Session 13 — Derek Thomas
Note: Throughout the week, as we liveblog the general sessions, we will be using a time-stamp method. This will give readers an approximate sense of key statements that were made throughout the session, as well as allowing them to trace the flow of the argument. (Also, if readers want to listen to any key moments by downloading the audio, these time-stamps will make it easier to track down certain statements in the audio file.) However, what follows is not intended to be a full or exact transcript of what was said.
4:35 My text is 2 Peter 1:16-21:
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 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.
If there is one error in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand.
4:40 What is the Bible?
All Scripture is God breathed. God breathed out and what have you got? Scripture.
Peter was writing in the context of false teachers with immoral lives. Well nothing has changed much.
In that context, three questions:
(1) What does Peter say the Bible is? It is God’s Word written through human instrumentality.
v. 21 — “men spoke from God” — the Holy Spirit used human agents with diverse social backgrounds.
The writers of Scripture had different temperaments — from Moses to Isaiah to Amos to Paul.
The writers of Scripture have different styles — from Jeremiah in Lamentations to Paul’s lengthy sentences.
The writers of Scripture write in different genres.
We can identify certain Bible authors with certain themes.
What is all of this saying? That revelation is not flat, but progressive and developmental, even within individual authors. Consider Paul when he writes Galatians to Paul’s writing in 2 Timothy. He hasn’t changed one theological bone in his body but he writes differently.
Men wrote the Bible and you can see them with their different personalities and backgrounds. Much is made of this in our time, because the conclusion is drawn that to err is human.
But it proves too much, because there isn’t a part of the Bible that isn’t human. The whole thing has come through the instrumentality of human beings.
You can’t simply apply the principle “to err is human” to a few select portions of Scripture, because the whole Book involved human instrumentation.
(2) How is the Bible written through human instrumentality? By the sovereign superintendence of God at every stage from conception to completion, so that the result is exactly what God intends.
Where does Scripture come from? It is not the product of one’s own interpretation or imagination. It did not arise, first of all, from men’s minds.
When Peter says that no prophecy is of human origination, is he speaking of individual prophecies or of the entire Old Testament? You can go either way.
4:55 The parts are true and the whole is true.
“men spoke from God as they were carried along”
Men wrote, and their personalities can be seen, but in such a way that they were borne along by the Holy Spirit to write what God intended them to write. So that when Scripture speaks, God speaks.
Is this a statement affirming dictation? No and yes. At times, it was dictation (the 10 Commandments, the 7 letters of Revelation 2-3). But sometimes men wrote with alarming informality. How can God overrule and superintend fallible human beings to accomplish His will in Scripture. The answer is that He does this by a doctrine of providence.
What you have here is a doctrine of absolute sovereignty in the accomplishment of Scripture.
5:00 Denials of inerrancy are eruptions of pride and rebellion to the notion of the sovereignty of God in the life of a human being.
(3) To what extent can we be certain that the Bible is God’s Word written?
“men spoke from God”
That is the Bible’s view of itself. Peter is speaking here, first of all, of the Old Testament. Yet in 2 Peter 3, he includes Paul’s writings as being on the same level as the rest of the Scriptures.
What you and I are facing today is what is sometimes referred to as the adequacy of human language to convey divine truth (per postmodern sociology). Their claim is that language itself is an inadequate vehicle for something as large as divine truth. But Peter is saying that when you read the Bible you are reading divine truth.
God speaks, and it gets through, and we get it because we are made in His image. We have the innate capacity to understand the truth. We may hold it down in unrighteousness, but divine truth gets through.
5:05 Why do I believe the Bible to be the Word of God? The answer is Jesus. When Jesus speaks, God speaks. When He spoke to His disciples, divine words were being spoken.
The Bible is God’s Word in men’s mouths. Scripture therefore can be trusted. And everything to which it speaks, however incidental, is trustworthy.
Jesus even cites the superscription of Psalm 110 noting that it is of Davidic authorship.
5:10 The relationship between the human authorship and the divine authorship is asymmetrical.
Peter refers to his incredible experience at the Transfiguration. Who wouldn’t want to be on the mountain with the three disciples, to witness the transcendent glory of Jesus Christ? The majesty of God comes down, and a voice from heaven announces, “This is My Son.”
Peter’s point is staggering in v. 19. Peter is not saying that you need a vision in order to have your confidence in Scripture confirmed.
5:15 He is saying that you have all the certainty you need right here in the Holy Scriptures.
He then instructs his readers to pay attention to the Word of God as to a lamp in the darkness. This is likely a reference to the Second Coming.
So what is there to get you through life’s difficulties until the Second Coming of Christ? The Bible, to which you would do well to pay attention.
Heresy breeds immorality. But immorality also breeds heresy. Are you tempted to take the softer line, because your heart and conscience condemn you? You will do well to pay attention to the Scripture. It is all you’ve got and it is all you need.
You have the Bible. As Luther said of the Reformation, “I did nothing…. The Word of God has done everything.”
Here is our charge: Preach the Word. All of it.