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The Historical Narrative

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
June 2, 2020 12:01 am

The Historical Narrative

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 2, 2020 12:01 am

What are we meant to gain from studying the people and events recorded in God's Word? Today, R.C. Sproul teaches that we must be cautious and not overly simplistic when interpreting the biblical narrative.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind. Some say this well. I believe in Jesus but it's Paul that gives me trouble all listen to the Gospels, but not those narrowminded up us, but there is an interconnection between gospel epistle in the New Testament you know anything about Jesus except what you learn from the gospel writers and when you set Jesus against Paul. What you do is to simply set one apostle gets another possible. There are so many opinions and interpretations of the Bible. It can sometimes be difficult to know who and what to believe. How are we supposed to find the real meaning of Scripture today. Dr. RC Sproul returns to a series knowing Scripture to help us come to real solid conclusions about what the Bible really says in this session in our series on knowing Scripture principles of understanding and interpreting the Bible were going to continue our examination of basic principles that we need to know to be responsible interpreters of the Bible in our last session we looked at the importance of reading the Bible in an existential way trying to feel the passion and the life that is involved there in the biblical text, but the handling of historical narratives is a very, very tricky business in the S of the rule that we set forth for the day. Is this that the historical narrative must be interpreted by the didactic he said again the historical narrative must be interpreted by the didactic we've already spent time defining how we recognize historical narrative literature and if you recall, back when we talked about the cardinal rule, biblical interpretation, the analogy of faith that holy Scripture is its own interpreter and the we ought never arbitrarily to set one portion of Scripture against another is particularly true when we deal with narratives because the temptation when we read narratives is to draw theological and doctrinal material from those narratives that we ought not to draw. In fact, sometimes we do it in such a way that we bring the narrative into conflict with the didactic portions of Scripture summary.

I'm sure sitting there saying what is didactic literature, didactic literature comes from the Greek verb. The DOS gain or the DOS Columbus which means teacher or to teach so didactic literature is that a genre of literature whose primary intent is to teach now when we look at the New Testament we see that we can divide somewhat loosely here the New Testament between the Gospels and the epistles, and the Gospels are primarily narratives and the epistles are primarily didactic. They're designed to teach and to instruct. Now we have to be very careful here because obviously there is a great deal of teaching content in the Gospels and certainly there is some narrative material to be found in the epistles. So it's not an absolute distinction between gospel and epistle, but in terms of emphasis in terms of accent. In general terms.

In simple terms, the purpose of the gospel is to tell us what happened is to tell us the story.

The purpose of the epistle is to explain to us the meaning of the store so another way that we could delineate the difference between gospel and epistle is this, that the gospel records the event the epistle interprets the meaning of the event. Let's take an example, perhaps the most important example in biblical history. The cross of Jesus Christ.

The cross of Jesus Christ involves a historical event where a man was convicted of a crime against the Roman government and he was sentenced to death by crucifixion in the story tells us, describes the environment, location. The characters that were involved.

The methods of death that was employed and even the words of Jesus that he spoke from across not only do we get the information and the details.

Let's describe the event as it took place. But we even get in the gospel record some people's interpretation of the meaning of the event. For example, Caiaphas said it is expedient for the nation that this man be put to death. So, from his perspective, we learn that the execution of Jesus was done out of political expediency to get the heat of the Romans off the Jewish Sanhedrin. Let's quiet down. The people will sacrifice this itinerant preacher we see pilots statement brave cleanses his hands and he says I find no faults and this may and he hasn't interpretation of his own political expedience or we hear the testimony of the centurion at the foot of the cross, who said surely this man was the son of God was going on. Was it simply an event of a poor misguided Jewish rabble-rouser who was put to death through some political chicanery that Took Pl. in Palestine 2000 years ago was this one a diluted charlatan. The only of treason against both the synagogue and the state or was this God incarnate, going to the cross to die a cosmic that of atonement that would have radical consequences for the eternal destinies of thousands and millions of people in the whole world. What is the meaning of the cross in the very first lecture of this. I told the danger of the modern version obtaining where the artist says all paint the picture you interpret it so that any kind of interpretation goes and we warned against the danger of subjectivism in that while there been many attempts to look at the cross and reinterpret the cross. According to 20th-century categories of what we have in the New Testament is not merely the record of the event of the cross, but also we have the record on the interpretation of the event in the New Testament. That's the primary function of the epistles.

But when I want to remind you of this.

If you were a newspaper reporter standing at the foot of the cross on Golgotha and you watch the drama of the crucifixion of this do unfolding before your eyes. I don't think that it would be immediately apparent to your naked eye that the death of this may was the most important death in world history of any man that this man at that moment was carrying by dictation the sins of the world. If you look at Jesus on the cross you saw a man in the light clock swatting and bleeding and dying and you would see skin and flesh and bones and hair toenails but you wouldn't see this package of human sin wrapped up placed upon a spot it was invisible solid. You know that the death was an atoning death.

Were it not for divine revelation and so some say this well. I believe in Jesus but it's Paul that gives me trouble all listen to the Gospels, but not those narrowminded epistles, but there is an interconnection between gospel and epistle in the New Testament know anything about Jesus except what you learn from the gospel writers and when you said Jesus against Paul. What you do is to simply set one apostle against another apostle, but their task was to tell us what happened and what it me and so we must be careful lest we draw inferences from those narratives that are on a collision course with what is taught by inspired interpretation of the events elsewhere. Give an example of how we can draw conclusions from the narratives that are very attempting to draw yet are dangerous, I think, for example, again of the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, which I mentioned in our last lecture when Kierkegaard was wrestling with the drama. Why Abraham got up early in the morning, but we know that Abraham did get up early in the morning, and he made the three day journey to Mariah and he did everything that God had instructed him to do and he took his son and he wrapped them in ropes and he put them there on the altar and Abraham took out his knife and he raised above his sons just and just as he's ready to plunge that Geiger into the heart of his own son suddenly an angel's voice called out, saying, Abraham Haber, why not by upon thy son for now.

I know that you love me that you obey. Another very tempting conclusion that we may want to draw from that passage is what God was up in heaven pacing up and down the floors. Walking back and forth before the throne of the having calling for bulletins from the archangels every five minutes to watch the progress of Abraham. Is he still moving towards Mount Moriah and the angel would come in and say yes is now 17 miles from Mount Moriah, and closing rapidly and another bulletin would come five minutes later and God would take see Steiger. Does he seem to be losing his confidence he could see God. Their ratings hands, wiping his breath wondering whether not Abraham is going to be faithful. You know better than that, everything. The Scriptures tell us in the didactic portions of Scripture is that God knows the end from the beginning that God is omniscient.

He knew very well what Abraham was going to do before Abraham and yet when the angel comes and speaks on behalf of goddesses Abraham and Brent… Your son because now I know as if they didn't, then we have to say what is the point of the story is the point of that historical narrative point of that drama to teach us about the character of God's omniscient, hard point of the narrative is to reveal to us the nature of real trusting faith in a sovereign God to tell us of the test of Abraham not of the test of God. God didn't have to pass a test on whether or not God had faith in neighboring the question was whether not Abraham had faith in God and so we have to be careful that we don't draw conclusions from narratives that would set costs in opposition to the rest of the Bible become the New Testament and we see other problems linked to the historical narratives the New Testament. For example, gives us a record not only of what Jesus said Jesus did how Jesus behaved. We get a portrait of Jesus painted before us. Remember Sheldon's classic devotional book in his steps and we've been taught again and again as a guiding principle for Christian conduct for Christian ethics that when we are confronted with the situation I were not quite sure what the right thing to do is we should ask yourself this question. What would Jesus do in this situation. Then we go back to the New Testament we find and see if there any parallel situations and see exactly what Jesus did know there is value in a question like what would Jesus do in this situation because we know the Jesus behavior was impeccable. The Jesus behavior was sinless. We couldn't ask for a better model to guide her better norm for Christian behavior than the life of Jesus himself, except that even that creates its own breed of special prompts. Why think the answer is obvious because no matter what else I am. I may be a Christian but I am not Jesus. And there were certain things that Jesus did, because he had a mission to perform that is not my mission that had Jesus not done those things that he was called to do.

He would've been disobedient to God.

But if I imitated Jesus I would be disobedient to God. How could that be, well, let's take this example I look at the church and sometimes I'm annoyed and upset by the church because I don't see that the church is going is pure in his propers about a beef, why have any right as an individual Christian to pick up a whip and walk into the church and drive the money changers found in a fit of anger and righteous indignation now Jesus that said Jesus is the Lord of the church. I'm not the Lord of the church so I cannot practice everything that Jesus did well. We look at the New Testament we read the Jesus was circumcised for religious reasons. Does that mean that I should become circumcised through not only should I not become circumcised, for religious reasons, but Paul warns us in Galatians that we better not be circumcised, for religious reasons because if we get circumcised, not for medical reasons but for religious reasons. What are we doing were binding ourselves once again under the law of the old covenant from which we been one day and we may forget that when Jesus lived his life of perfect obedience. He was living it under the demands and conditions of the Mosaic covenant of the Old Testament and the new covenant didn't start until Jesus inaugurated in the upper room the night before he died. And so if we imitate and copy Jesus in everything that we do. We could end up in a kind of legalism that would in fact deny the whole purpose of his ministry that never happens you say yes it does. I said I see an abuse of application of Jesus behavior frequently, but what about the invitation, not only of Jesus but of other saints in the Bible there is where we have to be very, very clear.

Because though we know Jesus never send we can't make the same statement about David or about Abraham and you say, women. Abraham had a wife. I called a bar.

David had hundreds of wives and concubines. Solomon had a thousand, and these people were held up as sites yes and David committed adultery. We are not to imitate that the Bible paints for us the portraits of the saints, warts and all. Yes, we should imitate their heroic and virtuous actions. He ought not to imitate their sinful actions.

And just because David did something or even just because Paul did something does not in itself make it necessarily commendable, although it usually gets tricky. It might when we see that these men did something that was praiseworthy by God. Then of course there example as a model for us but when we see the something they did is condemned by God, then there example, cannot be a positive model for no looking at narratives of what the first century church to or when early Christians did can be very helpful but also dangerous.

I want to know how the very first group of Christians behaved before the corruption of civilization society came in the stir and blemished the pristine purity of the early church but on the one hand, even though there was a degree of purity present in the early church that is not present in our day and age that there was a degree of zeal evidence in the church in its earliest stage. There was also a sense in which the church was very immature.

Read Paul's letters to the Corinthians Paul is writing to an immature congregation, to whom he must plead and exhort the necessity of growing up in the mature we read the book of acts, and we read this history and we read for example, in the very early chapters of acts that the New Testament community at a particular point in time held all things in common and that statement is just mentioned and then virtually nothing more is said about it and we read throughout the rest of Scripture is a degree between the lines of the rest the Scriptures say that it's obvious that the holding of possessions communally was not an established perpetual order for the Christian community. But for a particular moment in time.

It was said that the early church did it, and some have taken from that a mandate for communist. They drawn more from the narrative than the narrative requires take the whole controversial matter of the role in the functions and the significance of tongues and the speaking of tongues in the Christian life.

Read the narratives of the book, and you will read that not only does Pentecost happen in Jerusalem but there's a sense in which a few more Pentecost happens, the spirit falls again on the Samaritans in the spirit falls at Cornelius's house stood on the God fears in the spirit falls among the Gentiles and we look at that and we say all that must mean that the spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit must come after conversion to Christ because it certainly did in the book of acts or the significance of that is that some believers as in the case of the Samaritans, have faith, but they don't have the baptism of the Spirit in the certainly was true there that there was a disjunction between regeneration and faith and the baptism of the Holy Spirit and then you go over to the didactic portions of Scripture we read that the same spirit as baptized all members of the body of Christ. How is it that we have a doctrine floating around that some Christians are baptized in the Spirit, and some are not. When the didactic portions of the New Testament seem to indicate that there is a universality of participation in the baptism of the Holy Spirit in those who are truly Christian. All Christians are gifted by the spirit is the teaching of the didactic portions of Scripture. So how do we square that with the narratives of relook at those narratives we ask ourselves what did the disciples themselves see as the significance of the falling of the spirit at Cornelius's household or among the Samaritan Christians were among the Gentile Christians in Ephesus. Their interpretation of the significance I might say lay down the gauntlet up with the challenge that is the exact opposite interpretation given to it by new Pentecostal thinkers ruined the day of Pentecost. Every believer who was there received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Every believer at coroners's house will receive the baptism the Holy Spirit. Every believer among the disciples of John believed and received the Holy Spirit. Every one of those people who were believers present received that it wasn't that some believers got up and some did in fact if you look at it. You see the whole book of acts follows the great commission, Nobody Chapters Take Pl. in Jerusalem and then in Judea and then in Samaria and then to the uttermost parts of the earth and the biggest question. The early church had to face was how these people who were non-Jewish fit into the body of Christ. What is the Samaritan for what is the God fear.

What is the Gentile in the day of Pentecost, only Jews were baptized and then God pours his spirit out on the Samaritans and on the Ephesian Christians on the God fears it commands. Also every group that was suspect. And where they were to put in the New Testament community church were given their Pentecost and Peter Dagestan to see what's going on there and they come back and they said this is that which happened to us. How can we refuse them for access into our community. When God has pointed the imprimatur of his spirit upon them. In other words, the significance the apostles derived from the narrative events was that all of these people are to be included as full members in the body of Christ, the very opposite conclusion which is drawn from 20th century new Pentecostal theologians who have built their doctrine on inferences drawn from narratives with that careful, careful guarding, tempering influence of interpreting the narratives in accordance with way they are interpreted by the didactic literature of the New Testament, and so we must be careful to read the Bible holistically, we ought not to draw interpretations from the text that are against interpretations that the Bible elsewhere draws itself able interprets the Bible. The Holy Spirit is his own interpreter in our next session will look at some more very practical principles of how to handle this moment is such a critical component of biblical interpretation. The Bible doesn't contradict itself. Thank you for joining us for the Tuesday edition of Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Lee Webb, we are hearing portions of the series.

Knowing Scripture in 12 lessons. Dr. RC Sproul lays out the basic guidelines for understanding, interpreting and applying Scripture correctly like to send you the complete series just requested when you give a donation of any amount to look at your ministries and to add to your study were including several other teaching resources doctors groceries through the books of Ecclesiastes, Galatians, and Jonah plus full teaching series on the parables of Jesus and Psalm 51 requests this RC Sproul teaching collection when you call us at 800-435-4343 or when you go online to Renewing Your Mind.org and I'd like to thank you for your gift. During these difficult days. We understand that finances are tight for many, so we do appreciate your ongoing generosity before we go today also like to point out another helpful resource from licking your ministries rough that it streaming trustworthy biblical preaching and teaching along with Scripture reading news updates and audiobooks 24 hours a day, you can listen for free at any time@refnet.fm or with Amazon Alexa you can also download the free rough net app on your Apple, android or Kindle fire device.

Knowing the difference between explicit and implicit teaching can bring immense clarity to our Bible study and that will be our focus. Tomorrow is Dr. still continues a series knowing Scripture here on renewing among we hope you'll join us


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