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SUNDAY OT SERMON: James Boice “The First Five Days of Creation” – Genesis 1:3-23

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 10

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. – Genesis 1:3-23

Creation is one form of God’s self-revelation and therefore a means by which we may come to know him. But, as Calvin points out in the introduction to his commentary on Genesis, our eyes are not “sufficiently clear-sighted to discern what the fabric of heaven and earth represents,” and therefore we need the Scriptures to view creation rightly. “If the mute instruction of the heaven and the earth were sufficient, the teaching of Moses would have been superfluous” John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, trans. John King. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,, 1948, 62).

Having looked at the creation account through the various modern systems of interpretation, we therefore now turn to the account for the emphasis God himself puts on his creative activity.

There are three main teachings. First, God himself—the true, sovereign, wise, and personal God—stands behind creation. Second, the work of this true, sovereign, wise, and personal God was an orderly work. Third, the creation was and is good, because it is the work of the God who is not only true, sovereign, wise, and personal but also morally perfect. Each of these points has implications for the way we are to relate both to God and his creation.

In the Beginning

The most obvious point is that God stands at the beginning of all things and is the One through whom all came into existence. We have noticed this in studying the first sentence of the chapter. When the Bible begins by stating “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” it is evident that we are directed first and primarily to the God who stands behind everything.

We also have this emphasis in the account of the first five days. Grammatically speaking, there is only one subject in all these verses: God himself. Everything else is object. Objects are acted upon. Light, air, water, dry land, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, land animals—all are objects in a creative process where God alone is subject. In these verses we are told that God “saw” (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), “separated” (vv. 4, 7), “called” (vv. 5, 8, 10), “made” (vv. 7, 16, 25), “set” (v. 17), “created” (vv. 21, 27), and explained to the man and woman what he had done (vv. 28–30). Moreover, before that, God spoke (vv. 3, 6, 9, 14, 20), as a result of which everything else unfolded.

We should note a number of things. First, in the Hebrew of this chapter the name for God is Elohim. This is a plural word. It is used as if it were singular—that is, with singular verbs and (usually) with singular pronouns referring back to it—to indicate that there is but one God only. But the fact that it is plural also suggests that there are plural dimensions to God’s being. We must acknowledge that this in itself does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity. There is such a thing as a plural of greatness in the Hebrew language. Nevertheless, on the basis of the later revelation, particularly in the New Testament, we are right in seeing a preparation for that fuller revelation here. In John 1 we have a reference to the start of Genesis that goes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (vv. 1–2). The Word is Jesus, as verse 14 shows. So John is saying that Jesus was with the Father and was acting with him in the original work of creation. In verse 3 John says specifically, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).

In Genesis 1:26 we find God saying, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness”—one of the places where a singular pronoun does not occur. In Genesis 3:22 we find, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

This is all very significant, because, when we recognize that the members of the Trinity are here at the beginning of creation, having existed before anything else, then the elements that we associate with the Trinity—love, personality, and communication—are seen to be eternal and to have eternal value. This is the biblical answer to man’s fear of being lost in an impersonal and loveless universe.

The second thing we note about these first biblical statements concerning God is that God brought the universe into existence by speaking (“And God said”). This shows the importance of verbal or propositional revelation. There has been a tendency in some contemporary theological circles to deny the importance of words on the basis that what is really important are acts, particularly the acts of God in history. This has implications for one’s assessment of the Bible, for in such a scheme the very words of the Bible lose importance and the Bible becomes only a more or less accurate pointer to what God has done historically. It has implications for the Christian life, because the emphasis falls on what God is doing rather than on what God has commanded. It even has implications for an understanding of history, for God is seen to be present wherever things are happening regardless of whether this accords with his written record of his nature and ways.

The creation account is a warning against this unbiblical and ultimately destructive approach. It is true that there can be a type of preoccupation with words that keeps one from actually coming to grips with the God who spoke them. But this is a far less common error in our day than cutting one’s self free from the written revelation. Which came first, the word or the deed? Many today say, “Deed.” But this is a distortion, as Genesis shows. God’s acts are of great importance. The creation account is full of them. But it is wrong to say that the deed comes first. Rather, the word comes first, followed by the deed, followed by a further revelation in words to interpret the deed spiritually. This means that a hearty emphasis on the Word of God is both biblical and mandatory, if one is to appreciate the acts of God prophesied, recorded, and interpreted in the Scriptures.

The third thing about this emphasis on God’s being behind creation is that when we are pleased with creation, as we should be, our praise should be directed to God, who made all things, and not to creation itself. This is the first great dividing point between the religion of the Bible and most pagan religions. Pagans worship the object, sometimes the “spirit” or “god” perceived to be in or identical with the object. But the Christian looks beyond the object to the God who made it and praises him. This gives him an understanding of the object that the pagan, for all his devotion to things, does not have. The Christian understands why the object is there, why it has the form it has, and (to some extent) what his responsibility toward it is. He is delivered from fear or excessive veneration of the object, on the one hand, and an unmerited scorn or disregard of it, on the other.

Can we not say also that God is to be praised as Creator even before he is praised as Redeemer? We see this in an interesting sequence of those hymns of praise recorded in the fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation. The fifth chapter contains three hymns of praise to Christ for his work of redemption. But there is also the great hymn of chapter 4:

You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they were created

and have their being.

verse 11

In this hymn God is praised as Creator. It is significant that even before that, in verse 8, he is praised simply for being:

Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,

who was, and is, and is to come.

As Francis Schaeffer says, “Our praise to God is not first of all in the area of soteriology. If we are being fully scriptural, we do not praise him first because he saved us, but because he is there and has always been there. And we praise him because he willed all other things, including man, into existence” Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, 27).

When Schaeffer says that “God willed all things, including man, into existence,” he introduces the fourth thing that should be especially noted about God’s being behind all creation: We are part of that creation, have been made by God, and therefore owe him our total and unfeigned obedience and devotion. As Calvin says, “After the world had been created, man was placed in it as in a theatre, that he, beholding above him and beneath the wonderful works of God, might reverently adore their Author.” Moreover, “all things were ordained for the use of man, that he, being under deeper obligation, might devote and dedicate himself entirely to obedience towards God” (Calvin, Genesis, 64-65) We have not done this, of course. We have rebelled against God and are therefore in need of a redeemer. But having been redeemed and having been given a new nature according to which we have now become “new creatures” in Christ, we are enabled to worship and serve God properly.

An Orderly Unfolding

God’s standing behind all things is not the only point of the creation account. These verses also teach that creation was according to an orderly unfolding of the mind and purposes of God. That is, it was a step-by-step progression marked by a sequence of six significant days.

We have already seen that the length of time covered by these days may be an open question. Creationists insist that the days cover a literal twenty-four hours, but this is not necessarily the case. Sometimes the word “day” is used with broader meaning, even by Moses. It can mean a period of indefinite duration. The evidence of geology suggests to most people that the periods corresponding to the days of Genesis were long. However, questions like these, while interesting and necessary, obscure the equally valid and even more valuable point that creation, however long it took, was a deliberate and orderly unfolding of God’s purposes. God is a God of order, not chaos. He is a God of purpose, not chance. It follows that we should also be creatures of order and purpose. Instead of attempting to tear down, as Satan does, we should attempt to build up according to the pattern God gives in Scripture.

A Moral Pronouncement

There is a third point to the Genesis account of creation: God’s moral pronouncement on what he has done. It appears in the repeated phrase “and God saw that it was good” (vv. 10, 12, 18, 21, 25; cf. vv. 3, 31). This pronouncement is not made because we can point to an object and say pragmatically, “That thing is useful to me and is therefore good to me.” God’s pronouncement on the goodness of creation came even before we were made. The pronouncement is made because the object is good in itself. As Schaeffer says, this means that a tree is not good only because we can cut it down and make a house of it or because we can burn it in order to get heat. It is good because God made it and has pronounced it good. It is good because, like everything else in creation, it conforms to God’s nature.

Schaeffer writes of this divine benediction: “This is not a relative judgment, but a judgment of the holy God who has a character and whose character is the law of the universe. His conclusion: Every step and every sphere of creation, and the whole thing put together—man himself and his total environment, the heavens and the earth—conforms to myself” (Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, 55).

It is not only in its pristine state, that is, before the fall of man, that the earth and its contents are pronounced good. The initial blessing of God recorded in Genesis 1 is repeated later even after the fall. For example, it is repeated in God’s covenant with the human race given at the time of Noah. In that unilateral covenant God says, “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. … I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 9:9–10, 13). Here God’s concern is expressed, not just for Noah and those of his family who were delivered with him, but for the birds and the cattle and even the earth itself. Similarly, in Romans 8 there is an expression of the value of creation in that God included it in his promise of that future deliverance for which it as well as the race of men and women wait: “The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (v. 21).

The value of creation, declared good by God, brings us to a natural conclusion: If God finds the universe good in its parts and as a whole, then we must find it good also. This does not mean that we will refuse to see that nature has been marred by sin. Indeed, the verses from Genesis 9 and Romans 8 are inexplicable apart from the realization that nature has suffered in some way as a result of man’s fall. It is marred by thorns, weeds, disease. But even in its marred state it has value, just as fallen man also has value.

First, we should be thankful for the world God has made and praise him for it. In some expressions of Christian thought only the soul has value. But this is not right, nor is it truly Christian. Actually, the elevation of the value of the soul and the debasement of the body and other material things is a Greek and therefore pagan idea based on a false understanding of creation. If God had made the soul (or spirit) alone and if the material world had come from some lesser or even evil source, this would be right. But the Christian view is that God has made all that is and that it therefore has value and should be valued by us because of this origin.

Second, we should delight in creation. This is closely related to being thankful but is a step beyond it. It is a step that many Christians have never taken. Frequently Christians look on nature only as one of the classic proofs of God’s existence. But instead of this, the Christian should really enjoy what he sees. He should appreciate its beauty. He should exult in creation even more than the non-Christian, because in the Christian’s case there is a corresponding knowledge of the God who stands behind it.

Third, we should demonstrate a responsibility toward nature, meaning that we should not destroy it simply for the sake of destroying it but rather should seek to elevate it to its fullest potential. There is a parallel here between the responsibility of men and women toward the creation and the responsibility of a husband toward his wife in marriage. In each case the responsibility is based on a God-given dominion (though the two are not identical). Of marriage it is said, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:25–27). In the same way, men and women together should seek to sanctify and cleanse the earth in order that it might be more as God created it, in anticipation of its ultimate redemption. This does not mean that the universe cannot be used by man in a proper way. A tree can still be cut down to make wood for a home. But it will not be cut down simply for the pleasure of cutting it down or because it is the easiest way to increase the value of the ground. In such areas there must be a careful thinking through of the value and purpose of the object, and there must be a Christian rather than a purely utilitarian approach to it.

Finally, after he has contemplated nature and has come to value it, the Christian should turn once again to the God who made it and sustains it moment by moment and should learn to trust him. God cares for nature, in spite of its abuse through man’s sin. But if he cares for nature, then he also obviously cares for us and may be trusted to do so. This argument occurs in the midst of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in which he draws our attention to God’s care of the birds (animal life) and lilies (plant life) and then asks, “Are you not much more valuable than they? … If … God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 6:26, 30) (Parts of this sermon are drawn from Boice, The Soveriegn God, 205-15).

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 10 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Source: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

James Montgomery Boice’s Books:

1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

SOURCE: from the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, website

 
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SUNDAY OT SERMON: James Montgomery Boice on Genesis 1:1-2 “VIEWS OF CREATIONISM: SIX-DAY CREATIONISM”

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 8

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. – Genesis 1:1-2

In recent years the gap theory of creation, so popuplar with the early fundamentalists, has been replaced by a school of thought known as six-day creationism or flood geology. This theory views the Genesis account as involving six literal days, posits a relatively young earth (maximum age twelve thousand years), and explains the fossil record as having been formed by the great flood in Genesis 6 conceived as having been universal and of immensely destructive proportions. This theory is biblical, but it does not base its interpretation of Genesis on unusual schemes of thought, as the gap theorists do. True, its geology may be unusual (perhaps even forced, as some would claim). But because it is biblical, as well as scientific, creationism deserves the most serious consideration by Christian people.

Two organizations have been effective in advancing the creationists’ viewpoint: the Creation Research Society of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Institute for Creation Research of San Diego, California. The first of these was founded in 1963 with Dr. Walter E. Lammerts as its first president. It has a current membership of five hundred scientists, who have the right to vote, and sixteen hundred nonscientists, who do not have the right to vote. The society issues a quarterly journal and in 1970 published a school textbook entitled Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity. It has produced several other volumes. As indicated by the name, the members of the Creation Research Society engage largely in research relating to creation matters.

The second organization has been more active and is therefore better known. It is a division of Christian Heritage College, also of San Diego, and has as its leaders Dr. Duane T. Gish, who serves on the board of directors of the Christian Research Society, and Dr. Henry M. Morris, the institute’s director. This organization sponsors frequent debates on evolution. The results of these debates, sometimes attended by many thousands of people, are printed, along with other items and articles in support of scientific creationism, in a monthly newsletter known as Acts & Facts. In the last ten years the institute has published more than thirty books on creationism, most of them written by Gish and Morris, though the best-known work, The Genesis Flood, was coauthored by Morris and Dr. John C. Whitcomb, former professor of Old Testament at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana.

These organizations have offered a powerful challenge to prevailing evolutionary theory and have carried their challenge into the public sphere as evidenced by the California biology textbook controversy, which began in November 1969, and other recent court cases.

The Creationists’ Message

The message of the creationists, whether in debate or in their publications, is that evolution is impossible and that the facts (as we know them) best fit the creationist model.

Here is a lengthy but valuable summation of the creationists’ position from the Whitcomb and Morris volume: “Although there may be considerable latitude of opinion about details, the Biblical record does provide a basic outline of earth history, within which all the scientific data ought to be interpreted. It describes an initial Creation, accomplished by processes which no longer are in operation and which, therefore, cannot possibly be understood in terms of present physical or biological mechanisms. It describes the entrance into this initial Creation of the supervening principle of decay and deterioration: the ‘curse’ pronounced by God on the ‘whole creation,’ resulting from the sin and rebellion of man, the intended master of the terrestrial economy, against his Creator.

“The record of the great Flood plainly asserts that it was so universal and cataclysmic in its cause, scope, and results that it also marked a profound hiatus in terrestrial history. Thus the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood constitute the truly basic facts, to which all the other details of early historical data must be referred…It seems most reasonable to attribute the formations of the crystalline basement rocks, and perhaps some of the Pre-Cambrian non-fossiliferous sedimentaries, to the Creation period, enough later substantially modified by the tectonic upheavals of the Deluge period. The fossil-bearing strata were apparently laid down in large measure during the Flood, with the apparent sequences attributed not to evolution but rather to hydrodynamic selectivity, ecologic habitats, and differential mobility and strength of the various creatures.”

So far as evolution is concerned, Whitcomb and Morris write that “evolution is the great ‘escape mechanism’ of modern man. This is the pervasive philosophic principle by which man either consciously or sub-consciously seeks intellectual justification for escape from personal responsibility to his Creator and escape from the ‘way of the Cross’ as the necessary and sufficient means of his personal redemption. … The decision between alternative theories does not therefore depend only on the scientific data but is ultimately a moral and emotional decision. … We therefore urge the reader to face up to the fact that the actual data of geology can be interpreted in such a way as to harmonize quite effectively with a literal interpretation of the Biblical records and then also to recognize the spiritual implications and consequences of this fact” (John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris, The Geneisis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Applications. Philadelphia: P&R, 1961, 327-30).

A Detailed Message

There are several points in this summary that ought to guide us in an evaluation of the theory. First, there is a concern for biblical teaching. More than this, creationists want to make biblical teaching determinative. This is the point at which the summary begins, for it seeks to make an initial creation, the fall, and the flood the three great points around which everything else is to be interpreted.

We have to admit here that the exegetical basis of the creationists is strong. They take the creation account of Genesis as literally as possible, arguing that the Hebrew word for “day” (yom) must refer to an actual twenty-four-hour day unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. They do not deny that yom can refer to an indefinite period, in which case it might be more properly translated “age,” but they consider this usage to be relatively rare. Moreover, even where it does mean an indefinite period, this can hardly be stretched to include the billions of years that uniformitarian geology would assign to periods represented by the “days” of Genesis. Besides, in Genesis 1 the days are each said to have an evening and a morning. Whitcomb and Morris say, “Since God’s revealed Word describes this Creation as taking place in six ‘days’ and since there apparently is no contextual basis for understanding these days in any sort of symbolic sense, it is an act of both faith and reason to accept them, literally, as real days (Ibid, 228).”

The perspicuity of Scripture has bearing here. True, not all Scripture is equally clear, but the creationist would argue that it is very clear at this point. “Suppose the creation did take place in six twenty-four-hour days,” he might say. “How could God possibly tell us that more clearly or directly than by the language we have in Genesis?”

Second, the summary shows the weaknesses and perhaps even the ultimate failure of evolution, the “great escape mechanism” of modern man. Where does evolution fail? In addition to its failure to provide adequate supporting data from the fossil record, which I have already alluded to, Whitcomb and Morris lay particular stress on the problem evolution has with the first and second laws of thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics is energy conservation. It says that energy is neither created nor lost. It is simply changed from one form to another. The second law states that in spite of this conservation the energy available for useful work does decrease so that the universe can properly be said to be “running down.” To give just one illustration, the energy of the sun is not being destroyed by the combustion going on on its surface—the energy latent in the sun’s matter is being converted to heat—but the heat largely dissipates into space and becomes useless.

A consequence of this second law is that in any closed system order tends to move in the direction of disorder or disarrangement. Take the example that Robert Kofahl and Kelly Segraves give in their book, The Creation Explanation. They ask us to imagine an orderly pile of ping-pong balls resting at the head of a flight of stairs. For the sake of the illustration they also ask us to imagine that the balls are perfectly resilient so that they are capable of bouncing forever without losing their original energy. Imagine that someone jars the balls so that the pile collapses and the balls begin to roll down over the first step and then bounce on down to the bottom of the stairs and so on around the room. What will happen? The balls will continue bouncing but in increasing disorder. They will not bounce back up into their original position and assemble themselves on the upper step, even though they continue bouncing for billions of years. There is a mathematical possibility of that happening, but it is a practical impossibility, which is to say: It does not happen. Yet evolution would have us believe that the complex order of the universe has come about from just such random happenings (Robert E. Kofahl and Kelly L. Segraves, The Creation Explanation: A Scientific Alternative to Evolution. Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1975, 33-35).

Whitcomb and Morris conclude, “The plain facts of the situation, therefore, are that evolution has been simply assumed as the universal principle of change in nature, despite the fact that there is no experimental evidence supporting it and despite the still more amazing fact that universal experience and experimentation have demonstrated this universal principle of change to be its very opposite: namely, that of deterioration” (Whitcomb and Morris, The Genesis Flood, 227).

But if the earth is young (only twelve thousand years or so) and if it is the result of God’s special acts of creation taking place within the short period of only six literal twenty-four-hour days, where did the various strata of the earth’s crust come from? Even more important, where did the various fossil-bearing strata come from? Didn’t these require long periods of time, hundreds of thousands if not billions of years in time, for their formation? The creationists’ answer is that although the strata may have been laid down in various epochs—at the time of the initial creation (by fiat), during the work of the six literal days, or in our own relatively modern period—the significant, fossil-bearing strata are largely the result of the flood.

The idea here is that a flood of worldwide proportions would be immensely destructive. It would require huge amounts of water pushed up from beneath and precipitated from above, presumably by the condensation of a vapor or cloud cover, with cataclysmic effects on the earth’s crust. The amount of water necessary to cover the earth would carry virtually all soil with it into the oceans by erosion, where it would pile up in strata. Various creatures would be buried in those strata, the simpler and smaller on the bottom, the larger and more vigorous on top—hence, the appearance of various ages in which life developed from simpler to more complex forms. After the flood new land masses would have emerged, and some of these newly formed strata would have been exposed.

Creationists believe that their views are reinforced by additional considerations:

1. Present-day conditions are forming very few potential fossil deposits, and most of these are unusual. Nothing comparable to the known fossil beds of ancient times is being formed today, which makes us think that some past catastrophe was necessary to produce them.

2. The facts of geology do not support the view of essentially harmonious strata with the older levels on the bottom and the most recent on the top. There is a tendency in this direction, but the facts reflect a far more unruly situation. A universal flood accounts for these facts more adequately than the theory of lengthy geological ages and slow evolutionary development.

3. The existence of huge fossil deposits containing thousands of large, complex species, such as the mammoth deposits in Siberia, is best explained either by the flood or by the abnormal weather conditions that must have followed it.

After presenting this and other evidence, Kofahl and Segraves conclude, “The foregoing features of the fossil and geological records all seem to be in agreement more with the catastrophic than with the uniformitatrion concept of geological processes of the past. Thus, in this respect, fossils corroborate the structural data given previously and lend themselves readily to the framework of biblical catastrophism.”

How Old is the Earth?

In spite of the careful biblical and scientific research that has accumulated in support of the creationists’ view, there are problems that make the theory wrong to most (including many evangelical) scientists. We conclude by listing the most important.

Data from various disciplines point to a very old earth and an even older universe. Some of the conclusions from this data, as well as some of the data itself, were presented in earlier chapters. There is astronomical data. One line of astronomical data concerns the speed of light. Light travels in a vacuum at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. Therefore, 1) if the speed of light is constant, and 2) the light we observe coming from the stars actually comes from those stars, and 3) if our distance measurements for these stars are substantially accurate, then the universe is at least as old as the light-travel-time coming to us from the most distant objects. The most distant objects we are able to observe are quasars. The travel time for light coming from these objects is more than 10 billion years. Therefore, the age of the universe by this mode of reckoning is at least more than that. A second line of data is based on the apparent expansion of the universe. All parts of the universe are retreating from us and from one another at enormous speeds, the most distant observable galaxies at speeds in excess of 100 million miles per hour. by working backward from their present position and speed to the initial “big bang,” the origin of the universe can be set at between 15 and 20 billion years ago. A third line of astronomical data concerns the nature and normal life of stars. Stars are of various ages, having been formed over the whole history of the universe from 15 to 20 billion years ago until today. Our own Milky Way galaxy is about as old as the universe. Our sun is considerably younger, about 5 to 10 billion years old.

The point of combining this data is that, although it is related in some ways, it is based on different approaches to the problem of age and on different assumptions. Yet it gives a roughly consistent picture. According to these methods, the universe would be about 15 to 20 billion years old, the sun about 5 to 10 billion years old, and our solar system about 5 billion years old.

Second, there is the evidence of radioactive methods of dating earth (or moon) rocks. This method is based on the observation that certain kinds of unstable or radioactive elements decay from an unstable to a stable form at measurable rates. By measuring the amount of the original element and the amount of the derivative or “daughter” element in any given sample, an approximate age of the sample may be given. This is an admittedly uncertain method. Many criticisms have been given. But valid or not, the data it gives points to an earth that is about 4.55 billion years old, which is in line with the astrological evidence. Even allowing for large percentages of error, this is still a long way from an earth that is only a few thousand years old.

Third, there is the evidence of nonradiometric dating. Types of data available in this category are: carbonate deposits, sediments, deposits of evaporites, the development of coral reefs, seafloor spreading, and other matters. These all suggest an earth older than that allowed by the creationist model.

We must say, as we summarize this first problem with the creationist view, that the creationists have given answers to each of these lines of evidence for an old earth and an even older universe. They have spoken of a lack of uniformity of scientific laws in past ages; of a universe created “in motion,” as it were, with light already in progress from a distant point; of radioactive dating methods as unreliable, sometimes giving wildly conflicting data, and so on. But when everything is considered, it seems to many persons (myself included) that the creationists are running against too many lines of more or less independent evidence against their case on behalf of a young earth. Therefore, whatever else may be true about their viewpoint, it is hard to believe that the creation of the earth and universe was recent.

Remaining Problems

A second problem, which bothers most geologists and some other people as well, is the use of the flood to explain the various strata of the earth’s outer crust, particularly those that contain fossils. Let us assume that the flood was universal and immensely destructive. Let us also assume that the flood carried most of the earth’s soil and millions of dead or soon-to-be drowned organisms before it. Let us even assume that the simpler and less mobile organisms were buried first (and are therefore found in the lower layers of sedimentary rocks) and that the larger and more mobile creatures survived longer but were eventually overcome and buried in higher layers of rock. Assuming all of that—and some of it is questionable—how is it that plants, which are not mobile, show the same general distribution from the less complex to the more complex forms, or that fish (which the Bible does not say were killed and need not have been) are nevertheless included in the same general fossil distribution?

L. Duane Thuman raises these questions and asks, “How did the plants survive such a destructive flood and become re-established so quickly that the dove could bring back an olive leaf? A worldwide flood which buried both plants and animals under sediment sometimes thousands of feet deep makes this highly improbable.”

A third and final problem, which we have not discussed up to now but that is very important to the creationists’ view of Genesis 1, is the appearance of age. Since the universe is extremely complex, it gives the impression of having gotten to its present form through changes taking place over a long period of time. For example, a tree possessing hundreds of rings in its trunk gives the impression of its having reached that form by growing taller and thicker bit by bit over a period of many years. But according to the creationists, everything we see (including the original tree) was brought into being within six literal days. Therefore, it was either brought to a mature state extremely quickly, within minutes or hours, or else was created to look as if it had gone through a long and complex history. To Adam, newly created, the Garden of Eden may have seemed to have been around for years, but in reality it had been created for him in a mature form or was quickly brought to a mature form only three days previously. In the same way, say the creationists, the universe does indeed appear to have had a beginning 15 to 20 billion years ago, but it was created in motion and is actually only 10 or 15 thousand years old. The same approach can be applied to the age of rocks, coral reefs, and other apparent evidence for an older earth or universe.

At this point it is possible to ridicule the six-day creationism theory. Some have! But this should not be done too quickly, particularly not by those who believe in the createdness of Adam. How old was Adam when he was created? There is no need to think of him as a baby. From whom would he have come? Presumably he was created fully grown. But if that is so, then it is not impossible to think that God might have created the rest of the universe “fully grown” also, according to the same pattern.

“But that would mean that God is deceiving us,” object some, “and God cannot do that and be good.” Whitcomb and Morris hit this objection head-on, claiming that God cannot be accused of deceit inasmuch as he has given a revelation in the Bible of how things have actually been created. “If God reveals how and when he created the universe and its inhabitants, then to charge God with falsehood in creating ‘apparent age’ is preposterous in the extreme—even blasphemous. It is not God who has lied, but rather man who has called him a liar, through rejection of his revelation of Creation as given in Genesis and verified by the Lord Jesus Christ!”

It is a shrewd point—yet not entirely convincing. Although God may have had to create Adam as a mature individual, and presumably did so, there is no reason to think on that basis that he therefore also needed to do so in other areas. Why would God make the tree look old rather than merely giving it time to grow old? What was the hurry? Or again, even if God did create the magnificent universe we know just thousands of years ago, why make it look as if it is much older? Why make the quasars look 10 billion years old? We cannot even see them. What possible point would such a creation have?

None of this is to suggest that God could not have done things in this fashion if he chose to do so. Nor is it to say that the creationists have not made a very good case for their position. But there are problems and questions, and it is because of these that the quest for an explanation by believing scientists goes on.

What About Science?

There is one last point. The possibility of doing science in our day or any other day is undergirded by the assumption of certain laws of nature, operating in the past and continuing to operate on into the future. But according to the creationists, those laws were not operating or else were entirely different during the period of creation itself, and therefore any scientific investigation of creation is both impossible and illegitimate. Is that what our knowledge of God’s ways leads us to expect? Are we given minds that can reason, only to be told that at the point of creation the data they perceive and the basis on which they would reason are an illusion? If so, it is the end of science, at least in this area, and it may be the end of other thinking also.

If the earth and the universe look old when they actually are not, why should any of our observations be trusted? True, the Bible tells us much, and it can be trusted. But the Bible does not tell us everything. It does not even tell me that I exist. Perhaps I do not. Perhaps appearances in this area too are deceiving. Taken to its extreme, the idea of “apparent age” (or “apparent” anything) leads to skepticism, and we are not to be skeptics. We are to know and know we know—by the Word of God and by that limited but nevertheless extensive and extremely wonderful revelation of God in nature, perceived and understood by reason.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE AGE OF THE EARTH CLICK ON THIS LINK:  http://creation.com/how-old-is-the-earth

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 8 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Sources: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

Boice’s Books:

from the Tenth Presbyterian Church website
Books
1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

 

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JESUS, SCRIPTURE, AND ERROR: An Implication of Theistic Evolution

By Simon Turpin

Bible opened image

Abstract

Within the church, the creation vs. evolution debate is often looked upon as a side issue or as unimportant. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Because of the acceptance of evolutionary theory, many have chosen to re-interpret the Bible with regards to its teaching on creation, the history of Adam and the global catastrophic flood in Noah’s day. Consequently, the very teachings of Jesus are being attacked by those who state that, because of His human nature, there is error in some of His teaching regarding earthly things such as creation. While scholars admit that Jesus affirmed such things as Adam, Eve, Noah and the Flood, they believe that Jesus was wrong on these matters.

The problem with this theory is that it raises the question of Jesus’s reliability, not only as a prophet, but more importantly as our sinless Savior. These critics go too far when they say that because of Jesus’s human nature and cultural context, He taught and believed erroneous ideas.


Keywords: Jesus, deity, humanity, prophet, truth, teaching, creation, kenosis, error, accommodation.

IntroductionIn His humanity, Jesus was subject to everything that humans are subject to, such as tiredness, hunger, and temptation. But does this mean that like all humans He was subject to error? Much of the focus on the person of Jesus in the church today is on His divinity, to the point where, often, aspects of His humanity are overlooked, which can in turn lead to a lack of understanding of this critical part of His nature. For example, it is argued that in His humanity Jesus was not omniscient and that this limited knowledge would have made Him capable of error. It is also believed that Jesus accommodated Himself to the prejudices and erroneous views of the Jewish people of the first century AD, accepting some of the untrue traditions of that time. This, therefore, nullifies His authority on critical questions. For the same reasons, it is not only certain aspects of Jesus’s teaching, but also those of the apostles that are seen as erroneous. Writing for the theistic evolutionist organization Biologos, Kenton Sparks argues that because Jesus, as a human, operated within His finite human horizon, then He would have made errors:

If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, John [sic] wrote Scripture without error. Rather, we are wise to assume that the biblical authors expressed themselves as human beings writing from the perspectives of their own finite, broken horizons. (Sparks 2010, p. 7)

To believe our Lord was able to err—and did err in the things He taught—is a severe accusation and needs to be taken seriously. In order to demonstrate that the claim that Jesus erred in His teaching is itself erroneous, it is necessary to evaluate different aspects of Jesus’s nature and ministry. First, this paper will look at the divine nature of Jesus and whether He emptied Himself of that nature, followed by the importance of Jesus’s ministry as a prophet and His claims of the teaching the truth. It will then consider whether Jesus erred in His human nature, and whether as a result of error in Scripture (since humans were involved in its writing) Christ erred in His view of the Old Testament. Finally, the paper will explore the implications of Jesus’s teaching allegedly being false.

The Divine Nature of Jesus—He Existed Before CreationGenesis 1:1 tells us thatIn the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In John 1:1we read the same words,In the beginning . . . which follows the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. John informs us in John 1:1 that in the beginning was the Word (logos) and that the Word was not only with God but was God. This Word is the one who brought all things into being at creation (John 1:3). Several verses later, John writes that the Word who was with God in the beginning became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Notice that John does not say that the Word stopped being God. The verb “. . . ‘became’ [egeneto] here does not entail any change in the essence of the Son. His deity was not converted into our humanity. Rather, he assumed our human nature” (Horton 2011, p. 468). In fact, John uses a very particular term here, skenoo “dwelt”, which means he “pitched his tent” or “tabernacled” among us. This is a direct parallel to the Old Testament record of when God “dwelt” in the tabernacle that Moses told the Israelites to construct (Exodus 25:8–933:7). John is telling us that God “dwelt” or “pitched his tent” in the physical body of Jesus.

In the incarnation, it is important to understand that Jesus’s human nature did not replace His divine nature. Rather, His divine nature dwelt in a human body. This is affirmed by Paul in Colossians 1:15–20, especially in verse 19, For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,” Jesus was fully God and fully man in one person.

The New Testament not only explicitly states that Jesus was fully God, it also recounts events that demonstrate Jesus’ divine nature. For example, while Jesus was on earth, He healed the sick (Matthew 8–9) and forgave sins (Mark 2). What is more, He accepted worship from people (Matthew 2:214:3328:9). One of the greatest examples of this comes from the lips of Thomas when he exclaims in worship before Jesus, My Lord and my God! (John 20:28). The confession of deity here is unmistakable, as worship is only meant to be given to God (Revelation 22:9); yet Jesus never rebuked Thomas, or others, for this. He also did many miraculous signs (John 2; 6; 11) and had the prerogative to judge people (John 5:27) because He is the Creator of the world (John 1:1–31 Corinthians 8:6Ephesians 3:9Colossians 1:16;Hebrews 1:2Revelation 4:11).

Furthermore, the reactions of those around Jesus demonstrated that He viewed Himself as divine and truly claimed to be divine. In John 8:58, Jesus said to the Jewish religious leaders, Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am”. This “I am” statement was Jesus’s clearest example of His proclamation “I am Yahweh,” from its background in the book of Isaiah (41:4; 43:10–13, 25; 48:12—see also Exodus 3:14). This divine self-disclosure of Jesus’s explicit identification of Himself with Yahweh of the Old Testament is what led the Jewish leaders to pick up stones to throw at Him. They understood what Jesus was saying, and that is why they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy. A similar incident takes place in John 10:31. The leaders again wanted to stone Jesus after He saidI and the Father are one, because they knew He was making Himself equal with God. Equality indicates His deity, for who can be equal to God? Isaiah 46:9 says: Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. If there is no one like God and yet Jesus is equal to God (Philippians 2:6), what does this say of Him, except that He must be God? The only thing that is equal to God is God.

In the Incarnation Did Jesus Empty Himself of His Divine Nature?Kenotic Theology—(Philippians 2:5–8)

A question that needs to be asked is whether Jesus emptied Himself of His divine nature in His incarnation. In the seventeenth century, German scholars debated the issue of Christ’s divine attributes while He was on earth. They argued that because there is no reference in the gospels to Christ making use of all of His divine attributes (such as omniscience) that He abandoned the attributes of His divinity in His incarnation (McGrath 2011, p. 293). Gottfried Thomasius (1802–1875) was one of the main proponents of this view who explained the incarnation as “the self-limitation of the Son of God” (Thomasius, Dorner, and Biedermann 1965, p. 46). He reasoned that the Son could not have maintained His full divinity during the incarnation (Thomasius, Dorner, and Biedermann 1965, pp. 46–47). Thomasius believed that the only way for a true incarnation to take place was if the Son “‘gave himself over into the form of human limitation.”’ (Thomasius, Dorner, and Biedermann 1965, pp. 47–48). He found his support for this in Philippians 2:7, defining the kenosis as:

[T]he exchange of the one form of existence for the other; Christ emptied of the one and assumed the other. It is thus an act of free self-denial, which has as its two moments the renunciation of the divine condition of glory, due him as God, and the assumption of the humanly limited and conditioned pattern of life. (Thomasius, Dorner, and Biedermann 1965, p. 53)

Thomasius separated the moral attributes of God: truth, love, and holiness, from the metaphysical attributes: omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Thomasius not only believed that Christ gave up the use of these attributes, (omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience) but that He did not even possess them during the incarnation (Thomasius, Dorner, and Biedermann 1965, pp. 70–71). Because of Christ’s self-emptying in Philippians 2:7, it was believed that Jesus was limited essentially by the opinions of His time. Robert Culver comments on the belief of Thomasius and other scholars who held to a kenotic theology:

Jesus’ testimony to the inerrant authority of the Old Testament . . . is negated. He simply had given up divine omniscience and omnipotence and hence didn’t know any better. Some of these scholars earnestly desired a way to remain orthodox and to go with the flow of what was deemed to be scientific truth about nature and about the Bible as an inspired book not necessarily true in every respect. (Culver 2006, p. 510)

It is critical, therefore, to ask what Paul means when he says that Jesus emptied Himself. Philippians 2:5–8 says:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

There are two key words in these verses that help in understanding the nature of Jesus. The first key word is the Greek morphē (form). Morphē

covers a broad range of meanings and therefore we are heavily dependent on the immediate context to discover its specific nuance. (Silva 2005, p. 101)

In Philippians 2:6 we are helped by two factors to discover the meaning of morphē.

In the first place, we have the correspondence of morphē theou with isa theō. . . . “in the form of God” is equivalent to being “equal with God.” . . . In the second place, and most important, morphē theou is set in antithetical parallelism to μορφην δουλου (morphēn doulou, form of a servant), an expression further defined by the phrase εν ομοιωματι ανθρωπων (en homoiōmati anthrōpōn, in the likeness of men). (Silva 2005, p. 101)

The parallel phrases show that morphē refers to outward appearance. In Greek literature the term morphē has to do with “external appearance” (Behm 1967, pp. 742–743) which is visible to human observation. “Similarly, the word form in the Greek OT (LXX) refers to something that can be seen [Judges 8:18Job 4:16Isaiah 44:13]” (Hansen 2009, p. 135). Christ did not cease to be in the form of God in the incarnation, but taking on the form of a servant He became the God-man.

The second key word is ekenosen from which we get the kenosis doctrine. Modern English Bibles translate verse 7 differently:

New International Version/Today’s New International Version: rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness.

English Standard Version: but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

New American Standard Bible: but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

New King James Version: but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

New Living Translation: Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form.”

It is debatable from a lexical standpoint whether “emptied himself,” “made Himself of no reputation,” or “gave up his divine privileges” are even the best translations. The New International Version/Today’s New International Version translation “made himself nothing” is probably more supportable (Hansen 2009, p. 149; Silva 2005, p. 105; Ware 2013). Philippians 2:7, however, does not say that Jesus emptied Himself of anything in particular; all it says is that he emptied Himself. New Testament scholar George Ladd comments:

The text does not say that he emptied himself of the morphē theou [form of God] or of equality with God . . . All that the text states is that “he emptied himself by taking something else to himself, namely, the manner of being, the nature or form of a servant or slave.” By becoming human, by entering on a path of humiliation that led to death, the divine Son of God emptied himself. (Ladd 1994, p. 460)

It is pure conjecture to argue from this verse that Jesus gave up any or all of His divine nature. He may have given up or suspended the use of some of His divine privileges, perhaps, for example, His omnipresence or the glory that He had with the Father in heaven (John 17:5), but not His divine power or knowledge. “The humiliation,” of Jesus is not therefore seen in His becoming man (anthropos) or a man (aner) but that “as man” (hos anthropos) “‘he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8)” (Culver 2006, p. 514).

The fact that Jesus did not give up His divine nature can be seen when He was on the Mount of Transfiguration and the disciples saw His glory (Luke 9:28–35) since here there is an association with the glory of God’s presence in Exodus 34:29–35. In the incarnation Jesus was not exchanging His deity for humanity but suspending the use of some of His divine powers and attributes (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus’s emptying of Himself was a refusal to cling to His advantages and privileges as God. We can also compare how Paul uses this same term, kenoo, which only appears four other times in the New Testament (Romans 4:141 Corinthians 1:17;9:152 Corinthians 9:3). In Romans 4:14 and 1 Corinthians 1:17, it means to make void, that is, deprive of force, render vain, useless, or of no effect. In 1 Corinthians 9:15 and 2 Corinthians 9:3it means to make void, that is, to cause a thing to be seen to be empty, hollow, false (Thayer 2007, p. 344). In these instances it is clear that Paul’s use of kenoo is used figuratively rather than literally (Berkhof 1958, p. 328; Fee 1995, p. 210; Silva 2005, p. 105). Additionally, in Philippians 2:7 “to press for a literal meaning of ‘emptying’ ignores the poetic context and nuance of the word” (Hansen 2009, p. 147). Therefore, in Philippians 2:7 it is perhaps more accurate to see “emptying” as Jesus pouring Himself out, in service, in an expression of divine self-denial (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus’s service is explained in Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” In practise, this meant in the incarnation that Jesus:

  1. Took the form of a servant

  2. Was made in the likeness of men

  3. Humbled himself becoming obedient to death on the cross.

In His incarnation Jesus did not cease to be God, or cease in any way to have the authority and knowledge of God.

Jesus as a ProphetIn His state of humiliation, part of Jesus’s ministry was to speak God’s message to the people. Jesus referred to Himself as a prophet (Matthew 13:57Mark 6:4Luke 13:33) and was declared to have done a prophet’s work (Matthew 13:57Luke 13:33John 6:14). Even those who did not understand that Jesus was God accepted Him as a prophet, (Luke 7:15–17Luke 24:19John 4:196:147:409:17). Furthermore, Jesus introduced many of His sayings by “amen” or “truly” (Matthew 6:2516). I. Howard Marshall says of Jesus:

[Jesus] made no claim to prophetic inspiration; no “thus says the Lord” fell from his lips, but rather he spoke in terms of his own authority. He claimed the right to give the authoritative interpretation of the law, and he did so in a way that went beyond that of the prophets. He thus spoke as if he were God. (Marshall 1976, pp. 49–50)

In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 and 18:21–22 provided the people of Israel with two tests to discern true prophets from false prophets.

First, a true prophet’s message had to be consistent with earlier revelation.

Second, a true prophet’s predictions always had to come true.

Deuteronomy 18:18–19 foretells of a prophet whom God would raise up from His own people after Moses died:I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him (Deuteronomy 18:18). This is properly referred to in the New Testament as having been fulfilled in Jesus Christ (John 1:45Acts 3:22–237:37). Jesus’s teaching had no origin in human ideas but came entirely from God. In His role as prophet, Jesus had to speak God’s word to God’s people. Therefore He was subject to God’s rules concerning prophets. In the Old Testament, if a prophet was not correct in his predictions he would be stoned to death as a false prophet by order of God (Deuteronomy 13:1–518:20). For a prophet to have credibility with the people, his message must be true, as he has no message of his own but can only report what God has given him. This is because prophecy had its origin in God and not man (Habakkuk 2:2–32 Peter 1:21).

In His prophetic role, Christ represents God the Father to mankind. He came as a light to the world (John 1:98:12) to show us God and bring us out of darkness (John 14:9–10). In John 8:28–29 Jesus also showed evidence of being a true prophet—that of living in close relation with His Father, passing on His teaching (cf. Jeremiah 23:21–23):

When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.

Jesus had the absolute knowledge that everything He did was from God. What He said and did is absolute truth because His Father is “truthful” (John 8:26). Jesus only spoke that which His Father told Him to say (John 12:49–50), so it had to be correct in every way. If Jesus as a prophet was wrong in the things He said, then why would we acclaim Him as the Son of God? If Jesus is a true prophet, then His teaching regarding Scripture must be taken seriously as absolute truth.

Jesus’s Teaching and Truth

Since God himself is the measure of all truth and Jesus was co-equal with God, he himself was the yardstick by which truth was to be measured and understood. (Letham 1993, p. 92)

In John 14:6 we are told that Jesus not only told the truth but that He was, and is, truth. Scripture portrays Jesus as the truth incarnate (John 1:17). Therefore, if He is the truth, He must always tell the truth and it would have been impossible for Him to speak or think falsehood. Much of Jesus’s teaching began with the phrase “Truly, truly I say . . .” If Jesus taught anything in error, even if it was from ignorance (for example, the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch), He would not be the truth.

To err may be human for us. Falsehood, however, is rooted in the nature of the devil (John 8:44), not the nature of Jesus who speaks the truth (John 8:45–46). The Father is the only true God (John 7:288:2617:3) and Jesus taught only what the Father had given to Him (John 3:32–338:4018:37). Jesus testifies about the Father, who in turn testifies concerning the Son (John 8:18–191 John 5:10–11), and they are one (John 10:30). The gospel of John shows emphatically that Jesus’s teaching and words are the teaching and words of God. Three clear examples of this are:

And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. (John 7:15–17)

I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father. . . . But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. (John 8:37–3840)

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.(John 12:49–50)

In John 12:49–50 “Not only is what Jesus says just what the Father has told him to say, but he himself is the Word of God, God’s self-expression (1:1)” (Carson 1991, p. 453). The authority behind Jesus’s words are the commands that are given to Him by the Father (and Jesus always obeyed the Father’s commands; John 14:31). Jesus’s teaching did not originate in human ideas but came from God the Father, which is why it is authoritative. His very own words were spoken in full authorization from the Father who sent Him. The authority of Jesus’s teaching then rests upon the unity between Himself and the Father. Jesus is the embodiment, revelation, and messenger of truth to mankind; and it is the Holy Spirit who conveys truth about Jesus to the unbelieving world through believers (John 15:26–2716:8–11). Again, the point is that if there was error in Jesus’s teaching, then He is a false and unreliable teacher. However, Jesus was God incarnate, and God and falsehood can never be reconciled with each other (Titus 1:2;Hebrews 6:18).

Jesus’s Human NatureIt is important to understand that in the incarnation, not only did Jesus retain His divine nature, He also took on a human nature. With respect to His divine nature, Jesus was omniscient (John 1:47–514:16–1929), having all the attributes of God, yet in His human nature He had all the limitations of being human, which included limitations in knowing. The true humanity of Jesus is expressed throughout the gospels, which tell us that Jesus was wrapped in ordinary infant clothing (Luke 2:7), grew in wisdom as a child (Luke 2:4052), and was weary (John 4:6), was hungry (Matthew 4:4), was thirsty (John 19:28), was tempted by the devil (Mark 4:38), and was sorrowful (Matthew 26:38a). The incarnation should be viewed as an act of addition and not as an act of subtraction of Jesus’s nature:

When we think about the Incarnation, we don’t want to get the two natures mixed up and think that Jesus had a deified human nature or a humanized divine nature. We can distinguish them, but we can’t tear them apart because they exist in perfect unity. (Sproul 1996)

For example, in Mark 13:32 where Jesus is talking about His return, He says, But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Does this mean that Jesus was somehow limited? How should we handle this statement by Jesus? The text seems straightforward in saying there was something Jesus did not know. Jesus’s teaching shows that what He knew or did not know was a conscious self-limitation. The God-man possessed divine attributes, or He would have ceased to be God, but He chose not always to employ them. The fact that Jesus told His disciples that He did not know something is an indication that He did not teach untruths and this is confirmed by His statement, if it were not so, I would have told you (John 14:2). Furthermore, ignorance of the future is not the same as making an erroneous statement. If Jesus had predicted something that did not take place, then that would be an error.

The question that now needs to be asked is this: Was Jesus in His humanity capable of error in the things he taught? Does our human capacity to err apply to the teaching of Jesus? Because of His human nature, questions are raised about Jesus’s beliefs concerning certain events in Scripture. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (1982) states: “We deny that the humble, human form of Scripture entails errancy any more than the humanity of Christ, even in His humiliation, entails sin.” Arguing against the position, Kenton Sparks, Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, in his book God’s Word in Human Words, states:

First, the Christological argument fails because, though Jesus was indeed sinless, he was also human and finite. He would have erred in the usual way that other people err because of their finite perspectives. He misremembered this event or that, and mistook this person for someone else, and thought—like everyone else—that the sun was literally rising. To err in these ways simply goes with the human territory. (Sparks 2008, pp. 252–253)

First of all, it should be noted that nowhere in the gospels is there any evidence that Jesus either misremembered any event or mistook any person for another, nor does Sparks provide evidence for this. Secondly, the language used in Scripture to describe the sun’s rising (for example, Psalm 104:22) and movement of the earth are literal only in a phenomenological sense as it is described from the viewpoint of the observer. Moreover, this is still done today in weather reports when the reporter uses terminology such as “sunrise tomorrow will be at 5 a.m.”

Because of the impact evolutionary ideology has had in the scientific realm as well as in theology, it is reasoned that Jesus’s teaching on things such as creation and the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch was simply wrong. Jesus would have been unaware of evolution as it relates to the critical approach to the authorship of the Old Testament, the Documentary Hypothesis. It is reasoned that in His humanity He was limited by the opinions of His time. Therefore, He could not be held accountable for holding to a view of Scripture that was prevalent in the culture. It is argued that Jesus erred in what He taught because He was accommodating the erroneous Jewish traditions of His time. For example, Peter Enns objects to idea that Jesus’s belief in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is valid, since He simply accepted the cultural tradition of His day:

Jesus seems to attribute authorship of the Pentateuch to Moses (e.g., John 5:46–47). I do not think, however, that this presents a clear counterpoint, mainly because even the most ardent defenders of Mosaic authorship today acknowledge that some of the Pentateuch reflects updating, but taken at face value this is not a position that Jesus seems to leave room for. But more important, I do not think that Jesus’s status as the incarnate Son of God requires that statements such as John 5:46–47 be understood as binding historical judgments of authorship. Rather, Jesus here reflects the tradition that he himself inherited as a first-century Jew and that his hearers assumed to be the case. (Enns 2012, p. 153)

Like Enns, Sparks also uses the accommodation theory to argue for human errors in Scripture (Sparks 2008, pp. 242–259). He believes that the Christological argument cannot serve as an objection to the implications of accommodation (Sparks 2008, p. 253) and that God does not err in the Bible when He accommodates the errant views of Scripture’s human audience (Sparks 2008, p. 256).

In his objection to the validity of Jesus’s belief in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, Enns is too quick in downplaying the divine status of Jesus in relation to His knowledge of the authorship of the Pentateuch. This overlooks whether the divinity of Christ meant anything in terms of an epistemological relevance to His humanity, and raises the question of how the divine nature relates to the human nature in the one person. We are told on several occasions, for example, that Jesus knew what people were thinking (Matthew 9:412:25) which is a clear reference to His divine attributes. A. H. Strong gives a good explanation as to how the personality of Jesus’s human nature existed in union with His divine nature:

[T]he Logos did not take into union with himself an already developed human person, such as James, Peter, or John, but human nature before it had become personal or was capable of receiving a name. It reached its personality only in union with his own divine nature. Therefore we see in Christ not two persons—a human person and a divine person—but one person, and that person possessed of a human nature as well as a divine. (Strong 1907, p. 679)

There is a personal union between the divine and human nature with each nature entirely preserved in its distinctness, yet in and as one person. Although, some appeal to Jesus’s divinity in order to affirm Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (Packer 1958, pp. 58–59), it is not necessary to do so, since:

There is no mention in the Gospels of Jesus’ divinity overwhelming his humanity. Nor do the Gospels refer his miracles to his divinity and refer his temptation or sorrow to his humanity, as if he switched back and forth from operating according to one nature to operating according to another. Rather, the Gospels routinely refer Christ’s miracles to the Father and the Spirit . . . [Jesus] spoke what he heard from the Father and as he was empowered by the Spirit. (Horton 2011, p. 469)

The context of John 5:45–47 is important in understanding the conclusions we draw concerning the truthfulness of what Jesus taught. In John 5:19 we are told that Jesus can do nothing of Himself. In other words, He does not act independently of the Father, but He only does what He sees the Father doing. Jesus has been sent into the world by God to reveal truth (John 5:3036) and it is this revelation from the Father that enabled Him to do “greater works.” Elsewhere in John we are told that the Father teaches the Son (John 3:32–337:15–178:2837–3812:49–50). Jesus is not only one with the Father but is also dependent upon Him. Since the Father cannot be in error or lie (Numbers 23:19Titus 1:2), and because Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30), to accuse Jesus of error or falsehood in what He knew or taught is to accuse God of the same thing.

Jesus went on to acknowledge that the Old Testament required a minimum of two or three witnesses to establish the truthfulness of one’s claim (Deuteronomy 17:619:15). Jesus produces several witnesses corroborating His claim of equality with God:

Jesus told the Jewish leaders that it is Moses, one of the witnesses, who will hold them accountable for their unbelief in what he wrote concerning Him, and that it is he who will be their accuser before God. New Testament scholar Craig Keener comments:

In Palestinian Judaism, “accusers” were witnesses against the defendant rather than official prosecutors (cf. 18:29), an image which would be consistent with other images used in the gospel tradition (Matt 12:41–42Luke 11:31–32). The irony of being accused by a person or document in which one trusted for vindication would not be lost on an ancient audience. (Keener 2003, pp. 661–662)

In order for the accusation to hold up, however, the document or witnesses need to be reliable (Deuteronomy 19:16–19) and if Moses did not write the Pentateuch, how then can the Jews be held accountable by him and his writings? It was Moses who brought the people of Israel out of Egypt (Acts 7:40), gave them the Law (John 7:19), and brought them to the Promised Land (Acts 7:45). It was Moses who wrote about the coming prophet that God would send Israel to whom they should listen (Deuteronomy 18:15Acts 7:37). What is more, it is God who puts the words into the mouth of this prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18). Moreover, Jesus

opposed the pseudo-authority of untrue Jewish traditions . . . . [and] disagrees with a pseudo-oral source [Mark 7:1–13], the false attribution of Jewish oral tradition to Moses. (Beale 2008, p. 145)

The basis for the truthfulness and inerrancy of what Jesus taught does not have to be resolved by appealing to His divine knowledge (although it can be), but can be understood from His humanity through His unity with the Father, which is why His teaching is true.

Furthermore, the New Testament strongly favors the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (Matthew 8:423:2Luke 16:29–31John 1:1745Acts 15:1Romans 9:1510:5). However, because of their belief in the “overwhelming evidence” for the documentary hypothesis, scholars (for example, Sparks 2008, p. 165) seem to come to the New Testament believing that the evidence of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch must be explained away in order to be consistent with their conclusions. The simple fact is that scholars who reject the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and embrace an accommodation approach to the evidence of the New Testament, are as unwilling as the Jewish leaders (John 5:40) in not wanting to listen to the words of Jesus on this subject.

The accommodation approach to the teaching of Jesus also raises the issue of whether He was mistaken on other such issues, as Gleason Archer explains:

Such an error as this, in matters of historical fact that can be verified, raises a serious question as to whether any of the theological teaching, dealing with metaphysical matters beyond our powers of verification, can be received as either trustworthy or authoritative. (Archer 1982, p. 46)

The accommodation approach also leaves us with a Christological problem. Since Jesus clearly understood that Moses wrote about Him, this creates a serious moral problem for Christians, as we are told to follow the example set by Christ (John 13:151 Peter 2:21) and have his attitude (Philippians 2:5). Yet, if Christ is shown to be approving falsehood in some areas of His teaching, it opens a door for us to affirm falsehood in some areas as well. The belief that Jesus accommodated His teaching to the beliefs of his first century hearers does not square with the facts. New Testament scholar John Wenham in his book Christ and the Bible comments on the idea that Jesus accommodated His teaching to the beliefs of His first century hearers:

He is not slow to repudiate nationalist conceptions of Messiahship; He is prepared to face the cross for defying current misconceptions . . . Surely He would have been prepared to explain clearly the mingling of divine truth and human error in the Bible, if He had known such to exist. (Wenham 1994, p. 27)

For those who hold to an accommodation position, this overlooks the fact that Jesus never hesitated to correct erroneous views common in the culture (Matthew 7:6–1329). Jesus was never constrained by the culture of his day if it went against God’s Word. He opposed those who claimed to be experts on the Law of God, if they were teaching error. His numerous disputes with the Pharisees are testament to this (Matthew 15:1–923:13–36). The truth of Christ’s teaching is not culturally bound, but transcends all cultures and remains unaltered by cultural beliefs (Matthew 24:351 Peter 1:24–25). Those who claim that Jesus in His humanity was susceptible to error and therefore merely repeated the ignorant beliefs of His culture are claiming to have more authority, and to be wiser and more truthful than Jesus.

Much of Christian teaching focuses, rightly, on the death of Jesus. However, in focusing on the death of Christ we often neglect the teaching that Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father. Jesus not only died for us; He also lived for us. If all Jesus had to do was to die for us, then He could have descended from heaven on Good Friday, gone straight to the cross, risen from the dead and ascended back into heaven. Jesus did not live for 33 years for no reason. Whilst on earth Christ did the Father’s will (John 5:30), taking specific actions, teaching, miracle-working, obeying the Law in order to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Jesus, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), came to succeed where the first Adam had failed in keeping the law of God. Jesus had to do what Adam failed to do in order to fulfill the required sinless life of perfection. Jesus did this so that His righteousness could be transferred to those who put their faith in Him for the forgiveness of sins (2 Corinthians 5:21Philippians 3:9).

We must remember that in His humanity, Jesus, was not superman but a real man. The humanity of Jesus and the deity of Jesus do not mix directly with one another. If they did, then that would mean that the humanity of Jesus would actually become super-humanity. And if it is super-humanity, it is not our humanity. And if it is not our humanity, then He cannot be our substitute since He must be like us (Hebrews 2:14–17). Although the genuine humanity of Jesus did involve tiredness and hunger, it did not prevent Him from doing what pleased His Father (John 8:29) and speaking the truth He heard from God (John 8:40). Jesus did nothing on His own authority (John 5:19306:387:16288:16). He had the absolute knowledge that everything He did was from God, including speaking what He had heard and had been taught by the Father. In John 8:28 Jesus said:“I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.” New Testament scholar Andreas Kostenberger notes that,

Jesus as the sent Son, again affirms his dependence on the Father, in keeping with the Jewish maxim that “a man’s agent [šālîah] is like the man himself.” (Kostenberger 2004, p. 260)

Just as God speaks the truth and no error can be found in Him, so it was with His sent Son. Jesus was not self-taught; rather His message came directly from God and, therefore, it was ultimately truth (John 7:16–17).

Scripture and Human ErrorIt has long been recognized that both Jesus and the apostles accepted Scripture as the flawless Word of the living God (John 10:3517:17Matthew 5:182 Timothy 3:162 Peter 1:21). Unfortunately, this view of Scripture is attacked by many today, mainly because critics assume that since humans were involved in the process of writing Scripture, their capacity to err would result in the presence of errors in Scripture. The question that needs to be asked is whether the Bible contains error because it was written by human authors.

Many people are familiar with the Latin adage errare humanum est—to err is human. For instance, what person would ever claim to be without error? For this reason, the Swiss, neo-orthodox, theologian Karl Barth (1886–1968), whose view of Scripture is still influential in certain circles within the evangelical community, believed that: “we must dare to face the humanity of the biblical texts and therefore their fallibility . . .” (Barth 1963, p. 533). Barth believed that Scripture contained error because human nature was involved in the process:

As truly as Jesus died on the cross, as Lazarus died in Jn. 11, as the lame were lame, as the blind were blind . . . so, too, the prophets and apostles as such, even in their office, even in their function as witnesses, even in the act of writing down their witness, were real, historical men as we are, and therefore sinful in their action, and capable and actually guilty of error in their spoken and written word. (Barth 1963, p. 529)

Barth’s ideas, as well as the end results of higher criticism, are still making an impression today, as can be seen in Kenton Sparks’s work (Sparks 2008, p. 205). Sparks believes that although God is inerrant, because he spoke through human authors their “finitude and fallenness” resulted in a flawed biblical text (Sparks 2008, pp. 243–244).

In classic postmodern language Sparks states:

Orthodoxy demands that God does not err, and this implies, of course, that God does not err in Scripture. But it is one thing to argue that God does not err in Scripture; it is quite another thing that the human authors of Scripture did not err. Perhaps what we need is a way of understanding Scripture that paradoxically affirms inerrancy while admitting the human errors in Scripture. (Sparks 2008, p. 139)

Sparks’s claim of an inerrant Scripture that is errant is founded

in contemporary postmodern hermeneutical theories which emphasize the roll [sic] of the reader in the interpretive process and human fallibility as agents and receptors of communication. (Baugh 2008)

Sparks attributes the “errors” in Scripture to the fact that humans err: the Bible is written by humans, therefore its statements often reflect “human limitations and foibles” (Sparks 2008, p. 226). For both Barth and Sparks, an inerrant Bible is worthy of the charge of docetism (Barth 1963, pp. 509–510; Sparks 2008, p. 373).

Barth’s view of inspiration seems to be influencing many today in how they understand Scripture. Barth believed that God’s revelation takes place through His actions and activity in history; revelation then for Barth is seen as an “‘event”’ rather than coming through propositions (a proposition is a statement describing some reality that is either true or false; Beale 2008, p. 20). For Barth, the Bible is a witness to revelation but is not revelation itself (Barth 1963, p. 507) and, although there are propositional statements in Scripture, they are fallible human pointers to revelation-in-encounter. Michael Horton explains Barth’s idea of revelation:

For Barth, the Word of God (i.e., the event of God’s self-revelation) is always a new work, a free decision of God that cannot be bound to a creaturely form of mediation, including Scripture. This Word never belongs to history but is always an eternal event that confronts us in our contemporary existence. (Horton 2011, p. 128)

In his book Encountering Scripture: A Scientist Explores the Bible, one of the leading theistic evolutionists of today, John Polkinghorne, explains his view of Scripture:

I believe that the nature of divine revelation is not the mysterious transmission of infallible propositions . . . but the record of persons and events through which the divine will and nature have been most transparently made known . . . The Word of God uttered to humanity is not a written text but a life lived . . . Scripture contains witness to the incarnate Word, but it is not the Word himself. (Polkinghorne 2010, pp. 1, 3)

Like Sparks, Polkinghorne seems to be following Barth in his view of the inspiration of Scripture (misrepresenting the orthodox view in the process), which is opposed to the idea of revelation to divinely accredited messengers (the prophets and apostles). Therefore, in his view the Bible is not God’s Word but is only a witness to it with revelation seen as an event rather than the written Word of God (propositional truth statements). In other words, the Bible is a flawed record of God’s revelation to human beings, but it is not revelation itself. This view is not based on anything within the Bible, but is based upon extra-biblical, philosophical, critical grounds with which Polkinghorne is comfortable. Unfortunately, Polkinghorne offers a straw-man argument regarding the inspiration of Scripture as being “divinely dictated” (Polkinghorne 2010, p. 1). For him, the idea of the Bible being inerrant is “inappropriately idolatrous” (Polkinghorne 2010, p. 9), and so he believes he has a right to judge Scripture with his own autonomous intellect.

However, contra Barth and Polkinghorne, the Bible is not merely a record of events, but also gives us God’s interpretation of the meaning and significance of the events. We do not only have the gospel, but we also have the epistles which interpret the significance of the events of the gospel for us propositionally. This can be seen, for example, in the event of the crucifixion of Christ. At the time of Jesus’s ministry, the high priest Caiaphas saw the event of the death of Jesus as a historical expedient in that it was necessary for the good of the nation for one man to die (John 18:14). Meanwhile the Roman centurion standing underneath the cross came to believe that Jesus was truly was the Son of God (Mark 15:39). Yet, Caiaphas and the Centurion could not have known apart from divine revelation that the death of Christ was ultimately an atoning sacrifice made to satisfy the demands of God’s justice (Romans 3:25). We need more than an event in the Bible, we must also have the revelation of the meaning of the event or the meaning simply becomes subjective. God has given us the meaning and significance of these events through His chosen medium of the prophets and the apostles.

Furthermore, the charge of biblical docetism (that it denies the true humanity of Scripture), moves too quickly in presuming genuine humanity necessitates error:

Given an understanding of the Spirit’s work that superintends the production of the text without bypassing the human author’s personality, mind or will, and given that truth can be expressed perspectivally—that is, we do not need to know everything or to speak from a position of absolute objectivity or neutrality in order to speak truly—what exactly would be doecetic about an infallible text should we be given one? (Thompson 2008, p. 195)

What is more, the adage “to err is human” is simply assumed to be true. It may be true that humans err but it is not true that it is intrinsic for humanity to necessarily always err. There are many things we can do as humans and not err (examinations for example) and we must remember God created humanity at the beginning of creation as sinless and therefore with the capacity not to err. Also, the incarnation of Jesus Christ shows sin, and therefore error, not to be normal. Jesus

who is impeccable was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, but being in “fashion as a man” still “holy harmless and undefiled.” To err is human is a false statement. (Culver 2006, p. 500)

One could argue that both Barth’s and Sparks’s view of Scripture is in fact “Arian” (denial of the true deity of Christ). What is more, Sparks’s contention that God is inerrant but accommodates Himself through human authors (which is where the errors in Scripture come from), fails to see that if what he says is true, then it is also possible that the biblical authors were in error in stating that God is inerrant. How in their erroneous humanity then would they know God is inerrant unless He revealed it to them?

Furthermore, orthodox Christianity does not deny the true humanity of Scripture; rather it properly recognizes that to be human does not necessarily entail error, and that the Holy Spirit kept the biblical writers from making errors they might otherwise have made. The assertion of a mechanical view of inspiration (God dictates the words to human authors) is simply a canard. Rather, orthodox Christianity embraces a theory of organic inspiration. “That is, God sanctifies the natural gifts, personalities, histories, languages, and cultural inheritance of the biblical writers” (Horton 2011, p. 163). The orthodox view of the inspiration of Scripture, as opposed to the neoorthodox view, is that revelation comes from God in and through words. In 2 Peter 1:21we are told that: “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Prophecy was not motivated by man’s will in that it did not come from human impulse. Peter tells us how the prophets were able to speak from God by the fact that they were being continually “moved” (pheromenoi, present passive participle) by the Holy Spirit as they spoke or wrote. The Holy Spirit moved the human authors of Scripture in such a way that they were moved not by their own “will” but by the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that human authors of Scripture were automatons; they were active rather than passive in the process of writing Scripture, as can be seen in their style of writing and the vocabulary they used. The role of the Holy Spirit was to teach the authors of Scripture (John 14:2616:12–15). In the New Testament it was the apostles or those closely associated with them whom the Spirit led to write truth and overcome their human tendency to err. The apostles shared Jesus’s view of Scripture, presenting their message as God’s Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13) and proclaiming that it was not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches (1 Corinthians 2:13). Revelation then did not come about within the apostle or prophet, but it has its source in the Triune God (2 Peter 1:21). The relationship between the inspiration of the biblical text through the Holy Spirit and human authorship is too intimate to allow for errors in the text, as New Testament scholar S. M. Baugh demonstrates from the book of Hebrews:

God speaks to us directly and personally (Heb. 1:1–2) in promises (12:26) and comfort (13:5) with divine testimony (10:15) to and through the great “cloud of witnesses” of OT revelation . . . In Scripture, the Father speaks to the Son (1:5–6; 5:5), the Son to the Father (2:11–12; 10:5) and the Holy Spirit to us (3:7; 10:15–16). This speaking of God in the words of Scripture has the character of testimony which has been legally validated (2:1–4; so Greek bebaios in v. 2) which one ignores to his peril (4:12–13; 12:25). This immediate identification of the biblical text with God’s speech (cf. Gal. 3:822) is hard to jibe with the reputed feebleness of the biblical authors. (Baugh 2008)

In the same way Jesus can assume our full humanity without sin so it is that God can speak through the fully human words of prophets and apostles without error. The major problem with seeing Scripture as erroneous is summed up by Robert Reymond:

We must not forget that the only reliable source of knowledge that we have of Christ is the Holy Scripture. If the Scripture is erroneous anywhere, then we have no assurance that it is inerrantly truthful in what it teaches about him. And if we have no reliable information about him, then it is precarious indeed to worship the Christ of Scripture, since we may be entertaining an erroneous representation of Christ and thus may be committing idolatry. (Reymond 1996, p. 72)

Jesus’s View of ScriptureIf Jesus’s acceptance and teaching of the reliability and truthfulness of Scripture were false, then this would mean that He was a false teacher and not to be trusted in the things He taught. Jesus clearly believed, however, that Scripture was God’s Word and therefore truth (John 17:17). In John 17:17, notice that Jesus says: Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” He did not say that “your word is true” (adjective), rather He says “your word is truth” (noun). The implication is that Scripture does not just happen to be true; rather the very nature of Scripture is truth, and it is the very standard of truth to which everything else must be tested and compared. Similarly, in John 10:35 Jesus declared that Scripture cannot be broken the “term ‘broken’ . . . means that Scripture cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous” (Morris 1995, p. 468). Jesus was telling the Jewish leaders that the authority of Scripture could not be denied. Jesus’s own view of the Scripture was that of verbal inspiration, which can be seen from His statement in Matthew 5:18:

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

For Jesus, Scripture is not merely inspired in its general ideas or its broad claims or in its general meaning, but is inspired down to its very words. Jesus settled many theological disputes with His contemporaries by a single word. In Luke 20:37–38 Jesus “exploits an absent verb in the Old Testament passage” (Bock 1994, p. 327) to argue that God continues to be the God of Abraham. His argument presupposes the reliability of the words recorded in the book of Exodus (3:2–6). Furthermore, in Matthew 4, Jesus’s response to being tempted by Satan was to quote sections of Scripture from Deuteronomy (8:3; 6:13, 16) demonstrating His belief in the final authority of the Old Testament. Jesus overcame Satan’s temptations by quoting Scripture to him “It is written . . .” which has the force of or is equivalent to “that settles it”; and Jesus understood that the Word of God was sufficient for this.

Jesus’s use of Scripture was authoritative and infallible (Matthew 5:17–20John 10:34–35) as He spoke with the authority of God the Father (John 5:308:28). Jesus taught that the Scriptures testify about Him (John 5:39), and He showed their fulfilment in the sight of the people of Israel (Luke 4:17–21). He even declared to His disciples that what is written in the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled (Luke 18:31). Furthermore, He placed the importance of the fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures over escaping His own death (Matthew 26:53–56). After His death and resurrection He told His disciples that everything that was written about Him in Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44–47), and rebuked them for not believing all that the prophets have spoken concerning Him (Luke 24:25–27). The question then is how could Jesus fulfill all that the Old Testament spoke about Him if it is filled with error?

Jesus also regarded the Old Testament’s historicity as impeccable, accurate, and reliable. He often chose for illustrations in his teaching the very persons and events that are the least acceptable today to critical scholars. This can be seen from his reference to: Adam (Matthew 19:4–5), Abel (Matthew 23:35), Noah (Matthew 24:37–39), Abraham (John 8:39–4156–58), Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28–32). If Sodom and Gomorrah were fictional accounts, then how could they serve as a warning for future judgement? This also applies to Jesus’s understanding of Jonah (Matthew 12:39–41). Jesus did not see Jonah as a myth or legend; the meaning of the passage would lose its force, if it was. How could Jesus’s death and resurrection serve as a sign, if the events of Jonah did not take place? Furthermore, Jesus says that the men of Nineveh will stand at the last judgement because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, but if the account of Jonah is a myth or symbolic, then how can the men of Nineveh stand at the last judgement?

Jesus and the Age of the UniverseFig. 1. Jesus’s view of the creation of man at the beginning of creation is directly opposed to the evolutionary timeline of the age of the earth.

Moreover, there are multiple passages in the New Testament where Jesus quotes from the early chapters of Genesis in a straightforward, historical manner. Matthew 19:4–6 is especially significant as Jesus quotes from both Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24. Jesus’s use of Scripture here is authoritative in settling a dispute over the question of divorce, as it is grounded in the creation of the first marriage and the purpose thereof (Malachi 2:14–15). The passage is also striking in understanding Jesus’s use of Scripture as He attributes the words spoken as coming from the Creator (Matthew 19:4). More importantly, there is no indication in the passage that He understood it figuratively or as an allegory. If Christ were mistaken about the account of creation and its importance to marriage, then why should He be trusted when it comes to other aspects of His teaching? Furthermore, in a parallel passage in Mark 10:6 Jesus said, ‘But from the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female’.” The statement “from the beginning of creation” (‘άπό άρχñς κτíσεως;’—see John 8:441 John 3:8, where “from the beginning” refers to the beginning of creation) is a reference to the beginning of creation and not simply to the beginning of the human race (Mortenson 2009, pp. 318–325). Jesus was saying that Adam and Eve were there at the beginning of creation, on Day Six, not billions of years after the beginning (fig. 1).

In Luke 11:49–51 Jesus states:

Therefore the wisdom of God also said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,” that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.

The phrase “from the foundation of the world” is also used in Hebrews 4:3, where it tells us God’s creation works were finished from the foundation of the world. However, verse 4 says that “God rested on the seventh day from all His works.” Mortenson points out:

The two statements are clearly synonymous: God finished and rested at the same time. This implies that the seventh day (when God finished creating, Gen. 2:1–3) was the end of the foundation period. So, the foundation does not refer simply to the first moment or first day of creation week, but the whole week. (Mortenson 2009, p. 323)

Jesus clearly understood that Abel lived at the foundation of the world. This means that as the parents of Abel, Adam and Eve, must also have been historical. Jesus also spoke of the devil as being a murderer “from the beginning” (John 8:44). It is clear that Jesus accepted the book of Genesis as historical and reliable. Jesus also made a strong connection between Moses’s teaching and his own (John 5:45–47) and Moses made some very astounding claims about six-day creation in the Ten Commandments, which He says were penned by God’s own hand (Exodus 20:9–11 and Exodus 31:18).

To question the basic historical authenticity and integrity of Genesis 1–11 is to assault the integrity of Christ’s own teaching. (Reymond 1996, p. 118)

Moreover, if Jesus was wrong about Genesis, then He could be wrong about anything, and none of His teaching would have any authority. The importance of all this is summed up by Jesus in declaring that if someone did not believe in Moses and the prophets (the Old Testament) then they would not believe God on the basis of a miraculous resurrection (Luke 16:31). Those who make the charge that the Scriptures contain error find themselves in the same position as the Sadducees who were rebuked by Jesus in Matthew 22:29: Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God’.” The implication by Jesus here is that the Scriptures themselves do not err, as they speak accurately concerning history and theology (in context the Patriarchs and the resurrection).

The apostle Paul issued a warning to the Corinthian Church:

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Satan’s method of deception with Eve was to get her to question God’s Word (Genesis 3:1). Unfortunately, many scholars and Christian lay people today are falling for this deception and are questioning the authority of God’s Word. We must remember, however, that Paul exhorts us that we are to have “the mind” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and “attitude” of Christ (Philippians 2:5). Therefore, as Christians, whatever Jesus’s belief was concerning the truthfulness of Scripture should be what we believe; and He clearly believed that Scripture was the perfect Word of God and, therefore, truth (Matthew 5:18John 10:3517:17).

Jesus as Saviour and the Implications of His Teaching being FalseThe fatal flaw in the idea that Jesus’s teaching contained error is that, if Jesus in His humanity claimed to know more or less than He actually did, then such a claim would have profound ethical and theological implications (Sproul 2003, p. 185) concerning Jesus’s claims of being the truth (John 14:6), speaking the truth (John 8:45), and bearing witness to the truth (John 18:37). The critical point in all of this is that Jesus did not have to be omniscient to save us from our sins, but He certainly had to be sinless, which includes never telling a falsehood.

Scripture is clear is that Jesus was sinless in the life he lived, keeping God’s law perfectly (Luke 4:13John 8:2915:102 Corinthians 5:21Hebrews 4:151 Peter 2:221 John 3:5). Jesus was confident in His challenge to His opponents to convict Him of sin (John 8:46), but His opponents were unable to answer His challenge; and even Pilate found no guilt in him (John 18:38). The belief that Jesus was truly human and yet sinless has been a universal conviction of the Christian church (Osterhaven 2001, p. 1109). However, did Christ’s true humanity require sinfulness?

The answer to that must be no. Just as Adam, when created, was fully human and yet sinless, so the second Adam who took Adam’s place not only started his life without sin but continued to do so. (Letham 1993, p. 114)

Whereas Adam failed in his temptation by the Devil (Genesis 3), Christ succeeded in His temptation, fulfilling what Adam had failed to do (Matthew 4: 1–10). Strictly speaking, the question of whether Christ was able to sin or not (impeccability)

means not merely that Christ could avoid sinning, and did actually avoid it, but also that is was impossible for Him to sin because of the essential bond between the human and the divine natures. (Berkhof 1959, p. 318)

If Jesus in his teaching had pretended or proclaimed to have more knowledge than he actually had, then this would have been sinful. The Bible tells us that “we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). Scripture also says that it would be better for a person to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned than to lead someone astray (Matthew 18:6). Jesus made statements such as “I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me” (John 14:10) and “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6). Now if Jesus claimed to teach these things and then taught erroneous information (for example, regarding Creation, the Flood, or the age of the earth), then His claims would be falsified, He would be sinning, and this would disqualify Him from being our Saviour. The falsehood He would be teaching is that He knows something that He actually does not know. Once Jesus makes the astonishing claim to be speaking the truth, He had better not be teaching mistakes. In His human nature, because Jesus was sinless, and as such the “fullness of the Deity” dwelt in Him (Colossians 2:9), then everything Jesus taught was true; and one of the things that Jesus taught was that the Old Testament Scripture was God’s Word (truth) and, therefore, so was His teaching on creation.

When it comes to Jesus’s view on creation, if we claim Him to be Lord, then what He believed should be extremely important to us. How can we have a different view than the one who is our Saviour as well as our Creator! If Jesus was wrong concerning His views on creation, then we can argue that maybe He was wrong in other areas too—which is what is being argued by scholars such as Peter Enns and Kenton Sparks.

ConclusionOne of the reasons today for believing that Jesus erred in His teaching is driven by a desire to syncretize evolutionary thinking with the Bible. In our own day, it has become customary for theistic evolutionists to reinterpret the Bible in light of modern scientific theory. However, this always ends in disaster because syncretism is based on a type of synthesis—blending together the theory of naturalism with historic Christianity, which is antithetical to naturalism.

The issue for Christians is what one has to concede theologically in order to hold to a belief in evolution. Many theistic evolutionists inconsistently reject the supernatural creation of the world, yet nevertheless accept the reality of the virgin birth, the miracles of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the divine inspiration of Scripture. However, these are all equally at odds with secular interpretations of science. Theistic evolutionists have to tie themselves up in knots in order to ignore the obvious implications of what they believe. The term “blessed inconsistency” should be applied here, as many Christians who believe in evolution do not take it to its logical conclusions. However, some do, as can be seen from those that affirm Christ and the authors of Scripture erred in matters of what they taught and wrote.

People say, “they do not accept the Bible’s account of origins in Genesis when it speaks of God creating supernaturally in six consecutive days and destroying the world in a global catastrophic flood.” This cannot be said, however, without overlooking the clear teaching of our Lord Jesus on the matter (Mark 10:6Matthew 24:37–39) and the clear testimony of Scripture (Genesis 1:1–2;3:6–9Exodus 20:112 Peter 3:3–6), which He affirmed as truth (Matthew 5:17–18John 10:25;17:17). Jesus said to His own disciples that those “who receives you (accepting the apostles’ teaching) receives me” (Matthew 10:40). If we confess Jesus is our Lord, we must be willing to submit to Him as the teacher of the Church.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Simon Turpin has a B.A in Theology and Inter-cultural Studies from All Nations Bible College UK (2010) and works full-time for an Evangelical Church in St. Albans. Previous to his studies Simon spent a year as part of a missions team working in North America, India and Germany sharing the gospel. Through his time in the church in England and overseas he saw the increasing need to use the creation message to share not only the truth of the Bible, but the full story of the message of redemption through our Creator and Saviour Jesus.Acknowledgment

The author is grateful for the helpful comments from AiG Research Assistant Lee Anderson, Jr., which were used to improve this paper.

References

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Baugh. S. M. 2008. Book review: God’s Word in human words. Retrieved from http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/review-gods-word-in-human-words.php on July 12, 2013.

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Culver, R. D. 2006. Systematic theology: Biblical and historical. Fearn, Ross-Shire: Christian Focus Publications Ltd.

Enns, P. 2012. The evolution of Adam: What the Bible does and doesn’t say about human origins. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press.

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SOURCE: (OCTOBER 30, 2013) http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v6/n1/jesus-scripture-and-error

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SUNDAY OT SERMON: “God The Creator” by James Montgomery Boice on Genesis 1:1

Genesis 1-11 vol 1 Boice

SERIES: GENESIS – PART 4

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In the message last week I referred to a question that has been thought to be profound but actually is not: Why is there something rather than nothing? This is not profound for the reason that it is not even a true question. The question seems to offer us a choice between something and nothing. But what is nothing? As soon as we answer that, saying, “Nothing is … ,” nothing ceases to be nothing and becomes something. If nothing really is nothing, nothing defies description. In fact, it defies mental conception of any kind. So the question really boils down to: Why is there something?

In this form the question is not meaningless. On the contrary, it is one of the truly big philosophical questions. It can be stated in different forms—Where did the universe come from? Who made the atom? How did everything get to be as it is?—but in essence these are the same basic questions. Something is there—an immense, intricate, and orderly something. It was there before we were, for we cannot even imagine our existence without it. But how did it get there? And how did it get to be as we detect it?

Genesis 1:1 is the answer to these questions. It tells us that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The Christian Answer

There are other answers to the question of the origins of the universe, however, and it is these plus the Christian answer that we now want to consider. How many answers are there? Like all truly big questions, the possibilities are not numerous. In this case, there are just four.

First, there is the view that the universe had no origin. That is, there was no origin because in some form the universe always existed. Matter existed. This has been the dominant view of both ancient and modern science until relatively recent times, and it is still held by some.

Second, there is the view that everything has a beginning and that this beginning was the work of a good personal being. This is the Christian view.

Third, everything came into existence through the work of a personal being who is evil.

Fourth, there is now and there always has been a dualism. This last view takes several forms depending on whether one is thinking of a personal or impersonal, moral or immoral dualism, but the views are related. This was the outlook of the ancient cosmologies referred to earlier, of which the Babylonian Epic is an example. It is still the characteristic view of the eastern religions and mysticism.

What are we to say concerning these four possibilities? The easiest to dismiss is number three, which gives a personal but evil origin to the universe. It says, in effect, that Satan is the creator. This is easiest to dismiss because it does not give an adequate explanation of the origin of the good. Evil can be conceived as a corruption of the good—Satan can rebel against the Christian God—but it is not really possible to think of good as having emerged out of evil. In the former case, evil can be a misuse of otherwise good traits or abilities. But in the second case, there is no place for the good to come from. We may state the problem in a slightly different way. For a power to be evil it (or he) must possess the attributes of intelligence and will. But since these attributes are in themselves good, he must be getting them from a good power. And this means that the good power must have existed previously and that the evil power is therefore not the origin of all things.

The fourth possibility, a dualism, is unsatisfactory too, although this is not as quickly apparent as in number three. The reason is that, although belief in a dualism has often been quite popular and has endured for long periods of history, it does not stand up under close analysis. For having stated the dualism, we immediately want to pass behind it to some type of unity that includes the dualism. Or else we choose one part of the dualism and make it prominent over the other, in which case we are really easing into one of the other possibilities.

C. S. Lewis has written about this problem, pointing to what he calls the “catch” in the system. According to dualism, two powers (spirits or gods), one good and one evil, are supposed to be quite independent and eternal. Neither is responsible for the other, and each has an equal right to call itself God. Each presumably thinks that it is good and the other bad. But Lewis asks, What do we mean when we say, as we do in stating this dualism, that the one power is good and the other bad? Do we mean merely that we prefer the one to the other? If that is all we mean, then we must give up any real talk about good or evil, and if we do that, then the moral dimension of the universe vanishes entirely and we are left with nothing more than matter operating in certain ways. We cannot mean that and still hold to the dualism. We have fallen back to possibility number one.

But if, on the contrary, we mean that one power really is good and the other really is bad, then we are actually introducing some third thing into the universe, “some law or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to.” And this standard, rather than the other, will turn out to be the true God. Lewis concludes, “Since the two powers are judged by this standard, then this standard, or the Being who made this standard, is farther back and higher up than either of them, and he will be the real God. In fact, what we meant by calling them good and bad turns out to be that one of them is in a right relation to the real, ultimate God and the other in a wrong relation to him.”

So neither an evil origin for the universe, from which good arose, nor a dualism adequately accounts for reality as we know it. The real alternative is between the view that holds to an eternity of matter and the view that sees everything as having come into existence through the personal will of an eternal and moral God.

Let us look at Christianity’s chief competitor, materialism. The origins of this view are lost in the past, but the view is clearly very ancient. It is found in the scientism of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who taught that everything is composed of small building blocks of matter, conceived of as hard, indestructible particles. Epicurus called them atoms, which is where our word “atom” comes from. He probably derived his ideas from Democritus of Abdera who in turn was indebted to the little-known philosopher Leucippus. Leucippus may have gotten his ideas from a Phoenician philosopher named Moschus, who lived prior to 1000 b.c.

Today this view is the dominant philosophy of western civilization, although not in the form Epicurus gave to it. For one thing, we know that the atom can be divided. We have done it. Again, we have been taught by Einstein that energy and mass are interchangeable, which is mind-boggling. Knowledge of this should in itself shake the presuppositions of materialism, but for the most part it has not seriously shaken them, and the western world continues to be philosophically materialistic.

Today’s materialism usually does not deny that there is personality in the universe, but it conceives this as having arisen out of impersonal substance. It does not deny the complexity of the universe—even including such things as the intricacy of the atom—but it supposes that complexity came from that which was less complex and that in turn from something still less complex until eventually we arrive back at that which is ultimately simple, that is, to mere matter. Matter, it is supposed, always existed—because there is no further explanation. This view lies beneath most thought concerning evolution.

But this description of the origin of the universe has already introduced problems that the theory itself apparently has no means of solving. First, we have spoken of a form to matter and then of more complex forms. But where does form come from? Form means organization and perhaps purpose, too. But how can organization and purpose come from mere matter? Some would insist that organization and purpose were in the matter inherently, like genes in an egg or spermatozoa. But in addition to making nonsense of the theory—this is no longer mere matter—the basic question still remains unanswered, for the problem is how the organization and purpose even got there. At some level, either early or late, we have to account for the form; and, if this is the case, we soon find ourselves looking for the Former, Organizer, or Purposer.

Moreover, we have introduced the idea of the personal, and if we begin with an impersonal universe, there is no explanation for the emergence of personality. Francis Schaeffer writes: “The assumption of an impersonal beginning can never adequately explain the personal beings we see around us, and when men try to explain man on the basis of an original impersonal, man soon disappears.”

Genesis begins with the opposite answer. It maintains that the universe exists with form and personality because it has been brought into existence by an orderly and personal God. God was there before the universe came into existence, and he was and is personal. He created all we know, including ourselves. Consequently, the universe naturally bears the mark of his personality.

God’s Creation

But we may be missing something at this point. We are arguing for the Christian view of origins, which is not at all unimportant. But in the very act of arguing we are likely to miss (or postpone) a true wonder at God’s creation, which is what a proper contemplation of these themes should cause. Biblical writers never fall into this pit. Consequently, when they look at creation they inevitably end up praising God, and when they praise God, one of the things they praise him for is creation.

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. – Revelation 4:11

Can we not do that too? Our text tells us that God created “the heavens and the earth.” As we contemplate these great canvases of God’s work, are we not led to praise him?

How vast the heavens are! When we look up into the sky on a clear night we see perhaps 10,000 points of light. A few of these are the planets of our solar system that shine by reflected light. Thousands belong to the special grouping of stars known as the Milky Way, to which our sun belongs. Other thousands are entire galaxies, which shine as one point because they are so distant. We say 10,000 points because that is what we can see with unaided eyes. But these 10,000 are only the tiniest fraction of the existing stars. A typical galaxy contains billions of individual stars—our galaxy alone contains 200 billion stars. Its form is of a giant spiral rotating majestically in space, its glowing arms trailing behind it like the distended points of a pinwheel. Our sun is in one arm of the spiral. It makes a complete rotation in 250 million years. These figures are staggering. But this is only our galaxy. There are thousands of others visible to the naked eye and billions more within range of the 200-inch telescope on California’s Palomar Mountain.

As revealed to us by time exposure photography, these distant galaxies of stars display a seemingly unending array of beauty. Some are spirals like ours. Others are nearly spherical clusters. Others are flattened out like pancakes. Still others are irregular. All the stars in the heavens are clustered together in these intricate and beautiful groupings.

Again, the galaxies are scattered about in an irregular pattern. Between them there are vast amounts of space. The distance from one edge of an average galaxy to the other edge is approximately 600 thousand trillion miles. The average distance from one galaxy to another is 20 million trillion miles. If these numbers were to be written out in zeros, they would fill up several lines of type. So to avoid such large numbers astronomers generally use a unit of distance called the light-year, that is, the distance light travels in one year at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. A light-year is approximately 6 trillion miles. Translated into these terms, the size of an average galaxy is 100 thousand light-years, and the distance between them is 3 million light-years approximately.

The Andromeda Galaxy is the galaxy closest to our own Milky Way. It is separated from us by 2 million light-years. This means that the light coming to us now from Andromeda has taken 2 million years to get here. Put in other terms, it means that when we look at Andromeda what we see is the galaxy as it existed, not a moment ago, but 2 million years in the past.

Moreover, the galaxies are not fixed in space but rather are moving away from each other at tremendous speeds. Vesto Melvin Slipher, the first to discover this fact, found that the galaxies he could observe were moving away from the earth at several million miles per hour. His scientific followers, Milton Humason and Edwin Hubble, showed that the most distant galaxies were retreating from us at the rate of 100 million miles per hour. Moreover, everything is retreating from everything. Nothing is coming toward us, nor is anything coming toward any other galaxy. This means that the universe is expanding. By working backward from the present position of the galaxies and their known speed, astronomers have placed the origins of the universe approximately 15 to 20 billion years in the past.

We turn to the stars themselves and find equal evidence of variety, design, beauty, and mystery. Not all stars are alike, though they seem to follow a similar pattern as they are born, burn, grow old, and eventually die.

At any given moment millions of stars are being born in space. They are born as clouds of interstellar gas contract under the force of gravity acting between the atoms that compose them. As they contract the temperature rises. Finally, at the critical temperature of 20 million degrees Fahrenheit, the hydrogen within the ball of condensed gas ignites in reactions similar to those that occur in the explosion of a hydrogen bomb. The release of this energy halts any further condensing of the gas, and the star continues to burn in that fashion for many billions of years. Our sun is at this stage.

Eventually the hydrogen in the star begins to be used up. It starts to swell and redden. Such stars are called red giants. As the last of its fuel is burned off, the star begins its final collapse under the force of gravity. If it is relatively small, it condenses to a tightly compressed sphere called a white dwarf. In one of these dead stars a few cubic centimeters of matter weigh a ton. If the star is large, a different fate envelops it. Instead of compressing quietly, it blows itself up, thereby scattering its elements—now containing carbon, oxygen, iron, gold, and others—throughout the universe where they are eventually picked up by other suns or planets.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. – Psalm 19:1–4

And what of the earth? We need not consider the earth and its marvels fully at this point. We have looked at the heavens carefully since this is the last point in Genesis at which the heavens are mentioned for themselves. From this point the chapter passes on to consider God’s acts of creation on earth. (The sun, moon, and stars are mentioned only in regard to their giving light to the earth.) In a sense everything that occurs from this point on is about the earth. But we can note in passing that the marvels of the macrocosm (the world of large things) are repeated in the microcosm (the world of small things). Here we are confronted with electrons, protons, neutrons, neutrinos, and a seemingly endless variety of particles barely understood. The distances between these particles, proportionate to their size, are comparable to some of the distances involved in the solar system. If we were to take the simplest of atoms, the hydrogen atom, and blow it up billions upon billions of times to where the proton at its center would now be the size of a ten-inch soccer ball, the electron that circles this nucleus would now be the size of a golf ball and would be circling the proton at a distance of five miles. There would be nothing else within the circle!

To God Be the Glory

On the basis of the first verse of Genesis we can define God as the One who creates. We cannot create. We often use the word of human endeavors, and human beings are creative in the sense we give to that word. But if we are to be precise, we will say that at the best we only form or fashion things in imaginative ways, and even then, it is the case that we get our imagination as well as all other physical, mental, and spiritual gifts from God. Strictly speaking, we are craftsmen. We use preexisting material. But God does create, and he does so on what is to us a vast and incomprehensible scale. We do not know how God has done it. But he has willed creation, and as a result all we know, see, and are have come into being.

If God were not the Creator, he would be only a part of the world process, coming and going, waxing and waning. He could not help us. E. J. Young has written, “If he is only a little bigger than we are, if he is only a big brother and nothing more, if he is only a part of the whole, then we are all in it together, God, you and I, and then there are no standards. There is no absolute. It is every man for himself, and all modern philosophies and ideas that are being spread in our days—new morality, new theology, and so on—are all perfectly admissible if God is only a part of the world process. If it is so, it does not matter whether he is dead or alive. … Let us live for the moment, let us live for our enjoyment; there is no absolute; there us no standard of morality, for all changes. What may be right today may be wrong tomorrow; so let us get through life as best we can.”

But this is not the God of Genesis. “The Bible does not so speak. It tells us that God has created all things. That is why there is meaning in life, and why there are absolute standards that do not change. God tells us what is right and what is wrong, and that is why there is meaning in life. That is why you and I who believe in this God can very well say that our chief reason for existence is to glorify him and enjoy him forever.”

About the Preacher

Boice JM in pulpit

James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 4 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentaryvol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.

Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.

He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.

Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.

Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).

A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.

Sources: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website

Boice’s Books:

from the Tenth Presbyterian Church website
Books
1970 Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Zondervan)
1971 Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1972 The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan)
1973 How to Live the Christian Life (Moody; originally, How to Live It Up,
Zondervan)
1974 Ordinary Men Called by God (Victor; originally, How God Can Use
Nobodies)
1974 The Last and Future World (Zondervan)
1975-79 The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (5 volumes,
Zondervan; issued in one volume, 1985; 5 volumes, Baker 1999)
1976 “Galatians” in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan)
1977 Can You Run Away from God? (Victor)
1977 Does Inerrancy Matter? (Tyndale)
1977 Our Sovereign God, editor (Baker)
1978 The Foundation of Biblical Authority, editor (Zondervan)
1979 The Epistles of John: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1979 Making God’s Word Plain, editor (Tenth Presbyterian Church)
1980 Our Savior God: Studies on Man, Christ and the Atonement, editor (Baker)
1982-87 Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (3 volumes, Zondervan)
1983 The Parables of Jesus (Moody)
1983 The Christ of Christmas (Moody)
1983-86 The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes,
Zondervan)
1984 Standing on the Rock (Tyndale). Reissued 1994 (Baker)
1985 The Christ of the Open Tomb (Moody)
1986 Foundations of the Christian Faith (4 volumes in one, InterVarsity
Press; original volumes issued, 1978-81)
1986 Christ’s Call to Discipleship (Moody)
1988 Transforming Our World: A Call to Action, editor (Multnomah)
1988, 98 Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1989 Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan)
1989 Joshua: We Will Serve the Lord (Revell)
1990 Nehemiah: Learning to Lead (Revell)
1992-94 Romans (4 volumes, Baker)
1992 The King Has Come (Christian Focus Publications)
1993 Amazing Grace (Tyndale)
1993 Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Baker)
1994-98 Psalms (3 volumes, Baker)
1994 Sure I Believe, So What! (Christian Focus Publications)
1995 Hearing God When You Hurt (Baker)
1996 Two Cities, Two Loves (InterVarsity)
1996 Here We Stand: A Call from Confessing Evangelicals, editor with
Benjamin E. Sasse (Baker)
1997 Living By the Book (Baker)
1997 Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Baker)
1999 The Heart of the Cross, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
1999 What Makes a Church Evangelical?
2000 Hymns for a Modern Reformation, with Paul S. Jones
2001 Matthew: An Expositional Commentary (2 volumes, Baker)
2001 Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Crossway)
2002 The Doctrines of Grace, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)
2002 Jesus on Trial, with Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway)

Chapters

1985 “The Future of Reformed Theology” in David F. Wells, editor,
Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development
(Eerdmans)
1986 “The Preacher and Scholarship” in Samuel T. Logan, editor, The
Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century
(Presbyterian and Reformed)
1992 “A Better Way: The Power of Word and Spirit” in Michael Scott
Horton, editor, Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
(Moody)
1994 “The Sovereignty of God” in John D. Carson and David W. Hall,
editors, To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th
Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly (Banner of Truth Trust)

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in James Montgomery Boice, Sermons

 

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The Gospel Made Simple: “The Story”

Series: Gospel Presentations #5 

“THE STORY”

The Story

The Story: How it all began and how it will never end…

The following pages are the summary of a true story. It is like many good stories you’ve heard or read, but the more you read, the more you’ll realize this is not just another story–it is the story. It defines us all. It makes us think abut who we are and who we can become. And so…

(1) HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN? CREATION

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2

God: The story begins with God, who has always been. He has always existed, and He has always existed exactly as He is now. If it seems confusing, it’s because He’s beyond what anyone can fully comprehend.

Creation: In the beginning, God spoke and everything came into existence. By His command, the entire universe was created and filled with a dramatic display of galaxies, stars, and planets–including Earth, on which was a perfect garden of paradise called Eden. Of all the beauty He created, the masterpiece was a man and a woman. God made Adam and Eve in His image to reflect Him. They were created with the grand purpose of worshipping Him by loving Him, serving Him, and enjoying relationship with Him.

Harmony: By God’s design, all of creation was in harmony and was exactly the way it was supposed to be. During this time there was no pain, suffering, sickness or death. There was complete love, acceptance, and intimacy between God and man, between Adam and Eve, and throughout creation. But something tragic happened…

(2) WHAT WENT WRONG? THE FALL

Disobedience: Adam and Eve were far from being equal to God, yet He lovingly placed them in charge of all He had created in Eden. He gave them the freedom to make decisions and govern the earth with one rule: not to eat from a specific tree. One day, God’s enemy, a fallen angel named Satan, wanted to overthrow God so he  took the form of a serpent and lied to Adam and Eve. He deceived them into thinking God was not good and did not have their best interest in mind. As a result, they knowingly disobeyed God. In rebellion, Adam and Eve ate the fruit, deciding that they, not God, would determine right and wrong.

“None is righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10

Consequence: The consequences of their actions were devastating! Like a virus, sin entered into all of creation and into the hearts of Adam and Eve. Sin, suffering, and pain were passed down from generation to generation; all of creation was distorted from its original design. We have all read or heard the stories of war, poverty, diseases, grred, and scandals that plague our world today. Those are all a result of sin.

“The entire world is guilty before God.” Romans 3:19

Need: When we think about the perfection and love that existed at the beginning of creation, we realize “we are far more flawed and far more sinful that we can dare imagine” [1]. Just think of the grudges we’ve held, the lies we’ve told, the thoughts we’d never dare say aloud. An honest glance into our own hearts reveals the truth: We are all guilty. Everyone has sinned, and the ultimate consequence, even worse than physical death, is eternal separation from a loving God, in terrible misery and unhappiness. Because of all this, we need to consider the questions: Can anything be done? Is there hope?

(3) CAN ANYTHING BE DONE? THE RESCUE

Promise Made: God removed Adam and Eve from Eden as a result of their sin but left them with a promise of rescue and hope. He promised them one of their descendants would someday rescue mankind from sin. Over the next centuries, God prepared the way for this person who would become the Savior of the world. Exact details of His birth, life, and death were recorded in the Bible many centuries before His coming. In fact, the whole Bible ultimately points to this one person as the focal point of all human history. His purpose in coming was “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10)

So who was He?

Promise Kept: The promised Savior, simply, was God. God became human in the person of Jesus Christ almost 2,000 years ago, fulfilling all the predictions in the Old Testament. Jesus’ birth was miraculous since His mother was a virgin. His life was unique: He perfectly enjoyed and obeyed God without sin. This ultimately led to His agonizing death on a cross as He willingly, obediently, and sufficiently died to pay for the sins of mankind, according to God’s plan. In the greatest display of mercy and grace the world has ever known, Jesus’ life and death became a substitute for all who would trust in Him. The perfectly innocent died to rescue the hopelessly guilty from sin and Satan.

But the grave couldn’t hold Jesus. Three days later, jesus emerged from His tomb, fulfilling His earthly mission to defeat sin by dying on the cross and to defeat death by rising from the dead–just as God promised. Forty days later he returned to Heaven where He reigns as the rightful King.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.” – 1 Peter 3:18

“Jesus gave His life for our sins, just as God the Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” – Galatians 1:4

But the story doesn’t end there…

(4) WHAT WILL THE FUTURE HOLD? THE RESTORATION

All Things New: For all those  who trust in Jesus alone, God has also promised He will make all things new. The new heaven and new earth will be completely free of sin and selfishness–a place of perfect friendship with God, others, and all creation. No more shattering earthquakes, devastating tsunamis or violent storms will plague the earth. No more pain, broken hearts, sickness or death to trouble us. Everything will be restored to the way it was meant to be. The new earth will once again be the perfect home God intended for His creation. God’s original purpose will flourish, as those who trust in His rescue will enter into the grand purpose of worshipping Him by loving Him, serving Him, and enjoying relationship with Him forever.

Forever With God: The most wonderful part of this new world is that we will be with God forever, experiencing complete joy. We will be restored to a perfect relationship with the One who created, loved, and died for us. C.S. Lewis, scholar and children’s author compared the first step into this new world as “Chapter One of the great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before” [2].

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…God Himself will be with them as their God. he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:1, 3-4

What’s Your Part in the Story?

God is writing an amazing story from creation to restoration. He created you to be a part of that story to worship Him, serve Him, and enjoy relationship with Him. By joining God in His story, you will find forgiveness, purpose, and satisfaction as you come to know the Author of life.

Rescue by Faith Alone: Faith is simple trust in Jesus Christ alone to save you. It means instead of believing you can rescue yourself from the consequences of sin, you can transfer your trust to the rescue He purchased for you by His death. Your allegiance is now to Jesus, the King. Those who place their trust in anything other than Jesus will find themselves forever separated from the loving God who gave His one and only Son to set us free from the bondage of sin. This painful separation is called Hell.

“For by grace you been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing: it is the goft of God, not as a result of works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

RECAP

The Creation: In the beginning, God created everything to be perfect.

The Fall: Man rebelled against a loving God & believed Satan’s lie. Sin entered into the world & into every human heart. Everything is now distorted & broken. Everyone is guilty before God.

The Rescue: Jesus, who is God, came to rescue people by His death & resurrection. By faith alone in Him, all who are separated from God can have their sins forgiven & enjoy eternal life with Him.

The Restoration: God will restore everything to the way that it was supposed to be, and those who trust in Jesus will get to enjoy eternity with God in the new heaven and new earth.

Response:

  • God is inviting you to be a part of the story He is writing throughout the ages to come. He is offering salvation to you today, which is your invitation to the rescue God offers. You can embrace the rescue of God by simply:

  • Admitting you need God

  • Asking Him to forgive you and help you turn from sin

  • Trusting in Jesus Christ alone to rescue you Following Jesus Christ, the King of your life, in faith from this day forward

“Truly, truly, I say to you whoever believes has eternal life.” – John 6:47

The moment you trust Jesus Christ: you become a child of God and His Spirit begins to live inside of you. You have become part of His story. The more you grow in your relationship with God, the more of His story you will begin to see & understand in your life. All of your sin, past and future, is forgiven, and you now find total acceptance before Him. When you begin this relationship, Jesus promises to be with you through all the ups and downs and in the joys and difficulties of this life. He loves you with an everlasting, unchanging love. And not only has He promised eternal life, but He came so that you could experience purpose, fulfillment, and freedom in this life.

Where Do I Go from Here?

Read the Bible: The Bible is the story of God’s love and faithfulness to His people. It provides encouragement, instruction, warning, and correction that will help you make sense of your life. As you read it, ask God to show you something you can apply to your life. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament.

Talk with God: Talking with God is another way you will get to know Him. He is always ready to listen and spend time with you, so you can always speak with Him. He invites you to share all your burdens and joys with Him; this is prayer.

Find Community: Getting connected with others who have trusted in the rescue of God is essential. A “church” is a community of Christians gathering regularly to worship God as His family. Each member of the family plays a vital role: Similar to the human body, each part helps the whole body function properly. The church is the Body of Christ.

Tell your Story: Share this news with everyone! let them hear the amazing story of God’s love and rscue and how it’s changed your life.

*You can view the Video or read “The Story” at ViewTheStory.com. or at spreadtruth.com

[1] dr. Tim Keller, “The Centrality of the Gospel.” Redeemer Presbyterian, NYC

[2] C.S. Lewis. The Last Battle (New York: MacMillan, 1977, pp. 183-84.

 

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Book Review: The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

The Antidote to Gospel Inoculation

When Saint Augustine was living a life of licentiousness many generations ago he was hearing some children playing near where he was seated, playing a game with the refrain “Take up and read, take up and read.” He picked up his Bible and opened it to the book of Romans and proceeded to read about his sin and his desperate need of the provision of Christ’s imputed righteousness by faith in his death, burial, and resurrection in exchange for his sin. He was convicted of his sin and powerfully drawn by the work of the Holy Spirit toward faith and repentance in the person and work of Christ.

Whether you are a rebel, or someone who has heard the gospel (or what may pass for the gospel today) – you are well advised to take up this book and read it. In the past men like Augustine, Luther, and Calvin understood with passion and clarity our need to comprehend the richness and depth of the gospel, and proclaim it with passionate urgency – because souls are hanging in the balance. In this book Chandler definitively understands and articulates the power of the gospel and the desperate need we all have to understand the depth of our sin before a Holy God, and the just requirements He has that we have failed to meet, and thus our desperate need for what Christ came to save us from and unto.

In three parts Chandler clearly articulates the gospel essentials (God, Man, Christ, and our response); the gospel’s theological underpinnings (Creation, Fall, Reconciliation, and Consummation); and lastly its implications and applications for all of the aspects of our lives. The author is to be commended for writing a book that is passionate about the gospel; clearly articulates the gospel; calls for a response to the gospel; and demonstrates how to communicate and live out the gospel.

I highly recommend this book especially for preachers who proclaim the word of God week in and week out. He will inspire you to NOT compromise the gospel and to rest in the work of the Holy Spirit in applying it’s power in the lives of your people. My hope and prayer is that in reading this book your passion will be stirred to unflinchingly proclaim the gospel powerfully in truth and love – resulting in the saving of many lives. I think that the Apostle Paul would wholeheartedly agree with all that Chandler articulates in this book and would add, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel (as conveyed in this book), for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

Matt Chandler is the lead pastor of The Village Church, a multi-campus church in the Dallas metroplex of over 10,000 people. He has recently taken the post as President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network. His sermons are among the top selling (free) podcasts on itunes and he speaks at conferences worldwide. Prior to accepting the pastorate at The Village, Matt had a vibrant itinerant ministry for over ten years where he spoke to hundreds of thousands of people in America and abroad about the glory of God and beauty of Jesus. He lives in Texas with his wife, Lauren, and their three children: Audrey, Reid and Norah.

 

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