Being the Man That God Has Called You to Be
Devotion for Brotherhood Breakfast
God has a call out for everyone, but especially for men in the church. Men are called by God to be leaders. Everyone sitting here is a leader in some aspect of life. If not, then you are being lead. God is looking for Kingdom men. There is a difference between being “male” and being “a man”. We see this in Ezekiel 22:30 NASB “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.” So obviously there is a difference between male hood and manhood, because there were males everywhere when God spoke through Ezekiel here. If God would have been able to find a man to “stand in the gap” then He wouldn’t have had to destroy the land. This “destruction of the land” is what is known as a “shaking”. It is God trying to get people’s attention. He did this to Israel quite regularly and you can look all through the Old Testament and find different type of shakings. Shakings will come in our life as well. So there must be a difference, biblically speaking, between a male and a man. We read this in Malachi 4:5-6 NASB, “ 5“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6“He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” So we see that God has/is having trouble finding a Kingdom man. So what has happened in the church and homes? Men have stepped aside and women have been forced to lead. Let’s look at a text in Isaiah 3:12 NASB, “12O My people! Their oppressors are children, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray and confuse the direction of your paths.” Who is Isaiah talking to here? He is talking to his people, Israelites, the people of Jerusalem and Judah, and ultimately us as Christians. This sounds a lot like our culture today doesn’t it. Children are out of order and women are being forced to lead. I have a friend in Alaska who has a friend. He studied on the culture in and of the church. You want to know what he found and wrote a book about? Women will go to a more masculine church, but men WILL NOT go to a more feminine church. So in fact, the church, us, we are shooting ourselves in the foot when men won’t step up and lead and women are forced to. Because then the leadership at the church begins to cater to the women and the church in turn becomes more feminine. Now don’t twist what I am saying, we need women serving in their callings, but we need men to step up and lead. So what is a Kingdom Man? A man who not merely believes in God (because even demons believe in and acknowledge God), but a man who believes in God and the God he believes in is also his LORD. In Tony Evan’s words, a Kingdom man is “A male who has learned to live his life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.” Chaos comes when God isn’t allowed to be God in our lives. When we start being and acting like Kingdom men, then things will change. If nothing changes, nothing will change. God is looking for Kingdom men. As a man, you need to find your calling and operate in that calling. This is where all of your provision is found.
I must say, as I sit here on my iPhone watching the breeze blow off of the Atlantic, that my heart is grieved. I ran a poll on Twitter. See pic below…
As you see, it still has like 5 days to go at this point (Sunday evening of the day of Resurrection). The question is simple and straight forward. As of right now there have only been 87 votes, with 64% saying that you had to believe in the Trinity to be saved…. WOW.
I guess the thief on the cross went to hell then, oh wait just a minute… Jesus told him that he would be in paradise with Him that day. Do you believe that the thief had any clue about the Trinity? I sure don’t. I think that the thief believed Jesus to be Lord and Savior and the true Jewish Messiah. That in itself is enough to be declared righteous.
How can I be so sure of this? Glad you asked. Let’s look at Acts 16:30-32 real quick. See the green highlighted area below.
Well Paul and Silas didn’t say, “You better believe in the Trinity, you better have your eschatology in order, have the doctrine of soteriology in check”, or anything else other than “BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST”. ***Pause here for disclaimer: this isn’t some easy believism. Even the demons believe in Christ. They even fell down and worshipped Him and acknowledged Him as the Son of The Most High God (see Mark 5:6-7 highlighted below)
This belief is placing trusting faith in Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. As my great friend and former senior Pastor Larry Sumrall says, “faith is living like God has told the truth”. And let me say that there should be a visible transformation take place in a person that has been saved and placed trusting faith in Jesus. As stated in 2 Cor 5:17, a person will become a new creation, the old has died. END DISCLAIMER **
Someone please show me in the Bible, which is our source for all truth as guided by the Holy Spirit, where it says that you have to believe in the Trinity in order to be saved. You don’t even have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit until you are regenerated and place trusting faith in the Messiah. The Holy Spirit is the One that guides us into all truth. A person should see the Trinity in the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit progressively reveals more of God to that person.
We (the majority of Christians) are so narrow minded and legalistic that we think a person MUST believe like us in order to be saved… and that my friends is a false Gospel. Satan believes in the Trinity, (after all, he was the head of archangels) yet I doubt anyone will declare him saved.
I will write more in a few days after this poll gets more votes and it is completed.
Today is Monday and it has started to get interesting on Twitter. I’m hoping no one takes my replies on there as attacking them or in anger. Typing and tone don’t go well together when you are a blunt person like me. I would speak to everyone over the phone if I could. Then you could hear my time. Although you’d probably laugh at my southern slang and dialect.
Abram (Abraham) was declared righteous by faith in God. Let us correlate that to Ephesians 2:8-9. This occurred 14 years before he was cut (circumcised). Now we know that the OT dead saints went to Abraham’s Bosom (Paradise) and that there is only “one way to the Father” and that’s through Jesus. Even though the OT saints were declared righteous they still had to be stoned for and hear the Gospel. (I’m getting on a rabbit trail and that’s a different discussion so let me get back on track). See Ephesians 2:8-9 below.
So when we tell someone that they must believe in the Trinity in order to be saved or that they must believe in this and that… basically anything other than that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose on the third day, for the remission of sins, for everyone who places trusting faith in Him, then we are doing just what Paul said in Galatians 1:6-9 (see highlighted area below)
We do this. We do it a lot. We can be so legalistic and think that others MUST believe just like us if they aren’t truly saved. I just want to raise awareness on this topic and show that people can be saved without believing in the Trinity, or full revelation of God, as long as they have placed trusting faith in the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus Christ. The rest comes through maturation and as the Holy Spirit guides them into all truth.
As of now (Monday at lunch), the vote is at 160 people. See results below.
Still 4 days to go….
I will go ahead and post this now and edit as time goes on. If you feel led to vote, please go to @countryboy7477 and vote. Peace and love to you all.
Well, here are results as of 200 votes.
I have still yet to see anyone really give Scripture to support why one must believe in the Trinity in order to be saved. I do believe in the Trinity and can give a great illustration and Scripture to show why I believe in the Triune Godhead. But I still argue that a newly converted person doesn’t have to know about the Trinity in order to be saved.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE SCRIPTURES.
I. THE BIBLE—ITS NAMES AND TITLES.
1. “THE BIBLE.”
Our English word Bible comes from the Greek words biblos (Matt. 1:1) and biblion (diminutive form) (Luke 4:17), which mean “book.” Ancient books were written upon the biblus or papyrus reed, and from this custom came the Greek name biblos, which finally came to be applied to the sacred books. See Mark 12:26; Luke 3:4; 20:42; Acts 1:20; 7:42.
The Bible is not merely a book, however. It is THE BOOK—the Book that from the importance of its subjects, the wideness of its range, the majesty of its Author, stands as high above all other books as the heaven is high above the earth.
2. “THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS.”
See Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6, 14; Heb. 9:15; 12:24.
The word Testament means Covenant, and is the term by which God was pleased to designate the relation that existed between Himself and His people. The term Covenant was first of all applied to the relation itself, and afterward to the books which contained the record of that relation.
By the end of the second century we find the “Old Covenant” and the “New Covenant” as the established names of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures; and Origen, in the beginning of the third century, mentioned “the divine Scriptures, the so-called Old and New Covenants.”
The Old Testament deals with the record of the calling and history of the Jewish nation, and as such it is the Old Covenant. The New Testament deals with the history and application of the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ, and as such it is the New Covenant.
3. “THE SCRIPTURE,” AND “THE SCRIPTURES.”
The Bible is also called “The Scripture” (Mark 12:10; 15:28; Luke 4:21; John 2:22; 7:38; 10:35; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 4:30; 2 Pet. 1:20), and “The Scriptures” (Matt. 22:29; Mark 12:24; Luke 24:27; John 5:39; Acts 17:11; Rom. 1:2; 2 Tim. 3:15; 2 Pet. 3:16). These terms mean that the Scriptures are “Holy Writings.” By the early Christians the most common designation for the whole Bible was “The Scriptures.”
4. “THE WORD OF GOD.”
Of all the names given to the Bible, “The Word of God” (Mark 7:13; Rom. 10:17; 2 Cor. 2:17; Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:13) is doubtless the most significant, impressive, and comp lete. It is sufficient to justify the faith of the weakest Christian. It gathers up all that the most earnest search can unfold. It teaches us to regard the Bible as the utterance of divine wisdom and love—as God speaking to man.
II. THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE.
1. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM “INSPIRATION.”
This question is best answered by Scripture itself. It defines its own terms. Let us turn, then, “to the Law and to the Testimony.”
In 2 Tim. 3:16—”All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
The word “inspired” means literally “God-breathed.” It is composed of two Greek words—theos=God; and pnein=to breathe.
The term “given by inspiration” signifies, then, that the writings of the Old Testament, of which Paul is here speaking, are the result of a certain influence exerted by God upon their authors.
The meaning of the word “breathed,” as here used, is brought out very forcibly by the comparison of two other words translated in the same way. The one is the Greek word psuchein=to breathe gently, while in 2 Tim. 3:16 the term denotes a forcible respiration. The other is the Hebrew word ah-ayrh=to breathe unconsciously, while 2 Tim. 3:16 denotes a conscious breathing.
Inspiration, then, as defined by Paul in this passage, is the strong, conscious inbreathing of God into men, qualifying them to give utterance to truth. It is God speaking through men, and the Old Testament is therefore just as much the Word of God as though God spake every single word of it with His own lips. The Scriptures are the result of divine inbreathing, just as human speech is uttered by the breathing through a man’s mouth.
2 Pet. 1:21—”For not by the will of man was prophecy brought at any time, but being borne by the Holy Spirit, the holy men of God spoke.” (This is a literal rendering, and brings out the sense more clearly.)
The participle “moved” may be translated “when moved,” so this passage teaches that holy men of God wrote the Scripture when moved to do so by the Holy Spirit.
Further, the participle is passive, and denotes “to be moved upon.” This distinctly teaches that the Scripture was not written by mere men, or at their suggestion, but by men moved upon, prompted, yea indeed, driven by the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
This declaration of Peter ma y be said to intimate that the Holy Ghost was especially and miraculously present with and in the writers of the Scriptures, revealing to them truths which they did not know before, and guiding them alike in their record of these truths, and of the transactions of which they were eye and ear witnesses, so that they were enabled to present them with substantial accuracy to the minds of others.
The statements of the Scriptures regarding Inspiration may be summed up as follows: Holy men of God, qualified by the infusion of the breath of God, wrote in obedience to the divine command, and were kept from all error, whether they revealed truths previously unknown or recorded truths already familiar. In this sense, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” the Bible is indeed and in truth the very Word of God, and the books of the Bible are of divine origin and authority.
2. THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN INSPIRATION, REVELATION, ILLUMINATION, AND VERBATIM REPORTING.
a) The Distinction Between Inspiration and Revelation.
It is of the greatest importance, in considering the theme of Inspiration, to distinguish it clearly from Revelation.
The most cursory perusal of the Scriptures reveals the fact that they consist of two different kinds of records: first, records of truth directly revealed and imparted to the mind of the writer by
God, and which he could have learned in no other manner (such, for example, as the story of Creation); and second, records of events that occurred within the writer’s own observation, and of sayings that fell upon his own ears (such as Moses’ account of the Exodus, Paul’s account of his interview with Peter at Antioch). In the one case, the writer records things that had not been revealed to man before; in the other case, he records facts which were as well known to others as to himself.
Now, Revelation is that act of God by which He directly communicates truth not known before to the human mind. Revelation discovers new truth, while Inspiration superintends the communicating of that truth.
All that is in the Bible has not been “directly revealed” to man.
It contains history, and the language of men, even of wicked men. But there is absolutely no part of the Bible record that is not inspired. The history recorded in the Bible is true. The sacred writers were so directed and influenced by the Spirit that they were preserved, in writing, from every error of fact and doctrine. The history remains history. Things not sanctioned by God, recorded in the Bible, are to be shunned (2 Tim. 3:16). Nevertheless, all these things were written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This is Inspiration.
This distinction should be definitely and clearly understood, for many of the most plausible arguments against the full inspiration of the Scriptures have arisen from the fact that this has been either unrecognized or ignored.
Though all Scripture is inspired, it does not stamp with divine authority every sentiment which it reports as uttered by the men of whom it speaks, nor does it mark with divine approval every action which it relates as performed by those with whose biographies it deals. In the book of Job, for example, Inspiration gives with equal accuracy the language of Jehovah, the words of Satan, and the speeches of Job and his three friends; but it does not therefore place them all on the same level of authority. Each speaker is responsible for his own utterances. Neither Satan, Job, nor his three friends spoke by inspiration of God. They gave utterance to their own opinions; and all that Inspiration vouches for is that no one of them is misrepresented, but that each one spoke the sentiments that are attributed to him in Scripture. So, again, the fact that David’s cruelty to the Ammonites is recorded in the book of Kings does not imply that God approved it any more than He approved the king’s double crime of murder and adultery, which “displeased Him.” The inspiration of the Book vouches only for the accuracy of the record.
b) The Distinction Between Inspiration and Illumination.
Spiritual Illumination refers to the influence of the Holy Ghost, common to all Christians. No statement of a truth about God or spiritual things can be understood by a man unless the Holy Spirit takes it and reveals it to him. It is only the spiritual man who can understand spiritual things. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:14). No learning of the schools can lead him to know God. Flesh and blood cannot reveal God to men (Matt. 16:17).
There is a vast difference between “a divine revelation of the mind of God” and “a divine action on the mind of man.” The former is Revelation; the latter is Spiritual Illumination.
Those who hold to the illumination theory to account for the origin of the Bible revelation claim that there is in every man an intuitive faculty that grasps the supernatural, that lays hold of God and spiritual things; and that whatever insight into the nature and being of God is given man, is produced by the divine Spirit playing upon this spiritual faculty in man, illuminating and irradiating it, so that it sees the perfection of God and is enabled to penetrate into His will.
According to this view, the Bible is the result of the meditations of godly men whose minds were acted upon by God. Any revelation of divinity of which man is the recipient, comes in this manner. Subjective illumination God has carried on since the world began, and is still carrying on by a great variety of methods. The Scriptures are not in any way the oracles of God, nor do they come to us as direct, logical utterances of the divine mind. The patriarchs, prophets and apostles of old so deeply meditated on God and the things of God that their spiritual faculties were enlarged and illuminated to such a degree that they conceived of these visions of God, His nature, His will, etc., as recorded in the Scriptures.
Now, it is true, doubtless, that a man may be granted a very deep insight into the nature and being of God by spiritual meditation. That a fire does burn in the Bible, we do not deny. Throughout all ages of the Jewish and Christian churches men have lit their spiritual torches at this fire, and in their light they have seen Him who is invisible. This fire still burns, and to-day the devout student may catch its flame if, with uncovered head, with shoeless feet, and with humble spirit, he stands before the bush that ever burns and yet is never consumed. But this working of the truth of God on the mind of man is not God’s revelation of His mind to man which the Bible professes to be. The Bible must of necessity be not merely a repository or receptacle of spiritual influences fitted to act upon the mind; it must be—it is—God making Himself known to men. It is God speaking to man through men.
In contradistinction to the illumination theory we have instances in the Bible in which God made revelations of Himself, His truth, and His will to men who were by no means at the time meditating upon God. See e.g.: John 11:49-52—”And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” See also Num. 22:34, 35.
c) The Distinction Between Inspiration and Verbatim Reporting.
Inspiration is not necessarily Verbatim Reporting.
It is not absolutely necessary to make such a claim to prove the inspiration of the Scriptures. Verbatim Reporting is, in a sense, a mere mechanical operation. It would have robbed the writers of their individuality, and made them mere machines. But no; the Holy Spirit used the memories, the intuitions, the judgments, and indeed the idiosyncrasies of the writers, so that while each recorded that part of the event or discourse which (as we may express it) adhered to himself, he was enabled to give it with substantial accuracy.
3. VARIOUS THEORIES OF INSPIRATION.
It will be in order here to note briefly various theories of inspiration; for it must be known that all students do not agree as to the degree of inspiration that characterized the writers of the Scripture. When a man says, “I believe in the inspiration of the Bible,” it will be quite in place in these days to ask him what he means by inspiration. Following are some of the views of inspiration held at the present day.
a) Natural Inspiration.
This theory identifies inspiration with genius of a high order. It denies that there is anything supernatural, mysterious, or peculiar in the mode of the Spirit’s operation in and upon the Scripture writers. It claims that they were no more inspired than were Milton, Shakespeare, Mahomet, or Confucius.
Such a theory we absolutely reject. For if such be the character of the inspiration possessed by the Scripture writers, there is nothing to assure us that they were not liable to make the same errors, to teach the same false views of life, to give expression to the same uncertainties concerning the past, the present, and the future as did these shining lights of mere human genius.
When David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue,” he meant something more than the prayer which forms the gem of Paradise Lost. When Isaiah and his brethren said, “Thus saith the Lord,” they claimed something higher than that they were speaking under the stirrings of poetic rapture. When Paul said to the Corinthians, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth (1 Cor. 2:13),” he used the language to which you will find no parallel in the literature of mere human genius. And no man of candor or intelligence can pass from the writings even of the unapproachable Shakespeare into the perusal of the Bible without feeling that the difference between the two is not one simply of degree, but of kind; he has not merely ascended to a loftier outlook in the same human dwelling, but he has gone into a new region altogether. There is a certain “unknown quality” in this Book which clearly distinguishes it from all others; and if we may take its own explanation of the matter, that unk nown quality is its divine inspiration.
b) Universal Christian Inspiration, or Illumination.
According to this theory, the inspiration of the Bible writers was the same as has characterized Christians of every age; the ordinary Christian of to-day is inspired as much as was the Apostle Paul.
If this be the true view, there seems to be no plausible reason why a new Bible should not be possible to-day. And yet no individual, however extreme his claims to inspiration may be, has even ventured such a task.
c) Mechanical, or Dynamic Inspiration. (See Verbatim Reporting.)
This theory ignores the human instrumentality in the writing of the Scriptures altogether, and claims that the writers were passive instruments mere machines, just as insensible to what they were accomplishing as is the string of the harp or lyre to the play of the musician.
How, then, do we account for the differences in style of the various writers, the preservation of their individualities, their idiosyncrasies?
It seems evident that Scripture cannot be made to harmonize with the application of this theory.
d) Concept, or Thought Inspiration.
This theory claims that only the concepts, or thoughts, of men were given by inspiration. It will be examined more fully later. Concept Inspiration is opposed by
e) Verbal Inspiration.
Here it is claimed that the very words of Scripture were given by the Holy Spirit; that the writers were not left absolutely to themselves in the choice of words they should use. (See page 204.)
f) Partial Inspiration.
The favorite way of expressing this theory is, “The Bible contains the Word of God.”
This statement implies that it contains much that is not the Word of God, that is, that is not inspired. A serious question at once arises: Who is to decide what is and what is not inspired? Who is to be the judge of so vital a question? What part is inspired, and what part is not? Who can tell?
Such a theory leaves man in awful and fatal uncertainty.
g) Plenary, or Full, Inspiration.
This is the opposite of Partial Inspiration. It holds all Scripture to be equally inspired, as stated on page 200. It bases its claim on 2 Tim. 3:16.
The Revised Version translation of 2 Tim. 3:16 is erroneous. The reader might infer from it that there is some Scripture that is not inspired.
If Paul had said, “All Scripture that is divinely inspired is also profitable, etc.,” he would virtually have said, “There is some Scripture, some part of the Bible, that is not profitable, etc., and therefore is not inspired.” This is what the spirit of rationalism wants, namely, to make human reason the test and judge and measure of what is inspired and what is not. One man says such and such a verse is not profitable to him, another says such and such a verse is not profitable to him; a third says such and such is not profitable to him. The result is that no Bible is left.
Is it possible that anyone need be told the flat and sapless tautology that all divinely-inspired Scripture is also profitable?
Paul dealt in no such meaningless phrases. The word translated also does not mean also here. It means and.
Its position in the sentence shows this.
Again, the Revised rendering is shown to be openly false because the revisers refused to render the same Greek construction elsewhere in the same way, which convicts them of error.
In Hebrew 4:13 we read: “All things are naked and laid open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” The form and construction of this verse is identical with that of 2 Tim. 3:16. Were we, however, to translate this passage as the revisers translated the passage in Timothy, it would read: “All naked things are also open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” All naked things are also open things! All uncovered things are also exposed things!
There is no also in the case.
Again, 1 Tim. 4:4: “Every creature of God is good and nothing is to be rejected.” According to the principles the revisers adopted in rendering 2 Tim. 3:16, this passage would read: “Every good creature of God is also nothing to be rejected.”
The Greek language has no such meaningless syntax. The place of the verb is,—which must be supplied,—is directly before the word “inspired,” and not after it.
The great rationalistic scholar, DeWette, confessed candidly that the rendering the revisers here adopted cannot be defended. In his German version of the text, he gave the sense thus: “Every sacred writing, i.e., of the canonical Scriptures, is inspired of God and is useful for doctrine, etc.” Bishops Moberly and Wordsworth, Archbishop Trench, and others of the Revision committee, disclaimed any responsibility for the rendering. Dean Burgon pronounced it “the most astonishing as well as calamitous literary blunder of the age.”
It was condemned by Dr. Tregelles, the only man ever pensioned by the British government for scholarship.
In accordance with this weight of testimony, therefore, we hold to the rendering of the Authorized Version, and claim that all Scripture is equally and fully inspired of God.
4. THE CLAIMS OF THE SCRIPTURES TO INSPIRATION.
That the writers of the Scriptures claimed to write under the direct influence of the Spirit of God there can be no doubt. The quality or degree of their inspiration may be called into question, but surely not the fact of it. Let us examine the testimony of the writers themselves.
a) The Claims of Old Testament Writers to Inspiration. (We use the word Inspiration here as including Revelation.)
Compare and examine the following passages:
Exod. 4:10-15—”And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant; but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee; and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth, and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.”
Deut. 4:2—”Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
Jer. 1:7-9—”But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” Also Ezek. 3:4; Micah 3:8.
These are but a few of the many passages in which the inspiration of the writers is affirmed and claimed.
Note further that the words “God said” occur ten times in the first chapter of Genesis. It is claimed that such expressions as “The Lord said,” “The Lord spake,” “The word of the Lord came,” are found 3,808 times in the Old Testament. These writers, claiming to be the revealers of the will of God, almost always commenced their messages with the words, “Thus saith the Lord.” That they were not deceived in their claims is evident from the minuteness and detail as to names, times and places which characterized the ir messages, and from the literal fulfillment of these oracles of God.
b) The Claims of the New Testament Writers to Inspiration.
It is worthy of note here to observe that inspiration is claimed by New Testament writers for Old Testament writers as well as for themselves. Read and compare the following passages:
2 Pet. 1:20, 21—”Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
1 Pet. 1:10, 11—”Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”
Acts 1:16—”Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.” Acts 28:25—”And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers.”
1 Cor. 2:13—”Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
1 Cor. 14:37—”If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”
1 Thess. 2:13—”For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
2 Peter 3:1, 2—”This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.”
Matt. 10:20—”For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”
Mark 13:11—”But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought befo rehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye, for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.”
See also Luke 12:12; 21:14, 15; Acts 2:4.
It is evident from these and many other passages of Scripture that the writers of both the Old and New Testaments were conscious of having received revelations from God, and considered themselves inspired of God to write the Scriptures. They felt while writing that they were giving expression to the infallible truth of God, and were conscious that the Holy Spirit was moving them to the work.
5. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE INSPIRATION THAT CHARACTERIZED THE WRITERS OF THE SCRIPTURES, AND IN WHAT DEGREE WERE THEY UNDER ITS INFLUENCE?
Much has been said and written in answer to this question. Were the thoughts or concepts alone inspired, or were the words also inspired? Were the words dictated by the Holy Spirit, or were the writers left to choose their own words? These are the knotty questions current today regarding the Inspiration of the Bible. We may say with certainty that:
a) At least Some of the Words of Scripture are the Identical Words Written or Spoken by God Himself.
Note Exodus 38:16—”The writing was the writing of God”; Exodus 31:18—”Written with the finger of God.” Compare also Deuteronomy 10:2, 4; 9:10; Exodus 24:12. See also 1 Chronicles 28:19 (R. V.)—”All this, said David, have I been made to understand in writing from the hand of Jehovah”; Daniel 5:5—There “came forth the finger of a man’s hand and wrote.”
In the New Testament God is heard speaking both at the baptism and the transfiguration of Jesus, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”
It is clearly evident from these passages that some part of the inspired record claims to be a record of the exact words of God.
b) It is Also very Definitely Stated in Scripture that God Put into the Mouths of Certain Men the Very Words They Should Speak, and Told Them What They Should Write.
Exod. 4:10-15—”And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.”
Exod. 34:27—”And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.” Num. 17:2, 3—”Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers, twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod. And thou shalt write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.”
Isa. 8:1, 11, 12—”Moreover the Lord said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz. For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.”
Jer. 1:7—”But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.”
Jer. 7:27—”Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee; thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee.”
Jer. 13:12—”Therefore thou shall speak unto them this word: This saith the Lord God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine: and they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine?”
Jer. 30:1, 3—”The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying. Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.”
Jer. 36: 1, 2, 4, 11, 27-32—”And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book. When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the Lord. . . . Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.
And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thou saith the Lord; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? Therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall ha ve none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not. Then took Jeremiah another roll, and give it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and there were added besides unto them many like words.” Also Ezek. 2:7; 3:10, 11; 24:2; 37:16; Hab. 2:2; Zech. 7:8-12.
1 Cor. 14:37—”If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”
Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18—”Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candle-sticks . . . . And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive . . . . And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges . . . . And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.” Also 3:1; 7:14.
Rev. 10:4—”And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.”
To sum up these two arguments, then, let us say, regarding the nature of the inspiration of the sacred writings, that part of them claim to be the very words and writings of God Himself, spoken by His own mouth, or written by His own hand: that another part claim to be the record of words spoken to certain men who wrote them down just as they were spoken. And yet if this is all that is involved in inspiration, shall we not be robbed of a very beautiful and helpful fact, namely, that the Holy Spirit saw fit to preserve the characteristics of the writers? Do not the works of James, the faith of Paul, and the love of John appeal to us in their own peculiar way? This leads to the statement that
c) In a Certain Sense, and in Respect to Some Parts of the Scripture, the Authors Were (Humanly Speaking) Left to Choose Their Own Words in Relating Divine Truth.
This was by no means true of all the sacred writings. There are instances recorded of men who spoke without knowing what they were saying; and of men and animals speaking without knowledge of the substance of their message:
John 11:49-52—”And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself; but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.”
Num. 22:28-30—”And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou has mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.”
Dan. 12:8, 9—”And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, 0 my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”
And yet the gift of inspiration admitted of personal, diligent, and faithful research into the facts recorded—Luke 1:1-4.
This fact allowed the expression of the same thought in different words, such differences (by no means discrepancies) between the accounts of inspired men as would be likely to arise from the different standpoint of each. Examples: Matt. 26:26, 27—”And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.”
Luke 22:19, 20—”And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”
1 Cor. 11:24, 25—”And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Matt. 3:17—”And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Mark 1:11—”And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Luke 3:22And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”The Spirit employed the attention, the investigation, the memory, the fancy, the logic, in a word, all the faculties of the writer, and wrought through them. He guided the writer to choose what narrative and materials, speeches of others, imperial decrees, genealogies, official letters, state papers or historical matters he might find necessary for the recording of the divine message of salvation. He wrought in, with, and through their spirits, so as to preserve their individuality to others. He used the men themselves, and spoke through their individualities. “The gold was His; the mould was theirs.”
6. DID INSPIRATION AFFECT THE WORDS USED?
If the question be asked whether or not inspiration affected the words, it must be answered in the affirmative. It is hardly possible that inspiration could insure the correct transmission of thought without in some way affecting the words. Yet it affected the words not directly and immediately by dictating them in the ears of the writers, but mediately, through working on their minds and producing there such vivid and clear ideas of thoughts and facts that the writers could find words fitted to their purpose.
We must conclude, therefore, that while from the divine side the Holy Spirit gave through men clearly and faithfully that which He wished to communicate, from the human side that communication came forth in language such as men themselves would naturally have chosen.
This may seem to some to be an impossibility, and they would allege that if the words were affected by inspiration at all, there must have been dictation. But the must is a non sequitur. It is admitted that God works His purposes in the world through the ordinary actions of men, while yet no violence is done to their freedom. It is admitted, also, that God, through the gracious operations of His Holy Spirit, works in the hearts of His people so as to develop in each of them the new man, while yet the individuality of each is preserved; and the type of piety is just as distinct in each Christian as the style is in each of the sacred writers. These cases are so nearly parallel as to suggest that all denials of the possibility of inspiration without the destruction of the individual characteristics are as unphilosophical as they are unwarranted.
We may therefore safely say that in a very real sense the words as well as the thoughts have been given, whether mediately or immediately, under the influence of the divine Spirit. We claim that the Bible is in deed and in truth the very Word of God; that it is the Word of God in the language of men; truly divine, and at the same time truly human; that it is the revelation of God to His creatures; that infallible guidance was given to those who wrote it, so as to preserve them from error in the statement of facts; that what the writers of the Scriptures say or write under this guidance is as truly said and written by God as if their instrumentality were not used at all; that the ideas expressed therein are the very ideas the Holy Ghost intended to convey; that God is in the fullest sense responsible for every word. This is what the Bible claims for itself.
THE DOCTRINE OF ANGELS.
As the distance between man and the lower forms of life is filled with beings of various grades, so it is possible that between man and God there exist creatures of higher than human intelligence and power. Indeed, the existence of lesser deities in all heathen mythologies presumes the existence of a higher order of beings between God and man, superior to man and inferior to God. This possibility is turned into certainty by the express and explicit teaching of the Scriptures. It would be sad indeed if we should allow ourselves to be such victims of sense perception and so materialistic that we should refuse to believe in an order of spiritual beings simply because they were beyond our sight and touch. We should not thus shut ourselves out of a larger life. A so-called liberal faith may express unbelief in such beings. Does not such a faith (?) label itself narrow rather than liberal by such a refusal of faith? Does not a liberal faith mean a faith that believes much, not little—as much, not as little, as possible?
I. THEIR EXISTENCE.
1. THE TEACHING OF JESUS.
Matt. 18:10—”For I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Mark 13:32—”But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven.” 8:38; Matt. 13:41; 26:53.
These are a sufficient number of passages, though they are by no means all, to prove that Jesus believed in the existence of angels. Jesus is not here speaking in any accommodative sense. Nor is He simply expressing a superstitious belief existing among the Jews at that time. This was not the habit of Jesus. He did not fail to correct popular opinion and tradition when it was wrong, e.g., His rebuke of the false ceremonialism of the Pharisees, and the unbelief of the Sadducees in the resurrection. See also the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:20-37).
2. THE TEACHING OF PAUL, AND OTHER APOSTLES.
2 Thess. 1:7—”And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,” Col. 2:18—”Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels.” Is not one of the principal reasons for the writing of the Epistle to the Colossians to correct the gnostic theory of the worshipping of angels? See also Eph. 1:21, Col. 1:16. John believed in an angelic order of beings: John 1:51; Rev. 12:7; 22:9. Peter: 1 Pet. 3:22; 2 Pet. 2:11. See also Jude 9; Luke 22:43; Mark 8:38; Heb. 12:22. These and numerous other references in the Scriptures compel the candid student of the Word to believe in the existence of angels.
II. THE NATURE OF ANGELS.
1. THEY ARE CREATED BEINGS.
Col. 1:16—”For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him.” Angels are not the spirits of the departed, nor are they glorified human beings (Heb. 12:22, 23). Neh. 9:6—”Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host.”
2. THEY ARE SPIRITUAL BEINGS.
Heb. 1:14—”Are they not all ministering spirits?” Psa. 104:4—”Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire.” It is thought by some that God creates angels for a certain purpose, and when that purpose is accomplished they pass out of existence. But that there are many, many angels in existence all the time is clear from the teaching of the Scriptures.
Although the angels are “spirits,” they nevertheless oft-times have appeared to men in visible, and even human form (Gen. 19; Judges 2:1; 6:11-22; Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:26; John 20:12). There seems to be no sex among the angels, although wherever the word “angel” is used in the Scriptures it is always in the masculine form.
3. THEY ARE BEINGS OF GREAT MIGHT AND POWER.
2 Pet, 2:11—”Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might (than man).” Psa. 103:20—”Angels that excel in strength.” One angel was able to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and other guilty cities; one angel smote the first-born, and rolled away the great stone from the mouth of the tomb. One angel had power to lay hold of that old dragon, the devil (Rev. 20:2, 10); one angel smote a hundred and fourscore and five thousand Assyrians (Isa. 37:36). Their power is delegated; they are the angels of His might (2 Thess. 1:7), the ministers through whom God’s might is manifested. They are mighty, but not almighty.
4. THERE ARE VARIOUS RANKS AND ORDERS OF ANGELS.
We read of Michael, the archangel (Jude 9; 1 Thess. 4:16); angels, authorities, and powers—which are supposedly ranks and orders of angels (1 Pet. 3:22; Col. 1:16). In the Apocryphal books we find a hierarchy with seven archangels, including Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel. The fact that but one archangel is mentioned in the Scriptures proves that its doctrine of angels was not derived, as some supposed, from Babylonian and Persian sources, for there we find seven archangels instead of one.
III. THE FALL OF ANGELS.
Originally all angels were created good. The Scriptures speak of a fall of angels—”the angels that sinned.” 2 Pet. 2:4—”For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” Jude 6—”And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”
1. THE TIME OF THE FALL OF ANGELS.
Some maintain that it took place before the creation recorded in Genesis 1:2—between verses one and two; that it was this fall which made the original creation (Gen. 1:1) “waste and void.” This view can neither be proven nor refuted, nevertheless the great and awful fact of a fall of angels remains. (See under Doctrine of Satan, for fall of angels in connection with the fall of Satan.)
2. THE CAUSE OF THE FALL OF ANGELS.
Peter does not specify the sin. Jude says they “kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation.” This, taken in connection with Deut. 32:8, which seems to indicate that certain territories or boundaries were appointed unto the angels, and Gen. 6:1-4, which speaks of the “sons of God” (which some suppose to refer to angels, which, however, is questionable), might seem to imply that the sin of the angels consisted in leaving their own abode and coming down to cohabit with the “daughters of men.” Thus their sin would be that of lust. To some expositors the context in Jude would seem to warrant such a conclusion, inasmuch as reference is made to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. But this can hardly be true, for a close study of the text in Genesis 6 shows that by “the sons of God” are meant the Sethites. This would seem to be the true interpretation; if so, then the sin recorded in Genesis 6 would be (1) natural and not monstrous; (2) Scriptural, and not mythical (cf. Num. 25; Judges 3:6; Rev. 2:14, 20-22 contains sins of a similar description); (3) accords with the designations subsequently given to the followers of God (Luke 3:38; Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26); (4) has a historical basis in the fact that Seth was regarded by his mother as a (the) son of from God, (5) in the circumstance that already the Sethites had begun to call themselves by the name of Jehovah (Gen. 4:26); (6), finally, it is sufficient as a hypothesis, and is therefore entitled to the preference (after Lange).
There are still others who say that the sin of the angels was pride and disobedience. It seems quite certain that these were the sins that caused Satan’s downfall (Ezek. 28). If this be the true view then we are to understand the words, “estate” or “principality” as indicating that instead of being satisfied with the dignity once for all assigned to them under the Son of God, they aspired higher.
3. THE WORK OF FALLEN ANGELS.
They oppose God’s purposes (Dan. 10:10-14); afflict God’s people (Luke 13:16; Matt. 17:15, 16); execute Satan’s purposes (Matt. 25:41; 12:26, 27); hinder the spiritual life of God’s people (Eph. 6:12); try to deceive God’s people (1 Sam. 28:7-20).
4. THE JUDGMENT OF THE FALLEN ANGELS.
Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4; Matt. 25:41, show that there is no hope of their redemption. Their final doom will be in the eternal fire. According to 1 Cor. 6:3 it would seem as though the saints were to have some part in the judgment of fallen angels.
IV. THE WORK OF ANGELS.
2. THEIR EARTHLY MINISTRY.
To the angels has been committed the administration of the affairs material to sense, e.g., showing Hagar a fountain; appearing before Joshua with a drawn sword; releasing the chains from Peter, and opening the prison doors; feeding, strengthening, and defending the children of God. To the Holy Spirit more particularly has been committed the task of imparting the truth concerning spiritual matters.
In general: Angels have a relation to the earth somewhat as follows: They are related to winds, fires, storms, pestilence (Psa. 103:20; 104:4; 1 Chron. 21:15, 16, 27). The nation of Israel has a special relationship to angels in the sense of angelic guardianship (Dan. 12:1; Ezek. 9:1; Dan. 11:1).
In particular: Angels have a special ministry with reference to the church of Jesus Christ—the body of believers. They are the saints’ “ministering servants” (Heb. 1:14)—they do service for God’s people. Illustrations: To Abraham (Gen. 19); to Gideon (Judg. 6); to Mary (Luke 1); to the shepherds (Luke 2); to Peter (Acts 12); to Paul (Acts 27).
a) They Guide the Believer.
They guide the worker to the sinner (Acts 8:26), and the sinner to the worker (Acts 10:3). Note: The angel guides, but the Spirit instructs (8:29). Are angels interested in conversions? (Luke 15:10). How they watch our dealing with the unsaved!
d) They Are Eyewitnesses of the Church and the Believer.
1 Tim. 5:21—in matters of preaching, the service of the church, and soul-saving, the angels look on—a solemn and appalling thought. 1 Cor. 4:9—the good angels are spectators while the church engages in fierce battle with the hosts of sin. This is an incentive to endurance. 1 Cor. 11:10—”Because of the angels.” Is there intimated here a lack of modesty on the part of the women so shocking to the angels, who veil their faces in the presence of God when they worship.
f) They Accompany Christ at His Second Coming.
Separating the righteous from the wicked (Matt. 25:31, 32; 2 Thess. 1:7, 8). Executing God’s wrath upon the wicked (Matt. 13:39-42, R. V. How this is done, no human pen can describe. The most fearful imagery of the Bible is connected with the judgment work of angels (cf. Revelation; fire, hail, blood, plague of locusts, poison of scorpions, etc.)—whether actual or symbolic, it is awful.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER.
Even a cursory perusal of the Scriptures will reveal the large and important place which the doctrine of Prayer finds therein. The Christian life cannot be sustained without it; it is the Christian’s vital breath. Its importance is seen when we recall:
That the neglect of prayer is grievous to the Lord (Isa. 43:21, 22; 64:6, 7, R. V.). That many evils in life are to be attributed to the lack of prayer (Zeph. 1:4-6; Dan. 9:13, 14, cf. Hosea 7:13, 14; 8:13, 14).
That it is a sin to neglect prayer (1 Sam. 12:23).
That to continue in prayer is a positive command (Col. 4:2, R. V.; 1 Thess. 5:17; we are commanded to take leisure or a vacation for prayer: 1 Cor. 7:5).
That it is God’s appointed method of obtaining what He has to bestow (Dan. 9:3; Matt. 7:7-11; 9:24-29; Luke 11:13).
That the lack of the necessary blessings in life comes from failure to pray (James 4:2).
That the apostles regarded prayer as the most important employment that could engage their time or attention (Acts 6:4; Rom. 1:9; Col. 1:9).
II. THE NATURE OF PRAYER.
It is interesting to trace the development of prayer in the Scriptures.
In the life of the patriarch Abraham prayer seems to have taken the form of a dialogue—God and man drawing near and talking to each other (Gen. 18; 19); developing into intercession (Gen. 17:18; 18:23, 32), and then into personal prayer (Gen. 15:2; 24:12); Jacob, (Gen. 28:20; 32:9-12, 24; Hosea 12:4). The patriarchal blessings are called prayers (Gen 49:1; Deut. 33:11).
During the period of the Law. Not very much prominence is given to formal prayer during this period. Deut. 26:1-15 seems to be the only one definitely recorded. Prayer had not yet found a stated place in the ritual of the law. It seems to have been more of a personal than a formal matter, and so while the Law may not afford much material, yet the life of the lawgiver, Moses, abounds with prayer (Exod. 5:22; 32:11; Num. 11:11-15).
Under Joshua (7:6-9; 10:14), and the judges (c. 6) we are told that the children of Israel “cried unto the Lord.”
Under Samuel prayer seems to have assumed the nature of intercession (1 Sam. 7:5, 12; 8:16-18); personal (1 Sam. 15:11, 35; 16:1).
In Jeremiah (15:1) Moses and Samuel are represented as offering intercessory prayer for Israel.
David seems to regard himself as a prophet and priest, and prays without an intercessor (2 Sam. 7:18-29).
The prophets seem to have been intercessors, e.g., Elijah (1 Kings 18). Yet personal prayers are found among the prophets (Jer. 20—both personal and intercessory; 33:3; 42:4; Amos 7).
In the Psalms prayer takes the form of a pouring out of the heart (42:4; 62:8; 100:2, title). The psalmist does not seem to go before God with fixed and orderly petitions so much as simply to pour out his feelings and desires, whether sweet or bitter, troubled or peaceful. Consequently the prayers of the psalmist consist of varying moods: complaint, supplication, confession, despondency, praise.
True prayer consists of such elements as adoration, praise, petition, pleading, thanksgiving, intercession, communion, waiting. The closet into which the believer enters to pray is not only an oratory —a place of prayer, it is an observatory—a place of vision. Prayer is not “A venture and a voice of mine; but a vision and a voice divine.” Isa. 63:7; 64:12, illustrates all essential forms of address in prayer.
III. THE POSSIBILITY OF PRAYER.
This possibility consists in five things:
1. THE REVELATION OF GOD WHICH CHRIST HAS BROUGHT TO US.
John 1:18—”No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Matt. 11:27—”. . . . Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.”
Christ reveals God as a personal God, as a Being who sees, feels, knows, understands, and acts. Belief in the personality of God is absolutely necessary to true prayer (Heb. 11:6).
Christ reveals God as a sovereign God (Matt. 19:26)—”With God all things are possible.” God is sovereign over all laws; He can make them subservient to His will, and use them in answering the prayers of His children. He is not bound by any so-called unchangeable laws.
Christ revealed God as a Father (Luke 11:13). In every instance in the life of Christ whenever He addresses God in prayer it is always as Father. The fact of the fatherhood of God makes prayer possible. It would be unnatural for a father not to commune with his child.
2. THE SACRIFICIAL WORK OF JESUS CHRIST.
Heb. 10:19-22, R. V.—”Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith.” It is because of the death of Christ, which removed the barrier that stood between God and us so that He could not consistently hear and answer our prayers, that He can now hear and answer the petitions of His children.
3. THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY GHOST.
Rom. 8:26—”Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” See also Jude 20. The thought is this: Even though we are assured that there is a personal God to hear us, and although we have the confidence that the barrier of sin which stood between us and God has been removed, so that we now desire to pray, we often are hindered because we either do not know what to say or what to ask for. We may ask too ardently for wrong things, or too languidly for the things we most need. And so we are afraid to pray. The assurance that this verse gives us is that the Holy Spirit will pray within us, and will indict the petition, helping us in our prayer life.
4. THE MANY PROMISES OF THE BIBLE.
We are told that there are over 33,000 of them. Each promise is “yea and amen in Jesus Christ”; He is the guarantee and the guarantor of them all. They are not given to mock but to encourage us: “Hath he said and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken and shall he not make it good?” See John 14:13; 15:7; 1 John 5:14, 15; Luke 11:9, etc.
5. THE UNIVERSAL CHRISTIAN TESTIMONY.
Christians, by the millions, the world over, can and do testify to the fact that God both hears and answers prayer. The credibility, character, and intelligence of the vast number of witnesses make their testimony indisputable and incontrovertible.
IV. THE OBJECTS OF PRAYER—TO WHOM TO PRAY.
1. TO GOD.
Neh 4:9; Acts 12:5—”Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him”: God is holy—hence there must be no impurity in the life of the one praying; righteous, hence no crookedness; truthful, hence no lying or hypocrisy; powerful, hence we may have confidence; transcendent, hence reverence in our approach.
3. THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Rom. 8:15, 16 sets forth the relation of the Holy Spirit and prayer, as do also Zech. 12:10; Eph. 6:18; Jude 20. The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3, 4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14), hence is to be worshipped (Matt. 4:10; Rev. 22:9).
The normal mode of prayer is prayer in the Spirit, on the ground of the merits of the Son, to the Father: In the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father.
V. THE METHOD OR MANNER OF PRAYER.
1. WITH REGARD TO THE POSTURE OF THE BODY.
The soul may be in prayer no matter what is the attitude of the body. The Scriptures sanction no special bodily posture. Christ stood and prayed (John 17:1), knelt (Luke 22:41), He also fell on his face on the ground (Matt. 26:39); Solomon knelt (1 Kings 8:54); Elijah prayed with his elbows on his knees and his face buried in his hands; David prayed lying on his bed (Psa. 63:6); Peter prayed on the water (Matt. 14:30); the dying thief, on the cross (Luke 23:42).
2. TIME AND PLACE.
Time: Stated times (Dan. 6:10; Psa. 55:16, 17; Acts 3:1; 2:46; 10:9, 30). Special occasions: Choosing the twelve (Luke 6:12, 13). Before the cross (Luke 22:39-46). After great successes (John 6:15, cf. Mark 6:46-48). Early in the morning (Mark 1:35). All night (Luke 6:12). Times of special trouble (Psa. 81:7, cf. Exod. 2:23; 3:7; 14:10, 24). At meals (Matt. 14:19; Acts 27:35; 1 Tim. 4:4, 5).
Place of Prayer: Inner chamber (Matt. 6:6); amid nature (Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35). In the church (John 17:1; Psa. 95:6). Before the unsaved (Acts 16:25; 27:35). In all places (1 Tim. 2:8, R. V.).
VI. HINDRANCES AND HELPS TO PRAYER.
Indulged known sin (Psa. 66:18; Isa. 59:1, 2). Wilful disobedience to known commandments (Prov. 28:9). Selfishness (James 4:3). Unforgiving spirit (Matt. 5:22, 23; 6:12). Lack of faith (Heb. 11:6; James 1:6). Idols in the heart (Ezek. 8:5-18; 14:1-3).
2. HELPS—ESSENTIALS TO PREVAILING PRAYER.
Sincerity (Psa. 145:18; Matt. 6:5). Simplicity (Matt. 6:7, cf. 26:44). Earnestness (James 5:17; Acts 12:5; Luke 22:44). Persistence (Luke 18:1-8; Col. 4:2; Rom. 12:12, R. V.). Faith (Matt. 21:22; James 1:6). Unison with others (Matt. 18:19, 20). Definiteness (Psa. 27:4; Matt. 18:19). Effort (Exod. 14:15). In the name of Jesus (John 16:23; 14:13, 14). With fasting (Acts 13:2, 3; 14:23).
Also see one of my first post about “Praying in tongues and is it for today”
If Regeneration has to do with our nature, Justification with our standing, and Adoption with our position, then Sanctification has to do with our character and conduct. In Justification we are declared righteous in order that, in Sanctification, we may become righteous. Justification is what God does for us, while Sanctification is what God does in us. Justification puts us into a right relationship with God, while Sanctification exhibits the fruit of that relationship—a life separated from a sinful world and dedicated unto God.
I. THE MEANING OF SANCTIFICATION.
Two thoughts are prominent in this definition: separation from evil, and dedication unto God and His service.
1. SEPARATION FROM EVIL.
2 Chron. 29:5, 15-18—”Sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God . . . . and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy places. . . . And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness. . . .Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the Lord.” 1 Thess. 4:3—”For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.” See also Heb. 9:3; Exod. 19:20-22; Lev. 11:44.
It is evident from these scriptures that sanctification has to do with the turning away from all that is sinful and that is defiling to both soul and body.
2. SEPARATION OR DEDICATION UNTO GOD.
In this sense whatever is set apart from a profane to a sacred use, whatever is devoted exclusively to the service of God, is sanctified. So it follows that a man may “sanctify his house to be holy unto the Lord,” or he may “sanctify unto the Lord some part of a field of his possession” (Lev. 27:14, 16). So also the first-born of all the children were sanctified unto the Lord (Num. 8:17). Even the Son of God Himself, in so far as He was set apart by the Father and sent into the world to do God’s will, was sanctified (John 10:36). Whenever a thing or person is separated from the common relations of life in order to be devoted to the sacred, such is said to be sanctified.
3. IT IS USED OF GOD.
Whenever the sacred writers desire to show that the Lord is absolutely removed from all that is sinful and unholy, and that He is absolutely holy in Himself they speak of Him as being sanctified: “When I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes” (Ezek. 36:23).
II. THE TIME OF SANCTIFICATION.
Sanctification may be viewed as past, present, and future; or instantaneous, progressive, and complete. It is both static/instantaneous and progressive
1. INSTANTANEOUS SANCTIFICATION.
1 Cor. 6:11—”And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Heb. 10:10, 14—”By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . . For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” By the death of Jesus Christ the sanctification of the believer takes place at once. The very moment a man believes in Christ he is sanctified, that is, in this first sense: he is separated from sin and separated unto God. For this reason all through the New Testament believers are called saints (1 Cor. 1:2, R. V.; Rom. 1:7, R. V.). If a man is not a saint he is not a Christian; if he is a Christian he is a saint. In some quarters people are canonized after they are dead; the New Testament canonizes believers while they are alive. Note how that in 1 Cor. 6:11 “sanctified” is put before “justified.” The believer grows in sanctification rather than into sanctification out of something else. By a simple act of faith in Christ the believer is at once put into a state of sanctification. Every Christian is a sanctified man. The same act that ushers him into the state of justification admits him at once into the state of sanctification, in which he is to grow until he reaches the fulness of the measure of the stature of Christ.
2. PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION.
Justification differs from Sanc tification thus: the former is an instantaneous act with no progression; while the latter is a crisis with a view to a process—an act, which is instantaneous and which at the same time carries with it the idea of growth unto completion.
2 Pet. 3:18—”But grow in (the) grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 3:18—We “are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.” The tense is interesting here: We are being transformed from one degree of character, or glory, to another. It is because sanctification is progressive, a growth, that we are exhorted to “increase and abound” (1 Thess. 3:12), and to “abound more and more” (4:1, 10) in the graces of the Christian life. The fact that there is always danger of contracting defilement by contact with a sinful world, and that there is, in the life of the true Christian, an ever increasing sense of duty and an ever-deepening consciousness of sin, necessitates a continual growth and development in the graces and virtues of the believer’s life. There is such a thing as “perfecting holiness” (2 Cor. 7:1). God’s gift to the church of pastors and teachers is for the purpose of the perfecting of the saints in the likeness of Christ until, at last, they attain unto the fulness of the divine standard, even Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:11-15). Holiness is not a mushroom growth; it is not the thing of an hour; it grows as the coral reef grows: little by little, degree by degree. See also Phil. 3:10-15.
3. COMPLETE AND FINAL SANCTIFICATION.
1 Thess. 5:23, R. V.—”And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Wholly” means complete in every part, perfect in every respect, whether it refers to the Church as a whole, or to the individual believer. Some day the believer is to be complete in all departments of Christian character—no Christian grace missing. Complete in the “spirit” which links him with heaven; in the “body” which links him with earth; in the “soul” as being that on which heaven and earth play. Maturity in each separate element of Christian character: body, soul, and spirit.
This blessing of entire and complete sanctification is to take place when Christ comes: 1 Thess. 3:13—”To the end that he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” It is when we shall see Him that we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2). How explicitly Paul puts the matter in Phil. 3:12-14, R. V. —”Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
III. THE MEANS OF SANCTIFICATION.
How are men sanctified? What means are used, and what agencies employed to make men holy and conform them into the likeness of Christ? The agencies and means are both divine and human: both God and man contributing and co-operating towards this desired end.
1. FROM THE DIVINE SIDE: IT IS THE WORK OF THE TRIUNE GOD.
a) God the Father.
1 Thess. 5:23, 24, R. V.—”And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly. . . . Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.” God’s work is here contrasted with human efforts to achieve the preceding injunctions. Just as in Hebrews 12:2, and Philippians 1:6, the Beginner of faith is also the Finisher; so is it here; consequently the end and aim of every exhortation is but to strengthen faith in God who is able to accomplish these things for us. Of course there is a sense in which the believer is responsible for his progress in the Christian life (Phil. 3:12, 13), yet it is nevertheless true that, after all, it is the divine grace which works all in him (Phil. 2:12, 13). We cannot purify ourselves, but we can yield to God and then the purity will come. The “God of peace,” He who reconciles us—is the One who sanctifies us. It is as if the apostle said: “God, by His mighty power will do for you what I, by my admonitions, and you by your own efforts, cannot do.” See also John 17:17—”Sanctify them through thy truth.” Christ addresses God as the One who is to sanctify the disciples.
b) Jesus Christ the Son.
Heb. 10:10, R. V.—”By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The death of Jesus Christ separates the believer from sin and the world, and sets him apart as redeemed and dedicated to the service of God. This same truth, namely, the sanctification of the church as based on the sacrificial death of Christ, is set forth in Eph. 5:25, 27—”Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it.” Christ is “made unto us . . . sanctification” (1 Cor. 1:30). See also Heb. 13:12, R. V.
c) The Holy Spirit Sanctifies.
1 Pet. 1:2—”Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit.” 2 Thess. 2:13—”. . . . Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” The Holy Spirit seals, attests, and confirms the work of grace in the soul by producing the fruits of righteousness therein. It is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus who gives us freedom from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). He is called the Holy Spirit, not only because He is absolutely holy Himself, but also because he produces that quality of soul-character in the believer. The Spirit is the executive of the God-head for this very purpose. It is the Spirit’s work to war against the lusts of the flesh and enable us to bring forth fruit unto holiness (Gal. 5:17-22). How wonderfully this truth is set forth in the contrast between the seventh and eighth chapters of Romans. Note the unsuccessful struggle of the former, and the victory of the latter. Note also that there is no mention of the Holy Spirit in the seventh, while He is mentioned about sixteen times in the eighth chapter. Herein lies the secret of failure and victory, sin and holiness.
2. FROM THE HUMAN SIDE.
a) Faith in the Redemptive Work of Jesus Christ.
1 Cor. 1:30, R. V.—”But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Christ is indeed all these things to us, but, in reality, He becomes such only as we appropriate Him for ourselves. Only as the believer, daily, yea, even momentarily, takes by faith the holiness of Jesus, His faith, His patience, His love, His grace, to be his own for the need of that very moment, can Christ, who by His death was made unto him sanctification in the instantaneous sense, become unto him sanctification in the progressive sense—producing in the believer His own life moment by moment. Herein lies the secret of a holy life—the momentarily appropriation of Jesus Christ in all the riches of His grace for every need as it arises. The degree of our sanctification is the proportion of our appropriation of Christ. See also Acts 26:18.
b) The Study of the Scriptures and Obedience Thereto.
John 17:17—”Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
Eph. 5:26—”That he might sanctify and cleanse it (i.e., the Church) with the washing of water by the word.” John 15:3—”Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Our sanctification is limited by our limitation in the knowledge of and our lack of obedience to the Word of God. How does the Word of God sanctify? By revealing sin; by awakening conscience; by revealing the character of Christ; by showing the example of Christ; by offering the influences and powers of the Holy Spirit, and by setting forth spiritual motives and ideals. There is no power like that of the Word of God for detaching a man from the world, the flesh and the devil.
c) Various Other Agencies.
Heb. 12:14, R. V.—”Follow after . . . the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord.” To “follow after” means to pursue, to persecute, as Saul of Tarsus pursued and followed the early Christians. One cannot become a saint in his sleep. Holiness must be the object of his pursuit. The lazy man will not be the holy man.
Heb. 12:10, 11: God chastens us “for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.” Chastisement ofttimes is intended to “produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”
Rom. 6:19-23; 2 Cor. 6:17, 7:1. Sanctification is brought about in the life of the believer by his separating himself deliberately from all that is unclean and unholy, and by presenting, continually and constantly, the members of his body as holy instruments unto God for the accomplishment of His holy purposes. Thus by these single acts of surrender unto holiness, sanctification soon becomes the habit of the life.