rotates to bring the sun into view)
  • Similar consideration applies to numbers and measurements, which can be vague and imprecise, but that doesn't make them untrue (e.g. "I live a little over a mile from my office" is a vague and imprecise statement, but it is also inerrant.)
  • Biblical statements can be imprecise and still be totally true. Inerrancy has to do with truthfulness, not with the degree of precision with which events are reported.
   2. The Bible can be inerrant and still include loose or free quotations.

  • Written Greek at the time of the New Testament had no quotation marks or equivalent kinds of punctuation
  • The original writers of the New Testament did not ordinarily imply that they were using exact words, nor did original hearers/readers expect verbatim quotes, as long as the content was accurate.
   3. It is consistent with inerrancy to have unusual or uncommon grammatical constructions in the Bible.

  • Not all of Scripture is elegant and stylistically excellent. Some contains the rough-hewn language of ordinary people.
  • Grammatical errors do not compromise inerrancy The issue is truthfulness in speech, not eloquence.
B. Some Current Challenges to Inerrancy: (and responses to each)

   1. ARGUMENT: The Bible is only authoritative for "faith and practice."

  • The Bible repeatedly affirms that all of Scripture is profitable for us (2 Tim. 3:16) and that all of it is "God-breathed." Thus it is completely pure (Ps. 12:6), perfect (Ps. 119:96), and true (Prov. 30:5).
  • The Bible itself does not make any restriction on the kinds of subjects to which it speaks truthfully.
  • Acts 24:14: But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets
  • Luke 24:25: And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!"
  • Romans 15:4: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:11: Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
    • Paul can refer even to minor historical details in the Old Testament and say both that they "happened" (thus implying historical reliability) and "were written down for our instruction."
  • New Testament authors write in such a way that demonstrates they trust ALL of the Old Testament narrative, including the smallest historical details, NOT just matters of "faith and practice."
    • Jonah was in the whale (Matt. 12:40)
    • The men of Nineveh repented (Matt. 12:41)
    • The queen of the South came to hear Solomon (Matt. 12:42)
    • Elijah was sent to the widow of Zarephath (Luke 4:25-26)
    • Naaman the Syrian was cleansed of leprosy (Luke 4:27)
    • On the day Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from heaven (Luke 17:29)
    • The Old Testament tabernacle had a specific and detailed design (Heb. 9:1-5)
    • Rahab received the spies and sent them out another way (James 2:25)
    • God turned Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes but saved Lot (2 Peter 2:6-7)
    • Balaam's donkey spoke (2 Peter 2:16)
    • There are many more examples
  • Everything stated in Scripture is there because God intended it to be there: God does not say anything unintentionally. (p. 95) Therefore, we are not at liberty to ignore or discount historical and scientific details while only deeming worthy and accurate matters of "faith and practice."
   2. ARGUMENT: The term inerrancy is a poor term.

  • Many who make this objection say that the term inerrancy is too precise and that it denotes scientific precision. Also, some argue that this term is inappropriate since it is not used in the Bible itself.
  • First, scholars who have used the term inerrancy have defined it clearly for over a hundred years, and they have always allowed for the "limitations" that attach to speech in ordinary language. In no case has the term been used to denote a kind of absolute scientific precision by any responsible representative of the inerrancy position.
  • Second, we use many words not found in Scripture to summarize biblical concepts. We do not treat these words as if they *are* Scripture, only as aids in explaining and understanding Scripture (e.g. Trinity, incarnation). If these other words are so easily accepted and allowed in conversations about their respective topics, the argument against the term "inerrancy" seems rather pointless.
  • Finally, this is the term that has been widely accepted (on both sides of the argument) for decades in discussions related to this topic, so while discussions on either side of the topic will likely continue until Jesus returns, choosing a different term to define the topic seems highly unnecessary, unimportant, and unhelpful.
   3. ARGUMENT: We have no inerrant manuscripts; therefore, talk about an inerrant Bible is misleading.

  • Although we do not have the original manuscripts of Moses or Paul or Peter, it is widely accepted and agreed upon by centuries of scholars that over 99% of the words of the current published scholarly texts of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament are the same as the original manuscripts.
  • Of course the theoretical possibility exists that there was a copying error in the very first copy made of one of Paul's epistles, for instance, and that this error has been reproduced in all remaining copies. But this must be thought unlikely because:
    • it would require that only one copy was made of the original, or that only one copy was the basis for all other extant copies, and
    • our earlier argument about the faithfulness of God in preserving the canon would seem to imply that if such a mistake did occur, it would not be one that would materially affect our understanding of Scripture. The existence of such a copying error cannot be either proven or disproven, but further speculation about it apart from hard evidence does not appear to be profitable. (p. 96, footnote 6)
  • Thus, if we have mistakes in later copies (as we certainly do), then these are only mistakes of men, not examples of inerrancy in the original intended text.
   4. ARGUMENT: The Biblical writers "accommodated" their messages in minor details to the false ideas current in their day, and affirmed or taught those ideas in an incidental way.

  • This objection to inerrancy essentially denies God's effective lordship over human language.
  • If we believe Scripture is "God-breathed" and that God cannot lie, then we must respond that Scripture cannot "accommodate" any falsehood--even incidentally.
   5. ARGUMENT: Inerrancy overemphasizes the divine aspect of Scripture and neglects the human aspect.

  • It is agreed that Scripture has both a human and a divine aspect, and that we must give adequate attention to both. However, those who make this objection almost invariably go on to insist that the truly "human" aspects of Scripture must include the presence of some errors in Scripture. 
  • We can respond that though the Bible is fully human in that it was physically written by human beings using their own language, the activity of God in overseeing the writing of Scripture and causing it to be also his words means that it is different from much other human writing in precisely this aspect: it does not include error.
   6. ARGUMENT: There are some clear errors in the Bible.

  • Most people who make this claim have difficulty citing specific examples. Without specific examples, it is impossible to respond. When there are specific examples, further study/research of the "problem texts" typically results in a realization that errors are not present, only lack of understanding.
  • There are no really "new" problems in Scripture. The Bible in its entirety is over 1900 years old, and alleged "problem texts" have been there all along. Yet throughout the history of the church there has been a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture in the sense in which it is defined in this chapter. Moreover, for these hundreds of years, highly competent biblical scholars have read and studied those problem texts and still have found no difficulty in holding to inerrancy. This should give us confidence that the solutions to these problems are available and that belief in inerrancy is entirely consistent with a lifetime of detailed attention to the text of Scripture.
C. Problems with Denying Inerrancy

   1. If we deny inerrancy, a serious moral problem confronts us: May we imitate God and intentionally lie in small matters also?

  • Ephesians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of God
  • A denial of inerrancy that still claims that Scripture is "God-breathed" implies that God has spoken falsely, which then gives us permission to do the same.
   2. If inerrancy is denied, we begin to wonder if we can really trust God in anything he says.

  • If we become convinced that God has spoken falsely in even the most minor matters in Scripture, then we realize that God is capable of speaking falsely.
  • This realization would greatly hinder our ability to trust him completely and obey him fully.
   3. If we deny inerrancy, we essentially make our own human minds a higher standard of truth than God's Word itself.

  • Making our own minds to be a higher standard of truth than God's Word is the root of all intellectual sin.
  • We must not deny inerrancy simply due to lack of understanding or difficulty accepting the truth of Scripture.
   4. If we deny inerrancy, then we must also say that the Bible is wrong not only in minor details, but in some of its doctrines as well.

  • If the Bible contains errors, those errors could just as easily affect major doctrinal concerns as they do minor details. If we deny inerrancy, how do we know where the errors lie? 
  • It seems that if only parts of the Bible can be trusted, then really none can be trusted.
Psalm 12:6:
The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

Prayer Time 3-20-12

We have been busy little bees for awhile now with lots of travel and other things keeping our schedules a little crazy. As a result, my "regular" prayer time has been pretty sporadic and much less regular lately. ;-) We take off again on Thursday to travel to Texas for my brother-in-law's wedding. (Please add Jeremy and Danielle to your prayer list, if you will, as they begin their new life together.)

BUT today I hope to have some stillness and some quiet after Ladies Bible Study this morning, and it would be my honor to pray for you during that time. You're welcome to leave requests in the comments field. And as always comments on this post will not be published publicly for the sake of those concerned with privacy. Blessings in the Gospel today!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Systematic Theology--Chapter 4

 The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (1) Authority

How Do We Know that the Bible is God's Word?

The major teachings of the Bible about itself can be classified into four characteristics:

1. The authority of Scripture
2. The clarity of Scripture
3. The necessity of Scripture
4. The sufficiency of Scripture

The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God's words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.

A. All the words in Scripture are God's words

   1. This is what the Bible claims for itself.
  • "Thus says the Lord" appears hundreds of times in the Old Testament
  • God speaks "through" prophets, but the words are God's own words (see 1 Kings 14:18; 16:12, 34 and 2 Kings 9:36 for a few examples)
  • In the New Testament, a number of passages indicate that all of the Old Testament writings are thought of as God's words
    • 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness
      • The word "Scripture" here is the word "graphe", which refers specifically to the Old Testament. Even as Paul writes words of Scripture in the New Testament, he is affirming that all of the Old Testament writings are "breathed out by God."
    • 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.
      • Peter is not denying human involvement, only saying that the ultimate source of every prophecy was never a man's decision about what he wanted to write, but rather the Holy Spirit's action in the prophet's life.
    • The New Testament quotes/cites the Old Testament repeatedly.
      • Matthew 1:22 => Isaiah 7:14
      • Matthew 9:15 => Genesis 2:24
      • Mark 7:9-13 => refers back to the words of Moses after he receives the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5)
      • Acts 1:16 => Psalms 69 and 109
      • Acts 2:16-17 => Joel 2:28-32
      • Many other passages could be cited, but the pattern of attributing to God the words of Old Testament Scripture should be very clear.
  • The New Testament is considered Scripture due to Jesus' promises to the disciples that the Holy Spirit would bring all that he had said to their remembrance and would guide them into all truth.
    • John 14:26: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
    • John 16:13: When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
    • 1 Peter 3:2: . . . that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles
    • 1 Corinthians 2:13: And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:15: For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
    • Revelation 22:18-19: 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, 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.
     2. We are convinced of the Bible's claims to be God's words as we read the Bible.

  • Our ultimate conviction that the words of the Bible are God's words comes 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.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:14: The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
  • Apart from the work of the Spirit of God, a person will not receive spiritual truths and in particular will not receive or accept the truth that the words of Scripture are in fact the words of God.
  • John 10:27: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
    3. Other evidence regarding Scripture is useful but not finally convincing.

  • It is historically accurate.
  • It is internally consistent.
  • It contains prophecies that have been fulfilled hundreds of years later.
  • It has influenced the course of human history more than any other book.
  • It has continued changing the lives of millions of individuals throughout its history.
  • Through it people come to find salvation.
  • It has a majestic beauty and a profound depth of teaching unmatched by any other book.
  • It claims hundreds of times to be God's very words.
  • From the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 1, paragraph 5:
We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
    4. The words of Scripture are self-attesting.

Scripture cannot be "proved" to be God's words by appeal to any higher authority. If we ultimately appeal to human reason, or to logic, or to historical accuracy, or to scientific truth, as the authority by which Scripture is shown to be God's words, then we have assumed the thing to which we appealed to be a higher authority than God's words and one that is more true or more reliable. p. 78 
    5. Possible objection: This is a circular argument.

It should be admitted that this is a kind of circular argument. However, that does not make its use invalid, for all arguments for an absolute authority must ultimately appeal to that authority for proof. Otherwise, the authority would not be an absolute or highest authority. p. 78-79
    6. This does not imply dictation from God as the sole means of communication.

  • Hebrews 1:1: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets
  • Examples of pure and simple dictation:
    • Revelation 2:1, 8, 12: To the angel of the church in Ephesus write. . . . And to the angel of the church of Smyrna write. . . . And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write. . .
    • Isaiah 38:4-6: Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: "Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city."
  • Example of historical research
    • Luke 1:1-4: Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
  • Evidence of writing as a response to observing the life of Jesus and listening to his teaching
    • John 14:26: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
  • The Bible also speaks of dreams, of visions, of hearing the Lord's voice or standing in the council of the Lord
  • We must trust this and all of the other research and evidence previously discussed to understand that no matter the method of recording God's words, the ultimate result is that the Bible is physically written by humans, but those humans wrote the words that God wanted them to write, words that God would also claim as his own. p. 81
B. Therefore to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.

  • Luke 24:25: And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!"
  • John 15:20: Remember the word that I said to you: "A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours."
  • 2 Peter 3:2: . . . that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandments of the Lord and Savior through your apostles
  • Throughout the history of the church the greatest preachers have been those who have recognized that they have no authority in themselves and have seen their task as being to explain the words of Scripture and apply them clearly to the lives of their hearers. Their preaching has drawn its power not from the proclamation of their own Christian experiences or the experiences of others, nor from their own opinions, creative ideas, or rhetorical skills, but from God's powerful word. Essentially they stood in the pulpit, pointed to the biblical text, and said in effect to the congregation, "This is what this verse means. Do you see that meaning here as well? Then you must believe it and obey it with all your heart, for God himself, your Creator and your Lord, is saying this to you today!" Only the written words of Scripture can give this kind of authority to preaching. p. 82
C. The truthfulness of Scripture

   1. God cannot lie or speak falsely.

  • Titus 1:2: . . . in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
  • Hebrews 6:18: . . . so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
  • 2 Samuel 7:28: And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.
   2. Therefore all the words in Scripture are completely true and without error in any part.

  • Psalm 12:6: The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
  • Proverbs 30:5: Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
  • Psalm 119:89: Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
  • Matthew 24:35: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
  • Numbers 23:19: God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and he will not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
   3. God's words are the ultimate standard of truth.
In John 17 Jesus prays to the Father, "Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). This verse is interesting because Jesus does not use the adjectives alethinos or alethes ("true"), which we might have expected, to say, "Your word is true." Rather, he uses a noun, aletheia ("truth"), to say that God's Word is not simply "true," but it is truth itself. The difference is significant, for this statement encourages us to think of the Bible not simply as being "true" in the sense that it conforms to some higher standard of truth, but rather to think of the Bible as being itself the final standard of truth. p. 83
   4. Might some new fact ever contradict the Bible?
If any supposed "fact" is ever discovered that is said to contradict Scripture, then (if we have understood Scripture rightly) that "fact" must be false, because God, the author of Scripture, knows all true facts (past, present, and future). p. 83-84
We should never fear but always welcome any new facts that may be discovered in any legitimate area of human research or study. No true fact will ever contradict the words of the God who knows all facts and who never lies. p. 84
D. Written Scripture is our final authority
It is important to realize that the final form in which Scripture remains authoritative is its written form. It was the words of God written on the tablets of stone that Moses deposited in the ark of the covenant. Later, God commanded Moses and subsequent prophets to write their words in a book. And it was written Scripture (graphe) that Paul said was "God-breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16). Similarly, it is Paul's writings that are "a command of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37) and that could be classified with "the other scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16).
We must continually remember that we have in the Bible God's very words, and we must not try to "improve" on them in some way, for this cannot be done. Rather, we should seek to understand them and then trust them and obey them with our whole heart. p. 85 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Good List 3-14-12

10. Despicable Me 2 is in the works for 2013! Now we just need another Monsters, Inc.!
9. The Grilled Chicken Alla Caprese salad at Red Robin. So simple, but oh so very yummy. I want another one, but alas. . . Red Robin is far away. Perhaps I shall make my own! :-D
8. Macy's favorite purchase during our weekend getaway. A purple hat. Just what every girl needs. ;-)

7. Unexpectedly finding a whole new wardrobe for Macy and Grace on the Old Navy clearance rack. Even a new winter coat for Grace for next year for only $6! Nice.
6. Racing Macy and Grace up 7 flights of stairs and not needing to pass out at the top. (special thanks to God and my elliptical for keepin' my heart pumpin') ;-)
5. Hugo (the movie). Just magical.
4. Doctors who understand that when they're caring for your children, you don't just want AN answer. You want ALL the answers.
3. Family adventures.
2. Jared just sent in a deposit for a family vacation to Maine this summer. I. Cannot. Wait.
1. David, Sarah, Jack AND Tyrone have airline tickets to Vermont in May! Family reunion!!! So excited!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Systematic Theology--Chapter 3

The Canon of Scripture

What Belongs in the Bible and What Does Not Belong?

The canon of Scripture is the list of all the books that belong in the Bible. To add or to subtract from God's words would be to prevent God's people from obeying him fully, for commands that were subtracted would not be known to the people, and words that were added might require extra things of the people which God had not commanded. Thus Moses warned the people of Israel, "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your  God which I command you" (Deut. 4:2).

The precise determination of the extent of the canon of Scripture is therefore of the utmost importance.

If we are to trust and obey God absolutely, we must have a collection of words that we are certain are God's own words to us. p. 54

A. The Old Testament Canon

The earliest collection of written words of God was the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments thus form the beginning of the biblical canon.

Moses then added Deuteronomy as well as the first four books of the Old Testament.
  • Deuteronomy 31:24-26
When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, "Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you."
  • Exodus 17:14; 24:4; 34:27
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."
And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
And the Lord said to Moses, "Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."
  • Numbers 33:2
Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the Lord, and these are their stages according to their starting places.
  • Deuteronomy 31:22
So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel.
After the death of Moses, Joshua also added to the collection of written words of God.
  • Joshua 24:26
And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.
Additional Old Testament writings include the following:
  • 1 Samuel 10:25
Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home.
  • 1 Chronicles 29:29
 Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the seer, and in the Chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the seer.

  • 2 Chronicles 20:34; 26:22; 32:32
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, are written in the chronicles of Jehu the son of Hanani, which are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel. 
Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, from first to last, Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz wrote.
Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah and his good deeds, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz, in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.

  • Jeremiah 30:2
Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: "Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you."
Timeline indicating dates of late Old Testament Writings:

  • 520 B.C. - Haggai
  • 520-518 B.C. - Zechariah (with perhaps more material added after 480 B.C.)
  • 458 B.C. - Ezra went to Jerusalem
  • 464-435 B.C. - Esther was written during the reign of Artaxerxes
  • 445-433 B.C. - Nehemiah was in Jerusalem
  • 435 B.C. - Malachi
Common belief is that there were no further additions to the Old Testament canon after 435 B.C. Even Jewish literature itself (outside the Old Testament) attests to the belief that divinely authoritative words from God had ceased after 435 B.C.

  • 1 Maccabees 4:45-46
So they tore down the altar and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until there should come a prophet to tell what to do with them. (circa 100 B.C.) 
This indicates they apparently knew of no one who could speak with the authority of God as the Old Testament prophets had done.

In support of this idea Josephus, the greatest Jewish historian  of the first century A.D., writes the following:
From Artaxerxes to our own times a complete history has been written, but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.
Rabbinic literature reflects a similar conviction in its repeated statement that the Holy Spirit (in the Spirit's function of inspiring prophecy) departed from Israel.

And as further support, in the New Testament, we have no record of any dispute between Jesus and the Jews over the extent of the canon. According to one count, Jesus and the New Testament authors quote various parts of the Old Testament Scriptures as divinely authoritative over 295 times, but not once do they cite any statement from the books of the Apocrypha or any other writings as having divine authority. The absence of any such reference to other literature as divinely authoritative, and the extremely frequent references to hundreds of places in the Old Testament as divinely authoritative, gives strong confirmation to the fact that the New Testament authors agree that the established Old Testament canon, no more and no less, was to be taken as God's very words. p. 57

In affirming the Apocrypha as within the canon, early Roman Catholics would hold that the church has the authority to constitute a literary work as "Scripture," while Protestants have held that the church cannot make something to be Scripture, but can only recognize what God has already caused to be written as his own words. p. 59

Why the Writings of the Apocrypha Should Not be Regarded as Part of Scripture:

1. They do not claim for themselves the same kind of authority as the Old Testament writings.
2. They were not regarded as God's words by the Jewish people from whom they originated.
3. They were not considered to be Scripture by Jesus or the New Testament authors.
4. They contain teachings inconsistent with the rest of the Bible.

We must conclude then that they are merely human words, not God-breathed words like the words of Scripture.

B. The New Testament Canon

The New Testament consists of the writings of the apostles, who are given the ability from the Holy Spirit to recall accurately the words and deeds of Jesus and to interpret them rightly for subsequent generations.

Jesus promised this empowering to his disciples in John 14:26: 
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Also, a similar message is seen in John 16:13-14:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
In these verses the disciples are promised amazing gifts to enable them to write Scripture: the Holy Spirit would teach them "all things," would cause them to remember "all" that Jesus had said, and would guide them into "all the truth." p. 60

The apostles have authority to write words that are God's own words, equal in truth status and authority to the words of the Old Testament Scriptures. They do this to record, interpret, and apply to the lives of believers the great truths about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. p. 61

If we accept the arguments for the traditional views of authorship of the New Testament writings, then we have most of the New Testament in the canon because of direct authorship by the apostles (Matthew, John, Romans to Philemon, James, 1&2 Peter, 1-3 John and Revelation).

This leaves 5 books - Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews and Jude, which were not written by apostles. The details of the historical process by which these books came to be counted as part of Scripture by the early church are scarce, but Mark, Luke and Acts were commonly acknowledged very early, probably because of the close association of Mark with the apostle Peter, and of Luke (the author of Luke and Acts) with the apostle Paul. Similarly, Jude apparently was accepted by virtue of the author's connection with James (see Jude 1) and the fact that he was the brother of Jesus. p. 62

Additionally, for some of these books the church had, at least in some areas, the personal testimony of some living apostles to affirm the absolute divine authority of these books. For example, Paul would have affirmed the authenticity of Luke and Acts, and Peter would have affirmed the authenticity of Mark as containing the gospel which he himself preached. In other cases, and in some geographical areas, the church simply had to decide whether it heard the voice of God himself speaking in the words of these writings. In these cases, the words of these books would have been self-attesting; that is, the words would have borne witness to their own divine authorship as Christians read them. This seems to have been the case with Hebrews.

The authorship of Hebrews is still a topic of debate, though the most popular theory is that it was written by Paul. However, there is exceptionally little disagreement among believers that whoever its human author may have been, its ultimate author can only have been God himself.

For a book to belong in the canon, it is absolutely necessary that the book have divine authorship.

In A.D. 367 the Thirty-ninth Paschal Letter of Athanasius contained an exact list of the 27 New Testament books we have today. This was the list of books accepted by the churches in the eastern part of the Mediterranean world. Thirty years later, in A.D. 397, the Council of Carthage, representing the churches in the western part of the Mediterranean world, agreed with the eastern churches on the same list. These are the earliest final lists of our present-day canon. p. 63-64

Should we expect any more writings to be added to the canon? The opening sentence in Hebrews puts this question in the proper historical perspective, the perspective of the history of redemption:

  • Hebrews 1:1-2
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
The indication here is that God's final words of the canon came to us through the birth, life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Because those events are completed, the canon is now closed.

  • Revelation 22:18-19
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add him to the plagues described in this book, 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.
How can we be confident that the canon is exactly as it should be?

1. Ultimately, our confidence should be in the faithfulness of God. We have no reason to believe that God our Father, who controls all history, would allow all of his church for almost 2000 years to be deprived of something which he himself values so highly and which is so necessary for our spiritual lives. p. 65

2. Additionally, we can trust in the work of the Holy Spirit. It has been the testimony of Christians throughout the ages that as they read the books of the Bible, the words of Scripture speak to their hearts as no other books do. p. 66

Due to these reasons and the research summarized above, we can conclude that the canon of Scripture today is exactly what God wanted it to be, and it will stay that way until Christ returns.