Basics of the Reformed Faith: The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible by Kim Riddlebarger

Originally Posted Here.  The second in a great introductory series by Pastor Riddlebarger. 

Basics of the Reformed Faith: The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible

Kim Riddlebarger

In Genesis 1:1 we read “in the beginning was God.”  Echoing the opening declaration of the Bible, in John 1:1 we read that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  But John goes on to say “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  The fact that God chose to reveal himself in the person of Jesus Christ (the eternal word made flesh) brings us to the subject of the inspiration and authority of the Bible.

It is important to understand what the various human writers of the Bible say about the Bible itself.  What kind of book is it?  What do they testify about it?

The Bible never claims to be an “inspirational” book which grants its reader some sort of spiritual insight or self-enlightenment.  The Bible was not given to motivate us to live better lives, or to motivate us to do great things.  As we have seen, the Bible is given by God as a testimony to the Word made flesh (Jesus).

The testimony of the biblical writers is paramount.  As Paul says in his second letter to Timothy, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”  Although the term “inspiration of Scripture” is used to describe God’s revelation of himself to us in written form, modern translations of the Bible (such as the ESV) correctly note that the verb which the King James Version famously translated as “inspired” (theopneustos) is better translated as “breathed out” by God.  This emphasizes the fact that the various books of the Bible (Scripture) are given to us by God (”breathed out”) through the agency of human authors.  This is why in Romans 3:2, for example, Paul can speak of the Old Testament as “the very words of God.”

In 2 Peter 1:16-21, we read, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.   For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, `This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.  And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  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.”  In this passage, the Apostle Peter claims to be an eyewitness to key events in the life of Jesus (i.e., Jesus’ transfiguration), and he denies inventing or following myths.  For Peter, Scripture is the product of men being “carried along” by the Holy Spirit.  Scripture does not arise in the will of man (“I think I’ll write a book of the Bible today!”), but only as men are “carried along” by the Holy Spirit, ensuring that human sin and frailty do not rob the Bible of either its divine authority, or its factual accuracy in all that it addresses (inerrancy).

And then there is the testimony of Jesus himself.  Our Lord states that Scripture comes from the “mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), that it is God’s truth (John 17:17).  Jesus tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit will come, teach them all things, and remind them of all that Jesus taught them (John 14:26).  Indeed, says Jesus in 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.”

Since the Bible is the very words of God (it doesn’t merely contain the word of God), it comes to us with the authority of God himself.  The Bible is God’s word written and must be seen as divine speech through human agency.  As one writer (B. B. Warfield) so aptly put it, “It says, God says.”

Basics of the Reformed Faith: In the Beginning God by Kim Riddlebarger

I really enjoy Pastor Kim Riddlebarger’s ministry.  His teaching series “Amillenialism 101” is just outstanding.  I stumbled on to a series he has done entitled “Basics of the Reformed Faith” and thought it would be good to share here on the blog.  God bless and enjoy, Paul S.

Originally Posted here: Basics of the Reformed Faith: In the Beginning–God

Kim Riddlebarger

The Bible opens with a remarkable statement in Genesis 1:1– “In the Beginning, God . . .”

This simple assertion is packed with meaning.  Some of the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith are found in this short declaration, and it is important to give them due consideration.

The first thing this passage tells us is that before anything was created, God already was.  In fact, God always was, without beginning or end.  Since God alone is uncreated, we speak of him as eternal.  God exists before time itself, and is not bound by the succession of moments (time) as are we.

As the creation account unfolds in the subsequent verses of Genesis 1, we learn that the eternal God creates all things.  Whatever now exists, exists only because God created it.  There is no such thing as eternal matter.  There is no eternal realm of mental forms (or ideas) as Plato led us to believe.  There is no eternal convulsing of matter–ever expanding, ever contracting–as taught in much of contemporary science.  There is only the eternal God who created all things, and who already was in the beginning.  This indicates that nothing exists apart from the will of God, and all created things (the heavens and earth, humans as well as angels) are necessarily contingent, and depend upon God for their existence.

Unlike his creatures who are bound by both time and space, God has no such limitations.  Because God is unlike us in this most fundamental way, he must be distinct from that which he has created, and can in no sense be dependant upon created things.  God has no needs, as do we.  God has no parts, as we do.  Although he is personal, he does not have the kind of passions or emotions that we do as creatures.  This is the God who gives orders to the sun and the stars, who gives life to inanimate matter (as when he made Adam from the dust of the earth – Genesis 2:7), and who is Lord over death.  This God utterly transcends his creatures.

This “otherness” of God–the distance between God and his creatures–is known as Creator-creature distinction.  This distinction is one of the most fundamental points of Christian theology, and must be clear to us before we can meaningfully talk about any other aspects of the Christian faith.

How can finite creatures, bound by both time and space, and prejudiced by sin, truly know and correctly understand anything about a God who is so transcendent that he cannot be seen or observed?   The answer to this dilemma is that such an infinite God cannot be known by his finite creatures, unless and until he chooses to reveal himself to his creatures in such a way that we can know and understand this revelation.  This is exactly what God does through both nature (general revelation) and Scripture (special revelation), when God draws near to reveal himself to us (immanence).

As creatures, we will always be dependent upon God for our very life and breath.  But we are also dependent upon his self-revelation if we are to have any meaningful knowledge of him.  The realization of this fact is the beginning of a proper understanding of spiritual things.  And this is why we must strive to understand who God is by directing our attention to those two places where God reveals himself–through that which has been made (the natural order) and through the supreme revelation of himself in his word (Scripture).

Fallen Man Ought to Seek Redemption in Christ by John Calvin

Originally Posted at Monergism.com

Fallen Man Ought to Seek Redemption in Christ

John Calvin

(Through the Mediator, God is seen as a gracious Father, 1-2)

1. ONLY THE MEDIATOR HELPS FALLEN MAN

The whole human race perished in the person of Adam. Consequently that original excellence and nobility which we have recounted would be of no profit to us but would rather redound to our greater shame, until God, who does not recognize as his handiwork men defiled and corrupted by sin, appeared as Redeemer in the person of his only-begotten Son. Therefore, since we have fallen from life into death, the whole knowledge of God the Creator that we have discussed would be useless unless faith also followed, setting forth for us God our Father in Christ. The natural order was that the frame of the universe should be the school in which we were to learn piety, and from it pass over to eternal life and perfect felicity. But after man’s rebellion, our eyes – wherever they turn – encounter God’s curse. This curse, while it seizes and envelops innocent creatures through our fault, must overwhelm our souls with despair. For even if God wills to manifest his fatherly favor to us in many ways, yet we cannot by contemplating the universe infer that he is Father. Rather, conscience presses us within and shows in our sin just cause for his disowning us and not regarding or recognizing us as his sons. Dullness and ingratitude follow, for our minds, as they have been blinded, do not perceive what is true. And as all our senses have become perverted, we wickedly defraud God of his glory.

We must, for this reason, come to Paul’s statement: “Since in the wisdom of God the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of preaching to save those who believe” [1 Corinthians 1:21]. This magnificent theater of heaven and earth, crammed with innumerable miracles, Paul calls the “wisdom of God.” Contemplating it, we ought in wisdom to have known God. But because we have profited so little by it, he calls us to the faith of Christ, which, because it appears foolish, the unbelievers despise.

Therefore, although the preaching of the cross does not agree with our human inclination, if we desire to return to God our Author and Maker, from whom we have been estranged, in order that he may again begin to be our Father, we ought nevertheless to embrace it humbly. Surely, after the fall of the first man no knowledge of God apart from the Mediator has had power unto salvation [cf. Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:24]. For Christ not only speaks of his own age, but comprehends all ages when he says: “This is eternal life, to know the Father to be the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent” [John 17:3 p.]. Thus, all the more vile is the stupidity of those persons who open heaven to all the impious and unbelieving without the grace of him whom Scripture commonly teaches to be the only door whereby we enter into salvation [John 10:9]. But if anyone would like to restrict this statement of Christ to the publishing of the gospel, there is a ready refutation: it was the common understanding of all ages and all nations that men who have become estranged from God [cf. Ephesians 4:18] and have been declared accursed [cf. Galatians 3:10] and children of wrath [cf. Ephesians 2:3] without reconciliation cannot please God.

Besides this, Christ answered the Samaritan woman: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know; for salvation is from the Jews” [John 4:22]. In these words he both condemns all pagan religions as false and gives the reason that under the law the Redeemer was promised to the chosen people alone. From this it follows that no worship has ever pleased God except that which looked to Christ. On this basis, also, Paul declares that all heathen were “without God and bereft of hope of life” [Ephesians 2:12 p.]. Now since John teaches that life was in Christ from the beginning [John 1:4], and all the world fell away from it [cf. John 1:10], it is necessary to return to that source. So also, Christ, inasmuch as he is the propitiator, declares himself to be “life” [John 11:25; 14:6]. To be sure, the inheritance of heaven belongs only to the children of God [cf. Matthew 5:9-10]. Moreover, it is quite unfitting that those not engrafted into the body of the only-begotten Son are considered to have the place and rank of children. And John clearly declares: “Those who believe in his name become children of God” [John 1:12 p.]. But because it is not yet my purpose exhaustively to discuss faith in Christ, it will be sufficient to touch upon it in passing.

2. EVEN THE OLD COVENANT DECLARED THAT THERE IS NO FAITH IN THE GRACIOUS GOD APART FROM THE MEDIATOR

Accordingly, apart from the Mediator, God never showed favor toward the ancient people, nor ever gave hope of grace to them. I pass over the sacrifices of the law, which plainly and openly taught believers to seek salvation nowhere else than in the atonement that Christ alone carries out. I am only saying that the blessed and happy state of the church always had its foundation in the person of Christ. For even if God included all of Abraham’s offspring in his covenant [cf. Genesis 17:4], Paul nevertheless wisely reasons that Christ was properly that seed in whom all the nations were to be blessed [Galatians 3:14], since we know that not all who sprang from Abraham according to the flesh were reckoned among his offspring [Galatians 3:16]. For, to say nothing of Ishmael and others, how did it come about that of the two sons of Isaac, the twin brothers Esau and Jacob, while they were yet in their mother’s womb, one was chosen, the other rejected [Romans 9:11]? Indeed, how did it happen that the firstborn was set aside while the younger alone kept his status? How, also, did it come about that the majority was disinherited? It is therefore clear that Abraham’s seed is to be accounted chiefly in one Head, and that the promised salvation was not realized until Christ appeared, whose task is to gather up what has been scattered. So, then, the original adoption of the chosen people depended upon the Mediator’s grace. Even if in Moses’ writings this was not yet expressed in clear words, still it sufficiently appears that it was commonly known to all the godly. For before a king had been established over the people, Hannah, the mother of Samuel, describing the happiness of the godly, already says in her song: “God will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his Messiah” [1 Samuel 2:10]. By these words she means that God will bless his church. To this corresponds the prophecy that is added a little later: “The priest whom I shall raise up… will walk in the presence of my Christ” [1 Samuel 2:35, cf. Vg.]. And there is no doubt that our Heavenly Father willed that we perceive in David and his descendants the living image of Christ. Accordingly David, wishing to urge the pious to fear God, commands them to “kiss the Son” [Psalm 2:12, cf. RV and marg.]. To this corresponds the saying of the Gospel: “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father” [John 5:23]. Therefore, although the Kingdom collapsed because of the revolt of the ten tribes, yet the covenant that God made with David and his successors had to stand, just as he spoke through the prophets: “I will not tear away all the Kingdom… for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen… but to your son one tribe will remain” [1 Kings 11:13,32]. This same promise is repeated a second and a third time. It is expressly stated: “I will… afflict David’s descendants, but not eternally” [1 Kings 11:39]. Some time later it is said: “For the sake of David his servant, God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, to raise himself up a son and to protect Jerusalem” [1 Kings 15:4, cf. Vg.]. Then, although affairs verged on ruin, it was again said: “The Lord was unwilling to destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant, since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever” [2 Kings 8:19].

To sum up: while all others were passed over, David alone was chosen, as he in whom God’s good pleasure should rest, just as it is said elsewhere: “He rejected the tent of Shiloh, and the tent of Joseph; and he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim” [Psalm 78:60,67, conflared], “but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mr. Zion, which he loved” [Psalm 78:68]. “He chose David his servant,… to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance” [Psalm 78:70-71]. To conclude: God thus willed to preserve his church that its soundness and safety might depend upon that Head. Therefore David proclaims: “Jehovah is the strength of his people, the saving power of his Christ [Psalm 28:8, cf. RV marg.]. Immediately he adds the petition: “Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance” [Psalm 28:9], meaning that the condition of the church is joined by an indissoluble bond to Christ’s authority. Another passage expresses the same idea: “Save us, O Jehovah; let the King hear us in the day that we shall call upon him” [Psalm 29:9]. By these words he clearly teaches that believers have sought refuge in God’s help with no other assurance than that they were sheltered under the King’s protection. This is implied in another psalm: “Save… O Jehovah!… Blessed be he who comes in the name of Jehovah” [Psalm 118:25-26]. There, it is sufficiently clear, believers are being called back to Christ, that they may hope to be saved by God’s hand. Another petition expresses the same idea, where the whole church implores God’s mercy: “Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou hast preserved (or fashioned) for thyself” [Psalm 80:17, Comm.]. For although the author of the psalm bewails the scattering of the whole people, yet he begs for their restoration in the Head alone. But when, after the people have been carried off into exile, the land laid waste, and everything seemingly destroyed, Jeremiah sorrows for the calamity of the church, he especially bewails the fact that in the ruin of the Kingdom hope has been cut off from believers. “The anointed,” he says, “the breath of our mouths, has been taken captive in our sins, he to whom we said, ‘Under tiny shadow we shall live among the heathen.'” [Lamentations 4:20, cf. Vg.] From this it is now clear enough that, since God cannot without the Mediator be propitious toward the human race, under the law Christ always set before the holy fathers as the end to which they should direct their faith.

(Christ essential to the covenant and to true faith, 3-4)

3. THE FAITH AND HOPE OF THE OLD COVENANT FED UPON THE PROMISE

Now, where solace is promised in affliction, especially where the deliverance of the church is described, the banner of trust. and hope in Christ himself is prefigured. “God went forth for the salvation of his people with his Messiah,” says Habakkuk. [Habakkuk 3:13 p.] And as often as the prophets mention the restoration of the church, they recall the people to the promise made to David that his kingdom would be everlasting [cf. 2 Kings 8:19]. And no wonder, for otherwise there would have been no stability in the covenant! To this, Isaiah’s reply is especially pertinent. For inasmuch as he saw that the unbelieving King Ahaz rejected his testimony concerning the lifting of the siege of Jerusalem and its immediate safety, he rather abruptly passes on to the Messiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son” [Isaiah 7:14]. By this he indirectly indicates that although king and people wickedly rejected the promise offered them, as if they were purposely trying to discredit God’s pledge, yet the covenant would not be invalidated, for the Redeemer would come at his appointed time.

In short, to show God merciful, all the prophets were constantly at pains to proclaim that kingdom of David upon which both redemption and eternal salvation depended. Thus Isaiah says: “I will make with you a… covenant, my steadfast mercies for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples” [Isaiah 55:3-4]. That is, under such adverse conditions believers could have no hope except when this witness was put forward that God would be compassionate to them. In the same way to lift up the despairing, Jeremiah says: “Behold, the days are coming when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch… and then Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely” [Jeremiah 23:5-6]. Ezekiel, moreover, says: “I will set over my sheep one shepherd… namely, my servant David… I, Jehovah, will be their God, and my servant David shall be shepherd… and I will make with them a covenant of peace.” [Ezekiel 34:23-25 p.] Elsewhere, likewise, after discussing this incredible renewal, he says: “David, my servant, shall be their king, and shall be the one shepherd over all,… and I will make an everlasting covenant of peace with them.” [Ezekiel 37:24,26 p.]

Here I am gathering a few passages of many because I merely want to remind my readers that the hope of all the godly has ever reposed in Christ alone. All the other prophets also agree. For example, in Hosea it is said: “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head” [Hosea 1:11]. This he afterward explains more clearly: “The children of Israel shall return and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king” [Hosea 3:5]. Micah, also, referring to the people’s return, clearly expresses it: “Their king will pass on before them, Jehovah at their head” [Micah 2:13]. So, too, Amos – meaning to foretell the renewal of the people – says: “In that day I will raise up the tent of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins” [Amos 9:11]. This signifies: “I will raise up once more the royal glory in the family of David, the sole standard of salvation, now fulfilled in Christ.” Hence, Zechariah, as his era was closer to the manifestation of Christ, more openly proclaims: “Rejoice, daughter of Zion! Be jubilant, daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; righteous and unharmed is he” [Zechariah 9:9, cf. Comm.]. This agrees with the verse of the psalm already quoted: “Jehovah is… the saving power of his Christ. Save,… O Jehovah” [Psalm 28:8-9, cf. RV marg.]. Here salvation flows from the Head to the whole body.

4. FAITH IN GOD IS FAITH IN CHRIST

God willed that the Jews should be so instructed by these prophecies that they might turn their eyes directly to Christ in order to seek deliverance. Even though they had shamefully degenerated, they still could not efface the memory of that general principle: that, as had been promised to David, God would be through the hand of Christ the deliverer of the church; and that his freely given covenant, whereby God had adopted his elect, would stand fast. From this it came about that when Christ entered Jerusalem a little before his death this song was on the children’s lips: “Hosanna to the son of David” [Matthew 21:9]. The hymn sung by the children apparently was commonly and widely known, and in accordance with the general notion that the sole pledge of God’s mercy rested upon the coming of the Redeemer. For this reason Christ himself bade his disciples believe in him, that they might clearly and perfectly believe in God: “You believe in God; believe also in me” [John 14:1]. For even if, properly speaking, faith mounts up from Christ to the Father, yet he means this: although faith rests in God, it will gradually disappear unless he who retains it in perfect firmness intercedes as Mediator. Otherwise, God’s majesty is too lofty to be attained by mortal men, who are like grubs crawling upon the earth.

For this reason I subscribe to the common saying that God is the object of faith, yet it requires qualification. For Christ is not without reason called “the image of the invisible God” [Colossians 1:15]. This title warns us that, unless God confronts us in Christ, we cannot come to know that we are saved. Among the Jews the scribes obscured with false glosses what the prophets had taught concerning the Redeemer. Yet in spite of this, Christ took to be commonly known, as if received by general agreement, that there is no other remedy for a hopeless condition, no other way of freeing the church, than the appearance of the Mediator. Indeed, Paul’s teaching was not commonly known – as it ought to have been – that “Christ is the end of the law” [Romans 10:4]. Yet this is true and certain, as is perfectly clear from the Law itself and the Prophets. I am not yet discussing faith because there will be a more suitable place for it elsewhere. Only let the readers agree on this point: let the first step toward godliness be to recognize that God is our Father to watch over us, govern and nourish us, until he gather us unto the eternal inheritance of his Kingdom. Hence, what we have recently said becomes clear, that apart from Christ the saving knowledge of God does not stand. From the beginning of the world he had consequently been set before all the elect that they should look unto him and put their trust in him.

In this sense Irenaeus writes that the Father, himself infinite, becomes finite in the Son, for he has accommodated himself to our little measure lest our minds be overwhelmed by the immensity of his glory. Fanatics, not reflecting upon this, twist a useful statement into an impious fantasy, as if there were in Christ only a portion of divinity, outflowing from the whole perfection of God. Actually, it means nothing else than that God is comprehended in Christ alone. John’s saying has always been true: “He that does not have the Son does not have the Father” [1 John 2:23 p.]. For even if many men once boasted that they worshiped the Supreme Majesty, the Maker of heaven and earth, yet because they had no Mediator it was not possible for them truly to taste God’s mercy, and thus be persuaded that he was their Father.

Accordingly, because they did not hold Christ as their Head, they possessed only a fleeting knowledge of God. From this it also came about that they at last lapsed into crass and foul superstitions and betrayed their own ignorance. So today the Turks, although they proclaim at the top of their lungs that the Creator of heaven and earth is God, still, while repudiating Christ, substitute an idol in place of the true God.

Excerpt from The Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin

John 1:1-5 Part 2: A World of Darkness

John 1:1-5 Part 2: A World of Darkness
by Paul Sanders
(NOTE: I would encourage you to click on the hyperlinks for more in depth study on each particular subject highlighted, God Bless!)

ESV: John Chapter 1
[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

ESV: Matthew 4:16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
“In our sin, we are worse off than we know, but in God’s grace we are more loved than we can ever imagine.” — Tim Keller

The Dark World That Jesus Came Into: How Did this Happen?

John tells us that the world that Jesus came into was a world full of sin, death, and darkness.  However, in Genesis, we saw the Spirit of God moving and speaking to bring life and light to the world.  God repeatedly called His creation, “good” and even at times “very good.”  Now, back in the book of John, we see God by His Spirit sending the Divine Word, His Son, to bring life and light into the darkness and chaos of lost, sinful humanity.  How did this happen?  How did the good world that God made become a place filled with spiritual death and darkness?\

Back to Genesis: Darkness Falls on the Creation

Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat [4] of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Adam’s Disobedience and The Resulting Curse

In the verses above, we see that God commanded Adam to work and keep the garden.  He was told that he and his wife could eat of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Theologians call this transaction between God and Adam the “Covenant of Works.”  If Adam simply obeyed God’s command, he and his descendants would live on forever and enjoy unbroken fellowship with God.  However, the serpent came and tempted Eve to eat of the fruit that God had forbidden.  He began his temptation by questioning God’s command and implying to Eve that God was keeping some sort of hidden wisdom from her.
In her response, Eve misquoted God’s Word to the serpent (compare Genesis 2:15-17 to Genesis 3:2-3).  She then gazed at the fruit, was tempted by it and ate.  Her husband, who was supposed to be the protector and defender of both her and the garden, simply stood by and watched as all this took place.  He then took the fruit from his wife, ate, and in so doing, broke his covenant with God (see Hosea 6:7).  As federal representative of the human race and designated protector of creation, Adam brought on himself, all of his descendants and the creation as well, the penalty of the Curse for disobedience to God’s command which includes both physical and spiritual death.  Adam’s sin brought darkness and death on creation and the human race.
Adam and Eve had been given everything by God; they literally had the whole world at their fingertips.  God had forbidden them to eat the fruit of only one tree out the hundreds, if not thousands, they were allowed to eat from.  Adam failed miserably to protect the garden and his wife by passively standing by and letting the serpent tempt his wife.  Eve failed to “hide God’s Word in her heart that she might not sin against Him” and spurned God’s goodness by rejecting everything else that He had graciously given to her and coveting the one and only thing that He had not permitted.  This “original sin” brought to Adam, Eve, and in them, all of us as well, the judgement of spiritual and physical death, the moral depravity and inability of our nature to be able to please God, and the enslavement of our will to sin.
It’s not politically correct to talk about sin or judgment in our day.  Many popular “preachers” avoid these topics altogether making Christianity nothing more than a self-help program to enable you get what you want and live your best life now.  I actually heard a preacher say from the pulpit, “well, he’s a really good guy, he just needs to get saved.”  Statements like this are cruelly misleading and a far cry from a true Biblical assessment of humanity’s condition.

Jeremiah 6:14: “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace. ~New American Standard Bible

Lamentations 2:14: “14 Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading. ~English Standard Version

The world that God originally made was good.  But, John and other New Testament writers drive home the point that thanks to Adam and his sin, this world is dark, humanity is fallen, and that by nature we are creatures born into utter spiritual death and darkness.  Our need is much greater than we could ever imagine.  It is vital for us in order to properly understand the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to also deeply be aware of the Bad News of man’s condition as descendant’s of Adam.  The truth is our condition in Adam is so dire that in order for any human to be saved, Jesus Christ had to live a sinless life of obedience to God’s law and suffer and die under the outpouring of God’s wrath as mankind’s sin was placed on Him as the perfect, atoning sacrifice.  Our sin separates us from God, our hearts are needy and full of spiritual death, deception, and darkness and nothing but the sacrifice of the Divine Son of Man, Jesus Christ, was and is our only hope.

John 1:1-5: The Divine Son

It’s been a real long time since I’ve posted anything up here on my site.  I have been reading and studying through the book of John for quite some time now and I am going to try and make a goal of putting up at least one post per week working my way through the book of John.  I hope that it is edifying to you and leads you to believe in and know Christ in a greater way…God Bless, Paul S. NOTE: THE STUDY BEGINS DOWN BELOW THE VIDEO…

John 20:31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

“I wish that I could describe Him to you…”  ~S.M. Lockridge

ESV: John Chapter 1
[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
ESV: Genesis Chapter 1
[1] In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. [2] The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. [3] And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. [4] And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. [5] God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Echoes of Genesis reverberate in the opening verses of John’s Gospel.  John is obviously drawing parallels from the book of Genesis to his own book.  But, why does he do this?  What do we know about and what can we learn from the first few verses of the Bible that will help us see the connection that John is trying to make?  Though there are some major themes introduced in the opening verses of both Genesis and John, today, we’ll just going give a brief overview of a few of them and then focus in on the divinity, or Godhood, of Jesus Christ.  Some of the mega-themes related primarily to the Doctrine of God found in Genesis are that:

  • God exists and He is central.  He is the main Character initiating, creating, beginning everything that exists.  What we see and think to be real would not exist had God not created it.  He is ultimate reality.
  • God is immensely, terrifyingly all-powerful.  He simply speaks the word and all things spring into existence from nothing.
  • God is sovereign.  All the things that He creates come into existence not because they chose to or because they cooperated with Him somehow in the process.  God simply speaks the word and all things simply are.
  • God is creating something new as Genesis opens.  He is creating a world filled with light where once there was nothing but emptiness, nothingness, and darkness.
  • God is personal and personable in the sense that He speaks, He makes, He creates, He observes and evaluates what He has made.  He enjoys His work of making good things and takes great satisfaction in seeing it completed.

The Divine Son

Though the opening verses of Genesis do speak about the creation of the world, they fundamentally serve to teach us about God and to reveal to us Him and His nature.  So, how does this relate to what John wants to tell us about Jesus?

For those that claim that the Bible neither teaches that Jesus is God nor mentions the doctrines of the Trinity, these verses serve to obliterate that objection.  God, the Almighty, is revealed as the Maker of all things and God alone in the opening verses of Genesis.  And then, mysteriously, in Genesis chapter 1 verse 26, God refers to Himself using the plural pronoun “us.”  (see also Genesis 3:22; Genesis 11:5-8; Isaiah 6:1-8)

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  ~Genesis 1:26

Surely aware of this, John puts all the pieces together, understands and is awestruck!  The mystery of God, God the Spirit, and God the Son now come together with full force as John articulates the full revelation of the nature of the God of the Bible.  We get the sense that John is mustering all the logic and vocabulary he can as he ties his thoughts to the most unmistakable and well-known passage of the Old Testament showing that the God of the Bible is God alone in order to reveal that the One whom he had “seen with [his] eyes, which [he] looked upon and [has] touched with [his] hands” (1 John 1:1), the Word of life, is indeed God come in the flesh.  John confesses that Jesus, who was in the beginning with God and somehow mysteriously distinct from God in person, is nevertheless, one with God and fully God.  Any doubt that the Bible teaches that Jesus is God can be permanently laid to rest after reading the words of this faithful eyewitness to Jesus’ sinless life, vicarious death in the place of lost, sinful humanity, and resurrection from the dead.  John purposefully connects the opening of his book to Genesis in order to reveal to the world that Jesus Christ is indeed, “Emmanuel…the Mighty God…and God with us” (Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).

Why do Christians believe that the Bible is the true, authoritative, inerrant, Word of God? by Paul Sanders

Something I’ve been working on for a while…hope you enjoy it, Paul S.

Why do Christians believe that the Bible is the true, authoritative, inerrant, Word of God?

Why should Christians believe that the Bible contains the inspired and inerrant words of God? There are multitudes of philosophies and competing religious writings out there.  What makes the Bible so special so as to be classified by Christians as the “final rule for life and faith?”  In this politically correct, pluralistic modern society, statements like these sound out of touch or almost outrageous to some.  But, there are many reasons why the Bible is completely distinct from other religious writings.  A key factor that sets the Bible apart from other religious literature and firmly establishes its truthfulness and authority is the historical event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has given such tremendous evidence affirming the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that it makes Christianity much more than simply a blind, philosophical leap of faith and the Bible more than just another piece of religious literature.

Why trust Jesus?  He keeps His word like none other in all of history…

In the Gospels, the Apostles tell us that Jesus gave His word to them repeatedly that He would suffer, die, and then be raised from the dead after being buried in a tomb for three days. It is historically evident that something happened after the death of Jesus that powerfully impacted the apostles.  These 12 adult men, most with jobs, wives, and children, were given the first-hand opportunity to find out whether what Jesus told them was true or a lie. Let’s not fool ourselves, if we walked away from everything important in our lives to go and follow a religious leader for three and a half years, only to find out that that person had lied to us the entire time, we would be enfuriated.  It’s impossible to imagine any rational person being willing to continue following, and nonetheless give up their life, for a person who has proven themselves to be a fraudulent liar!  Taking all this into account, it’s revealing that not only did Jesus’ disciples later come to believe in Him and continue following Him while facing bitter persecution, all but one died a brutal death simply for being His disciples. With absolutely nothing to gain if Jesus was a liar, history tells us that Peter was crucified upside down.  Andrew was also crucified on an olive tree in Achaia.  James was thrown from a building and then stoned and the horrific stories of their deaths goes on and on.  With this vivid historical evidence, it is clear that the 12 and at least 500 or so more saw Jesus risen from the dead and were so powerfully impacted by this event that they were willing to lose everything for Him, even their lives.  This leads us to a vitally important conclusion: Jesus gave and kept His word to these men and, as a result, they were so transformed by Him that they were willing to give up everything for Him.  If Jesus gave to the Apostles and, through their writings, to us, His word regarding something as challenging to believe as His own resurrection from death and kept it, then He is who says He was and we can be confident that everything that He says is true.

We can safely trust Jesus.  So, what does this have to do with whether the Bible is true or not?

Because of His unique status as risen Lord and Messiah, Jesus can be trusted completely.  All that He says is true.  Therefore, what He says about which particular writings are to be considered divinely inspired and authoritative is of vital importance and can be trusted completely as well.  Which writings, then, did Jesus endorse as being inspired, inerrant and authoritative?

Jesus said in Luke 24 that the Psalms, the Prophets and Moses (all the books of the Old Testament) testify of Him. Jesus validated the Old Testament and confirmed that the 39 books that it contains are the inspired words of God.  Jesus then told His disciples in John chapters 14 and 16 that the Spirit would come upon them and that He would lead them into truth, bring to their remembrance all the things that He had told them, and bear witness to them of Him. In doing this, Jesus revealed that the writings of the Apostles are inspired, or breathed-out, by the Spirit of God and placed them on equal ground as the writings of the Old Testament.  As a result, Christians believe that the books of the New Testament also contain the Holy Spirit breathed words of God that are authoritative and true.  They believe that these writings faithfully record the things that Jesus said and did and truthfully bear witness of Him.  As mentioned, the ground for this belief is the fact that if Jesus told the truth about His resurrection, if He kept His word regarding something as powerful as that, then there is a ripple effect that takes place that requires us to take Him at His word on all that He says.

Unlike other philosophies and religions, Christianity is much more than a blind, leap of faith in a dead founder and questionable religious writings.  During His ministry here on earth, Jesus affirmed a particular group of writings, now contained in the Bible, as being divinely inspired and true.   His life, death and resurrection set Him and His word apart from all other religions and religious writings in the world. Christians have been called simpletons, gullible and unsophisticated for their belief in the truthfulness and authority of Scripture.  But, this is simply not the case.  Christians place their faith in the Divine, living Savior and accept His words as faithful and true because He has proven Himself to be both Faithful and True.

The Bible is Truth

Are there hard sayings in the Bible that might be somewhat difficult for us to accept or understand? Of course there are. The Bible talks about the “offense” of the Cross and the “foolishness” of the Gospel to unregenerate hearts. But, we can be grateful for these hard sayings that cut through the tendency of our hearts toward idolatry, self-deception and superficial ideas related to heaven, hell, evil, sin, injustice, reality, eternity, love and life in general. A world-view that is Gospel and Scripture saturated is the only world-view that can adequately and sufficiently deal with the reality that humanity faces. The Bible is the only book that reveals God’s plan to rescue sinful humanity and reconcile them to Himself through Jesus.  The Bible is the only book endorsed by the One who lived a sinless life, died, and rose to life again from the dead.  The Bible, all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, plunges to the depths of human experience, both good and evil, and finds it’s culmination and validation in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is truth.