March 2003, Volume IX,
Unbreakable Scripture (1)
So far we have seen that God’s hammer (Jer. 23:29), the "more
sure word" of Scripture (II Peter 1:19), has its origin in God and not man (II
Peter 1:21) for it is God-breathed (II Tim. 3:16). Because Scripture is
God-breathed, it has certain perfections or characteristics, one of which is
The inerrancy of Scripture has been a battleground between
conservatives and liberals for the last 150 years. Controversies have raged in
churches, missions, theological seminaries and religious societies often
bringing disruption and division. A large number of books, pamphlets and sermons
have been spawned by the inerrancy debate and even some heresy trials. Today the
majority of instituted churches and professing Christians don’t even see it as
an issue worth considering. Evolution and higher criticism, they believe, have
made it impossible for modern man to confess the inerrancy of Scripture. They
say, "Sure everybody knows that there are mistakes in the Bible. And anyway
whether you believe the Bible is inerrant or not doesn’t make any real
difference to the Christian life." Thus inerrancy is both intellectual suicide
and spiritually unnecessary.
But these are just the slippery words of compromisers who
have been conformed to the world. Jesus did not believe that inerrancy was
intellectual suicide, for He urged it in a theological debate with the Jewish
religious leaders. Jesus did not believe that it was spiritually unnecessary,
for He used it in defence of His claim to Deity. These are the words of the
incarnate Son of God: "the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).
Christ had been teaching that He was the Son of God (36): "I
and my Father are one" (30). The Jews rightly understood Him to be claiming
Deity (33) and so they are about to stone him (31). Jesus uses two arguments
against them. First, He states that His good works sustain His claim (32).
Second, He reasons from the OT Scriptures. He quotes Psalm 82:4: "Is it not
written in your law, I SAID YE ARE GODS?" (34). Then he identifies the ones
addressed as "gods:" "he called them gods unto whom the word of God came" (35).
Finally, he makes a deduction: "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of
God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father
hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am
the Son of God?" (35-36). Note the linchpin of the whole argument: "the
scripture cannot be broken" (35). Do you quote all Scripture’s declarations with
absolute confidence? Those who deny inerrancy can’t for they don’t believe that
scripture cannot be broken. This is Christ’s way of wielding God’s hammer; it
must be ours. Rev. Stewart
The Mysteries of the Kingdom (4)
And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of
the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see,
and hearing they might not understand (Luke 8:10).
In the last three articles of the News, we have been
answering this question about our text: "Is this election and reprobation, or
just acknowledging that some just will not turn and believe (as some
commentaries maintain)?" After a careful examination of the passage (and the
parallel passages in Matthew and Mark) we have seen that indeed election and
reprobation are taught in Luke 8:10.
At this point I would like to refer to four other passages
for additional proof that God sovereignly accomplishes His purpose through the
preaching of the gospel, both in the salvation of the elect and in the damnation
of the reprobate.
(1) The first of these is Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed
of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one
that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." This is a strong
statement that the gospel is the means to accomplish election. The gospel is the
power of God unto salvation. The gospel is God’s sovereign means to save. That
it is such a power only to the elect is evident from the phrase "to every one
that believeth." Who are those who believe? They are the elect, for they alone
receive the gift of faith (Phil. 1:29).
(2) In Isaiah 55:9-11 we read, "For as the heavens are higher
than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your
thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth
not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it
may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that
goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void but it shall
accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent
it." Not even once has the preaching of God’s Word returned void, nor does it
ever fail in achieving God’s will regarding any individual. For God accomplishes
His pleasure in election and reprobation through the preaching of His Word.
(3) Paul writes in II Corinthians 2:14-17, "Now thanks be
unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the
savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour
of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are
the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.
And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt
the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak
we in Christ."
As he brought the Word to the heathen world of his day, Paul
saw with his own eyes the fruit of the gospel in the gathering of the church.
But he also met opposition, hatred and persecution—all of which arose out of
hatred for the gospel. This rejection of the gospel was not a reason to be
downcast or to despair. For even in this God gives the victory in Christ. Paul
is victorious when the gospel saves; he is equally victorious when the gospel is
Why is that? Because the gospel and the effects of the gospel
among men are always a pleasing odour to God in Christ. The effects of the
gospel are a pleasing odour to God in Christ because the effect of the gospel is
controlled by what God accomplished through Christ on Calvary where Christ died
only for the elect and for none other.
The gospel and its effects are a sweet smell to God in them
that are saved because the purpose of God in gathering His people through the
gospel is accomplished. But the gospel and its effects are also a sweet smell to
God in them that perish because in the death of the wicked, brought about
sovereignly through the gospel, God accomplishes His purpose in their damnation.
No wonder the apostle exclaims in astonishment: "And who is sufficient for these
things?" And no wonder that he adds: "We are not as many, which corrupt the word
of God: but [we preach] as of sincerity, as of God." How many today corrupt
God’s Word by preaching "smooth things" in order not to offend their hearers!
(4) The final passage is John 12:37-41: "But though he had
done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: that the saying
of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath
believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath
blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with
their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal
them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him."
Here also Isaiah 6 is quoted, the same passage as Jesus
quotes in explaining why He taught in parables. But here the doctrine of
reprobation in connection with Jesus’ ministry is very sharply set forth.
Because the prophecy of Isaiah had to be fulfilled, they could not believe. That
is the final explanation for the unbelief of the Jews when they had seen so many
mighty miracles. Jesus had come to accomplish all the purpose of the Father in
the salvation of His own for whom He died, and in the damnation of the wicked
who perish in their sin. Prof. Hanko
Universal Atonement True? (5)
Let us consider two more arguments against a death of Christ
for all, head for head.
(13) Ephesians 1:3 teaches that we have been blessed "with
all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." These blessings come to
us "according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world"
(4). That is, we receive all these blessings according to our eternal election
(4) and predestination (5). Ephesians 1 enumerates some of our spiritual
blessings: holiness (4), adoption (5), acceptance (6), redemption (7), the
forgiveness of sins (7), the knowledge of God’s will (9), the sealing of the
Holy Spirit (13) and an eternal inheritance (11, 14). Not only are we blessed
according to our election (4, 5) but all the elect have "all spiritual
blessings" (3). On the other hand, the fact that the reprobate are not blessed
with any of these spiritual blessings is also according to the eternal "purpose
of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (11).
Now remember, one of the spiritual blessings is "redemption
through his blood" (7). Thus Christ’s redemption and blood shedding are
instances of those spiritual blessings which come to us "according as he has
chosen us in him before the foundation of the world" (4). Therefore Christ
redeemed, shed His blood and died for the elect and not for the reprobate. Thus
the elect are forgiven (7), adopted (5), accepted (6), made holy (4) and sealed
with the Spirit (13) for their eternal inheritance (11, 14) on the basis of
Christ’s atoning death. The reprobate do not receive any of the spiritual
blessings of Christ’s death, for He did not die for them.
(14) Another point not often considered in this connection
involves the OT sacrifices which were types of Christ’s death. If Christ died
for the sins of everybody then one would expect this to be reflected in the
sacrificial system. Leviticus 1-7, the central passage on the Mosaic sacrifices,
speaks of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin
offering and the trespass offering. Always these sacrifices are particular, for
Israel, the church (Lev. 1:2; 4:13; 7:36, 38), and nowhere do we read of a
universal atonement, an offering for every individual Jew and Gentile.
Similarly, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest made
atonement for the Israelites not the Moabites or the Jebusites (Lev. 16:16, 17,
19, 21, 34). Moreover, the high priest bore "the names of [the twelve tribes of]
the children of Israel"—and not the names of the children of Esau—on the
breastplate "upon his heart, when he [went] in unto the holy place," speaking of
His representative and intercessory work for them (Ex. 28:29).
Lest it be said that the OT sacrifices speak of an atonement
for every member of the nation of Israel, we recall that fact that "they are not
all Israel, which are of Israel" (Rom. 9:6) and that the true Israelite is not
one circumcised in the flesh but one circumcised in the spirit (Rom. 2:28-29).
Christ died for the true Israel and the OT types point to His redemption of the
spiritual "Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16). Rev. Stewart
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