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 Ian Hamilton
22 At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. 24 The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. 26 But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” 39 Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.
4:40 In this passage, Jesus clearly declared His equality with the Father. Jesus’ self-proclamation provoked the hearts of the religious leaders. These men were violently seeking to kill the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet, they were also men who affrimed the inerrancy, authority, and infallibility of Scripture. They affirmed this, yet they were a diameter removed from the saving grace of God and the gospel.
We ought to be reminded at this conference of the tremendous danger that has always surfaced in the life of the church: of divorcing the Scriptures from a vibrant love for the God who inspired them.
Thus, they worshiped God with their lips, but with their hearts they were far from Him.
4:45 It is possible to be intellectually committed to the verbal “jot and tittle” inerrancy of Holy Scripture, and yet be a diameter removed from the God who inspired the Scriptures. Let us take that to heart. Let us guard our hearts against thinking that as long as we subscribe to biblical inerrancy, all is well with us. Because that may be a mask for a heart that is far removed from the God of grace, and the saving experience of that grace.
Unbelievers who deny inerrancy do not do so because they are intellectually incapable of grasping the concept, but because they love their sin.
As John Owen said, “Without the Holy Spirit, we might as well burn our Bibles.” Owen’s point was that without the work of the Spirit, the Bible would be a dead letter that would seem utterly bizarre to us.
John Owen was doing nothing more than echoing the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2. The wisdom of God seems like foolishness to men without the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit enlightens our eyes to the truth, the doctrines of Scripture become immediately believable and we embrace them in faith.
What particular response does Jesus make to these men who pick up stones and intend to kill Him.
In essence, He says to them three things.
First, He appeals to a passage in the Old Testament. Jesus speaks of Scripture in the singular, not the plural. “The Scripture cannot be broken.”
To our Lord, the Scripture was an organic whole. All Scripture is God breathed. There is no trace of limited inerrancy. Jesus affirms the verbal inerrancy of Scripture by noting that “it is written.”
It cannot be broken because Scripture is nothing less than the Word of God. Jesus equates “Scripture” with the “Word of God.” It finds its source in the God who cannot lie, who is truth itself.
As John Calvin pointed out, we owe to Scripture the same reverence that we owe to God because it finds its source in Him.
Scripture cannot be broken because it comes from Him. It is our doctrine of God that give significance and weight to our doctrine of Scripture.
Jesus’ whole public ministry was bookended by His commitment to the absolute trustworthiness of Scripture. We see this in His temptations, at the beginning of His public ministry. Jesus responded to the attacks of Satan by saying on three occasions, “It is written…”
4:55 Jesus’ public ministry is inaugurated by His commitment to the unbreakable authority of the Word of God. It was enough to respond to every challenge or question by saying, “It is written…”
At the cross, His great comfort was to explain that He went to His death “as it is written of Him.” He was betrayed so that “the Scripture would be fulfilled.” Repeatedly, throughout His Passion, the New Testament indicates that these things were taking place so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled.
Even His agonizing cry on the cross comes from Psalm 22.
After the Resurrection, nothing has changed. On the road to Emmaus, He opens up the Scripture in all of its fullness in revealing Himself to His disciples.
It is absolutely clear from the pages of the Gospels, that for Jesus Christ, Scripture was the unbreakable authority that is the Word of God.
How did Jesus arrive at the conviction that Scripture cannot be broken?
5:00 The humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ was a real humanity. The Scriptures themselves help us to grasp just a little how the Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity arrived at the conclusion that Scripture cannot be broken.
In Luke 2, we are given the account of Jesus as a young man in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them chapters. Luke concludes that chapter by noting that Jesus increased in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man.
In Hebrews 5, the author says that Jesus learned obedience. He was not excused the maturation process of the learning process that is part of being human. (cf. Isa. 55)
The Lord Jesus Christ in our flesh was not excused the maturation process of growth and development. He was not excused the discipline of listening and learning. Unlike us, He was sinless and therefore did not suffer from a fallen mind. Nonetheless, there was an incremental maturation process in His human development. He increased in wisdom.
5:05 Isn’t it striking that Jesus’ mother Mary was a Scripture-saturated woman. That is the kind of home that Jesus grew up in.
The abandonment of a commitment to an inerrant Bible is always the result of a life that has drifted from biblical discipleship.
Jesus is the prototypical man of God. And we see, in His humanity, that day by day and week by week, God opened His ears to hear and His heart to receive.
We don’t have answers to all of the quotations posed regarding the doctrine of inerrancy. But neither do we have all of the answers regarding other key dogmas of the Christian faith, such as the Holy Trinity, the hypostatic union, and union with Christ. In the end, we recognize with Paul that we know but little, and that the depths and wisdom of God are limitless.
5:10 Though we recognize that there are challenges and issues we cannot explain, that does not confound us. Because we rest in the wisdom of God. Let God be true and every man a liar.
The Pharisees believed the Scripture could not be broken. The Pharisees were the cast iron Calvinists of their day. They believed in the sovereignty of God.
When we hold to the doctrine of inerrancy, it makes man little and it makes God great.
When it comes down to it, why do we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture? For one simple reason, the Lord Jesus Christ did. It’s a matter of submission to the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us.
It would be a great tragedy if we defended the doctrine of inerrancy, but at the same time failed to love the Savior and His people as we ought. Would we not deny with our lives what we profess with our lips?
A true commitment to biblical inerrancy will reveal itself in a Christ-life lifestyle.
5:15 How can we tell if a ministry is really of God? We must look at the fruit that it bears. When we are heart and soul committed to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy (the lordship of God in His Word), that will demonstrate itself in a servant lifestyle. Isn’t it remarkable that the Lord Jesus Christ ever drew attention to personal qualities in His life, He described Himself as gentle and humble of heart (Matt. 11:29).
The Savior who taught that the Scripture cannot be broken is the same Savior who modeled a lifestyle of submission to the Word of God which was seen in service.
We are called to hold fast to the written revelation of God. May God grant us the grace to hold it fast, not portraying it as clinical and cold but holding it as men, so that when we speak of it and preach from it, people will say, “There is an aroma of Jesus Christ in that man’s life. Let me then listen to what he says about the Word of God that has shaped his life.”