The Testimony of the Organic Unity of the Bible to Its Inspiration

(About this series)

CHAPTER IV THE TESTIMONY OF THE ORGANIC UNITY OF THE BIBLE TO ITS INSPIRATION

BY THE LATE ARTHUR T. PIERSON

The argument for the inspiration of the Bible which I am to present is that drawn from its unity. This unity may be seen in several conspicuous particulars, upon some of which it will be well to dilate.

1. THE UNITY IS STRUCTURAL. In the Book itself appears a certain archetypal, architectural plan. The two Testaments are built on the same general scheme. Each is in three parts: historic, didactic, prophetic; looking to the past, the present, and the future.

Here is a collection of books; in their style and character there is great variety and diversity; some are historical, others poetical; some contain laws, others lyrics; some are prophetic, some symbolic; in the Old Testament we have historical, poetical, and prophetical divisions; and in the New Testament we have historic narratives, then twenty-one epistles, then a symbolic apocalyptic poem in oriental imagery. And yet this is no artificial arrangement of fragments. We find “the Old Testament patent in the New; the New latent in the Old.” Read more about The Testimony of the Organic Unity of the Bible to Its Inspiration

Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (5)

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As I have said, at the most rudimentary level covenants are for the purpose of reinforcing plain speech about specific things. They do this formally in the terms of the covenant and its obligations upon specified parties. God holds human beings to the very words of their covenant oaths (Jer. 34:18, Ezek. 17:15c). The Bible also indicates that God “keeps covenant” (Deut. 7:9, Neh. 9:32, Dan. 9:4). We would expect no less from Him who cannot lie and who does not change.

Of all verbal communications, written and oral, surely the most steadfast and adamant are covenants. And surely the least ambiguous and fluid would also be covenants?

The oaths in the covenants

The oath is the decisive ingredient in any covenant. We have already taken a look at the oath which the people took in answer to God’s Book of the Covenant in Exodus. Now we need to examine, if only briefly, the oaths of the other Divine covenants which can be easily spotted in Scripture. (There are certain covenants of a speculative nature which it is impossible to pin down in the text of the Bible. These include the three theological covenants of Reformed covenant theology; the so-called “Adamic” and “Edenic” covenants of some sectors of Dispensational theology; and the “Creation” covenant of New covenant theology). Read more about Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (5)

Discernment and Revelation, Part 4: Concluding the Case for Cessationism

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The book of Hebrews enhances our understanding by detailing two periods in human history in which the Lord has spoken to mankind. Hebrews 1:1 proclaims that the first period was “long ago to the fathers and prophets in many portions and in many ways.” This is an obvious reference to the revelations given during the times of the Old Testament. In verse two the author of Hebrews cites the second period of divine revelation by simply saying that “in these last days [God] has spoken through His Son.” But as we know, Jesus Himself did not write down anything that He said. That was left to His followers and so, the author of Hebrews adds: “After it was first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard” (Heb 2:3) i.e. the apostles.

This, however, raises a practical problem. How did the people know that the communication they were receiving from the apostles was true? After all, many individuals made claim to being an apostle during the first century. The Lord would authenticate His true apostles by giving them the ability to perform “signs and wonders, and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Heb 2:4). When the Corinthians challenged Paul’s apostleship and authority, he pointed them to the “signs of a true apostle … [which were] signs and wonders and miracles” (2 Cor 12:12), just as the author of Hebrews confirmed. Read more about Discernment and Revelation, Part 4: Concluding the Case for Cessationism

Discernment and Revelation, Part 3: The Case for Cessationism

With Parts 1 and 2 as a backdrop, the question is reduced to this: Is God giving authoritative revelation on par with that which He has given in the past (much of which has been inscripturated) or is He not? If He is, then the church of Christ needs to take note and come into compliance with the modern prophecy movement, following its revelations as it would Scripture. But if the Lord is not revealing His inspired word today, then we need to reject the claims of the modern prophets and expose these supposed revelations for what they are.

This means the position taken by most on prophecy—cautious but open—is untenable. The cautious but open crowd is skeptical of the claims coming from the prophetic movement, and they are suspicious of the many “words from God” that so many evangelicals are claiming. Still, they hesitate to embrace cessationism. They are concerned about limiting God or, as it was mentioned earlier, “putting God in a box.” To this let me make two replies:

  • It is okay to “put God in a box” if God, in fact, is the One who put Himself in that box. In other words, God can do anything He wants to do, but we expect God to do what He says He will do. If God has put Himself in the cessationist box we can embrace and proclaim it.
  • Taking the open but cautious view really does not hold up. Either God is speaking today apart from His Word or He is not. If He is speaking, how do we determine which of the multitude of messages people claim are from Him and which are bogus? If, with Grudem, we have eliminated the tests of Deuteronomy 13 and 18, how are we to evaluate all these revelations? How do we know to whom we should listen and whom we should ignore?
Read more about Discernment and Revelation, Part 3: The Case for Cessationism

How Then Shall We Vote?

From Theologically Driven. Posted with permission.

With the election hard upon us, it is a good time to be reminded that nothing we do can rightly be divorced from the sufficient governance of Christian Scripture. No pockets of neutrality exist in any sphere of life, including our politics. While the battery of issues facing voters today is exceedingly complex, one option always proves better than the rest—and it is safe to say that were the incarnate God to join us in the polling booth next week, he would be able, in his perfect wisdom, to discern in every case the best possible option in view of all the facts available.

Of course, we possess neither all the facts nor the wisdom necessary to perfectly harmonize and synthesize those facts. As a result, we Christians tend to vote provincially, and we do not all vote the same. This does not mean (necessarily) that one voting bloc is sinning and the other is not. Still, moral ought does exist in politics: there are some choices that are better than others, and some choices that are flat out wrong.

Most Christians will admit this, conceding that the Bible should inform our voting decisions at some level. We can’t vote for a platform of pure evil. But platforms of pure evil are rare: all candidates exhibit at least some common grace, and a goodly percentage of them are sincere in pursuing what is, at least in their best opinion, most advantageous to their jurisdiction or to the country. Read more about How Then Shall We Vote?

Were the Novatians Early Baptists? Cyprian on Church Discipline

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Most Baptists would not disagree with Cyprian on church discipline if they would only read what he wrote. But Ernest Pickering’s characterization is representative of what most Baptists believe about this issue: “Basically, [Novatian] and his followers were contending for a stricter view of the requirements for church membership than was generally accepted in his day.”1 Thus, Novatian is a crusading separatist; Cyprian is a lax compromiser. The truth, however, is that Novatian was a schismatic exclusivist.

Cyprian on church discipline

Cyprian was not lax. He believed that the truly repentant ought to be re-admitted into fellowship, and that the un-repentant should be excluded. When some of the lapsed presumptuously demanded to be re-admitted to the church, Cyprian condemned this “seditious practice” and charged that the clergy who permitted it were “frightened and subdued” men who “were of little avail to resist them, either by vigour of mind or by strength of faith.”2 Instead, Cyprian advocated a moderate, sensible policy:

[W]e balanced the decision with wholesome moderation, so that neither should hope of communion and peace be wholly denied to the lapsed, lest they should fail still more through desperation, and, because the Church was closed to them, should, like the world, live as heathens; nor yet, on the other hand, should the censure of the Gospel be relaxed, so that they might rashly rush to communion, but that repentance should be long protracted, and the paternal clemency be sorrowfully besought, and the cases, and the wishes, and the necessities of individuals be examined into.3

Read more about Were the Novatians Early Baptists? Cyprian on Church Discipline

Discernment and Revelation, Part 2: Modern Revelations

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Continuationists, those who believe that the miraculous sign gifts, including prophecy, are still available to believers today, define their supposed revelations in different ways. There are two broad categories that could be acknowledged, the first of which claims prophetic messages from the Lord. Such messages would be direct, clear words from God or angels, perhaps in dreams or visions or through audible voices. Such claims have long been common in Pentecostal and charismatic circles and are increasing among non-charismatic evangelicals.

Extremely popular conference speaker and author Beth Moore is well known for her claims of hearing from God. In a DVD she states,

Boy, this is the heart of our study. This is the heart of our study. Listen carefully. What God began to say to me about five years ago, and I’m telling you it sent me on such a trek with Him, that my head is still whirling over it. He began to say to me, “I’m going to tell you something right now, Beth, and boy you write this one down and you say it as often as I give you utterance to say it.”1

Such statements coming from evangelicals are far too common to need much documentation. Moore is claiming a direct word from the Lord that sets the future agenda for her ministry. The source of authority is her own experience. Read more about Discernment and Revelation, Part 2: Modern Revelations

Discernment and Revelation, Part 1: Five Views

(From Think on These Things. Used by permission.)

Discernment, one would think, is an extremely positive quality. In a world with incalculable numbers of voices calling us to travel many different directions, discernment is invaluable. However, when used by those involved in spiritual formation, discernment is defined as the discipline that enables one to know when a person has supposedly heard the voice of God.

Spiritual formation leaders do not question that God speaks to us today apart from Scripture, but they do believe that since God is speaking there has to be a means whereby we can discern the voice of God from our own thoughts.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun writes in her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, “Discernment opens us up to listen to and recognize the voice and patterns of God’s direction in our lives.”1 Ruth Barton further explains, Read more about Discernment and Revelation, Part 1: Five Views

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