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Posts Tagged ‘Biblical Authority

Do Wesleyan-Arminains Believe in Inerrancy?

Here is a link to an article on the subject of inerrancy among Wesleyan-Arminians.  Dr. Vic Reasoner has written an excellent book on inerrancy called The Importance of Inerrancy.  It is an easy read on an important topic.

You can find the article here.

You can find Dr. Reasoner’s book here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/16/2015 at 1:56 PM

Signs of a Good Sermon

I listen to preaching a lot.  I mean a lot!  I drive for a living so I spend hours on the road so I fill my phone with preaching.  I listen to all types of preaching from Pentecostals to hard core Calvinists.  I subscribe to a few podcasts but I don’t mind finding a sermon title and just downloading it onto my phone and off I go.  While I am not a perfect critic of sermons, I have listened enough to know when I am about to hear a good sermon.  A few have surprised me along the way and started out bad but turned good or vise versa.  Yet I still enjoy listening to good preaching.

So what does it take for me to say a sermon is good?  Let me just run through some points.

1.  The Text of Scripture.

First, does the teacher open with the text of Scripture.  Seeker guys and poor preachers often open with goofy skits, clips from television shows or movies, man-centered stories, or just an illustration that is neither good nor bad.  They just don’t start with the text.  A good teacher will always begin with the Bible, stay true to the Bible, and teach the text.  The text dominates.  The text is the focus.  The text produces the points.

Secondly, the Bible remains the focus throughout the sermon.  The focus is not on pleasing flesh.  The focus remains from the start to the end, the glory of God in His Word (2 Corinthians 4:5).  The Scriptures alone speak for God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  A good sermon will stay focused throughout on the Word of God.  The focus is not on “seven points to your joy” but the focus is the text to the glory of the King.

2.  Knowledge of the Text.

Does the teacher own the text?  Is it clear that the teacher has studied the text and they know it?  I love it when a good Bible teacher has even memorized the text because they have poured over the text over and over and over again.  Lazy teachers don’t do that.  They just pick out their title, find their points, find their proof-texts, and go.  The faithful Bible teacher (2 Timothy 2:2) will study the text until he has drained every ounce of life from it (and he will still find more when he comes back to it).  The faithful Bible teacher is hungry to hear from God in His holy Word (Psalm 1:1-2; 119:30).  The good Bible teacher will draw from the text, teach the text, show the context of the text, use proper exegesis to teach from the text, and never uses his text as a pre-text.

3.  Few Illustrations.

Illustrations are fine but some rob God of His glory.  Some illustrations make the illustration the focus rather than the text of Scripture.  The good Bible teacher wants you to remember his text and the teaching from the text instead of their illustrations.  This is why I think illustrations should be few and never take away from the glory of God in His Word.  Further, a good sermon will have biblical illustrations that show how the text is revealed in other parts of the Word of God.  Biblical illustrations are timeless while others often are not.  And again, you want people to hear the Word of God and not your word.  Your word doesn’t save sinners.  God’s Word saves sinners (Romans 10:17).

4.  Exaltation of Christ and Deification of Man.

The good sermon will always focus on the glory of Jesus Christ.  Jesus showed His disciples how He was revealed in all of Scripture (Luke 24:27).  From Genesis to Revelation, the focus is on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is our everything!  Jesus is the very reason we live and breath and He is our life (Colossians 3:1-3).  Jesus is the wisdom of God (Colossians 2:3).  Jesus must be the One that we want people to adore and honor.

And yet poor sermons will focus on man.  They will focus often on the teacher with the teacher constantly telling you stories about themselves or other people.  The sermon is full of points aimed at us rather than Christ.  The poor sermon will focus on how the text helps us.  The poor sermon will focus on flesh rather than the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Was this the preaching of Paul (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)?  Was this the preaching of Peter (2 Peter 1:16-21)?

Sermons should focus on Jesus and honor Him as Lord and Savior.

5.  Is the Gospel Preached?

Many sermons start off good but turn to law.  The well-meaning teacher wants to help us pray more, to witness more, to love our wives more, to honor God with our money more, to help us to sing more, etc. yet they turn to law instead of gospel to produce this.  The motivation for the disciple of Jesus is not law but gospel.  Every sermon should focus on the gospel and how the gospel helps us along the way.  None of us are capable of perfectly pleasing the Father.  Jesus did that for us.  None of us are perfectly able to keep the law.  Jesus did that for us.  Jesus is our salvation and when He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), it was done!  We now keep the law of Christ but not out of works mentality trying to produce righteous from God (Romans 4:5) but out of love for the Savior (John 14:15).  And yet we still struggle to perfectly obey Christ (1 John 2:1).  Thankfully, Jesus is our salvation and He is our high priest before God the Father (1 John 2:2).

The gospel then must take precedence over the law.  The law reveals my sinfulness before a holy God (1 Timothy 1:8-11) but the grace of God is what helps (or assists me in the words of Charles Wesley) to obey the Lord God (Titus 2:12).  Because we are now under grace and not law, we aim to please the Lord (Romans 6:1-4).  The gospel is our focus and Jesus is our perfect example that we walked after (1 John 2:6).  However, we are not saved by our works but by the grace of God given to us freely in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) so that we might now do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  To quote the Lutherans: God doesn’t need your good works, your neighbor does.  Grace works in us (1 Corinthians 15:10).  Grace is what the good sermon must proclaim!

6.  A Call to Repent.

I think a good sermon should also include a call to repent.  Not all agree with me here.  I have heard many good sermons that didn’t end with a call to repent.  Some just end.  Yet I think that we should always call people to forsake their sins and place their faith in Christ alone for salvation.  We don’t have to do an altar call but we should call people to repentance.  The Lord may be gracious to save the humble (2 Timothy 2:24-26).  I understand that not every text of Scripture is dealing with salvation but if our focus is on Christ (as it should be), then we will glorify Christ who is the Savior of all men but especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10). If Christ is truly glorified, how can we not proclaim that He will save sinners who come to Him (Luke 19:10)?  How can we preach Christ but miss calling people to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31)?

Conclusion

I suppose I could write more (and I know I could).  Good sermons are hard to find.  The seeker church has destroyed good preaching.  Since pragmatism now reigns in the Western Church, poor preaching is often passed along as good preaching (because of the crowds).  Good expository preaching is hard to find.  I have been asking the Father to raise up more and more faithful Bible teachers who will be expositors of His inerrant and infallible Word.  The duty of the Bible teacher is not to entertain.  It is to train (Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 4:2).  I pray that you don’t find yourself in Luke 6:26!

Why Arminians Should Stand With Calvinists In Regard To Inerrancy

There are doctrines that we disagree with our Calvinist brethren over.  We disagree over the decrees of God.  We disagree over whether we have retained free will after the Fall.  We disagree over what Adam has passed to us.  We disagree over the extent of the atonement.  We disagree over whether election is conditional or unconditional.

Yet the doctrine of Scripture should be a doctrine that we agree on.  After all, it is the preaching of the gospel that brings salvation (Romans 10:14-17).  Paul the Apostle stated clearly that the preaching of the cross was foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).  The preaching of the gospel is necessary to bring about the salvation of sinners (Matthew 28:19-20).  So it would only logically make sense for us to take a firm stand on the authority of the Bible.  The Bible is given to us by the work of the Holy Spirit working through godly men to bring about His holy Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Jesus said that the Word of God cannot be broken (John 10:35).  Jesus further said that His Word would never pass away (Matthew 5:17-18; Luke 16:17).

How is then that some Arminians want to reject inerrancy of the Bible?  Some reason that this is not a biblical position noting that the word inerrancy doesn’t appear in the Bible.  I would note that the word Trinity is not in the Bible either but it is based on reasoning from the Scriptures.  The same is true for inerrancy.  We base our view of the Word of God on what God has already said about His Word in the Bible.  The Bible says that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2) so what He says in His Word is absolutely true.  Some will contend that this is circular reasoning but it is biblically true.  Proverbs 30:5 says that every word of God proves true.  This is true of Genesis 1 as well as John 1 or Philippians 1.

Others want to say that they believe in “salvation inerrancy” meaning that only passages related to salvation are inerrant.  My question: how do they know that John 3:16 is true if they can’t trust what God said in Genesis 2?  The reality is that those hold to this “limited inerrancy” view are in fact placing themselves as the judge of Scripture (or at least others such as scientists or secular historians).  Only those who hold to full inerrancy can truly believe that what God said in 2 Timothy 3:15 is true just as what God said in every portion of Scripture.

Arminius was not like these Arminians.  He wrote much about the perfection of the Word of God.  He wrote:

We assert, that the arguments which, contained in the Scriptures, prove the Divinity of the religion prescribed in them, are so full and perfect, that no arguments can be derived for the defense of any religion which are not comprehended in these, and in a more excellent degree. (2 Cor. iv, 2- 6.) They are indeed of such high value that the truth of the Christian religion is established by them as strongly, as it is possible by any other arguments to prove that there is any true religion at all, or that a true one is possible. So that to a man who is desirous of proving, that there is any religion which is true, or that such a religion is possible, no way is more compendious and easy than to do so by these arguments, in preference to any other which can be deduced from general notions. But the most wonderful of all is, that the very thing in the Christian religion which seems to be one of the greatest absurdity, affords the most certain proof of its Divinity, it being allowed to be a very great truth — that this religion has been introduced into the consciences of men by a mild suasion, and not by the power of the sword. (1 Cor. i, 29-xxiv, ; 2 Cor. v, 11; Luke ix, 54, 55.) Of a similar tendency is the argument formerly used by St. Augustine: “If the Christian religion was established by the miracles which are related in the Scriptures, it is true; but if it was not, the greatest of all miracles is, that it has been able to obtain credit without miracles.” For the internal suasion of Him who alone can work miracles, ought to stand in the place of miracles outwardly performed, and to be equally potent. (Rev. ii, 17.) And thus the very narration, contained in these books, of the miracles which were performed in the early ages in proof of the doctrine, is now, through a most beautiful vicissitude of circumstances, proved to be true by the Divinity of the doctrine when subjected to examination.

John Wesley stated about the truthfulness of Scripture:

This is that word of God which remaineth forever, of which, though heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall not pass away.  The Scripture therefore of the Old and New Testament is a most solid and precious system of Divine truth.  Every part thereof is worthy of God; and all together are one entire body, wherein is no defect, no excess.

I hold with both Arminius and Wesley that the Bible is true in all that it affirms.  Some want to even use the term “inerrancy” but they only mean that the Bible is inerrant when it speaks of salvation and not historical or scientific truth.  I affirm that the Bible is true in all that it affirms.  While the Bible is not a science book or even a history book per se, it still is true in what it affirms in regard to science or history.  I hold that the Bible is true in Genesis 1-11 and equally true in John 1-11.  There is no difference.  Whatever the Bible affirms is true because the very Spirit who has given us the Bible is the Spirit of truth (John 15:26).  Jesus Himself said that the Word of God is truth (John 17:17).

I find it alarming further that people who claim the infallibility of the Bible but deny its inerrancy will say that the Bible contains errors.  While they don’t produce any without their own presuppositions, they suppose that the Bible does contain errors.  2 Timothy 3:16 says that all of Scripture is breathed out by God.  Those who will say that the Bible is not true in whatever it teaches is making a grave assumption of God, that is that 2 Timothy 3:16 is not true since they would argue that such and such passages are in error.  They first make themselves the judge of Scripture as to what is true or not while ignoring their own utter sinfulness and faulty understanding in light of their own sins (Romans 1:21-22).  God alone is perfect in His wisdom and understanding yet sinful men will claim that they know where God has erred in His Word while ignoring 2 Timothy 3:16.  They claim that some parts of Scripture are indeed inspired by God such as John 1:12-13 but they will not say that all of Scripture is inspired of God despite 2 Timothy 3:16.  I fear for them before a true and holy God.  I am not saying that such people are not saved (for God saves us by His grace and not based on our perfect theological understanding; Ephesians 2:8-9) but I do believe them to be calling God a liar no matter what they may argue.

There is a fear among some Arminians to join hands with our Calvinists brethren to defend the doctrine of inerrancy.  I reject such a view.  I rejoice that many godly Calvinists are indeed declaring the truthfulness of Scripture and affirming the inerrancy of the Bible.  I rejoice that God is using many godly Calvinists to glorify His name.  Whether they be Arminians or Calvinists, if the Lord Jesus Christ is being exalted, worshipped, adored, and praised, I rejoice in those who preach Him!  I will gladly join with my Calvinist friends in preaching the Lord Jesus and I will gladly join with them in defending the truthfulness of the Bible.

Others are fearful that holding to inerrancy automatically means that we ascribe ourselves as “fundamentalists.”  I myself have no problem being labeled as such.  Certain aspects of current Baptistic fundamentalist trouble me and I am not a King James Bible only advocate.  I find the KJV only position to be illogical.  That said, I do agree that the fundamentals of the faith are worth defending (Jude 3). I believe strongly in many fundamentalist positions of doctrine such as the virgin birth of Christ, His sinless life, His miracles, His vicarious atonement, His death and bodily resurrection and His ascension to the right hand of the Father.  I ascribe to many of the creeds of Christianity and affirm, yet again, that the Bible is true in all that it affirms.  I study my Bible each and every day because I love the Word of God and long to know it more.

In conclusion, the Bible is the Word of God.  The very claims of Scripture are that it is true.  The Lord Himself spoke in Isaiah 45:19 that He speaks the truth.  Again 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all of Scripture is God-breathed.  The Bible is given by the Spirit of God whom is called the Spirit of truth.  The authority of the Church to proclaim the risen Christ, His salvation, and His judgment to come is based on the Word of God.  The precious promises of heaven and eternal life are based on Scripture.  The foundation of human thought and wisdom come from the Scriptures.  Our authority in evangelism is based on the truthfulness of Scripture.  Our authority to preach the forgiveness of sins is based on the absolute truth of the Bible.

So I stand with my Calvinist brothers and sisters who preach the inerrancy of the Bible.  I will gladly join with them in defending its truth and I believe that every Arminian should do the same.

Being Careful With Our Words

People often use the phrase, “God spoke to me and said.”  Sometimes (and few times) people actually mean that they believe God did speak to them.  Yet most of the time people simply mean that they got an impression.  I heard one guy call it a “holy hunch.”  Yet this would not be the same as direct revelation from God.  Most people, I think, are well-meaning when they say that God spoke to them yet their use of God speaking to them makes it seem like they actually heard from God and not from themselves.

In reality, the Bible is where we hear from God.  Certainly God speaks to us through life, through pain, through joy, through circumstances, through creation, etc. but this flows from the biblical data and not outside of the Bible.  The Bible is where God speaks!  Scripture is clear that God speaks to us in His Word.  The Word claims to be speaking for God so that when Scripture speaks, God speaks.  Jesus Himself held that the Bible (the Old Testament at His time) was in fact the Word of God (Matthew 4:4).  Jesus upheld the absolute authority of the Bible (Matthew 5:17-20).  Jesus even said that the Bible cannot be broken (John 10:35).  When Jesus was asked theological questions, He appealed to Scripture (see Matthew 19:1-9; 22:23-33).  Even as Jesus died on the cross, He was aware of the fulfillment of Scripture (see John 19:28-30).  After His resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples about Himself and His suffering and resurrection from the Scriptures (Luke 24:26-27, 44-47).

So if we claim to follow Christ, we should have the same view of the Bible as Jesus held.  Jesus believed in the authority of the Bible, the sufficiency of the Bible, the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible, and He quoted the Bible when combating theological errors and even Satan himself.

Hebrews 1:1-3 is clear:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Notice that the writer of Hebrews points to Jesus as God’s final word.  The last days are not now.  They have been since Jesus began to reign from heaven until the end (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).  Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14, 18).  Jesus fully reveled God because He is God (John 1:1; Colossians 1:15-20).  When Jesus spoke, He was God speaking to humans as a human.  Jesus was both fully God and fully man.

Jesus promised His Apostles in John 16:12-15 that the Holy Spirit would help them to record all that He said.  Notice what Jesus says:

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Some take verse 13 and try to apply this to modern disciples but the context is clear that Jesus was speaking to His Apostles.  It would be the Apostles (or their close associates) who would write the Scriptures under the inspiration of the Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16).  Peter would later write in 2 Peter 1:20-21 this:

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter the Apostle placed the authority of the Scriptures over even his own experiences (2 Peter 1:16-19).

This is powerful for us in our day when people use the phrase, “God spoke to me and said…”  I don’t doubt that God speaks to us and I hear Him speak always and faithfully in His Word.  2 Timothy 3:17 even says:

That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible makes us complete!  The Bible make us equipped for every good work!  This is why I stress that we should build into our lives and in the lives of our children the authority of the Bible (Matthew 7:24-27).  I want my boys to look at everything through the lenses of the Word of God.  When my boys are faced with naturalistic evolution (or other issues), I want them to look at it through the lenses of the Word of God.  When it comes to evangelism, I want to evangelize based on the authority of the Word of God.  When it comes to money or my marriage or my job, I want to honor God by studying and applying the Word of God.  The Word of God is my foundation so that when I am reading and studying my Bible, I am hearing from God!  I don’t need an impression to know that God is speaking to me.  I don’t need a vision.  I don’t need a dream.  I don’t need a prophet.  The Bible is sufficient, faithful, inerrant, infallible, and makes me complete, equipped for every good work.

So a better way would be not to say that God spoke to us but to quote the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  “The Bible says” is God speaking.  If you want to hear from God, read the Bible.  If you want to hear God speak out loud, read the Bible out loud.  God’s Word is final. God’s Word is faithful because it comes from Him who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; 2 Timothy 2:13; Titus 1:2).

In conclusion, I hold that our wording is the problem.  Most people I know who say, “God spoke to me and said” would say that it was an impression, a hunch.  They would not place their “hearing God” with the authority of the Bible nor on the same level as the Apostles hearing from the Spirit.  Yet this subtle “hearing from God” can undermine the authority of the Bible if we are not careful.  I recommend we modify our language.  I no longer say at all, “God spoke to me” apart from quoting the Bible.  When I want to express hearing from the Lord, I use the Bible.  The Bible is faithful to speak for God.  I hold firmly the principle of sola scriptura or “Scripture alone.”  Dr. Jack Cottrell writes about sola scriptura:

Sola Scriptura means that Scripture alone is an adequate source of truth and moral knowledge, but it means more.  It means that Scripture alone is the authoritative source of such truth and knowledge.  Because of its unique nature as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, Scripture is the sole norm, the ultimate and final authority for faith and life. (Solid: The Authority of God’s Word, pp. 82-83).

May we go now and read our Bible and hear from God simply as we read.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/20/2015 at 10:30 AM

Critical Thinking Out Loud

Let me do some critical thinking out loud for a moment.  I am pondering two questions.  First, if God is speaking to us through visions, dreams, personal prophecies, etc., why is it that so often those who receive these visions, dreams, personal prophecies are some of the weakest people I know?  I am not going to lump all charismatics together here as I don’t know all of them of course and that would be unfair but those that I do know who claim God is speaking to them in a dream or a “word” in their spirit are typically not committed to studying the Bible, are often ignorant of basic doctrines, don’t pray too much, are not serious in evangelism, and for the most part are weak spiritually.

Secondly, how can we claim that we believe in the sufficiency of the Bible if in fact we are not making a commitment to study it or apply it to our lives?  This is true for both evangelicals and charismatics.  We have all been guilty in knowing too much and not obeying what we know (James 4;17).  The truth is that we all need to take serious our study of the Bible.  The Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and is true in all that it says (John 17:17).  David said in Psalm 119:142 that he would not forget God’s precepts but have we?  Do we know God’s precepts?  I believe the answer is that we know much but obey little and in reality, we don’t know as much as we think we know.  Remember Jesus’ disciples are those who hear His Word and put it into practice (Luke 11:28).  James the Apostle says that is true faith, to put into practice the truth of God (James 2:14-26).

So the bottom line for me is this: people are running around seeking a “word from the Lord” when in fact He has spoken faithfully and truthfully in the Bible.  The Bible is sufficient to teach us the ways of the Lord and we must be faithful to heed His voice in the Bible.  In reality, we don’t need any other voices.  We have a prophet in the Lord Jesus.  We have a king in the Lord Jesus.  We have a rabbi in the Lord Jesus.  We have a faithful high priest in the Lord Jesus.  We have an advocate with the Father in the Lord Jesus.  We have One who died in our place for our sins as our Passover lamb in the Lord Jesus. We have a sabbath rest in the Lord Jesus.  All of this is revealed not by some revelation apart from Scripture but in the Word of God.  We would do well to go to the Bible and hear it (Psalm 119:151).

How To Know If Your Bible Teacher Is Truly Biblical?

There is a simple way to know if your Bible teacher is focused on teaching the Bible or not.  These simple rules are easy to use.

1.  Expository Preaching.

Does your Bible teacher preach the text?  Does your Bible teacher take their text and deal with it?

2.  Points Back To the Bible.

Does your Bible teacher point back to the Bible over and over again?  Do they build their points directly from the Bible?

3.  Focused on the Text Above Stories.

Does your Bible teacher stay focused on teaching the text of Scripture or do they tell more stories?  Stories are not bad but should never take away from the authority nor focus of the text.

4.  Your Learn the Text Above Stories.

Does your Bible teacher help you to understand the text of Scripture or do you just remember their stories?  Again, the text of Scripture should be our focus.

5.  Is Jesus exalted?

And finally, do you sense that Jesus is being exalted from the text?  Charles Spurgeon said that he always took his text and then makes a bee line to the cross.  The Lord Jesus is the One that all faithful Bible teachers should seek to exalt.  Do you remember the Lord Jesus above the teacher?  Does the teacher exalt Jesus or themselves in their teaching?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/03/2015 at 10:44 AM

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