Wednesday, August 16, 2017

God’s Word is Not Man’s Invention (2 Peter 1:20-21)

“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:20–21, NASB95)

The Bible is not just the “good book.” It is the Word of God and it is His truth shared with us through those chosen by Him. I own a lot of books, and in them there are a lot of opinions. Many of those opinions are right and good based upon correct understandings, while others (even in the same book) are not quite as reliable. The problem with all of these books is that they are based upon man’s best understanding or possibly even his desires in relation to those understandings. This is how it is with the non-fiction ones. I won’t even go there to discuss the fiction books (historical of not) and the foundations of thought that are behind them.

Man writes from the basis of information or speculation that he has, but this is not how it is with God. God has no limit in information and He does not have to speculate about anything. He knows everything perfectly. He always had and He always will. He is infinite in all ways. God has always existed just as He is, and everything else that exists does so because He is the Creator. He created time and space. He created the heavens and the earth and He placed them exactly where they needed to be with every detail necessary for their proper function. He created the waters and the land, and He created everything that lives in or on them. He created man and He breathed into man the breath of life that makes him distinct from everything else. He created woman and He even established the union that they would share. He did all of this with perfect knowledge of how things would go, how man would rebel, and even how He would draw man back to Himself. He created everything with perfect knowledge of its goodness and even evil that would interrupt it. There is absolutely nothing in which God is limited, and there is no boundary through which He cannot break or no avenue through which He cannot work or speak.

It is from this foundation that God has given and preserved His Word. Peter wrote of God’s Word as a foundational principle of truth saying, “first of all….” In the face of all that others might say after the apostles left Peter affirmed that the Word of God is to be their rock. It is absolutely trustworthy. It is the standard against which everything else is measured. If man wavers on this then there is nothing to bar him from believing anything else. When truth is rejected then man is put on the slippery slope of his desires. But this is not to be the case. The Word of God is authoritatively truthful and accurate.

It is not the collective thoughts of a bunch of likeminded people over a long period of time, who wrote as they wished or who added to the composite what they felt they might like to add. The Bible is not the combined work of people putting in their “two cents worth.” Peter wrote that the Bible, or the writings (Greek: graphēs) of Scripture, are the words given to men by the Spirit of God. This is true of both Old and New Testament writers. Peter tells us that these authors did not figure these things out on their own. They did not unravel the mysteries and record them for us as they understood them. They did not figure out their own interpretation of their deeper hidden meanings.

NO! The Bible is not a mystery book unveiled to us by men who had shared their own special insights. Rather, Peter assures us that what we have recorded for us is what men have recorded as they were moved by the Holy Spirit to speak from God. That’s a pretty bold statement. Saying that these men heard from God and what we have is “God’s honest truth” is astounding. And, we don’t have to look too far to see that many have refused to acknowledge this in their own lives. Sadly, we don’t even have to look too far to see that many churches have also done likewise. This is why Peter say it was a “first of all” issue. Apart from the Word of God being first of all the true and accurate Word of God then it really doesn’t amount to more than just the opinions of man who can interpret as they wish and take or leave it as they so desire. Peter did not leave this as an option. He stated it without equivocation.

In 2 Timothy 3:16 the apostle Paul wrote that all Scripture is “inspired by God” (New American Standard). In the New International Version we read that it is “God-breathed,” and in the English Standard we read that it is “breathed out by God.” All of these translations point to the central truth that the Word of God is not something of man’s doing, but men being moved by God wrote His truth. The Greek word at the heart of these translations is “theopneustos,” which itself is composed of two words. The later part of it (pneustos) might sound familiar to us, especially to mechanics. This word “pneustos” is where we get our word “pneumatic.” Pneumatic tools are tools that are powered by air pressure. Compressors build up pressure to a certain point such that when the trigger is pulled power is then released to accomplish the purpose for which the tool is designed.

I love my pneumatic tools. They have really enhanced my ability to do certain projects as they bring more power to projects than my simple electric motors might otherwise have done. And, in Greek the word “pneustos” simply means to breathe, blow or even move as with the wind. But God’s Word is not subject to the “winds of change” or to “whatever way the wind might blow.” Our God does not change. He is infinitely consistent. When King Saul had rebelled against God and the prophet Samuel came to tell him that he had been rejected by God as king, Samuel told Saul the following: “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”” (1 Samuel 15:27–29, NASB95) God is “not a man that He should change His mind.” This who our God is. Jesus Himself said and Peter would later quote Him just a few verses later in this chapter, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, NASB95) It is this foundational consistency of God that is added in front of the word “pneustos.” “Theopneustos” means that this breath comes from “theos.” It comes from God. Our God who cannot lie and who cannot change or change His mind moved through His Spirit these men to record these things. They are His inspired words and they are accurate.

In looking to the doctrinal statements of prospective churches it is foundational that we look to how they view this thing of first importance—the Word of God. This is what the local church I am a member of holds on this important issue, and appropriately enough it is the first point in our Doctrinal Statement of Faith. “The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are the inspired Word of God without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of mankind, and the divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life.” But more than just holding that position, it has been the practice both from the pulpit and in its dealings to stand on the Word of God for what it is, the final and truthful authority. And being quite honest, standing on this foundation has made our lives much easier. Sure, we have to struggle with growing in our knowledge and understanding. But, we never have to grow in keeping up with its changes.

God’s Word is just as true today as it was when these men were moved to write it because it came from our God who is absolute truth and absolutely truthful. His Word is alive because His Spirit works in and through it, but it is not evolving because God has nowhere to evolve. The world might not like this, but the world is not to be our standard. Our standard is the inerrant Word of God given to us through men who were moved by the Spirit to speak for Him.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NASB95)

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NASB95)

No comments: