Historic Christianity has affirmed that Scripture is a perfect revelation of God, lacking nothing, internally consistent, and accurate on all matters it addresses 1 (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Christianity has also affirmed that Scripture came from God through real human beings, subject to the same flaws common to all humanity save Christ.  How, then, in light of the involvement of imperfect humans can we believe in a perfect communication of message?

On the methods by which God revealed Himself perfectly in Scripture through flawed human beings without using them as dictation robots Walter Kaiser says:

As B.B. Warfield pointed out long ago, the pure light of God’s revelation will not be distorted by coming through such admittedly human channels, just as God’s pure sunlight is not bent and distorted by its being filtered through a stained glass window, for the originator of the sunlight is also the architect who designed the stained-glass windows.

The preparation that went into the lives, experiences, vocabularies, and outlook of the writers of Scripture was enormously significant.  Thus, by the time they came to write Scripture, so authentic were the expressions that they used that any of us who might have known them prior to their writing of the text of Scripture would have instantaneously recognized that that is precisely how each writer spoke.  The idioms, vocabularies, styles, and the like were uniquely their own, yet the product was precisely what God wanted as He stayed with each writer in such a way that there was a living assimilation of the truth (1 Cor. 2:13) – not a mechanical dictation of the words, such as whispering in the writer’s ear or an involuntary movement of their hands as they automatically wrote.

Article 1 of The Baptist Faith and Message (2000), titled On Scripture says it this way:

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

Exodus 24:4Deuteronomy 4:1-217:19Joshua 8:34Psalms 19:7-10119:11,89,105,140Isaiah 34:1640:8Jeremiah 15:1636:1-32Matthew 5:17-1822:29Luke 21:3324:44-46John 5:39;16:13-1517:17Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11Romans 15:416:25-262 Timothy 3:15-17Hebrews 1:1-24:121 Peter 1:252 Peter 1:19-21.

Notes:

  1. This isn’t to say that Scripture is without apparent errors or contradictions.  However, these are the fault of flawed human readers, not the Bible, and largely resolvable through correct interpretation.

In studying the book of Judges we see a powerful example of what sin desires.  It may sound strange to speak of sin personified in this way, having desires.  Nonetheless, this is consistent with Paul’s likening sin to yeast in 1 Corinthians 5:6, “Do you not know a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”  It is even more consistent with the direct voice of God to Cain in Genesis 4:7 – “…if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.

The idea that sin is crouching in wait, desiring to saturate and consume is a fine summary of the narrative of the book of Judges.  Their toleration of the Canaanites stole their devotion to the One True God.

Judges 2:1-4, 11-13:

Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”

And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.

What the Israelites learned in their dealings with the Canaanites we must heed in our own day.  For us it isn’t strange people and altars to perverse gods.  For us it is a matter of sins we participate in privately.

  • We allow vanity to hold our hearts captive, thinking it won’t be a problem because vanity is invisible.
  • We allow arrogance to fester in our attitudes toward those around us thinking we can hide it in our inner thoughts.
  • We use that substance because it doesn’t hurt anyone and no one will know any way.
  • We hold on that relationship at work, thinking it is simply a matter of innocent flirting.

The lesson of Judges is that there is no such thing as sin under control and it is a lesson we would do well to heed.

John Owen says it this way in his classic work The Mortification of Sin 1:

“Sin will not only be striving, acting, rebelling, troubling, disquieting, but if let alone, if not continually mortified, it will bring forth great, cursed, scandalous, soul-destroying sins… Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head… it is like the grave, that is never satisfied.”

This power of sin to grow is why Owen asked, earlier in the same chapter,

“Do you mortify [put sin to death with all available resources]; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

Good counsel, that.

Notes:

  1. The title linked to there is Overcoming Sin and Temptation which is the best contemporary presentation of Owens’ Mortification I am aware of.

Question: Do dead believers become angels in Heaven?

Confusion on this could come from Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25.  The former says, For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.  This verse, however, doesn’t mean that humans become angels but rather that, like angels, humanity is not bound by marital relationships in Heaven.

No, nothing in Scripture indicates that humans become angels.  Angels are an entirely different race of being and we should be thankful to be human because, despite the fact that both men and angels fell, the Lord only provided a redeemer to humans (Hebrews 2:16).

 

Question: Will Animals Be in Heaven?

Isaiah 65:25 seems to indicate animals will be present on the new Earth.  Revelation 19:14 pictures the armies of heaven seated on white horses.

It seems that animals are part of life in Heaven.  Whether or not it will be your animal Scripture doesn’t indicate.  Suffice it to say that our Lord is regularly surprising in the ways He is gracious to us.  It shouldn’t surprise us if regaining a loved pet is part of Heaven. However, if it is not then we trust we will be perfectly happy regardless.