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Did the Gospel Authors Think They Were Writing Scripture?

March 23, 2017 2 comments

by Michael Kruger

One of the most common misconceptions about the New Testament canon is that the authors of these writings had no idea that they were writing Scripture-like books. I dealt with this misconception on a general level here, showing that there was a clear apostolic self-awareness amongst the New Testament authors.

While this apostolic self-awareness may be easy to show for authors like Paul, what about the gospels which, technically speaking, are formally anonymous? Do their authors exhibit awareness that they were writing something like Scripture? To explore this further, let us just consider just one of our gospels, namely the Gospel of Matthew.

The first step is to get our expectations clear. We should not expect that Matthew would say something like, “I, Matthew, am writing Scripture as I write this book.” Gospels are a very different genre than epistles, and we would not expect the authors to provide the same type of direct and explicit statements about their own authority…

 

 

 

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Reaffirming Sola Scriptura

by Tom Nettles

Sola Scriptura as Philip Schaff indicated, confessions and creeds hold no absolute authority for Protestants. Their authority is only an ad hoc, ecclesial, and localized standard for the sake of unity in fellowship and consistency of witness either in a denomination or a local assembly of believers. They can be amended or expanded in light of evidence from more mature biblical exegesis or in light of doctrinal and cultural challenges to biblical truth. For this reason, confessions arising from within Protestantism usually contain an article that affirms the sole authority, inspiration and infallible authority of Scripture. For example, the Second London Confession of the Baptists stated in its first sentence, “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, Faith, and Obedience.” In paragraph 6 of the same article on Scripture, reflecting the words and concepts of both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Savoy Declaration with one slight variation [italicized], the confession added: “The whole Councel of God concerning all things necessary for his own Glory, Man’s Salvation, Faith and Life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new Revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.” Thus, one of the most influential confessions in Protestantism begins with a ten paragraph article affirming the sole and certain authority of Scripture closing with these words: “The supreme judge by which all controversies of Religion are to be determined, and all Decrees of Councils, opinions of ancient Writers, Doctrines of men, and private Spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture” [WCF]. Again, the Second London Confession varied the language slightly, insisting even more clearly on the sole authority of Scripture, closing with the phrase after the words “can be no other,” with these words, “but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.”

For Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, however, the view of the creedal tradition is quite different. The Orthodox churches consider the first seven ecumenical councils as guided by the Holy Spirit resulting…

 

 

 

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Is the Bible Foundational to Christianity? Engaging with Andy Stanley

September 27, 2016 Leave a comment

by Michael J. Kruger

One of the most profound challenges for Christians as we live in an ever-more-hostile world is how to properly defend the faith against the incessant attacks against it. And these attacks have taken their toll. We have seen far too many casualties over the years as people leave the church because they had doubts or questions that were never answered.

It is precisely this issue that is behind Andy Stanley’s recent sermon, “The Bible Told Me So” (preached Aug 28, 2016). Stanley, son of well-known Atlanta pastor, Charles Stanley, is the senior pastor of Northpoint Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.

Stanley’s concern in this sermon is for those who have experienced what he calls “deconversions”—people who went to church as a child but have drifted away from the faith as they have reached adulthood. They drifted away because they went to a church that refused to answer their difficult questions and insisted that they were “just supposed to have faith.”

 

 

 

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Confessions of Faith: The Bible, therefore, the Creed

by Tom Nettles

The Bible is a big book with numerous themes and doctrines. Consider the following four realities that drive us to summarize the doctrines of the Bible in a confession of faith.

1. The Progressive History of Graphe Drives us to Doctrinal Summary

Faithfulness to the Bible as the Word of God, singular in its meaning and authoritative for mind and heart, means that creedal formulas of doctrine serve the cause of real biblical knowledge. They neither detract from it nor substitute for it. When all the varieties of biblical literature are put together, from historical narrative to closely reasoned doctrinal instruction, the confidence of the biblical writers themselves….

 

 

 

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Confessions of Faith: “No Creed But The Bible”

by Tom Nettles

1. The Bible: A Matter of Faith

At the most basic level, every Christian should confess, “I have no creed but the Bible.” The Bible is meant to be believed. In matters of faith dependent upon revealed truth, therefore, the Christian should make no commitment of heart or head to a proposition not founded immediately upon Scripture.

In its first chapter, the Second London Confession makes clear this principle after discussing many of the various doctrines of Scripture:

 

 

 

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Equally necessary is it not to sever what God has joined together by sacrificing one side or element of the Truth for another

PinkEqually necessary is it not to sever what God has joined together. By nature all of us are prone to run to extremes, particularly so those with a philosophical turn of mind, who, seeking for unity of thought, are in great danger of forcing a unity into the sphere of their limited knowledge. To do this, they are very apt to sacrifice one side or element of the Truth for another. I may be quite clear and logical at the expense of being superficial and half-orbed. A most solemn warning against this danger was supplied by the Jews in connection with their interpretation of the Messianic prophecies, by dwelling exclusively upon those which announced the glories of Christ and neglecting those which foretold His sufferings: so that even the apostles themselves were evilly affected thereby, and rebuked by Christ for such folly (Luke 24:25, 26). It is at this very point that the people of God, and particularly His ministers, need to be much on their guard. Truth is twofold (Hebrews 4:12): every doctrine has its corresponding and supplementary element, every privilege its implied obligation. Those two sides of the Truth do not cross each other, but run parallel with one another: they are not contradictory but complementary, and both must be held fast by us if we are to be kept from serious error.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 6-The Doctrine of Baptism

CHAPTER 6-THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISM

1. The Subject: Only a believer (born again).

2. The Mode: Only by immersion.

3. The Design: Only to symbolize the burial and resurrection of Christ.

4. The Authority: Only a church of Jesus Christ.

1. THE PROPER SUBJECT

Baptism is only for believers, and believers are saved or justified. “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (#Ac 13:39); “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (#Ac 16:31); “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (#Joh 3:16). “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (#Joh 3:36); “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (#Ro 5:1), “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (#Eph 2:8,9). This excludes unregenerate adults and all infants. A Jesuit Theologian, S. J. Hunter, said: “It is impossible for infant baptism to be discussed directly between a Catholic and a Baptist. They have no common ground. The Baptist urges that the scriptures everywhere teach faith as a prerequisite to baptism. The Catholic defends his practice as to infants by the authority of the Church, which the Baptist refuse to accept.” (Outline of Dogmatic Theology Vol. 3, page 222.)

ARGUMENT:

1. To baptize any but believers is to accept Catholic authority rather than Scriptural authority. The Scriptures nowhere command baptism for any but believers. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (#Mt 28:19); “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (#Ac 2:41); “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (#Ac 8:12); “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” #Ac 18:8); “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus” (#Ac 19:4).

2. To baptize infants destroys the privilege of personal obedience to the command to be baptized. There can be no personal obedience on the part of an infant when it is immersed or sprinkled.

3. To baptize infants or unregenerate adults is to merge the church and the world. It is filling the church with the world. Infants have no personal responsibility and are not lost and need no so-called saving rite of baptism.

4. To baptize any but the saved is to deny that the church should be composed of only lovers of God and of Christ. Think of having enemies of Christ in the church which is His body, and the custodian of His truth. And nobody loves God except the born again believers. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (#1Jo 4:7); “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (#1Jo 5:1). In these two verses the perfect tense should read- “has been born of God.” Love and faith are results of the new birth from God.

2. THE PROPER MODE

Baptism is to be by immersion only.

ARGUMENT:

1. From the meaning of the word baptize. Greek scholars are in agreement that the word means to dip, immerse.

2. From the “Church Fathers.” Cyril 315-386 A. D. Bishop of Jerusalem: “For as he who sinks down in the waters and is immersed (baptized)….” Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, 370 A. D. “Imitating the burial of Christ by the immersion (baptism)….” Gregory, Bishop of Constantanople, 380 A.D.: “Let us, therefore, be buried with Christ by the immersion (baptism) that we may also rise with Him….”

3. From the admissions of those who do not now immerse. D. Dollinger, a Roman Catholic historian: “At first Christian baptism commonly took place in the Jordan; of course, as the church spread more widely, in private houses also. Like that of St. John, it was by immersion of the whole person, which is the only meaning of the New Testament word. A mere pouring or sprinkling was never thought of.” (The First age of Christianity and the church, page 324-325). Mr. Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, in his comment on #Ro 6:4,5 admits that the reference is to immersion as the primitive mode of baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia: “The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion…. In the Latin Church immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it was found in some places even as late as the 16th century..” (See The Catholic Encyclopedia, in 15th vol., edited by Charles G. Herberan, Ph.D., LL, D., pages 261, 262). Prof. Marcus Dods, Edenburgh explained baptism as “a rite wherein by immersion of water the participant symbolizes and signalizes his transition from an impure to a pure life, his death to a past he abandons, and his birth to a future he desires.”

4. From the practice of the early church. The first instance of baptism by any other mode than immersion was about the middle of the third century. A man named Novatian was ill and was baptized by having water poured around him. The first public (official) authority for sprinkling was given about 811 A.D. by Pope Steven II. Some of the French clergy informed the pope that there were some too sick and some too small to be immersed and asked for permission to sprinkle them. The pope replied, “If such were cases of necessity, and if sprinkling were performed in the Name of the Trinity, it should be valid.” At the Council of Ravenna in 1311, the Roman Church decreed: “Baptism is to be administered by triune aspersion (sprinkling, CDC) or immersion.”

The Westminster (Presbyterian) Assembly met in 1643 to compose a Confession of Faith. Baptism was hotly discussed; 24 voted to retain immersion; 25 voted for sprinkling or pouring.

5. From the New Testament metaphor by which baptism is represented. It is called a burial and a resurrection. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (#Ro 6:4); “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (#Col 2:12).

3. THE SCRIPTURAL DESIGN

On this point there are two views of baptism: The sacramental and the symbolic. The sacramental makes baptism a saving sacrament; it is to confer grace. The symbolic declares that grace has already been conferred. One makes baptism essential to regeneration and remission of sins; the other makes it a symbol or figure of what saves, even the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

W. M. Nevins says, “The design in Baptist Churches is not in order to obtain the remission of sins. It is not a means of grace. It is not in order to obtain regeneration. It has nothing to do with our salvation. It is a picture showing forth the gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and signifies that the one baptized is dead to the old life of sin and risen to a new life in Christ.”

The author states his view of baptism as a symbol in a somewhat different way to most of his brethren. To him it is not a symbol of regeneration but of justification. It symbolizes the believer’s death to the guilt and penalty of sin; and the Bible word that denotes this judicial death is justification rather than regeneration. #Ro 6:7 says, “For he that is dead is freed (justified) from sin.” This is judicial death and not death in the experimental sense. Regeneration is not the Bible word used to denote death to sin. Regeneration does kill the sinner to the love of sin, but not to the experience of sin. Regeneration is the putting of the divine nature within, but it does not remove the old nature. The new birth makes one more sensitive to sin; it does not kill him to the sense of sin.

4. THE SCRIPTURAL ADMINISTRATOR OF BAPTISM

Who is to authorize the believer’s baptism? This question reverts back to the question to whom or to what was the commission given? It was given to something, an institution that would be perpetuated until the end of the age. It was spoken to the apostles, not as individuals but as representatives of the church. And so the church is to make disciples, baptize disciples, and teach disciples what God has commanded to be observed or practiced. The believer must be received by the church; he unites with and his baptism must be authorized by the same church.

Only a church of Christ—a Scriptural church can execute the commission to baptize. And so every group of Christians must prove itself to be a Scripturally constituted church before it can Scripturally execute Christ’s command.

Until the time of the reformation beginning with Luther, there were widely scattered churches, each a little democracy in contrast to the Roman hierarchy with a human head. These scattered churches were called Anabaptists because they insisted on baptizing all who came to them from the Roman hierarchy. The name Anabaptists was applied to them because they were charged with rebaptizing those who came to them from Rome. They rejected the name and claimed that those they baptized had never been baptized. The early conflict was not over the mode of baptism because the Roman Catholic hierarchy immersed for several centuries. The issue was over the authority to baptize. None but a Scriptural Church has authority to baptize, for the command to baptize was given to the church that would be in existence from the days of Christ to the end of the age. The strongest argument that Baptist Churches represent the institution to whom the commission was given is the witness or testimony of those who are not Baptists.

Mosheim, the Lutheran historian writes: “The true origin of that sect which acquired the name of Anabaptists, by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion, is hid in the remote depths of antiquity, and is, consequently, extremely difficult to be ascertained.” The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge has his to say: “The Baptist’s, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and have long in the history of the church received the honor of that origin.” On this account, the Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the apostle’s, and which has preserved pure the doctrines of the gospel through all the ages.”

Greek word for sprinkling: Rhantizo: #1Pe 1:2 “of the blood of Jesus” #Heb 12:24; “blood of sprinkling” #Heb 10:22; “hearts sprinkled… and bodies washed in pure water.”

THE DIDACHE: An ancient Christian document, referred to as the “Teaching of the twelve Apostles,” written in Greek and dealing with the organization, belief, and worship in the early church. Its date is probably between 120 and 150 A.D. and is thought to have originated in Egypt or Syria. It was found in 1873 in an 11th century manuscript in the Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre in Istanbul.

Composed of two parts:

1. A description of the Two Ways, one of life, the other death, in the form of rules for Christian conduct.

2. Deals with the rites of baptism and Lord’s Supper and defines the office and duties of Christian leaders.

The Didache; Here for the first time pouring (Greek-ekcneo) is used for baptism (baptizo). We give the translation by Philip Schaff, a Presbyterian: “Now concerning baptism, baptize thus: Having first taught all these things, baptize ye into (eis) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, in living water, and if thou hast not living water, baptize into other water; and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm (water). But if thou hast neither, pour water thrice upon the head in (eis) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Analysis: This is actually saying, baptize (immerse) in any kind of water; living, cold or warm, but if this is impossible because lack of sufficient water, then ekcheo (pour) water three times upon the head in the name of Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. It is actually saying if you can’t baptize in water then pour water on the head. Here we have the first error in baptism which was in the design resulting in a change in mode. Because it was thought that water had power to regenerate it had to be applied in some way to the individual. It is not known who wrote this ancient document. Baptizo is the Greek word for baptism and is never used for anything but immersion. Ekcheo is never used for baptism.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3