A Review of Pentecostalism: Part IV – The Duration of Miracles

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The miracles of the New Testament were never intended to endure unendingly. Their era is limited, and by the role and purpose of miracles. If God provided early saints with the capacity to perform the supernatural in order to confirm the preaching of the gospel while the epistles and narratives were being composed, then the miracles would have fully served their purpose when the New Testament was completely written. As a parsimonious being, God would not allow the confirming miracles to endure beyond the time when they would be needed. In the first century, they relied upon the miracles to corroborate their message. Now we can use the Bible to substantiate itself. Since the completed New Testament can validate itself as from God, we have no need for miracles, so God has taken them away.

That Which Is Perfect

Of course, Scripture confirms this. The thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians is known as the “love chapter.” But it is set in the three-chapter context of the proper use of miracles. Paul’s point is that love is more important than any supernatural capacity. After detailing the high value of love, Paul says three things will disappear: prophecies, tongues, and knowledge (v.8). Since knowledge is joined to prophecies and tongues, it is clearly miraculous knowledge, such as inspiration.

Following this, Paul says, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part” (v.9). The phrase “in part” does not mean partially, as if they know and prophesy the whole gospel message piecemeal. It’s closer to our notion of temporary, or put into the context, we know and prophesy by a temporary means, which is miraculously. It cannot be any clearer that miracles were always designed to be temporary, which means they were intended to cease.

In the next verse, Paul says, “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (v.10). The Pentecostalists insist this refers to the Second Coming of Jesus, but note that this says that which, not He who is perfect. This is borne out in the original language where “that which is perfect” is in the neuter gender. Contextually, “that which is perfect” is the completed revelation of the gospel.

Paul ties the subject of the miraculous with the context of love with the last verse in the chapter: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love” (v.13). Even after that which is perfect is taken away, faith, hope, and love will still exist. Love is the greatest because it is the only one of the three which is eternal. After Jesus comes, faith shall become sight and hope will be reality, but love will continue in Heaven. If the miracles are to be removed with the Second Coming, then we have an absurdity within this verse. Faith and hope will not continue after Jesus returns, but they will remain after that which is in part shall be done away. Notice how the miracles cannot be taken away with the end of time and the beginning of eternity, where faith and hope will continue, and at the same time end.

The Unity Of The Faith

Another passage to consider is taken from the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to Ephesus: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (v.11). The apostles and prophets can only exist in the time of the miraculous, so the reference to evangelists, pastors, and teachers should also be assumed to be supernaturally-aided roles. We have evangelists, pastors (elders in the local congregations), and teachers today, but they are aided by God indirectly through the word of God.

The purpose of this arrangement is so that saints can be equipped to perform the work of ministry, and this work is for the intent that the church may be edified (v.12). These apostles and prophets will do their supernatural work “till we all come to the unity of the faith” (v.13). This does not mean we will have miracles until we all believe the same thing, for that already existed within the Ephesian congregation (Ephesians 4:1-3). They are encouraged to keep their unity, which means they already possessed it.

Many times, “the faith” is a phrase Paul uses to describe the New Testament message of the gospel. The unity of the faith is the completely revealed New Testament in a single unified form. This is not a reference to a single printed New Testament, which would come later. The unity of the faith is the New Testament Scriptures when they are completely written.

Time Of Apostles

If there are miracles today, then there are apostles today. If it is impossible for there to be apostles in our time, then it is also impossible for miracles to exist in our time. Apostles were called out particularly by Jesus for the purpose of leading in world evangelism. There were two qualifications for an apostle. These are listed by Peter when a replacement for Judas was being indicated. Those qualifications are the person had to be a disciple of Jesus for the three years He ministered beginning with His baptism and they must be an eyewitness to His resurrection (Acts 1:21-22).

Of all the disciples, only two men were qualified. Matthias was selected and Justus was not. Notice that a man qualified to be an apostle never was appointed by Christ. Paul was also an apostle. He met the qualifications, but in reverse order. He witnessed the raised body of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-5). After this, he was with the Lord for three years in the Arabian wilderness where he was taught all that the other apostles were taught (Galatians 1:12,15-18).

Not only did Paul witness the Resurrection of Jesus, by inspiration he notes that he was the last in human history to see this until He returns (First Corinthians 15:8). He was the last appointed by Jesus and the last possible one who even could be qualified. Of all the disciples of Christ, only fifteen men were ever qualified to be apostles, the original twelve, Matthias, Justus, and Paul. Only fourteen were ever appointed.

Plainly, no one alive now fits the bill. And as there are no apostles today, there are no miracles today. In fact, the only way a non-apostle could perform miracles was if an apostle laid hands on them to confer this ability. Philip the evangelist performs miracles and preaches in Samaria (Acts 8:5-7). But those who believed and were baptized were not given the Spirit until Peter and John came down from Jerusalem (Acts 8:14-17). If Philip could have transmitted this ability, he would have, but it took the apostles to bring this about.

This does not mean that every time hands are laid on someone that it is passing on the miracles. That gesture was a common idiom in the Jewish world. The deacons selected for the Jerusalem church had the apostles’s hands laid on them (Acts 6:6), but they were already filled with the Spirit (Acts 6:5). The laying on of hands had nothing to do with the miraculous, but to grant their deaconship.

Timothy had the gift of prophecy in him by the laying on of Paul’s hands (Second Timothy 1:6). There is a reference to the gift of prophecy and the laying on the hands of the elders in the first letter (First Timothy 4:14). There is a vital difference in the two passages. The first text says his gift was “through” the elders’s hands, and the second say it was “by” Paul’s hands. Timothy received the gift of prophecy by the laying on of Paul’s hands. Before this, the elders laid hands on him and prophesied that he would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was a supernatural ability Paul gave to Timothy in accordance to the Ephesian reference to what was appointed Christ until we come to the unity of the faith.

Pentecostal Response

As you may guess, the Pentecostals insist the unity of the faith has to do with the Second Coming of Jesus, although they strain greatly to even make anything close to a convincing argument. Regardless of what this means, it clearly does not mean that. It’s just the answer they must give to protect their doctrine. But the context of the chapter will not allow this interpretation.

First, Paul says that the church may use this unity of the faith to effectively handle false teachers (v.14). If we will not reach the unity of the faith until Jesus comes, then we will have to deal with false teachers in Heaven. This is absurd, so the unity of the faith must mean something else.

Second, the church may also use this unity of the faith to mutually encourage one another and grow. There will be no need for edification and growth in Heaven. In contrast to the Pentecostal line, the clear truth serves to purposes mentioned in the context. We who live after the times of miracles can use the Bible inspired by God to protect ourselves from false teachers and to mutually edify each other and grow as a spiritual body.

The New Testament teaches plainly that the miracles were limited to the first century. Scripture makes that plain, plus it fits the purpose of miracles. It may help to think of the miracles as scaffolding around a building during its time of construction. The scaffolding is put in place to aid the builders while any structure is being built. But once it is done, the scaffolding is taken away. The miracles were the scaffolding of Scripture – they were removed when they were no longer necessary, but the word of God will last forever.

This article is a select reading from my book, Biblical Teachings Regarding The Holy Spirit. It is available on Amazon and Kindle. To order, click here.

 

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A Review of Pentecostalism: Part III – The Role of Miracles

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As I mentioned previously, the purpose of the miracles was the confirm the truth. After Jesus gives a Commission of preaching repentance and baptism throughout the world, He tells the apostles they will do miracles. It concludes with Mark’s recording, “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20).

Confirmation In John

There were false Messiahs working in the first century, Jesus warns His disciples about them (Matthew 24:4). The Jewish teacher Gamaliel mentions the failed missions of a few Messianic pretenders in the recent Jewish past (Acts 5:35-37). Jesus Christ and His disciples needed something to make them stand out, to corroborate their message. The first century miracles fit the bill perfectly according to God’s wisdom.

The gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were all written close together, most likely in the 60s AD. John’s record comes thirty years later. His emphasis is on the Deity of Jesus. He makes his case by use of the corroborating miracles of Jesus. After changing the water to unfermented wine at the wedding feast at Cana, John notes, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). The Pharisee Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night and confesses that the other Pharisees admit that He must be from God because “no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2).

A nobleman tells Jesus that his son is sick in Capernaum. Jesus tells him that his son is already healed. He returns and on the way meets one of his servants coming to meet him, and tells him his son has recovered. When he learns that this took place the same time he spoke to Jesus, he believed in Him, and consequently, so did his household (John 4:53). When Jesus and His disciples happen upon a man born blind, they ask if he or his parents had sinned. Jesus replies, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3). When Lazarus died, Jesus said of this, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). The greatest miracle ever is the Resurrection of Jesus. It, in fact, proves that He is the Son of God (Romans 1:4). At the close of John’s record, he notes, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).

Confirmation In The Synoptics

The three synoptic gospel also demonstrate that Jesus’s miracles confirmed the truth. When John the Baptist was arrested, his disciples ask Him if He is the Messiah. Jesus does not explicitly state the word Yes, but He does answer in the affirmative. He tells them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:4-5). A paralytic man is lowered through a hole dug in the roof of a crowded house in order to see Jesus. In response to this display of faith, Jesus says his sins are forgiven. The witnesses grumble because only God can forgive. To prove that He has such spiritual power, He demonstrates His authority over the physical by healing him, which astonishes the assembly (Mark 2:9-12). Early in His ministry, Jesus is pressed by the people and sets out into the Galilean Sea and addresses the people. Jesus tells Simon, the boat’s owner, to set out into the deep waters and drop his nets. Simon is at first frustrated because he had fished unsuccessfully all night, but at His word, he agreed. They caught so many fish the nets were breaking. This leads to the faith of Simon, who elsewhere in the Bible is known as the apostle Peter (Luke 5:4-9).

Confirmation In Acts

As it was with Jesus, so too was it with His apostles. The Book of Acts records their ministries, which has many examples of miracles done to confirm the preaching of the truth. Peter and John heal a lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. The occasion became such a spectacle that Peter preached Christ at that moment. They were arrested by the Sanhedrin, and later the rest of the apostles, and told not to preach the name of Christ any more, but the apostles refused. The Sanhedrin wanted to punish them, but decided not to because they feared the people, and the apostles glorified God because of what had been done (Acts 4:21). The gospel is taken to Samaria by Philip the evangelist. He preaches and heals the sick. As a result, “the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did” (Acts 8:6). Peter passes through Lydda where a lame man laid paralyzed for eight years, named Aeneas. Peter heals him, and consequently, “all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35).

Soon after this, Peter travels to nearby Joppa. There a well-beloved saint named Tabitha had recently passed away. Peter raises her from the dead. Because of this marvelous deed, “it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord” (Acts 9:42). Later Paul and Barnabas are on the island of Paphos and they preach to the Roman proconsul, a man named Sergius-Paulus. But an evil sorcerer named Elymas tried to talk the proconsul out of obeying the gospel. Paul chides him for being contrary to righteousness and an enemy to the truth, and then strikes him blind. The response of Sergius-Paulus was, “the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord” (Acts 13:12). Notice that the miracle did not cause wonder at the divine sign, but for the word of God. Later Paul and Barnabas travel to Iconium. Luke records how, “they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3).

A sum of the work of Paul as well as the other apostles can be read in the end of the book of Romans, at it particularly ties the confirming work of the miracles with the effectiveness of preaching: “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient—in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:18-19). The great salvation of the New Testament message “was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:1-4). So when we read in the Bible of the direct operation of the Spirit, it is always revealing and confirming the truth.

This article is a select reading from my book, Biblical Teachings Regarding The Holy Spirit. It is available on Amazon and Kindle. To order, click here.

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A Review of Pentecostalism: Part II – The Nature of Miracles

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Pentecostalism has not only lead to a misunderstanding on the duration of miracles, but also on the nature of miracles. Many Pentecostalists think that answered prayer is a miracle. When we pray for the sick and they recover, that is indeed the work of God. But if the healing came over a course of time and by means of medical treatment, it is not a miracle, but providence.

Miracles & Providence

A miracle is when God acts immediately and contrary to the laws of nature. Providence is when God operates within the laws of nature that He established and still maintains. A good example of this distinction is the contest on Mt. Carmel. Elijah offers two prayers, both are answered, but answered differently. He prays for fire and fire falls from heaven. This is a miracle because fire doesn’t naturally do that. Then he prays for rain and rain falls from heaven. This is God’s providence. He used the laws of nature to hold back the rain, and when Elijah prayed, He sent the rain, but all without a miracle. It had rained before and will rain again just as it rained that day, and by natural means. God is behind all miracles and Providence, but the two should never be confused just because it all comes from God.

Also, the purpose of miracles is obscured by Pentecostal doctrine. God never intended for miracles to be selfishly used for the ease of the lives of believers. Jesus didn’t turn stones to bread because that would be an inappropriate use of His miraculous abilities (Luke 4:3-4). Paul left his friend and fellow saint Trophimus sick in the city of Miletus (Second Timothy 4:20). He didn’t heal him because that would not have fallen within the proper use of the gift of healing. Similarly, Paul prayed three times for healing and never received it (Second Corinthians 12:7-9).

Confirmation & Comfort

God never made the miracles available to make our lives better. The purpose of the first century miracles was the confirm the preaching of God’s word while it was being written. Praying for Junior to recover from the sniffles is not why God provided miraculous healing, such a healing is not the restoration of health that visibly confirms the truth like restoring withered limbs, healing the blind, or raising the dead. And such miracles are for the benefit for those who already insist they believe in Jesus, so where there is no confirmation, there will be no miracle.

This is why Jesus allowed His sick friend Lazarus to die. Jesus’s disciples and Lazarus’s two sisters believed that Jesus could heal sick Lazarus. Having faith in this, for Jesus to heal Lazarus would offer proof for those to whom it is already proven. Jesus allowed Lazarus to die so that raising him from the dead would be a splendid wonder and confirm His message that He is the Life and the Resurrection (John 11:25).

This article is a select reading from my book, Biblical Teachings Regarding The Holy Spirit. It is available on Amazon and Kindle. To order, click here.

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A Review of Pentecostalism: Part I – The History of Pentecostalism

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It is hard to discuss something so broad and nebulous as Pentecostalism, and those who think it’s simple will give simplistic responses. Nowhere is Pentecostalism codified as in a creed book. Trying to nail down Pentecostalism is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. There is so much within what is called Pentecostalism that is not only different, but contradictory. Much of it depends upon the when and where within their timeline.

Although it has root in the 1800s, Pentecostalism is basically a 20th century, and now 21st, phenomenon. There were no Pentecostals on the Mayflower. No Charismatics signed the Declaration of Independence. And there were no tongue speakers or faith healers who fought in the Civil War.

The Pentecostal Movement

Pentecostalism develops in three progressive stages. The first is what is simply called The Pentecostal Movement, which spans the turn of the century to about the end of the Great War. Its roots go back to the Second Great Awakening, and specifically to the Revival Movement and the Holiness Movement. The second of these was characterized by women who didn’t cut their hair, dressed plainly and modestly, and who wore no jewelry or make up. Some of this can be seen today in pockets of Pentecostalism. The initial Pentecostal Movement was a reaction to the secularization and materialism of Darwinian evolution. They wished to restore the world to a sense of the moral, but more important, the supernatural.

Because of the Pentecostal Movement, several new denominations were introduced. There are four which remain as the most prominent. The first is the Church of God of Prophecy, which can be traced back to 1907. Next is the Holiness Pentecostal Church, which started up in 1911. Soon the Assemblies of God began in 1914. The Foursquare Gospel branched off from the Church of God of Prophecy in 1923. To be sure, there are others, but these are still the most familiar in our time.

Charismatic Renewal

The second stage is called the Charismatic Renewal of the 1950s and 1960s. The difference between Pentecostal and Charismatic is basic. Pentecostalism results in denominations, four of which were mentioned in the last paragraph. Charismatics are individuals who remain within mainstream denominations. There are Charismatics within the Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and most religious bodies.

Charismatics are likely the minority of any congregation, found in pockets, but usually get along with non-Charismatic members. Unlike many Pentecostalists who insist tongue speaking is indispensable for salvation, and hence, pressure other people to seek it out, Charismatics do their thing but rarely look down on non-Charismatic friends within their congregations.

The Charismatic Revival got its big push through Campus Crusade movements that swept over academia following the Second World War. It served a psychological need for the children of war, but took the form of religious practice. It provided a false sense of peace for those discomforted in their upbringing by man’s inhumanity to man, the cruelty of war coming over their theatre matinee screens, and for many sense of loss from losing a father, brother, cousin, or uncle to WW2 or the Korean Conflict.

Neo-Charismatic

The third stage, known as Neo-Charismatic, began in the 1980s and continue to the present. It introduced four new components to the world of Pentecostalism. It could be argued that these are all four parts of the same system and not four distinct features. The first is the rise of the Televangelist. The second, and close to it, is the advent of the health and wealth gospel. Send money to the TV preacher and God will make you rich. The third is the birth of the mega-church, autonomous and non-denominational, even though they are like Holiday Inns – one is like every other. The fourth is an introduction of Premillennialism. Many TV preachers are finding faux-fulfillment of prophecy in every bit of news. This amends their message to one where you need to send in your money before it’s too late!

What began with the renouncement of the world with the Holiness Movement has morphed into the gross worldliness of the mega-church, and the prosperity gospel. It’s clear why it’s difficult to put Pentecostalism in a box. How can one single thing contain everything from women with modest dress and no make up to Tammy Faye Bakker? Through all of its shape-shifting and false appearances, there some basics to Pentecostalism. It emphasizes the emotional, the subjective, and the personal experience over the rational, and it holds to modern-day miracles with an emphasis on tongue speaking and faith healing.

This article is a select reading from my book, Biblical Teachings Regarding The Holy Spirit. It is available on Amazon and Kindle. To order, click here.

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The Parsimony of God

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When we discuss the qualities or attributes of God, we often talk about how God is all powerful and all knowing. He is complete in love and holiness. And yet, there is one attribute rarely discussed, probably because it is rarely considered. God is a parsimonious Being. There is an economy to the actions of God. This means that God does not act unless it is necessary for Him to do so. One way to explain this may be in the difference as well as the utilization of both miracles and providence. The first is where God acts directly and contrary the laws of nature, and the second is God acting indirectly through the existing physical laws of the earth.

A Clear Example

Let’s consider an example where we see both, the contest on Mt. Carmel. Elijah offers two prayers, both are answered, but answered differently. He prays for fire and fire falls from heaven. This is a miracle because fire doesn’t naturally do that. Then he prays for rain and rain falls from heaven. This is God’s providence. He used the laws of nature to hold back the rain, and when Elijah prayed, He sent the rain, but all without a miracle. It had rained before and will rain again just as it rained that day, and my natural means.

God did not make it rain miraculously since there was no need for it. To use a miracle when providence will do would be wasted energy and activity on God’s behalf. There are other examples in the Bible. Jesus raises Jairus’s daughter, then tells her to eat (Mark 5:43). While the resurrection was a miracle, He didn’t raise her with a full belly. She could eat on her own after she was alive again. On entering Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus rides a colt never been ridden (Mark 11:2, Luke 19:30). Usually such an animal might try to throw the rider, and Jesus could have miraculously subdued the animal. Instead, He ordered the colt’s mother to lead so it would be calm (Matthew 21:2). Nature worked good enough, and no miracle required, so no miracle performed.

A Practical Consideration

Of the attributes of God, this one may seem slight, even incidental, but it is an important point. Calvinists teach that the Holy Spirit directly converts the sinner. This can be considered a miracle. Weak members of the church have taken in this doctrine to a lesser degree, teaching that the Holy Spirit leads them or enables them to live as a Christian, and this is an immediate and direct action. God works on the sinner and continues to in the saint, but through the word.

Calvinists say they are converted and sanctified by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. Christians hold that this all happens through the agency of the Bible. David says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7). And Jesus prays, “Sanctify them with Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Therefore, the parsimonious nature of God will not allow for Calvinism to be true, nor does it assist the notion of those weak and compromising members of the church.

 

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Announcing The Launch Of My Latest Book, Biblical Teachings Concerning The Holy Spirit

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I am pleased to announce the release of my fourteenth book, Biblical Teachings Concerning The Holy Spirit. It’s both a quick read and a deep study.

One of the most difficult subject matters in the Bible has to do with the Holy Spirit. It is sometimes overly complicated by the emotionalism that is often brought to the discussion. And an additional problem that I see is the danger of study for validation or previous convictions and not for true learning. Quite often, this can take the form of shallow study, seeing only what was said before by others, and in a sense, carrying the party line on any given doctrine.

Even with diligent study and free thinking, the matter of the function and operation of the Holy Spirit is a difficult matter, if not the most difficult one from Scripture. But this does not mean it is impossible to learn what God has said on this subject. It should not be a frustration that the Bible contains complex and intricate subjects. Coming from the mind of God, this should be expected. And yet as challenging as it may be, the Biblical teachings regarding the Holy Spirit were revealed with the intend from God that they be studied and understood.

Biblical Teachings Regarding The Holy Spirit

ISBN-13: 978-1544844923

Available on Amazon and Kindle. to order, click here.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544844921

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The Inspiration of the Bible: Part III – Practically What It All Means

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When I speak of the author of the Bible, I mean God. And when I mention the writers of the Bible, I intend the men who were Inspired. The Bible writers were aware of Inspiration, both within themselves and in others. There are a few times when those with Inspiration argued for a certain point and based their argument on the grammar of other passages from the Bible.

Grammar and Inspiration

Jesus argues in favor of the resurrection before the Sadducees by quoting God to Moses at the burning bush, “I Am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Matthew 22:32, Exodus 3:14). His conclusion is that the three Patriarches still live, though physically dead when God addressed Moses. The entire argument is based upon the tense of the verb. Jesus uses the same argument before the Pharisees when He says, “Before Abraham was, I Am” (John 8:58).

To the Jews of the first century, Paul clears up their misunderstanding. God says the world will be blessed by the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3, 22:18), and since they were the seed of Abraham, they thought the world would be blessed through them. Paul points out the promise is through the seed, not seeds (Galatians 3:16). Paul contention hangs on the number of a noun, showing it is singular and not plural. These men would not make these arguments by Inspiration if word-for-word Inspiration does not also include the grammar of every word.

Inspiration and Authorship

The writers of Scripture were aware that they were Inspired in what thy wrote. To the Corinthians, Paul writes, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you” (First Corinthians 11:23). And to the Thessalonians, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (First Thessalonians 2:13). These passages not only show how men knew they were Inspired, but they demonstrate that speaking by Inspiration is the same in content as writing by Inspiration. Luke does the same when he records, “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them” (Acts 8:14).

Some have criticized plenary Inspiration like it’s a dictation machine, but that ignores the use of the human mind in the men Inspired. Paul writes, “The Spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet” (First Corinthians 14:32). These men with the gift of prophecy did not control the content, but they had control over where and when it would be used. The words did not bubble out from them as they are some unconscious vessel like the Delphian oracle. Peter writes, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven, things which angels desire to look into” (First Peter 1:10-12). Several facts stand out from this text. But for our consideration, the greatest is that men spoke and wrote by Inspiration, and all the while they were conscious and aware. Their minds were engaged.

Writers even composed Scripture and considered what others wrote as Scripture. This is more than New Testament writers quoting Old Testament prophecy. For example, Paul writes, “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages’.” (First Timothy 5:18). Here Paul contends for paying elders who work full time in that capacity. He gives two passages to support his point. One is from the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 25:4), but the second is a quotation of Jesus (Luke 10:7). Both of these quotes are called Scripture. This means the gospel account of Luke was already written by this time, and that it was considered Biblical canon, not just by Paul and Timothy, but by the God Who Inspired Paul to so argue. Later Peter says, “and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (Second Peter 3:15-16). Peter also considers the epistles of Paul authentic Scripture.

New Testament Use Of The Old Testament

The New Testament treats Old Testament characters as people who really lived in history and their lives are accurately recorded in the Old Testament narratives. The New Testament agreed with the Old that Adam was the first man and Eve was the first woman, and the serpent beguiled Eve in the Garden of Eden (Matthew 19:4, First Corinthians 15:45, Second Corinthians 11:3, First Timothy 2:13, Genesis 2:24, 3:1-4). Noah and the flood was a real event (Matthew 24:37-39, First Peter 3:20, Second Peter 2:5, 3:6, Genesis 6-8). Lot and his family escaped God’s destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-32, Second Peter 2:6-7, Genesis 18-19).

Moses lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea of the great Exodus (First Corinthians 10:1-4, Exodus 14). In the desert, God punished the wandering Jews with poisonous serpents, but sent the remedy with instructions regarding the preparation of a Brass Serpent (John 3:14, Numbers 21:4-9). Jonah, whose historicity is scoffed the most by liberals, really was swallowed by a great fish (Matthew 12:39-40, Jonah 1:17). Add to that faith’s hall of fame, the catalog of heroes from the Old Testament listed in the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews. It covers everything from creation to restoration, or in other words, all of the Old Testament history, and treats it as legitimate and historically accurate.

The Old Testament As Law

Before He ascends, Jesus says all written in the Law, the Psalms, and the prophets concerning Him has been fulfilled (Luke 24:44). That’s an accurate breakdown of the Old Testament, but in another sense, it is all considered law and not just the Pentateuch. John records Jesus saying, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, You are gods’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:34-35, Psalm 82:6). Jesus quotes a Psalm, yet calls it both Law and Scripture. A similar occurrence is in John 15:25, where He quotes Psalm 69:4 and calls it Law. Three times Paul quotes material not in the Pentateuch, yet refers to it as Law.

  • In the law it is written: ‘Withmen of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people, and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me’” (First Corinthians 14:21, Isaiah 28:11-12).
  • Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19, having just quoted in the prior seven verses Psalms 14:1–3, 53:1–3, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 5:9, 140:3, 10:7, Isaiah 59:7, 8, Psalm 36:1).
  • Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman” (Galatians 4:21-22, Genesis 16:15, 21:1-3).

After the resurrection of Jesus, He encounters a pair of men traveling the road to the town of Emmaus. They are still sad over the crucifixion and are aware of the glorious events of that morning, but partially so. They know the women found the tomb opened and empty and that they spoke to angels, but as yet had not seen Jesus. They knew Jesus would redeem Israel, but their idea was probably nationalistic, so the cross frustrated them and the resurrection confused them.

Jesus replies to them, “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-27). Their ignorance is of all that the prophets have spoken, so He corrects them beginning with Moses and continuing through all of the prophets. While the literature of the Old Testament can be compartmentalized into the Law, Psalms, and Prophets, it is all one spiritual covenant, all Scripture and all law, and as a single voice of God was given to bring us to Jesus

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