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Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 10, 2021 12:01 am


Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 10, 2021 12:01 am

The Bible contains many different forms of writing. It's important to know which form we're reading so we may interpret the text properly. Today, R.C. Sproul introduces one common form of Hebrew literature that we find throughout Scripture.

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To know for sure that your saved is a growing process with most Christians as they exercise three things. First of all a greater trust in the promises of God that your bedrock of assurance. The second thing is by the inward evidences of grace or the marks or fruits of grace in your life and the third is the direct testimony of the Holy Spirit that he speaks directly to your soul through the word. I am thy salvation or bring some of the promise to play into your life in such a way that you can't deny that he is assuring you you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to you.

Take those three things the promises of God, evidences of grace, testimony, the Holy Spirit and then put over them all. God's faithful track record over the years, God's people can have full infallible assurance of faith. Assurance of faith by Joel BK visit Lincoln series to learn more.

The books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and song of Solomon make up what we know as wisdom literature in the Bible. How are we to understand what we read in these books look at it for what it is. Practical wisdom principles that can serve you in your every day struggles with life. But don't confuse the Proverbs with moral absolutes. They were never intended to be read that way, they were never set forth for us as the 10 Commandments were we read the Bible we encountered many different forms of historical narrative poetry, didactic teaching, just to name a few. And it's important to understand what former reading in order to interpret it properly. Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul helps us with a unique form of Hebrew literature that was common in the age of Israel but a bit of a mystery to us.

I remember reading a chapter in a volume and theology written by my mentor Dr. JC Burke, our and the title of the chapter was the biblical prior were on our pylori is a principal that is so basic and so foundational that it ought never to be violated, and the point of Burkart chapter was this that the one basic axiom of Scripture is that we ought never, never, never, never to attribute in any way possible. The doing of evil to God, and that is the principle of Christianity that God is never the author of evil is idly incapable of doing a good tenure Bible you have the King James version of the Bible we turn it open to the 45th chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah to verse seven where God is speaking and he says here I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil. All I the Lord do all these things on our last time together.

I said we had to be very careful about achieving a harmony balance between implications and explications what the Bible clearly said not. Doesn't the text right here say so clearly that one couldn't miss God is saying. I create evil. It's not an inference drawn from the text. He explicitly says that he creates evil. How then can we say in theology that God never, never, never creates evil when the Bible says straight out right here.

I create evil. We do that actually to solve this problem is a simple matter if we are able to recognize the specific literary form in which that particular text comes to us what we have here is an example of a particular kind of parallelism, a literary device that is very commonplace to the Hebrew and found throughout the Scriptures, but we are not accustomed to it so readily in our language, as the Jew was in antiquity and so sometimes we don't recognize it when it appears and we stumble and get caught up and run into all kinds of bear traps because of our inability to recognize a parallelism so I want to do here before I resolve this problem with creating evil is to take some time to define this literary form of parallelism, so will be able to recognize it when it comes in view of course I think one of the most difficult things about parallelism is spelling it parallelism is spelled PARALL to L's comfort ELIS and parallelism simply is what it suggests where you have versus four stanzas of Scripture that are set in close proximity to each other in some form of parallel fashion. The trick, however, is there are different kinds and different types of parallel us. There are what we call synthetic parallelism synonymous parallelisms antithetical parallelisms and other types and each one has its own rules for interpretation.

Let's begin with the easiest what we call synonymous parallelisms, a synonymous parallelism is the case in the text where your two lines are two verses are two stances say the same idea, but in slightly different ways, for slightly different forms of speech. Let's turn to the book of Proverbs chapter 19 where we can find an example of synonymous parallelism in verse five of Proverbs 19 we read as follows, a false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape you see that there are two parts to each line in the first line we read a false witness shall not be unpunished. False witness is the one who will not be unpunished in the second part we read and he that tells lies. Who is he that tells what you tells lies is a false witness and he shall not escape the same thought exactly is expressed in both verses. The move is unjust.

So not go unpunished. The who tells lies shall not escape, and so on so synonymous parallelism says exactly the same thing.

The slight alteration of language.

I may have mentioned this already, but many have tripped over the statement in the Lord's prayer where when we pray in the Lord's prayer.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Here we have another case of synonymous parallelism where both stanzas are saying substantially the same thing and if we understand that we won't get caught up in all the problems that have developed from misunderstandings of the Lord's prayer.

At that point. Let's look at a different kind of parallelism for second what we call antiseptic or contrasting types of parallelism where the two lines contrast one idea with another.

Let's look at Proverbs now. Proverbs 13 verse 10 only by pride comes contention, but with the well advised is wisdom that is pride brings trouble but well advised are the humble brings well-being so that you have the contrast between good and evil set in parallel forms in a balance form and that is found repeatedly in particular, the poetic literature of the Old Testament we call the wisdom literature. The Proverbs Psalms book of Job, and so on, but certainly not exclusively in the wisdom books we find it.

Also, particularly in the profits.

Another form of parallelism is what we call synthetic parallelism where there is, rising crescendo were statements build upon one another and will look at that in Psalm 92 Psalm 92 verse nine hello thine enemies. Oh war for hello thine enemies shall perish. All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered, but my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of a unicorn and I shall be anointed with fresh oil see the building crescendo of the punishment that is given to the wicked. That then leads to the opposite conclusion for the righteous, and you have two or three verses that going to let me give you another one. Matthew seven verse seven. This is a very famous passage from the sermon on the mount that I think you all recognized. Ask and it shall be given to you seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you to see that you really have three ideas here. Ask, seek, not as sort of a synthesis of different ideas, but there really in step up fashion really saying the same thing and really it's almost a kind of synonymous parallelism, but is that recognition that when we see parallelism. We know were dealing with poetry and a flag should go up in our head that is a poetic structure that we need to be careful that we don't misinterpret, and not only that, if we recognize parallelism and we don't know what the passage means if we have two lines. For example, that are saying substantially the same thing were not clear what it says in the second part if the first part is clear. The second part is clarified by the first part. Let's take an example is go back to the problem. I started with in Isaiah chapter 45 where God says I the Lord do all these things he says I form the light, and I create the darkness. What is that I form the light, and I create the darkness, the two elements within the first verse are in contrast to each other. I form white I bring the darkness, light and darkness are set in contrast the next part of the verse we read I make peace, and I create evil. What we have here is a type of antithesis, a form of contrast between light and darkness and no peace, and evil. But if I would ask you to take out a piece of paper and I said okay what is the opposite of light. What would you say, say, darkness was the opposite of cold.

It's a hot I say what's the opposite of peace. You say war there was the opposite of evil say goodness and righteousness, but here it says I make peace, and I create evil doesn't balance doesn't because though the first part of the sentence. Light and darkness are clearly opposites. The next part of the parallelism I make peace, and I create evil. Don't jive in the same way of antithesis as we would expect. The reason for that is just simply here we have an awkward translation of the Hebrew text in the Old Testament there were many many different words for evil because the Jew understood evil in lots of different ways a calamity that befalls a nation on earthquake, a hurricane, a defeated war.

That was back you, and you say I have for you today bad notes were having a terrible storm of hurricanes coming to wipe out the city that bad news but that is not the same thing as talking about moral evil for what we call sin. We don't attribute sin to hurricanes.

We don't attribute sin to tornadoes or the flux buoy but the Jew said they're all different ways in which man suffers and all of them are bad in a certain sense, in a physical sense or in a sense of prosperity more modern translations render this verse.

I am the Lord. I form the light, I create darkness, I bring wheel. I bring low or I bring prosperity and I bring calamity, but when it says in the old King James, I create evil at Mesa saw that at the very beginning of the creation God comes down and plans a wicked desire of moral corruption in the heart of man which the rest of the Bible completely repudiates any idea but you see, once we recognize this as a parallelism, even if we don't know a word in Hebrew, we can see that there's something wrong here in our understanding that the contrast doesn't come across as it obviously should what God is saying here's look, I am God, and I bring blessing I bring curse. I lift up nations.

I bring down nations. I grant prosperity and if you're wicked I bring calamity.

I do all of these things God does visit us with bad day as a judgment that is not the same thing as saying that God creates evil and ultimate sex okay so hope to be able to recognize parallelism when you see it I think is even this quick overview of them will be all that you need because you're going to begin to see them almost every page of the Bible there so frequently found in Scriptures and sometimes they really help us understand what the Bible is teaching. Once we recognize that because what is obscure in one part of the verse is made clear by the other part of the verse, and a host of sticky problems and be unraveled. That way, now that we used some of the poetic literature the wisdom literature. Some examples from Proverbs of biblical style. I need to say another word about how to interpret the product and put it in a broader context of how we interpret biblical laws and principles and precepts in the first rule of course is to be able to distinguish between different kinds of laws that we find in the Bible there are several, but I'm just going to focus attention on three types of precept or principles that the Bible teaches us according to the style or the form in which they come. These three are casual with thick law, apodictic law and proper casuistry glossy ASU IST IC casuistry clause is a just a fancy word for case law and the normal form in which is found is the form of an example for an illustration, usually with the words, if then. If you go back in the Old Testament realizes if you're Aux tramples down your neighbors. Roses then you must pay such and such indemnity towards your neighbor and the point of case law is to give you a model a guideline for practical judgments in the law court. If the Bible sat down principles and rules to govern every conceivable human situation. The book would be fatter than all of our law books put together and you know how many law books there are in the land today is such a wealth of information can hardly find precedence and so the ball does is give general guidelines open in other words, if it's not my aux the tramples on your rosebushes, but it's my doggy that tramples down your chrysanthemums unlocking to find a specific legal guide or principal in the Bible about it, but I get the general idea of what should be done because I see that model or that illustration that case or for instance discovered in the case law structures. If a happens then be should fall.

Now that's case law. That's what we would call for precedent law is another form of law where we are now talking about moral absolutes that is called apodictic law APO DIC TIC in the usual formula for that is in the direct form of address of you shall or you shall not word we find these maxims set down for us. They're not just individual cases but they become the universal principles the foundational principles on which the case law is established, just as our Constitution would give us the foundational laws upon which the particular bits of legislation we passed in the statehouse are to be measured here. Course the Old Testament find that most clearly in the 10 Commandments thou shall not steal, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not covet, and so on.

The form of that thou shalt not, or they'll show love the Lord thy God with all of my heart and all I sold so that is in the form of what is called apodictic law is enough to distinguish between apodictic law and case law just by the worry way in which it is spoken.

But there's another principle that comes in here that is often confusing. That's the proper but we do with the front. How do you interpret Proverbs.

How do you apply a proverb is a moral principle to your life.

There can be real problem here. Let's look again at Proverbs chapter 26 verse four answered not a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. So what's the preceptor of wisdom that we are given don't answer a fool according to his folly, because you gonna be just like him. If you do all right, we learn that lesson way that makes sense to go to verse five.

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit now here you have two verses of Scripture back to back in consecutive standing that clearly contradict each other. The first one says don't answer a fool according to his folly. The very next verse says answer a fool according to his folly.

The home in the world to reconcile their well if these two past were coming to us as moral absolutes. We would have hopeless contradiction, but they're not coming to us as apodictic law there coming to us as Proverbs is little gems, little insights little vignettes of practical wisdom and you can find many such vignettes of wisdom in the Old Testament that seem on the surface to conflict one with another, and that shouldn't surprise us because we find the same thing in English speaking countries with our own proverbial wisdom of thinking.

For example, of two Proverbs that are commonplace to our own culture.

Think of this one look before you leap.

That's proverb number one problem number two is he who hesitates is lost know what happens if you elevate those little pithy proverb you will bits of wisdom and make them moral absolutes. I get myself in situations says it is morally incumbent upon me to look before I leap and then I say, but the law also requires that if I hesitate. I am lost, so I know I do. Do I hesitate to take the time necessary to look before I leap order.

Why not look before I leap and jump right away. See the clear conflict between the two. Why is it I think it's easy, isn't it point is that there are some earthly human situations where the wise man if he is going to be prudent does not jump into things impulsively without seeing word is that he's jump that if he's careful if these cautious a few sagacious and warrants he will examine the situation and not act irresponsibly on impulse, he will look before he leaps because he may jump into trouble.

On the other day. There are times in our lives where decisive action is required. We don't have time to examine all the facts.

It's a crisis situation, a matter of urgency.

We must act and the wise man doesn't have time to hesitate, you must move so just want to be careful here that as you read the Proverbs as you read the resolution look at it for what it is practical wisdom principles that can serve you in your every day struggles with life transcendent wisdom. Wisdom that comes from the mind of God. But don't confuse the Proverbs with moral absolutes.

They were never intended to be read that way, they were never set forth for us as the 10 Commandments were there is a difference in how we interpret those laws and we need to recognize I in our next time together.

I want to look at one of the most difficult problems that confronts the modern interpreter and that is how do we deal with the way in which the Scripture that comes to us in the New Testament is tied to the culture in which it was written or are there things in the Bible that don't apply to the church today or does everything that was written in the first century still have obligatory application to the church today. That's a very sticky and difficult problems were going to look at how we can set forth some principles in God for making those decisions as we come to the text in our next session and we do hope you'll join us for that lesson tomorrow interpreting what we find of the Bible.

Like all sciences is governed by rules. That's why were featuring Dr. RC Sproul series knowing Scripture here on Renewing Your Mind.

RC lays out the basic guidelines for understanding and interpreting and applying Scripture correctly. These are principles that are vital for us to understand if we want to get the true meaning out of a passage we be happy to send you all 12 lessons on four DVDs for your donation of any amount to litigator ministries. There are couple of ways you can reach us to make a request.

One is by phone. Our number is 800-435-4343. You can also give your gift online at Renewing Your you'll find more resources on this topic in table talk magazine just did a search for the word and found articles with titles like tools for Bible study interpreting the Bible literally plus articles on relativism and the inerrancy of Scripture, you'll have access to all these articles when you subscribe shall receive the physical magazine each month with its additional articles and Bible studies. You can learn more and subscribe. When you go to table tomorrow.

RC will help us discern who is obligated by clear directives that we read in Scripture to take a principle that is set down that he intends to be limited for questions and simply dismiss his violence to the authority of our and yet to take something that was only meant to be temporary cost and imposing upon all people in every age is to do violence to the people.

How can we tell the difference between those two will find out tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind

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