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The Authority of Scripture: Inspiration

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
June 28, 2022 12:01 am

The Authority of Scripture: Inspiration

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 28, 2022 12:01 am

The Bible is unlike all other writings in that its words are breathed out by God Himself. Today, Stephen Nichols teaches that the inspiration of Scripture requires us to recognize and joyfully submit to the authority of God's written Word.

Get Stephen Nichols' Teaching Series 'Why We Trust the Bible' for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/2233/why-we-trust-the-bible

Don't forget to make RenewingYourMind.org your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind. The Bible is a divine book, its origin is God it is breathed out from God but God used human instruments in the recording and writing down of his word last point is why some skeptics question the truth of the Bible. They claim the people wrote, there is no proof that God had any part of it today.

We returned to Dr. Stephen Nichols series why we trust the Bible and will learn that the issue the naysayers and skeptics have with the Bible is actually a moral problem in our last session together.

We're talking about Revelation and one of those attributes that we talked about of Revelation is the authority of Revelation to spend time in our next two sessions here together talking about the authority of Revelation the first of these two sessions were going to talk about the doctrine of inspiration. This word actually is a biblical word comes from a text that many of you are familiar with it comes from second Timothy chapter 3 verse 16 and as we get to second Timothy chapter 3 verse 16. This is what Paul tells us all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. So this word inspired, and the doctrine of inspiration comes from this text and actually comes from many more tax than this, but this is where we start and reminds us something reminds of something right off the bat and that is that Scripture is top down is the word of God to us. Now this is what sets Scripture apart. This is what differentiates Scripture from all other views out there from all other philosophies of life and we talked a little bit in the last session together of the philosophies that were around and prevalent in Paul's day philosophies of Plato's the ideas of Aristotle throughout the centuries of human history there has been a desire to answer the big questions of life. Who am I where did I come from where my going what is the meaning of all of us and are not just questions on a personal level.

Are they there there also questions on sort of the macro level. Where did all of this as we look around and see it worded all come from, what is the purpose of it. Well, to answer those questions through the ages, different answers have been put forth. There was the mythological age now this is the great stories of Homer as he tries to explain the world by using meth coming out of Homer's home city. Miletus is the first of the great Greek philosophers Thales, and so families changes or shifts from myth to explain the phenomenon. To answer those big questions, stretches us over to philosophy. So philosophy rules and then of course we have the coming of the church and with the passing of the Greco-Roman era into the Middle Ages.

We have the era of Christendom and now the church is the authority couldn't help but see it even.

It dominated the landscaping looked off the horizon and what would you see Lindsay some skyscraper you would see the cathedral tower so that physical architectural edifice. There was pointing to how the church dominated the mental landscape as well. It was the church that told you your place when we come into the ear of the Reformation right and the reformers take us back to Scripture, that wonderful doctrine of Sola script torso. Now Scripture is our authority but not everybody agreed that that was the direction to go. So as we can see the ear of the Reformation.

We also have the ear of the Renaissance right and with the Renaissance. We have the beginnings of modern science and the beginnings of modern philosophy and this enlightenment. Moves us into this modern age is weak come into the late 1600s and through the 1700s and through the 1800s. And increasingly, there was a shift away from the church a shift away from Scripture as our authority and instead we began to look within her own head and we began to stress human autonomy and rationality, and science.

In this was the modern age. Now those who watch these things tell us that the modern age is crumbling and that we are entering into a new time a new phase they call it post modernity and some of those beliefs of modernity that were so solid that much of culture was so committed to seem to have crumbled a little bit around the edges, and there's not so much a firm commitment to science is the answer to solve our problems. Is there once was there. There's even a little bit of a suspicion about these methodologies that Sue dominated in modernity. But whether it's modernity or postmodernity. Both of those worldviews have a problem with that idea that the answers to the big questions are in fact alien to us that the answers to who am I why am I here and where my going those answers are not going to be found within our own head, those answers or can be discovered as we apply all of our skill in all of our acumen and all of our abilities to try to figure out the world. Those answers come from above us.

Those answers come from beyond us.

Those answers come in fact from God.

It is top down. It's difficult will just stick with modernity since were not quite sure what this postmodernity thing is to stick with modernity. That's difficult for someone in the modern age to grasp to have to submit to an ancient book vector was a professor at Harvard in 1891 published a book by Houghton Mifflin's name was Joseph Henry Thayer and in his book he was speaking of that doctrine of inspiration just a few years before Benjamin Warfield called the lien of old Princeton, the great theologian there at Princeton theological seminary. Warfield had published an essay on the inspiration of Scripture. Thayer was responding to that essay, among other things, and this is what he had to say about Warfield theory of inspiration but by reason of improved methods of philological study now. I'll come back to that for a moment of progress in science, there's that key modernist commitment of progress in science and discovery of accumulating results in archaeological and historical research. The theory of inspiration has come to occasion restlessness and perplexity at times. Not a little distress in thoughtful souls. It has become a yoke which they, unlike their fathers are unable to bear.

Now let's try to unpack that little bit and see what Thayer is trying to tell us when he talks about improved methods of philological study he's talking about an enterprise of the 1800s that we call higher criticism. This started in Germany, the great evangelist Billy Sunday, who was known for sort of theatrics he would jump up on the platform and do all kinds of things. He was a pro baseball player sure is a pretty athletic guy but in this was in the 1910s as during World War I's maybe can understand this Billy Sunday would say turn hell upside down and you know what stamped on the bottom made in Germany Bessette Sunday would say.

Now it was the time of World War I. There might be just a little bit of American nationalism coming out there and that but what was he talking about. He was talking about higher criticism that had flourished in Germany in the 1800s and had washed ashore's in America from the 1880s into the 1920s when the fundamentalist modernist controversy raged in the theory of higher criticism started in the Pentateuch to tell us that Moses didn't write the first five books of the Bible, not what's really going on there is not just a question of Moses's authorship, which the Pentateuch claims to be the books of Moses, what's really going on there is that these books the first five books, the Pentateuch, the foundation of Scripture are not the result of a top-down revelation from God, but these five books are the bottom up discussions and working out of what the Israelite community came to understand about God and the relationship to him. The upshot of all of this challenge to Mosaic authorship is that Scripture is not a divine revelation but a human creation. Just like all the other religious text and then it moved from Moses and the Pentateuch into Jesus in the Gospels and so Matthew is not by Matthew Mark is not by Mark Lucas, not by Luke, John is not by John.

These Gospels are in fact the product of later communities and there again sort of ideas of Jesus and who he was and how we relate to him and so this is what Thayer is talking about when he says, improved methods of philological study is no longer tenable for us to hold to inspiration and then he says, improved methods of science progress in science and discovery. This is something that's hard for us to see because it's so prevalent.

But this idea of progress is such a fundamental commitment of modernity and even a postmodernity. One of the byproducts of progress is the idea that newer is better. So this is an ancient book doesn't really tell us how to live doesn't really tell us about human psychology and about human relationships or is it in fact outdated and outmoded and Thayer admits as much. As you know, in a previous age, when there were such advances in science and there wasn't all that accumulating data, our fathers could easily bear the yoke of a word from God, but we know better. We now know better and we can't bear this yoke anymore as we approach Scripture we have a fundamental question to ask yourselves.

It's a question of commitment question first principles. Is this the word of God or not. That's the fundamental question we have to nuance this because we think that Scripture is both a divine book and a human book. We don't see the doctrine of inspiration as implying that somehow the biblical authors entered into a trance like state in their hand was sort of taken over and maybe their eyes rolled in the back of their head and before you know it.

There was a book.

If only writing were that easy. We see that the biblical authors personalities are preserved in the text itself. There are differences. John reads differently than Paul Peter reads differently than Paul. These are real human authors so the Bible is a human book that's a true statement. It's not written in some mystical language. Well, if you look at Hebrew might think it's mystical, but actually it was just the language that was spoken in Greek might, it's all Greek to me right, it might look mystical to you, too, but it was written in common Greek language of the day. In fact there were sort of two major dialects of Greek, there was the high Greek attic Greek. They call it like the attic of a house that's the Greek of the philosophers. That's the Greek of the poets that's the Greek of the writers and then there was coin a word that just means common in Latin the word is vulgar, which just means common and that's the language. The Bible was written so it's a human book. It's written in ways that we can understand, but we must always say that while it is a human book.

It is a divine book, so we need to avoid two extremes. There one is not acknowledging that it's a divine book.

This is just a human product howitzer great read very insightful might even help in your life if you need it, but don't think of it as God's word sort of the secular view. There's a long history of that. Then there's the other side that doesn't want to take into account the human authorship of the text that again sees these biblical authors are sort of entering in a trance like state. We don't see that either. So to start off. We need to balance these ideas. The Bible is a divine book it is sourced in God. Its origin is God it is breathed out from God but God used human instruments in the recording and writing down of his word.

We see this a little bit more in another text that is usually talk about inspiration right up there with second Timothy 316 is second Peter chapter 2 here as we get to the end of second Peter chapter 2 we see in verse 16 that Peter again is differentiating Scripture from other approaches or other answers to those big questions, and so he says we did not follow.

In verse 16 we did not follow cleverly devised myths.

There were plenty of those around in the first century. That's not what this is. Now this is from God.

If we drop down to verse 21. No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, never hear echoes of Paul from first Thessalonians chapter 2, when he says you received it as it is not as the word of man, but you received it is what it really is the word of God. Peter saying the same thing. It was never produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit when ice imagery.

There are sometimes given as a way to understand this is sort of like the way the winds may carry a ship or the waves may carry a ship and so there is a preserving their of the human authorship and Peter well knows his humanity. Destiny is a preserving their of the human authorship, but these words are the words from God. So we start off with the doctor. Inspiration of recognizing that it is in fact a top-down revelation that that differentiates all of these other attempts throughout human history. Throughout these different.

School schools are approaches of trying to answer these questions.

Who am I why am I here what is the purpose of all this we see it that Scripture is top-down, not only in these proof texts as we call them of second Timothy 316 and second Peter chapter 1 we also see it all throughout the Bible we see it even more in Paul Paul Weathers writing to the Corinthians, or even writing to the Galatians, he doesn't say this study. You need to do this because I'm telling you to do this.

He says you need to do this because I speak for God as his apostle. In fact, he makes it clear that these are not his words.

These are not his thoughts.

These are not his ideas.

These are in fact the words of God.

He is simply an apostle who speaks the word of God.

We see it in the Old Testament you trip over this phrase in the Old Testament, don't you, thus says the Lord.

Thus says the Lord.

It's never the word of Malachi. It's the word of the Lord through the prophet Malachi, and we even see this differentiated in Matthew chapter 5 to 7 Christ is something the Old Testament prophets never did. In the sermon on the Mount. He says you have heard it said that he quotes the Old Testament that he says but I say on to you know biblical author ever claims that authority. They are always the mouthpiece of God so it's not just a proof text, it's moving all through Scripture. If we are going to come to Scripture if we're going to read it. If we're going to look to it.

We're going to have to let it tell us what it is and what it tells us very clearly is. It is the word of God. Now, different people have tried different ways to explain this doctrine of inspiration. We could have what we call the liberal view this work comes out of that year of the 1880s to the 1910s. This is probably seemed best in a quote like Feher who says we can't bear the yoke of this inspiration anymore. But it was also put out there by pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick who pastor Riverside Cathedral in New York and had his national program on the radio. His sermons were published in the New York Times. He said we have to distinguish the Shekinah from the shrine.

The shrine is the book and somewhere contained in this book is what Fosdick like to call abiding truths. That's what's inspired not the very words but the sort of general truths that abide through the ages.

So we have the liberal view of inspiration somewhere embedded in all of these details is that sort of nugget of truth that you can hold onto a latch onto.

In the 1950s and 60s. We have the theologian Karl Barth who tells us that God inspires his word when it is proclaimed to his people. So God hasn't spoken in his word he speaks through his word when it is proclaimed in a nutshell, that amounts to saying the Bible is not the word of God. But the Bible contains the word of God well against those various options we have what we call the verbal, plenary view of inspiration verbal tells us that it's the very words that are inspired and plenary tells us that the whole thing is inspired not just word talks in terms of the gospel in terms of salvation, so it speaks of history, or when it speaks of the subject, or that subject. Well, then it's no not necessarily plenary tells us the whole thing is inspired and verbal tells us it's the very words of God. Well, here we are again without a GPS. So what are we going to do. Are we going to follow these philosophies. These cleverly devised myths or are we going to say God has spoken and he's given us his word. That's the choice that's before that is the choice before us.

God has given us his word. The question is will you accept.

I hope you plan to be with us tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind as we continue Dr. Stephen the cool series why we trust the Bible. I also hope you'll contact us to request this full six part series if there was ever a topic the 21st century church needs to hear is this one more than 40% of professing Christians were pulled in our state of theology surveyed disagree. But the Bible is 100% true in all the teachers like me you probably read stories in recent weeks about membership in some denominations dropping like a rock. Those reports claim that people are leaving because those churches have taken a biblical stance on cultural issues, but the issue we studied today is the root of the problem. Many of those churches have rejected the inspiration and authority of Scripture. I would encourage you to consider using the series in a Sunday school class in your church or a small group meeting in your home and then you can donate the DVD to your church library so contact us today with the gift of ending about@renewingyourmind.org and we will send the series to you. You can also call us with your gift at 800-435-4343. Perhaps you have friends or family members who struggle with submitting to the authority of Scripture. You can sure this video series with them as well. Again, the title is why we trust the Bible by Dr. Stephen Nichols to give your phone number again it's 800-435-4343 in her online address is Renewing Your Mind.we hope to hear from you. But here's a preview of what will hear tomorrow if we say the Bible is God's word.

Then we will be led to say the Bible is true because the Bible reflects God's character. Now think about this to say that the Bible contains error is like saying God lives is quite an accusation is in it but there are many in the evangelical church today who inadvertently claim that Dr. Nichols will address that tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. I hope you'll join us


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