Sunday, October 15, 2017

THE TRINITY IN UNITY


THE TRINITY IN UNITY

(See Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 2)

Introduction

We know that the only one living and true God is. It’s on account of the things God has created and His upkeep of them that we know that the one living and true God is. Our own conscience testifies to us that the living and true God is. We look at the sun, the moon, the stars and we know that the one living and true God is. We look at the blue sky, the blue sea, and the green earth and we know the one living and true God is. We see how fearfully and wonderfully we have been made and we know the one living and true God is.

The one living and true God is – all creation trumpets that in our ears. All creation flashes it before our eyes. Everything that we taste, touch, and smell testifies that the one living and true God is. And if all of that were not enough, the very Word of God, the Holy Scriptures testify that the one living and true God is.

Now then, here’s where it gets difficult. How well do you know the one living and true God? Do you know what He is like in and of Himself? Most of us are able to describe God in relation to the world. But how many of us are able to describe God as He is in relation to Himself? In other words, we‘re asking how many of us actually know what God is.

We tend to think of God in terms of what He does and how He acts. But what is God like before He created the heavens and the earth and all therein, including you and me? Well, that’s what we’re attempting to investigate in the following.

The heavens and the earth and all therein reveal that the one living and true God is. But the Scriptures reveal to us what God is like in nature and in person. Therefore, we need to search the Scriptures to find out about the nature and personhood of God.

The Nature of God

When we carefully search the Scriptures to find out about the nature of God, we discover, to quote the WCF, that “In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity…” So, the nature of God is three persons of equal unity, which is to say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of the same substance. And each Person in the Trinity is of equal power. And each Person in the Trinity is eternal. Note, therefore, that God is three Persons in unity.

Let us focus on the unity of God for the moment. Now, it’s no secret that the heavens and the earth and all therein reflect the unity aspect of God. We can see the interconnectedness of it all as we study God’s creation. We can see that we are of the same stuff as the visible universe. We eat fruit and vegetables, and the flesh of birds, animals, and fish. We eat to replace the lost proteins and minerals out of which our bodies are formed.

God made us out of the same material He made the universe out of. But we know that there are also invisible things in God’s creation. We know instinctively and inherently that there is more to us than meets the naked eye. We know that there is a “spiritual” aspect of man. Man has a yearning, an inclination to worship God who is invisible. However, the trouble with man is that he creates a god in his own image. He does this because the General Revelation of God is insufficient for how we are to worship God.

Man, as it were, fills in the blanks when it comes to worshipping the one true and living God. However, God has given us Special Revelation of what and who He is, what and who we are, and how we are to serve and to worship Him. Jesus says in John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” And Jesus says in Mark 12:29, “… ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.’”

So God is Spirit, and God is one. Therefore there are not three spirits, nor are there three gods. Rather, according to Jesus, there is only one living and true God. Therefore all stick, stone, wooden, plastic, crystal, glass, brass, gold, silver, or anything made of any created material is a false god. As is any god imagined who is contrary to what the one living and true God has revealed about Himself in His Word.

So, thus far we’ve noted that God is one, and that He is Spirit. Therefore we can safely say along with Scripture that God – who is Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit – is one Spirit.

The Apostle Paul says the following about God, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen” 1 Tim. 1:17. So we see then that God who is one Spirit is also eternal, immortal, invisible, and alone is wise. God is eternal in that He has no beginning or end. God is the eternal IS. He always was, is, and will be – He is eternal.

And He is immortal – He lives forever, He cannot die. He lives forever, and He cannot die because He is eternal. That’s what eternal means – it means forever. God is from eternity to eternity.

And the eternal God who is Spirit is also invisible. He needs to reveal Himself to you before you will see Him. In other words, He needs to clothe Himself in something visible before you will see Him. In Old Testament times God appeared as the Messenger or Angel of the Lord. He appeared as the burning bush, the pillar of cloud and fire, just to name a couple. But unless God reveals Himself to us He remains out of sight because He is invisible.

Paul says that God alone is wise. What does he mean? Well, he’s at least saying that God does not just have an attribute of wisdom. Rather, God IS wisdom. Therefore all wisdom, wherever it may be found, comes from God who is alone wise. And because God alone is wise, all His counsels, all His plans, are wise. And all the out-workings of His plans in creation work according to His Divine wisdom. Therefore who is able to outsmart the living and true God? Who able to pull the wool over His eyes? No created thing, no one!

God alone is uncreated. Everything other than God has been created by God. God alone is Creator. Everything other than the Creator is a creature. Space, time, matter, have been created by God and are therefore creatures. The heavens and the earth and all therein are creatures. Angels are creatures.

What was there before in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth and all therein? From all eternity there was only one living and true God – the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The interconnectedness of creation reflects the interconnectedness of the Creator. Or to put it another way, the unity of the universe is a visible expression of the invisible God. Don’t stumble on this point.

The creation is not God. Rather creation is an expression of who God is, albeit a limited expression. But though God transcends His creation, He is present everywhere in His creation. The ocean fills every nook and cranny of the seabed. God fills all of creation. The LORD through His Prophet Jeremiah puts it like this, “‘Am I a God near at hand,’ says the LORD, ‘And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ says the LORD; ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the LORD” Jeremiah 23:23&24.

We’ve seen so far that the one living and true God is indeed one, He is Spirit, eternal, immortal, invisible, alone wise, and He is also immense, i.e., filling heaven and earth. Now, Scripture has revealed to us many more attributes of God than we have space to consider. But for the moment we have seen that the nature of God stands alone, it is unique. God alone is by nature Creator. Everything else is by nature created and is therefore by nature creaturely.

The oneness or unity of creation is in the creaturely-ness of all created things. The oneness or unity of the Godhead is that He is the one only living and true God. And because He alone is Creator, He is able to reveal something of His Divine nature to, by, and through the things He has made.

As creatures made in His own image and likeness, He has given us the capacity of at least a limited understanding of His nature. To be sure, the mind boggles when trying to comprehend all revelation God has given of Himself. But, as the writer to the Hebrews says under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “…he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” Hebrews 11:6.

How many people do you know that are interested in the attributes of God? Shouldn’t all Christians be interested in the nature of the one true and living God? Of course we should! However, when we consider the attributes and nature of God we are looking at what God is. And that’s basically what we’ve just been doing, isn’t it? We’ve been studying WHAT God is. But WHO is God?

The Personhood of God

When we say God is a Trinity in unity we are answering both the what and who is God questions. What is God? God is the Trinity in unity. Who is God? God is the Trinity in unity.

But what do we mean by saying this? And who do we mean? Well, we mean that the three Persons in the Godhead are the one living and true God. So, to answer the who question, we need to consider the three Persons in the Trinity.

The Westminster Confession of Faith puts what the Bible says thus: “In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity.” WCF 2:3.

Perfect unity calls for equality, yes? Think about it, can a master and a slave have perfect unity? They might have some kind of unity. But it wouldn’t necessarily be perfect unity.

We share a certain unity with birds, animals, and fish. But it’s not a perfect unity. We all are creatures, but man is a special creature. Unlike the animals, birds, and fish man alone was created in the image and likeness of the Creator. So, whatever interconnectedness or unity we have with other creatures, it is imperfect. Why is it an imperfect unity? It’s because we are not all of the same substance, power, and eternity.

Only man is a spiritual being, by which we mean, only man is a spirit-being with a body. This is because only man is made in the image of God who is Spirit and eternal. Whales and dolphins might have a mysterious aura of intelligence. The owl might be wise, the fox cunning, the serpent subtle, but only man images or reflects God’s “Spirit-ness” on a creaturely level.

But, when it comes to the living and true God, the three Persons in the Godhead have perfect unity. The perfect unity is on account of Their perfect equality of substance, power, and eternity. The Father is pure Spirit because He is God. The Son is pure Spirit because He is God. And the Spirit is pure Spirit because He is God. The substance of God, then, is pure Spirit. When we talk about pure water, we mean water that is unpolluted. We mean that the water has nothing mixed with or in it – it is water, pure water, perfect water. Well, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are Spirit, pure Spirit, perfect Spirit.

What about the power of God? Does the Father have more power than the Son or the Spirit? Or does each Person have equal power because each is equally God?

When God manifested Himself to Abraham, He said, “I am Almighty God” Genesis 17:1. In the Book of Revelation the four living creatures say, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” Revelation 4:8b. Almighty means “all-powerful”, or Omnipotent. The Father is Omnipotent, the Son is equally Omnipotent, and the Holy Spirit is equally Omnipotent. But to say that there are three separate Omnipotents is an absurdity of absurdities! There can only ever be one Almighty – one all-powerful. Therefore the Trinity in unity is Almighty God.

Jesus says in Matthew 28:19 that the discipled nations are to be baptised “…in the NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The three Persons are one in substance, power, and eternity. Therefore, the three Persons of the Godhead share one name. They share one name because God is a trinity in unity. Each Person equally shares the title “God Almighty”.

Now, when we talk about God being the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, we are talking about three distinct Persons in the Godhead. We are NOT talking about three separate Persons in the Godhead. We are NOT saying that the one God exists in three different forms. NOR are we saying that the Father became the Son, then became the Holy Spirit. No, what we ARE saying is that there are three distinct Persons who are the one God Almighty.

Now, we spoke a little about attributes a little earlier when we spoke about the interconnectedness or unity of things. The birds, animals, and fish share some of our attributes, don’t they? We’ve mentioned that dolphins are intelligent, foxes are cunning, owls are wise, etc. But we know that there are attributes belonging to us alone – not shared with any other creatures. Yet, those attributes that belong to us are also attributes of God – attributes that He shares with us.

God is Spirit. God, for His own glory, has created man as a spiritual being, i.e., a soul spirit with a body, which is another way of saying that we were created in order to worship Him in spirit and truth. But the point I make is that God shares some of His attributes with us.

Now, when we consider each of the three Persons in the Trinity, we can see distinctions. We are able to see that each Person has attributes belonging only to Himself. The Father has the attribute of Fatherhood. Fatherhood does not belong to the Son, but Sonship does. Sonship does not belong to the Father or the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has neither Fatherhood nor Sonship. Therefore the Spirit also has a distinctive attribute.

The WCF states it like this: “The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.”

The Father has never been without the Son throughout all eternity. The Son has never been without the Father throughout all eternity. The Father and the Son have never been without the Holy Spirit throughout all eternity. And the Holy Spirit has never been without the Father and the Son throughout all eternity. Simply put, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are eternally God.

But, there is private or personal property that belongs to the Father. And there is private or personal property that belongs to the Son. And there is private or personal property that belongs to the Holy Spirit. The private or personal property is, again, Fatherhood, Sonship, and Holy Spirit-ness. Or, more technically, eternally begetting, eternally begotten, and eternally proceeding.

Now, it’s when you consider these personal distinctions in the Godhead that you begin to see more clearly the Personhood of the one living and true God. In other words, we become personally acquainted with God when we start to understand that He is also Triune in nature. Sure, we might understand something of the nature of God when we read in His Word that He is infinite in Being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute etc. etc. But when we discover by His Spirit through His Word that He is the Trinity in unity it all becomes very personal.

Here is God in communion, in fellowship with Himself. The Father fellowships with the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father loves the Son from eternity. And the Son loves the Father from eternity. The Holy Spirit eternally shares the love the Father has for the Son and the Son for the Father. But the personal thing is that the Trinity in unity wants to fellowship with me and have me fellowship with Him! This is incredible! Astounding! That the one living and true God would condescend to fellowship with sinners like you and me! “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1.

When you know what God is – when you know who God is – it just boggles the mind to think that God Almighty would build a rapport with a speck of dust like you or me! But that’s the very nature of God, isn’t it? God is Fellowship – He is the Trinity in perfect unity.

To a certain extent we can fellowship with birds and animals, even fish! As a boy I had a pet crow that went everywhere with me, even to school on occasion! We have a pet dog. My daughter, Nina, had a great friendship with a goldfish! We can build rapports with other creatures. But our fellowship is limited by the creature’s lack of spiritual endowment. And we can enjoy more personal fellowship with other persons. But again that fellowship can be limited by the other person’s or persons’ lack of spiritual attributes. Only God can fully satisfy man’s yearning for personal fellowship. To be sure, the relationship between a husband and his wife can come pretty close. However, only the living and true God can satisfy man’s craving for spiritual fellowship.

The atheist tries really hard to suppress the spiritual craving and explain it away. The New Ager tries to satisfy the craving with substitutes for the living and true God. So does all false religion. But when a person, by the grace of God, begins to know what God is, and also begins to understand who God is, then his soul begins to be satisfied. For then he begins to feel the warmth of God as he gazes upon the very being of God. Like a mirror in the sun he reflects the warmth of the fellowship he has with God upon those around. 

Conclusion

Above, we’ve briefly considered something of the nature and the personhood of God. We’ve seen, albeit ever so briefly, that the true and living God is the Trinity in unity. And we’ve noted that all of His creation reflects, in some way or other, some of His attributes. Man, especially on account of his being created in the image and likeness of God, has been endowed with certain of God’s attributes on the creaturely level. Another way of saying this is that man shares certain aspects of the nature and personhood of God at the creaturely level.

Now, on account of what we’ve looked at, it should be obvious to us, that God alone is the source of all life, and existence. The sun, the moon, and all the stars, planets, asteroids, everything exists because Almighty God created and sustains it in His wisdom. Every blade of grass on earth, every piece of plankton in the sea, the birds, the bees, the trees, everything that has life in it has been made and is sustained and maintained by God, including the inert things. Therefore all of creation must render to God whatever worship, service, or obedience God requires of each creature. Or to put it another way, all of creation ought to be glorifying God each in its respective sphere.

Birds, fish, and animals glorify God by being what they are. The sun, the moon, and the stars glorify God by being what they are. But what about us? Do we glorify God by being what we are? What are we? And who are we? Well, we cannot fully and accurately know and understand what we are and who we are until and unless we begin to know and understand what God is and who God is.

In the above we’ve seen something of what and who God is. And we’ve summed it up by saying that God is the Trinity in unity.

In light of what we’ve looked at we should be able to understand what Jesus means where He says these words found in John 15:26, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” And also in John 14:9, “…he who has seen Me has seen the Father…” We might put it like this: The Spirit reveals the Son who reveals the Father; for the Holy Spirit testifies of the Son who testifies of the Father. That’s the nature and personhood of the Trinity.

We need help to see Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture. That’s why Jesus sent the Helper to help us. Therefore the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. And He comes to whoever the Father and the Son send Him.

But the place for us to start looking for Jesus is at the cross. For that’s the place where the only one living and true God has revealed clearly what and who He is. It’s at the cross that we see the love of the Triune God manifested most clearly.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” John 3:16-18.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE


THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE

(See Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 1, paras 1-5)

Introduction

Have you ever wondered why God is so hard to see? We all know that God is there, but how come we can’t see Him? Speaking of God Job says in Job 9:8-11, “He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea; He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; He does great things past finding out, Yes, wonders without number. If He goes by me, I do not see Him; if He moves past, I do not perceive Him.”

I think Job is speaking for us all here. “If He goes by me, I do not see Him; if He moves past, I do not perceive Him.” But one of the “blessings” in the Beatitudes is: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Matthew 5:8. But why can’t we see God now? Well, it all depends on God, doesn’t it? It depends on whether God wants us to see Him or not. Therefore, in a word, it all depends upon revelation.

God needs to condescend to reveal Himself before we shall see Him. We can build as many high towers into the heavens as we want. We can send rockets to the moon, Mars, and all the stars. But unless God deigns to manifest Himself to us, we shall never see Him!

What we’re looking at in the following has to do with the revelation – or revealing – of God. First we’ll look at the revelation of God and then we’ll consider our response to that revelation,

Revelation

The Westminster Confession of Faith says that God manifests or reveals His goodness, wisdom, and power through the light of nature, the works of creation and providence “as to leave men inexcusable.” We agree then with the Confession that God reveals His existence through the things He has made; and also the upkeep or sustaining and maintaining of these things.

As you know Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Therefore we can see the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, for example, all throughout God’s creation. And in the fact that He sends rain and sunshine so that the creatures He has created might be fed.

Psalm 104, for instance, tells of these things. “He sends the springs into the valleys; they flow among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. By them the birds of the heavens have their home; they sing among the branches. He waters the hills from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth” Psalm 104:10-14.

When we look at the things that God has created we see evidence, i.e., proof that God is – that He exists. This is what is called “General Revelation” – it is revelation for everyone to see plainly. Only a fool would deny the existence of God. For the existence of God is as plain as the nose on your face!

Now, when we speak of being able to know God’s goodness, wisdom, and power through the “light of nature” we are speaking about your ability of sense and reason. You and I are able to sense things around us. We normally speak of five senses, don’t we? We have the sense of taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight. We call the “sense-centre” – through which all five senses are filtered – the “heart”, don’t we? The five senses bring outside information to the heart, don’t they? The heart evaluates the information brought to it through the five senses. That information is revelation of GodGeneral Revelation.

So, we need to ask: What does the heart make of this General Revelation? What conclusions does it draw about God who comes at us through our five senses? Well, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God” Psalm 14:1. There is all this revelation of God outside of us, and the fool says in his heart, “there is no God!”

So, we now need to ask: Is there something wrong with the revelation of God? Or is there something wrong with the way the heart handles this revelation? We’d have to say that there is nothing wrong with the general revelation of God. Therefore it’s the heart of the fool that is faulty.

At this point we conclude that there is an outer testimony to the existence of God. That witness or testimony is in the things that God has created and His upkeep of them. But hasn’t God also made us? Didn’t He create us as His own image and likeness? Of course He did! And that’s how come we know of the existence of God through the things He made.

We have been created by God to consciously glorify God. But there’s something wrong with our conscience, isn’t there? Paul says in Romans 2:15 that our conscience either accuses or excuses us. And he says that God has written the work of His Law upon our heart. Therefore, your “sense-centre”, your heart, which is to say, your conscience accuses you when you go against God.

So, we’ve got all this general revelation of God coming into us from the outside via our sense-centre and what do we do with it? Well, let’s read what Paul says to the Romans in Romans 1:18-22, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.”

So we see then that men suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. And we see that what may be known of God is manifest or revealed to them and in them. We see that God has revealed Himself so clearly to man, that we are without excuse. And we see that, although we knew God, we do not glorify Him. With all this in mind we can safely conclude that there is therefore nothing at all wrong with the revelation of God. Rather something is wrong with our hearts.

Although man, in a certain sense, “knows” God through the things God has made, he seeks to keep the lid on that knowledge! The sense-centre, the heart, the conscience is the very thing that testifies to us the true and living God exists. However, our conscience is also telling us that God is not happy with us. That’s one of the reasons why we try to suppress the truth of God. Our conscience is accusing us of going against God. And we all know that there is a penalty for breaking God’s Law. And we are reminded of that penalty every time someone dies. For the wages of sin is death!

But is there no good news for man? We can all see the goodness, wisdom, and power of God in His General Revelation. And we also can see the wrath of God revealed in the things around us. But what about the hope of God? Is hope for man displayed in the General Revelation of God? No! God reveals hope for man, i.e., salvation through another means. This means is called “Special Revelation”. Whereas General Revelation makes it known that God is, and therefore leaves us without excuse, Special Revelation makes known what we are to believe about God and what He requires of us.

Special Revelation deals with faith and life or duty. In other words, the light of nature, the works of creation, and providence are not sufficient to give us that knowledge of God and His will, which is necessary unto salvation.

So, God then, because He is gracious, has revealed the way of salvation. This is what we mean when we speak about Special Revelation. God used to give Special Revelation by speaking to and through His Prophets and Apostles. But since the coming of Jesus Christ these ways of Special Revelation have now ceased. Now we have the Holy Scriptures – the Bible.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnated. The Scriptures are the Word of God inscripturated. The Word of God inscripturated speaks of the Word of God incarnated. Jesus says in John 5:39&40, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” The Scriptures reveal the way of salvation. Jesus Christ is the way, John 14:6. We must come to Him to receive life.

As part of God’s General Revelation, the light of nature, i.e., our conscience, tells us that there is something wrong with us by accusing or excusing us. E.g., speaking of the Gentiles, Romans 2:15 says, “[They] show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them…” But God’s Special Revelation tells us what is wrong with us AND what God has done about it.

God wrote His Law on our hearts when He created us. Our conscience lets us know that we are breakers of God’s Law. The Scriptures testify that we are indeed breakers of God’s Law. But, the Scriptures, beginning to end, reveal God’s grace towards breakers of His Law. In other words, the Scriptures contain the Gospel, or the Good News of God’s salvation for fallen man. This salvation, or promise of eternal life, is centred on the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament reveals that Christ is coming and what He is coming to do. The Gospels reveal that He has come and what He did do. And the Epistles reveal what it all means.

But the question necessarily arises: How do we know the sixty-six books of the Bible are true? How do we know that there should only be sixty-six books included in the Bible? Who says? Who gives the Bible its authority to be the rule of faith and life? Well, this is where we need to move from the objective to the subjective. We need to consider what is going on in your heart as well as what is going on around you.

We’ve seen above that God has given us General Revelation of Himself. And He has also given us Special Revelation of Himself. And, of course, these means of God’s revelation complement, but never contradict the other. But how are we to respond to God’s revelation General and Special?

Response

Your response to all revelation from God ought to be belief on your part. But how do we know which is true revelation from God? Or to put the question another way: How do we know the Scriptures are authentic and therefore authoritative? Well, we’ve already considered the fact that we know that God exists on account of our own conscience; which also lets us know that we are being judged.

Your conscience accuses you because the work of God’s Law is on your heart. Just think about it, if you think your conscience accuses you because you have set yourself such a high moral standard – then you must be insane! Why on earth would you set yourself a standard of morals you cannot possibly meet? And yet even when people have a low set of morals they still cannot silence their conscience from its accusations!

Your conscience accuses you because God wrote His Ten Commandments on your heart when He made you. Therefore, even before we even pick up a Bible, subjectively, i.e., inwardly we know that God is. And we know that He is a Moral Being who holds us accountable for our actions. And in the light of nature, i.e., when our sense-centre considers God’s works of creation and providence we are left without excuse. Which is to say that, when we on the inside are conscious of what’s on the outside, we know that God is our Maker and that He is our Moral Judge. We know therefore, no matter how much we might try to suppress this knowledge in unrighteousness, that God has authority over us.

God’s General Revelation through the light of nature, the works of creation and providence reveals God’s authority over all creation which includes even us. Psalm 19:1&2, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.” So, if we see God’s authority through the things He has made, which leaves us without excuse for not seeking God, then we should be able to see the authority of the Scriptures.

The Scriptures claim to be the Word of God inscripturated. Jesus claimed that the Scriptures spoke of Him as a Person, and also as the way to eternal life. Therefore, Jesus Christ is acknowledging the authority of the Scriptures as the very Word of God.

Jesus in Luke 24:44 refers to the complete Old Testament – as we know it – when He says, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” There are thirty-nine Books in the Old Testament, i.e., in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.

Jesus promised that He would give His Apostles the Holy Spirit so that they could write the New Testament: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26. And also John 15:26&27, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” So, when we see that the Apostles did indeed receive the Holy Spirit, and that they did indeed subsequently write and/or oversee the writing of the New Testament, we can accept the Bible’s authority. 

The Apostles viewed the twenty-seven Books of the New Testament as having equal authority with the thirty-nine Old Testament Books. We see this demonstrated, e.g., by Peter in 2 Peter 3:16 where he refers to Paul’s thirteen letters (fourteen if Paul wrote Hebrews) as being part of the “rest of the Scriptures”.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” So, do the thirty-nine Books of the Old Testament testify of Jesus? Yes! Do the Gospels and Acts testify of Jesus? Yes! Do the Epistles including the Book of Revelation? Yes! Is Jesus telling the truth when He says of the Scriptures “…these are they which testify of Me”? Of course He is!

But how do we know that the sixty-six Book of the Bible are the very Word of God? How do we know that there should be only sixty-six Books in the Bible? How do we know that we shouldn’t include those books called the Apocrypha, for instance? Well, none of the books of the Roman Catholic Apocrypha claims to be Scripture for a start.

But there is another way being fully persuaded and assured that the sixty-six Books we have are the complete Bible and are the infallible truth. We are convinced of their Divine Authority by the same Holy Spirit who moved over forty men over sixteen-hundred years to write the sixty-six Books of the Bible.

The Holy Spirit convinces us of the Divine Authority of the Scriptures by bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. Therefore it is not men, or the Church, or the Pope of Rome that gives the Bible its authority. It is Almighty God who gives the Bible its Authority, because the Bible is His Word inscripturated. And Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnated.

Jesus is the last Word of God to fallen man. Therefore according to Scripture, Jesus is the final Word. Hebrews 1:1&2 for example testifies to this clearly, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things…” And the Scriptures give us clear warning not to add to, or take away from, the Word of God, Prov. 34:5&6; & Rev. 22:18&19.

Now, some people might think the Bible is a great book, with great poetry, and a majestic style. But unless the Spirit brings the Word to bear savingly in your heart you’ll continue to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. For the Spirit has come to convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, John 16:8.

What should be our response to the Revelation of God – whether that Revelation of God is General Revelation of Special Revelation? What should our response be to the Spirit of God in other words? You cannot escape the Spirit of God, can you? He’s convicting you in General Revelation, isn’t He? You look around and you see the irrefutable existence of God.

And this evidence you have all around you is not evidence of any-old God. It’s not that you acknowledge that there might possibly be some kind of God. No, the true and living God makes His existence known through the things He has made. And He makes Himself known to you by His Spirit, doesn’t He?

Think about those verses of Scripture in Psalm 139 for a moment. There you are – a non-Christian – confronted by the light of nature, the works of God in creation and His providence. How are you going to avoid the truth of God’s existence staring you in the face? How are you going to avoid the Omnipresent Spirit of God?

Although Psalm 139:7-10 is speaking of someone who doesn’t wish to suppress the truth of God, nevertheless, it does make a solid point. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” The Spirit of God speaks to our hearts through the things God has made. He speaks to our consciences no matter where we are or where we go.

But, we need the Spirit-breathed Word before we can know the way of salvation, don’t we? Contrary to what some people have thought, the way of salvation is not written in the stars. Rather, it is written only in the sixty-six books of the Bible. Yet people are ready to ignore the Authority of the Bible. God is testifying to His existence throughout all creation. And He is revealing in the Bible who He is and who and what we are and what’s wrong with us, and how God has fixed us, and His creation.

But what’s it like for some people?  Well, it’s like they are having a nice leisurely stroll on some green and luscious grass in a wide-open park. Here and there, there are plants, trees, birds and bees and animals. But you see a sign on the grass. When you draw closer you see what’s written on it. In bold print the sign reads, “KEEP OFF GRASS!”

So, people get offended by that, don’t they? ”By whose authority are they telling ME to keep off the grass?” “Whose grass is it anyway?” “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do!” But isn’t this the way people treat God’s World and God’s Word? They deny that God owns the world and they find His Commandments offensive – like a “Keep off Grass” sign!

But what if the “Keep off grass” sign said, “‘Keep off Grass’ – area deadly contaminated? Please go to water shower at narrow gate on narrow path for cleansing.” Isn’t that what the Scriptures are saying to the world?

God is saying to the world in the Scriptures that the world has become contaminated by our sin. He is saying in the Scriptures that negative reaction to His Law is proof that you are contaminated. But He is saying in the Scriptures that you can be cleansed of your lethal contamination – cleansed by the blood Christ shed on the tree. But you must come to Him that you may have life – eternal life! You must enter through the narrow gate – you must go down the narrow path.

Conclusion

So, what is your response then to the way of salvation revealed in Scripture? The way of salvation revealed in the Bible is that we are saved by the perfect works of Jesus Christ. We are cleansed of our sin by virtue of the blood shed on the cross by Jesus – the Lamb who takes away the sin (i.e., the lethal contamination) of the world. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ are the heart of the matter.

Has the Holy Spirit convinced you that you need the grace of God to be saved? If so, what then is your response to the authoritative revelation of God whether General or Special? Has the Holy Spirit convinced you by the light of nature, the works of creation and providence that God is? And if so, has He also convinced you that the Scriptures come with all the authority of Almighty God? Well, if He has, instead of suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, you will be rejoicing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Friday, October 6, 2017

VOLUNTEERS


Volunteers

When I told my older brother in Scotland that I was becoming and Australian Army Chaplain, ‘Great!’ he exclaimed, ‘God’s army is invading the Australian Army!’ God’s army, like the Australian Army, is made up of volunteers. There is no conscription. David, the sweet psalmist of Israel said it best, ‘Your people shall be volunteers, in the day of Your power…’ Psalm 110:3a NKJV. Psalm 110 is called a ‘Messianic psalm,’ i.e., a Gospel psalm. No one enters God’s army kicking and screaming. No one becomes a Christian against their will. Indeed, another version of the Bible renders the same thus, ‘Your troops will be willing on your day of battle…’ Psalm 110:3a NIV. God’s army therefore is made up of volunteers, people who willingly worship and serve God.

I first heard the word ‘voluntold’ used when I was in the army. It describes the idea illustrated in the following sentence. The sergeant major said, ‘I need three volunteers, you, you and you!’ However, there’s none of this regarding the prophet Isaiah. When the Triune God asked, ‘“Whom shall I send, and who shall go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”’ Isaiah 6:8b. Isaiah was being sent on an onerous mission to rebuke God’s disobedient people.

The enemy strives to remain undetected in modern warfare. From stealth aircraft to missile-loaded drones. No longer do soldiers stand in trenches firing bullets at each other across ‘no man’s land.’ The Christian wars against an invisible enemy too, an enemy who shoots ‘fiery darts’ that can smoulder in any chinks in the Christian’s armour. ‘Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints’ Ephesians 6:11-18. Who would volunteer for an army that fights an enemy it cannot even see? – such a formidable enemy as Satan and his host from hell? Only those who God has enabled to see the invisible, which is only those who have been born of the Spirit. ‘Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’ John 3:3b, such as was Moses, who ‘By faith ... forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible’ Hebrews 11:27.

Whether a heavenly host or a detachment of demons both are spiritually recognised. ‘But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned’ 1 Corinthians 2:14. In God’s army the faithful wear night vision goggles, enabling the discerning to observe the movements of the forces of darkness as plain as day! (2 Cor. 2:11)

Enlist now! Volunteer! And ‘Be all you can be in [Christ’s] army!’

Monday, October 2, 2017

THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE


THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

(See Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 1, paras 6-10)

Introduction

Who wrote the Bible? You need to be careful how you answer that question. God wrote the Bible. But He used men to write down the words. So, did God dictate to men what He wanted them to write? No, because when we read through the Bible we can detect something of the personality of each of the over forty men who, over sixteen hundred years, were involved in the writing of it. Take the four Gospels, for instance. Each of the Gospels is written from a different perspective. Each of the writers is looking at different aspects of the same events.

So then, was the Bible a joint effort between God and men, both having input? No! Each man said exactly what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. However, they said exactly what the Sovereign God wanted them to say.

Peter says, “…holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” 1 Peter 1:21b. So, we see then that it was the Holy Spirit who was moving these holy men to speak, and in certain instances, write. In other words, the men were doing the speaking. But the words they were speaking were the words the Holy Spirit wanted them to speak.

What we’re trying to say is that the holy men weren’t in a trance, or anything like that. Rather each spoke and wrote using his own personality. It’s simply that the Holy Spirit somehow had them utter what He wanted them to utter.

Take a look at David, the sweet psalmist of Israel. He says in 2 Samuel 23:2, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.” So, David knew that the Spirit of the LORD was speaking by him. He knew that it was the Word of the Spirit that was on his tongue. So we ask the question again, Who wrote the Bible? And we answer again “…holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

If you were to look through the Book of Psalms you’d see that many have the heading “A Psalm of David.” But although David penned these psalms, they are part of the infallible Word of God. As Paul says to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” 2 Tim. 3:16a, which is to say all Scripture is God-breathed.

Now, I want you to hold on to the “God-breathed” aspect of the Scriptures. If you know anything about the Holy Spirit you’ll know that the Older and Newer Testament word for “spirit” is the same as for breath – wind – breeze – a gust of air etc. The Spirit is the “Breath” of God. When we speak we breathe out our words. Our words are on our breath. God speaks to us by His Holy Spirit. The Scriptures, if you will, are words on God’s “breath.” Therefore, Scripture has the authority of God because it is God-breathed.

The Intention of the Scriptures

The Scriptures are God speaking to us by His Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit speaks – we’ve already seen that in our introduction. But a couple of examples might be in order. Luke in the Book of Acts says, “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers…” Acts 28:25. And Paul says to Timothy, “Now the Spirit expressly says in latter times…” 1 Tim. 4:1. So, we need not dispute the fact that the Holy Spirit speaks. The Holy Spirit is God, and God speaks!

Now then, what was the Holy Spirit’s intention for having His Word written down? Did the Holy Spirit have the Scriptures written as a construction-manual for high towers? Did He write the sixty-six books of the Bible to teach us how to milk cows, cut hair? To be sure, you’ll find general principles pertaining to these things in the Bible. But the Scriptures were breathed-out by God for a specific intent or purpose.

The Westminster Confession of Faith says the following about the intention of Scripture: “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture…” WCF 1:6. We would all agree then that the Scriptures reveal everything we need to know for: a) Our getting saved. b) Faith, i.e., what we are to believe concerning God and our salvation. And c) How we are to live our lives to the glory of God.

We see then that the intent of the Holy Spirit giving us the Scriptures was to let us know how to glorify God and thus enjoy fellowship with Him. As the Apostle Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3:15, “…from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

We see then that the Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation. So, the question we need to answer is this: Is the Bible sufficient to give us all the information we need for these things, or do we need extra revelation?


Well, we don’t believe we need any extra-revelation because the canon of Scripture is closed. There’s clear warning at the end of the Bible not to add to, or take away from, the Word of God, Rev. 22:18&19. And what about where Paul says to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Tim. 3:16&17.

So, we see that not only does the Apostle Paul believe in the authority of the Scriptures, he also believes in the sufficiency of the Scriptures. He believes that they are sufficient for:

1.        Doctrine, i.e., teaching. 
2.        Reproof, i.e., rebuking.
3.        Correction, i.e., correcting faults.
4.       Instruction or training in righteousness. What for? So that the man have God can be complete, i.e., perfect. So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work, i.e., thoroughly equipped to be about the business of glorifying God!

So, the sixty-six books of the Bible are sufficient to fulfil the Holy Spirit’s intention. Therefore God breathed out His Word so that people would be complete, i.e., perfect! So we ask the obvious question: How can the man of God be fully fitted for every good work if the Bible itself is not complete? That’s the question that necessarily springs to mind, isn’t it? How can the man of God be complete if the Bible is incomplete?

So we see then that the Bible must of necessity contain the whole counsel of God, which is to say that the Bible reveals everything we need to know for God’s glory, our salvation, faith and life. To be sure, the Bible doesn’t give us every little detail of every little thing. For instance, the Bible doesn’t explicitly state in any one verse that the worship day has changed. But it is easily deduced from Scripture that the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath. For that’s the day the Saviour rose from the dead. The first day of the week is the day He met His Disciples after His resurrection. He met with them again on the first day of the week a week later. He poured out the Holy Spirit on His Church on the first day of the week. He meets with us by His Spirit every first day of the week when we gather to worship God.

But, for all that, when it comes to the exact time or hour for worship during the first day of the week, it is left to the light of nature and Christian prudence. In other words, though the Bible tells us the day of worship, it lets use our common sense for the worship times.

Now, here’s the thing – even though the whole counsel of God is revealed in Scripture. Even though He has revealed all things that are necessary for us to glorify Him. Even though He’s had the way of salvation written down in Scripture. Even though He has inscripturated what we need to know for faith and life. Even though we find things expressly laid out in Scripture or have to do a bit of digging around, when it comes to personal salvation the Holy Spirit must work in the person’s heart.

The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible, and He wrote it for a purpose. We have seen that the Scriptures are intended for the Glory of God and the Salvation of Man. Therefore, the Word of God is the means through which the Spirit saves the person.

Jesus says in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” So the Holy Spirit would have us search the Scriptures. But He wouldn’t have us rest simply after having searched the Scriptures. Rather He would have us rest in the One of whom the Scriptures testify, i.e., Jesus Christ. Therefore the Holy Spirit is speaking of the life, death, resurrection, ascension and kingdom of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures so that we will come to Jesus for eternal life. Didn’t Jesus say of the Holy Spirit, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” John 15:26.

So, the Holy Scriptures testify of Jesus Christ and His works. And the Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus Christ and His works. And why should this surprise us when it was the Holy Spirit who wrote the Scriptures! Therefore, the Spirit and the Word are needed for the individual to receive the salvation purchased by Christ’s cross.

The Spirit has to work savingly in a person’s heart before that person is saved. This He does by illuminating the hearer of the Word’s mind. Or, to put it another way, the Spirit must, by His grace, grant a saving understanding before the person will believe and be saved.

Why can’t we just read the Bible or hear the Word preached and save ourselves? Well, how about we let Paul explain it to us. He says in 1 Corinthians 2:10 that God has revealed through His Spirit the types of things we’ve been talking about. Then he says in that verse and following, “For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”

Let’s hold it there before we move on. God is not a man. God is God. A man knows his own thoughts by his own spirit which is in him. But he cannot penetrate the mind of God. Or to put it another way, man on his own cannot understand the deep thoughts of God. As the spirit of the man knows the thoughts or the things of the man, so the Spirit of God knows the thoughts or things of God. But because God is God and not a man, how can a man know the things of God or understand the things of God unless the Holy Spirit gives him illumination?

God, by His grace, needs to grant the man an understanding. That’s why Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 2:12-14, “Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things we have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

So we see then, first you need to receive the Spirit of God. What for? So that we might know the things freely given us by God – such as salvation. Why can’t the natural man see them? Or, why can’t we see these things on our own without the Holy Spirit? Well, it’s because these things are spiritual things – the things of God. And unless and until we receive the Holy Spirit we will remain spiritually dead, i.e., spiritually undiscerning, spiritually blind to the things of God revealed in His Word.

As the Holy Spirit says through His Prophet Isaiah, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”

The Interpretation of Scripture

We’ve seen that God the Holy Spirit speaks. But what language does God speak? Well, if the intention of the Scriptures is God’s glory and our getting saved, then it would help if the Scriptures were in a language we could each understand.

The Old Testament was written mainly in Hebrew, with a minute smattering of Aramaic. And the New Testament was written in Koine or Common Greek – the common language of those days. Although the original vellum and papyri parchments upon which the Scriptures were first written have long since disintegrated, we still have copies of the original Hebrew and Greek.

To be sure, they didn’t have photocopiers back them. But they had painstakingly careful copyists. Yes, they did from time to time make the odd “typo” mistake – mostly to do with spelling. But for all that, what we have today is essentially the original Hebrew and Greek reproduced intact. In other words the discrepancies among all the thousands of documents in existence is miniscule. And the original words of the Older Testament and Newer Testament Scriptures have survived by the singular and providential care of God. Those original words are contained in the thousands of copies of the originals.

Now, when we talk about the infallibility of the Scriptures we are referring to the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Infallibility is just another way of saying that God wrote the Bible. God is infallible. Therefore what He does is infallible. God wrote the Bible. Therefore the Bible is infallible.

What does the word “infallible” mean in the present context? It means that the original autographs, i.e., the God-breathed original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures are pure and uncorrupted. God alone is infallible. Therefore, no man, be he the Pope or otherwise, and no body of men, be it the Roman Catholic church or otherwise, is infallible. Therefore God alone gives authority to His Word. This also means that God alone is the best interpreter of His Word. Therefore, technically, man does not interpret Scripture. Nor does the Church interpret Scripture. Rather, the Holy Spirit interprets Scripture. Here’s how He does it.

We’ve already noted what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:13, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Those words, “…comparing spiritual things with spiritual” probably mean that Paul, by the Spirit, was explaining the spiritual things of God in spiritual words. However, there is a principal involved here; that of comparing revelation with revelation. Which is to say as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:20&21, “…that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

So we see that no less than the Holy Spirit is needed to properly interpret the Scriptures. Again, why should that surprise us seeing as He is the One who has written them? So how does the Holy Spirit interpret His own Word for us? Well, because the Holy Spirit wrote the whole Bible we simply use Scripture to interpret Scripture. Where any Scripture is unclear on a subject we search the rest of Scripture to find a place where the subject matter is dealt with more clearly. Therefore all that is needed for a clear understanding of God’s glory, salvation, faith, and life is the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.

However, the crucial thing is that the Holy Spirit needs to grant us inward testimony and illumination. This is where we need to be careful, isn’t it? Peter in 2 Peter 3:16 says of Paul, “…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 also do the rest of the Scriptures.” But with that warning in mind, we should note that people should be encouraged to read the Bible.

And since not everyone can read the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, the Scriptures should be translated into the people’s own language. And, if we exercise a bit of God-given common sense we’ll want to make sure that, not only are Scriptures translated into the common people’s language, but that they are also translated into the common language of the people!

The Westminster Confession of Faith says that “…they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.”

By “vulgar language” the Westminster people didn’t mean rude and crude or course language. By “vulgar language” they simply meant that the Scriptures ought to be translated into the language of the people at large. The word “vulgar” comes from the Latin vulgus meaning, “the common people”. We’ve already made note of the fact that the New Testament was written in Koine Greek. Koine Greek means the common Greek of the people – the common people’s Greek. So, we see that the Holy Spirit has already set the precedent.

When it comes to any disputes or controversies of religion, or decrees of counsels, or opinions of ancient writers, or human teachings, or claims of divine guidance, the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures is to be the final Judge.

Conclusion

We’ve noted at least two major and important things. 1. We have noted the Sufficiency of the Scriptures. Therefore the intention of the Scriptures is pointed and clear. The intention of the Scriptures is the glory of God and the salvation of men. 2. We have noted that, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, ordinary people can sufficiently understand them. Therefore the interpretation of the Scriptures is also pointed and clear, which is to say that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Scriptures to fallen men.

This is the stuff of the greatest movement of God since the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost! At the time of the Reformation the Reformers took the Scriptures out of the Romish closet and showed them to the world! Just as after Pentecost the church took the Word of God out into the world and its common people, so the Reformers spread the Scriptures among the common peoples at the time of the Reformation. Therefore in all true revival and reformation the Word and the Spirit are present together. By the providence of God, before the Reformation, Gutenberg had invented the moveable-type printing press. And so the Scriptures were more easily printed and spread among the common folk. Hence the Church got back on track again. The Deformed Church became the Reformed Church.

Think about it, the Holy Spirit works with His Word illuminating people’s minds – as He wills. The Scriptures testify of Jesus Christ. And we need to come to Jesus Christ to be saved, i.e., to receive everlasting life. Therefore, what the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures says should be happening is happening.

Jesus says in John 6:44&45, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”

Now, perhaps you are wondering what this says about preaching the Gospel. If everyone is reading the Bible, then what about the exposition of Scripture? Well, we all need to be good Bereans. In Acts 17:11 we find that the Bereans “…received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” Therefore, search the Scriptures daily, i.e., read the Bible every day to see that these things are so.

The Scriptures are sufficient and ordinary people can understand them sufficiently. It’s the Holy Spirit who illuminates us and grants us a saving understanding to the glory of God.

The following beautiful verses were written by Isaiah under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10&11.

The Scriptures are sufficient because it’s by them that the Holy Spirit Himself speaks clearly to fallen men. In them He speaks most clearly on matters essential for salvation.