Why We Believe The Bible- Part 5 Pastor John Piper Samuel via Zwemer Theological Seminary

View Part 1  here– Inspiration, Inerrancy & Authority of the Bible

View Part 2 here- Which Books Make Up The Bible And Why? The Old and NewTestament Canon

View Part 3 here – Do we have the very words written by the Biblical authors? and Does It Matter Whether We Affirm the Verbal Inerrancy of the Original Manuscripts?

View Part 4 here: What does the Bible claim for itself? The Old Testament claims for itself and The Truth and Authority of the Apostles; Jesus Created a Limited, Authorized Band of Apostles

You can read the notes here on the Desiring God site including Seminar Notes for the entire (5 part) series

Part 5 below: How Can We Justify the Claim That the Bible Is God’s Word? The meaning of the Bible’s inerrancy.
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9. How Can We Justify the Claim That the Bible Is God’s Word?

Westminster Confession of Faith

1.5 We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture, and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole, (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Question Four: How doth it appear that the Scriptures are the word of God?

Answer: The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God,

  1. by their majesty
  2. and purity;
  3. by the consent of all the parts,
  4. and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God;
  5. by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation.
  6. But the Spirit of God, bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God.

The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God…

1) …by their majesty

Hosea 8:12 (KJV)
I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.

1 Corinthians 2:6-9 (KJV)
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Psalm 119:18 (KJV)
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Psalm 119:129 (KJV)
Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.

2) …[by their] purity;

Psalm 12:6 (KJV)
The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalm 19:7-11 (KJV)
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

3) …by the consent of all the parts,

Acts 10:43 (KJV)
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Acts 26:22 (KJV)
Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.

4) …[by] the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God;

Romans 3:19 (KJV)
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Romans 3:27 (KJV)
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

John 7:16-18 (Inserted by John Piper)
Jesus therefore answered them, and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

John 5:41-44 (Inserted by John Piper)
“I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?”

5) …by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation.

Acts 18:28 (KJV)
For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

James 1:18 (KJV)
Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Psalm 119:79 (KJV)
Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.

Romans 15:4 (KJV)
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Acts 20:32 (KJV)
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

2 Corinthians 4:4-6 (Inserted by John Piper)
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

1 Peter 1:23 – 2:3 (Inserted by John Piper)
You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. For, ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ABIDES FOREVER. And this is the word which was preached to you. Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (Inserted by John Piper)
For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE. Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 2:3-16 (Inserted by John Piper)
And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE SHOULD INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

6) But the Spirit of God, bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God.

John 16:13-14 (KJV)
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

1 John 2:20 -27 (KJV)
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

John 20:31 (KJV)
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

1 Corinthians 2:13-15 (Inserted by John Piper)
…which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised [properly] by no man.

John 10:27
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

10. The Meaning of the Bible’s Inerrancy

10. The Meaning of the Bible’s Inerrancy

Bethlehem Affirmation of faith, Article One:

We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.

What Does „Without Error” Mean?

The Bible is “without error” in the sense that all that the Biblical authors intended to teach is true and does not conflict with reality or with the will of God.


“…intended to teach…”

I use this phrase for two reasons:

1) A writer should not be accused of error because someone construes their words in a way the writer does not “intend.” The meaning of a text is not whatever anyone can construe from the words, but what the writer intends for the language to teach. For example, if I say to a friend in Detroit, “I’ll be there at 10 A.M.,” meaning Eastern Standard Time; and he construes the words to mean 10 A.M. Central Standard Time, I have not erred if I arrive an hour earlier than he expects. I may have been unclear, but I was not wrong. So the meaning of a writer should not be considered false just because the words could be used to express error.

2) The word “teach” reinforces this point by implying that a writer might say things which he is not teaching. For example, I may say to my son, “Pick your mother up at the town square.” My teaching is that he should get his mother at the place known as the “town square.” I am not teaching that he should lift her off the ground in his arms, nor am I teaching that the town square is the same length on all four sides. If the “town square” is 100’ by 105’ I have not erred, and if my son never touches his mother, but brings her home from there, he has not disobeyed. Both the word “intended” and the word “teach” are meant to protect a writer from accusation of error when there is none.

Some Implications for Reading Scripture:

Accurate descriptions of natural events as what one simply sees are not scientific errors. (E.g., “The sun rises in the east.”)

Joshua 10:13
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.

Revelation 6:13
The stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.

Idiomatic exaggerations are not errors. (E.g., “It scared me to death.”)

Genesis 22:17
“I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore.”

Jeremiah 33:22 (Explaining the idiom)
“As the host of heaven cannot be counted, and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David.”

Reported error is not necessarily error. (E.g., Mohammed Ali said, “I am the greatest.”)

Luke 22:56-60
And a certain servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight, and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” And a little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” And after about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, a cock crowed.

[NOTE: Is every word of Scripture God’s word? Yes, but in the sense that it is God’s will that this word carry the truth being intended by the writer. It’s meaning and truth are judged not in isolation from, but by use in the context.]

Metaphorical descriptions of nature are not scientific errors.

Revelation 20:7-8
And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.

Using the same word with different and contrary meanings is not necessarily an error. (E.g., “There was not rock in Leicester.” “Most houses in Leicester are built with rock.”)

1 Kings 15:14
The high places were not taken away; nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the Lord all his days.

2 Chronicles 14:1, 5
And Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God . . . He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. And the kingdom was undisturbed under him.

Romans 3:28
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

James 2:24
You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.

Limited, local meaning cannot be given a general meaning and then called error. (E.g., “Everyone came to class today.” “Bugs weigh over 1,000 pounds.”)

Matthew 13:31-32
Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Local definition: “That which people plant in the ground to grow crops.”

General definition: “A fertilized and ripened plant ovule containing an embryo capable of germination to produce a new plant” (American Heritage Dictionary, e.g. orchids).

11. Appendix One: The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978)


The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian Church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God’s written Word. To Stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.

The following Statement affirms this inerrancy of Scripture afresh, making clear our understanding of it and warning against its denial. We are persuaded that to deny it is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God’s own Word which marks true Christian faith. We see it as our timely duty to make this affirmation in the face of current lapses from the truth of inerrancy among our fellow Christians and misunderstanding of this doctrine in the world at large.

This Statement consists of three parts: a Summary Statement, Articles of Affirmation and Denial, and an accompanying Exposition*. It has been prepared in the course of a three-day consultation in Chicago. Those who have signed the Summary Statement and the Articles wish to affirm their own conviction as to the inerrancy of Scripture and to encourage and challenge one another and all Christians to growing appreciation and understanding of this doctrine. We acknowledge the limitations of a document prepared in a brief, intensive conference and do not propose that this Statement be given creedal weight. Yet we rejoice in the deepening of our own convictions through our discussions together, and we pray that the Statement we have signed may be used to the glory of our God toward a new reformation of the Church in its faith, life, and mission.

We offer this Statement in a spirit, not of contention, but of humility and love, which we purpose by God’s grace to maintain in any future dialogue arising out of what we have said. We gladly acknowledge that many who deny the inerrancy of Scripture do not display the consequences of this denial in the rest of their belief and behavior, and we are conscious that we who confess this doctrine often deny it in life by failing to bring our thoughts and deeds, our traditions and habits, into true subjection to the divine Word.

We invite response to this statement from any who see reason to amend its affirmations about Scripture by the light of Scripture itself, under whose infallible authority we stand as we speak. We claim no personal infallibility for the witness we bear, and for any help which enables us to strengthen this testimony to God’s Word we shall be grateful.

A Short Statement

1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.

2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms, obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.

3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.

4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.

5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.

Articles of Affirmation and Denial

Article I

We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.

We deny that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.

Article II

We affirm that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.

We deny that Church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.

Article III

We affirm that the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God.

We deny that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.

Article IV

We affirm that God who made mankind in His image has used language as a means of revelation.

We deny that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God’s work of inspiration.

Article V

We affirm that God’ s revelation in the Holy Scriptures was progressive.

We deny that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.

Article VI

We affirm that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.

We deny that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.

Article VII

We affirm that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.

We deny that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.

Article VIII

We affirm that God in His Work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.

We deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.

Article IX

We affirm that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.

We deny that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.

Article X

We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.

We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.

Article XI

We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.

We deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.

Article XII

We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Article XIII

We affirm the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.

We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.

Article XIV

We affirm the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.

We deny that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.

Article XV

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration.

We deny that Jesus’ teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to accommodation or to any natural limitation of His humanity.

Article XVI

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church’s faith throughout its history.

We deny that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by Scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.

Article XVII

We affirm that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God’s written Word.

We deny that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or against Scripture.

Article XVIII

We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historicaI exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.

We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizlng, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.

Article XIX

We affirm that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.

We deny that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences both to the individual and to the Church.

* The Exposition is not printed here but can be obtained by writing us at the Oakland office: ICBI / P.O. Box 13261 / Oakland, CA 94661 / (415)-339-1064.

12. Appendix Two: The Immediate Knowledge of God That Comes with Human Consciousness in the World

“That which is known about God is evident within them”

Romans 1:19-21
That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks.

Notes on Romans 1:19-21

1) “Invisible attributes” (v. 20) translates aorata which means “invisible things” – things about God that are invisible. These are “evident” (v. 19), because God has “made it evident” (v. 19).

2) So the existence of the invisible God is known. And things about him are known (v. 19).

3) The things that are known about God are things that make us accountable to “to honor him as God and give thanks” (v. 21). So this must include his existence, his beneficence and our indebtedness to him for life, and enough of his nature or excellence so that honor would be called for.

4) These known things about God come through “what has been made” (v. 20). Our immediate consciousness of the world that is given to us by virtue of our existence constitutes a knowledge of God.

5) The effect of sin is to make us resist honoring and thanking God (v. 21). This resistance is so damning that we cannot live with the consciousness of it. The result is that we “suppress the truth” (v. 18) and become futile in our thinking and dark in our hearts (v. 21). That is, there is either a denial of God, or a distortion of God to make him tolerable.

13. Appendix Three: My Own Experience of God as an Immediate Effect of My Consciousness in the World as a Human Being

My existence in the world confronts me as soon as I am conscious of it with:

  • A Single Originator of all that is.
  • One who is totally self-sufficient with no dependence on anything outside himself to be all that he is.
  • One without beginning or ending or progress from worse to better, and therefore absolute and perfect.
  • One on whom I am dependent moment by moment for all things, none of which I deserve, and who is therefore beneficent.
  • One who is Personal and accounts for transcendent personhood in human beings.
  • One who accounts for the intelligent design manifest in the macro (galaxies) and micro (molecules and cells) universe.
  • One who knows all.
  • One who deserves to be reverenced and admired and looked to for guidance and help.
  • One who sees me as guilty for failure in not rendering him what he deserves, and who thus gives ultimate explanation to universal bad conscience.
  • One who might save me, but would need to do it in a way that overcomes my evil impulse to resist him, and would have to make a way for his honor to be sustained while not punishing me for treason.

14. Appendix Four: Note on How the Immediate Knowledge of God Relates to the Self-Attestation of Scripture

There is something written on our hearts and in the world that bears witness to the absolute supremacy of God and to the truth that all the glory in the universe belongs to him.

There is implicit in our personhood, our conscience, our dependence, and our guilt that God is a personal Being, with moral expectations, whom we have dishonored, and from whom we deserve wrath.

What’s the point of all this in relation to the Westminster Catechism’s question four about how the Scriptures “manifest themselves to be the word of God”?

When the answer says that the Scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God “by the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God,” it is linking up with something in us that we know immediately from our own created existence in the world (unless we suppress it as Romans 1:18) – that all glory belongs to God not us, and that we are guilty before him for not giving him this glory, and that the only hope of salvation will be by the initiative of this God to preserve his glory while finding away to forgive our sins.

This is in fact what we find in the whole Bible – the centrality of the glory of God and a history of salvation that makes his glory the center and goal of all things.

Therefore, this is one way that the scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God – they present a vision of God and man and salvation that fits with what we know immediately from God’s self-revelation in nature and in our own personhood and conscience.

15. Appendix Five: Thoughts on How to Know If a Writing Is From God

How might you know if I wrote the advent poems I give each year at Bethlehem?

1) Consider that I said I did. This involves having access to my word separate from the poem and involves trusting me. So you move the question back a step to how you might come to trust me.

2) Consider that someone, say Noël, told you that I wrote it. This would involve access to Noël and would involve not only trusting her, but believing that she is competent to make justifiable claims.

3) Analyze the style and vocabulary and theology to see if it fits with what you know of me from other sources. This would involve having access to other things that I have written or said. And the question of knowing that I said them or wrote them would be pushed back a step.

4) You saw me write it. You were there during enough of the 19 hours to satisfy yourself that this was really coming out of my head.

Now compare the similar question: How might you know that God wrote (i.e. inspired the writing of) the Bible?

1) God says he wrote it. But this involves the problem that the only access we have to the word of God is the Book we are trying to decide is the word of God.

2) Others say he wrote it. This pushes the question back onto the way we would credit their testimony and the way we would have access to that knowledge.

3) It fits with all we know about his style and vocabulary and theology. The problem with this is that we have no access to God’s theology except in the Book in question.

4) You saw him write it. This is not possible because he is outside of space an sense perception. Anything we would see – like a hand on a wall writing in human language would have the same question as the Bible we are trying to decide on. God is outside our sense experience and in another category of being from us. We cannot see him directly do anything.

5) This leaves us with one other way of knowing: that there would be a sense or taste or seeing of God and his glory that is not natural or merely physical but is spiritual, as the seeing in 2 Corinthians. 4:4, 6.

16. Appendix Six: An Argument from the Fulfillment of Prophecy

The Nature of the Argument Endorsed by Jesus

John 13:18-19
“I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, `He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.”

John 14:29
“And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.”

Jesus Directs Us to Consider Fulfilled Prophecy of His Suffering

Luke 24:45-47
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Peter Taught That Christ Enabled OT Prophets to See the Future
1 Peter 1:10-11

The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory.

The Case of Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53:1
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

Romans 10:16

But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

John 12:37-38
Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in him; it was that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Isaiah 53:2-3

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Mark 9:12

And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things; and how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt?”

Isaiah 53:4

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (see Isaiah 53:10)

Acts 2:23

This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Acts 4:27-28
Truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place.

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

Matthew 8:16-17

That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

1 Peter 2:24
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Romans 4:25
Who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Matthew 26:67
Then they spat in his face, and struck him; and some slapped him.

Matthew 27:26
Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

Isaiah 53:6-7

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

Matthew 26:62

And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?”

Matthew 27:12-14
But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly.

1 Corinthians 5:7
Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.

John 1:29
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Isaiah 53:8

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

Acts 8:32-33

Now the passage of the scripture which he was reading was this: “As a sheep led to the slaughter or a lamb before its shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken up from the earth.”

1 Corinthians 15:3
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.

Isaiah 53:9

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Luke 23:33

And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.

1 Peter 2:22
He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips.

1 John 3:5
You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

Matthew 27:57-59
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud,

Isaiah 53:10-11
Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities.

1 John 2:1
My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Acts 13:38-39
Let it be known to you therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

Isaiah 53:12

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Hebrews 9:28

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Luke 23:34
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

17. Appendix Seven: How Do We Credit Paul’s Testimony?

Why Do We Want to Credit Paul’s Testimony?

He Claimed to Write with Words Taught by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.

He said that the Old Testament Scriptures were inspired and profitable.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

He made stunning claims about the universal authority of Jesus.

Philippians 2:6-7, 9-11
Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant. . . . Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Colossians 1:16-18
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.

Colossians 2:9
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.

How does Paul argue for his credibility as a spokesman for the living God and risen Christ?

Galatians 1:11-24
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they were glorifying God because of me.

Is There Some Historical Control Here That Shows Paul Is Not Free to Fabricate?

Historians agree that Paul wrote Galatians.

The description of his pre-Christian days includes his passionate persecution of the church of Christ (Galatians 1:13).

You have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it.

Confirmed by Luke:

Acts 9:1-2
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

This would be public knowledge especially among those who oppose Christianity.

The description of his pre-Christian days includes his passionate devotion to the Jewish law and traditions (Galatians 1:14).

I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

This too would be public verifiable knowledge. It is extremely unlikely that he could not be fabricating this in a time and setting where falsification would be so easy.

Now after his Damascus road experience he is 180 degrees opposed to what he gave his life to before and is claiming Jesus to be the Son of God and the Christian Gospel to be the truth.

Galatians 1:23-24
They kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they were glorifying God because of me.

This change in Paul was also public among those who know him on both sides of his conversion.

Now Paul is making claims for Jesus that are so universal and so demanding on the allegiance of everyone that he seems to have lost his mind (a serious psychosis), or become a great con-man, or be making an honest mistake as a sober and reasonable man, or be speaking the truth as a reasonable and honest man.

The writings of Paul do not fit the way lunatics or psychotics speak:

  • His writings, like Romans, are reasoned in an extended and coherent way.
  • His writings bear the marks of many warm personal relationships.
  • His writings bear the mark of much interest and concern with others.
  • His writings evidence a wide range of normal emotions.
  • In general no one would get the impression from these 13 letters that this man is insane.

The price Paul was paying to be a Christian and an apostle rule out the idea that he using it as a platform to con others.

He proved repeatedly that he was not being driven by money:

  • tent making,
  • not taking offerings for himself,
  • having others handle the offering for the poor,
  • living simply.

He accepted suffering constantly and documented it in a way that it could be publicly verified.

2 Corinthians 6:3-10
We give no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger. . . regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.

2 Corinthians 11:23-28
Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.

To say that Paul is making an honest mistake of a reasonable man is to miss the point: the problem is not just he might have made an honest mistake in his conversion, which would be inexplicable enough. The problem is that he goes on year after year making the most outrageous claims about his own revelatory experiences and the reality of Christ and the Holy Spirit and the nature of reality. This is not an honest mistake. This is a lifetime of sustained delusion, if he is not telling the truth.

The evidence is strong that Paul is speaking as a reasonable and honest man who knows what he is saying and why.

His explanation is that Christ appeared to him and that he receives revelation. With such revelation he credits the Old Testament and speaks a full message about the person and work of Jesus Christ as God’s truth.

We must decide if we believe he is a credible witness. There is good reason to believe he is.

18. Appendix Eight: John Calvin on Scripture and the Internal Testimony of the Spirit

“That fearful abandonment…”

I at length perceived, as if light had broken in upon me, in what a sty of error I had wallowed, and how much pollution and impurity I had thereby contracted. Being exceedingly alarmed at the misery into which I had fallen, and much more at that which threatened me in the view of eternal death, I, as in duty bound, made it my first business to betake myself to thy way, condemning my past life, not without groans and tears. And now, O Lord, what remains to a wretch like me, but, instead of defense, earnestly to supplicate thee not to judge according to its deserts that fearful abandonment of thy word from which, in thy wondrous goodness thou has at last delivered me. (Selections, 114-115)

Calvin’s new conviction: “The same reverence we owe to God…”

Whoever wishes to profit in the Scriptures let him first of all lay down as a settled point this–that the law and the prophecies are not teaching delivered by the will of men, but dictated by the Holy Ghost…. Moses and the prophets…testified as was actually the case, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spoke…. We owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God, because it has proceeded from Him alone, and has nothing of man mixed with it. (Packer 162)

What does he mean by “dictation”?

Calvin’s reference to the Holy Spirit’s dictating Scripture (a frequent phrase with him), and to the apostles as His “amanuenses”, does not, of course, imply anything as to the psychology of inspiration. Warfield, Doumergue, and others have shown that this is simply a theological metaphor conveying the thought that what is written in Scriptures bears the same relation to the mind of God which was its source as a letter written by a good secretary bears to the mind of the man who dictated it — a relation, that is of complete correspondence, and thus of absolute authenticity. (Packer 163)

Sample sermon series

Sunday Sermons:

189 sermons on Acts
72 sermons on Psalms
46 sermons on 1 and 2 Thess.
55 on 1 Timothy
31 on 2 Timothy
110 on 1 Corinthians
66 on 2 Corinthians
43 on Galatians
48 on Ephesians

Weekday sermons:

271 on Jeremiah
25 Lamentations
28 Micah
17 Zepheniah
65 on Hosea
17 on Joel
43 on Amos
5 on Obadiah
52 Daniel
174 Ezekiel
159 on Job
200 Deuteronomy
343 on Isaiah
123 on Genesis
107 on 1 Sam
87 on 2 Sam.

Story of three year break (Easter Day 1538 – September 1541)

The problem with relying on the church

A most pernicious error widely prevails that Scripture has only so much weight as is conceded to it by the consent of the church. As if the eternal and inviolable truth of God depended upon the decision of men! … Yet, if this is so, what will happen to miserable consciences seeking firm assurance of eternal life if all promises of it consist in and depend solely upon the judgment of men? (Institutes, I, vii, 1)

How then shall we know? The inward testimony of the Spirit

The testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his word, the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit therefore who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded…because until he illumines their minds, they ever waver among many doubts!” (Institutes, I, vii, 4)

Let this point therefore stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and that Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning. And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. For even if it wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearts through the. Therefore illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else’s judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with utter certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men. We seek no proofs, no marks of genuineness upon which our judgment may lean, but we subject our judgment and wit to it as to a thing far beyond any guesswork! This we do, not as persons accustomed to seize upon some unknown thing, which, under closer scrutiny, displeases them, but fully conscious that we hold the unassailable truth! Nor do we do this as those miserable men who habitually bind over their minds to the thralldom of superstition; but we feel that the undoubted power of his divine majesty lives and breathes there. By this power we are drawn and inflamed, knowingly and willingly, to obey him, yet also more vitally and more effectively than by mere human willing or knowing! (Institutes, I, vii, 5)

The immediate sight of God’s reality in the Word

How can we be assured that this has sprung from God unless we have recourse to the decree of the church? — it is as if someone asked: Whence will we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Indeed, Scripture exhibits fully as clear evidence of its own truth as white and black things do of their color, or sweet and bitter things do of their taste. (Institutes, I, vii, 2)

1 John 5:7-11

And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for the witness of God is this, that He has borne witness concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son. And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

What about the Use of Arguments and Proofs?

Yet of themselves these [proofs] are not strong enough to provide a firm faith until our Heavenly Father, revealing his majesty there, lifts reverence for Scripture beyond the realm of controversy. Therefore Scripture will ultimately suffice for a saving knowledge of God only when its certainty is founded upon the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, these human testimonies which exist to confirm it will not be vain if, as secondary aids to our feebleness, they follow that chief and highest testimony. But those who wish to prove to unbelievers that Scripture is the Word of God are acting foolishly, for only by faith can this be known. (Institutes, I, viii, 13)

Once we have embraced it devoutly as its dignity deserves, and have recognized it to be above the common sort of things, those arguments – not strong enough before to engraft and fix the certainty of Scripture in our minds – become very useful aids. What wonderful confirmation ensues when, with keener study, we ponder the economy of the divine wisdom, so well ordered and disposed…. (Institutes, I, viii, 1)

J. I. Packer’s interpretation of the inward witness of the Spirit:

Calvin affirms Scripture to be self-authenticating through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. What is this “inner witness”? Not a special quality of experience, nor a new, private revelation, nor an existential “decision”, but a work of enlightenment whereby, through the medium of verbal testimony, the blind eyes of the spirit are opened, and divine realities come to be recognized and embraced for what they are. This recognition Calvin says, is as immediate and un-analyzable as the perceiving of a color, or a taste, by physical sense – an event about which no more can be said than that when appropriate stimuli were present it happened, and when it happened we know it had happened. (Packer 166)

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