Volume IX, Issue 20
Scripture Twisting (1)
So far we have
seen that God-breathed Scripture is absolutely sure and unbreakable, and
that it shall never pass away. How then are sinful men going to
avoid submitting to it? Many try to ignore it. Others attack it, calling
it "cunningly devised fables" (II Peter 1:16). Others argue that
the Bible's meaning is simply a matter of personal opinion: "That's what
you say it means!" Many try all three of these methods to avoid
obeying God's Word. Moreover, Peter even writes of these who are
"unlearned and unstable" who "wrest" or twist the writings of Paul and
"the other scriptures" (II Peter 3:15-16).
scriptures" (16) certainly include the inspired OT. Paul's
epistles (15) are also Scripture, placed on par with the OT as divine
writings, since Peter refers to the OT as "other scriptures" (16).
The OT, all the inspired letters Paul wrote, and indeed the remaining NT
books constitute the sacred Scriptures. The 39 OT and 27 NT books are
the product of divine "wisdom" (15) given to God's chosen penmen. Wisdom
is that which perfectly adapts to reality, and all Scripture perfectly
accords with the reality of the sovereign Triune God and His redemption
in Christ Jesus. The 66 books of the Scriptures, as the product of
Jehovah's infinite wisdom, are a perfect unity and contain no mistakes.
For what part have errors in God's wisdom?
however, difficult parts in God's Word—in the OT, in Paul's epistles and
in the rest of the NT—for there are "some things hard to be understood"
in the Scriptures (16). This does not oppose the orthodox doctrine of
the perspicuity or clarity of Scripture. "Hard to be understood" does
not mean impossible to be understood. Furthermore, "some things" are
"hard to be understood;" not all or even most things; merely some
things. This means that most of the Bible is not hard to understand. As
the Psalmist says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my
path" (Ps. 119:105). Thus "ordinary" believers—and not just church
officers or those with theological degrees—can and must read the
Scriptures in the confidence that most of Scripture can be understood.
There are some hard bits, but do not let them discourage you.
Interpret the hard parts in the light of the easier parts. Study more
diligently. Pray over the Word for divine illumination. Use
commentaries or ask an orthodox church teacher.
wise God included some hard parts in Scripture in order to serve our
salvation. These difficulties subdue our pride and stir us up to
pray and search the Word. Moreover, we often only esteem that which we
obtain with difficulty. God also uses the difficult sections of
His Word to snare the wicked, for they twist especially the hard parts
of Scripture to their own destruction (16), as we shall see (DV).
The Role of Israel (5)
In the last two issues of the News, we have
seen that Jeremiah 31:31-34 is fulfilled in the NT catholic church of
Christ. This sheds light on the interpretation of the surrounding
chapters, Jeremiah 30-33, which are widely recognised as Messianic.
First, the days of Jeremiah 31:31-34 ("the days come"
; "those days" ) are the "last/latter days" which began with the
coming of God’s Son in the flesh (Heb. 1:2) and the outpouring of the
Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17-18), as we have seen from the last two issues.
This suggests that other verses—and their contexts—in Jeremiah 30-33
which refer to the "latter days" (30:24) or "those days" (31:29; 33:15,
16) or which state that "the days come" (30:3; 31:27, 38; 33:14) must be
so interpreted. Second, the NT passages we have considered in this
connection (Matt. 26:28; I Cor. 11:25; II Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:8-12;
10:16-17) all teach that the new covenant of 31:31-34 is established in
the blood of Christ. Thus when Jeremiah predicts the coming Davidic king
(30:9; 33:15-18, 19-22), these sections refer to the NT age. Third,
Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew tells us, is a prophecy of the slaughter of the
innocents in the days after Christ’s birth (2:16-18). Fourth, Jeremiah
31:31-34 is not the only passage in Jeremiah 30-33 which speaks of God’s
faithfulness to His covenant. The word "covenant" (31:31-33; 32:40;
33:20-21, 25) or the covenant formula—"ye shall be my people, and I will
be your God" (30:22) or variations of it (31:33; 32:38)—occur in all
four chapters of Jeremiah 30-33. Fifth, two of the great blessings of
the new covenant are mentioned not only in Jeremiah 31:31-34, but
elsewhere in Jeremiah 30-33. I am thinking here of "heart-religion"
(31:33; 32:39-40) and the forgiveness of sins (31:34; 33:8).
Thus Jeremiah 30-33 speaks of the repentance (31:9,
18-19), joy (30:19; 31:4, 7) and spiritual unity of the one true Israel
of God in all ages (32:39). The prophecies of the return to the land
(30:3), the rebuilding of Jerusalem (31:38-40), the multiplication of
man and beast (31:27), and agricultural plenty (31:12; 33:12-13) are
fulfilled in the return of God’s people from Babylon which is a picture
of the Good Shepherd’s gathering His redeemed from the four corners of
the earth (31:10-11; John 10:14-16).
God’s promise of the continuous reign of the Davidic
house (33:17, 21) and the continuous labours of the Levites (33:18, 21)
is false if taken literally, since for many centuries there have been no
earthly throne of David (33:17) and no literal Levitical offerings
(33:18). It will not do to say that these verses speak of their
restoration in a future millennial age. The text does not say that these
things will be restored in the days ahead; it says that they will always
continue from Jeremiah’s day to the end of time (33:17-18, 21-22). The
Holy Spirit tells us that the ascended Christ sits (present tense) on
the throne of David (Acts 2:29-30) and that the Christian church is the
new priesthood (I Peter 2:9) which offers "the sacrifice of praise"
(Heb. 13:15). Only the Reformed principle of Scripture interprets
Scripture—and not dispensationalist "literalism"—fits the biblical
facts. Rev. Stewart
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