Christ’s Ascension — 2018

 

Ephesians 1:17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, 20 which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places,21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.22 And God hath put all things under His feet, and hath given Him to be the head over all things to the church,

This past Thursday was Ascension day.
 
Ascension Day is the 40th day after the celebration of Easter. Through History, the Church recalls the ascension of Christ into Heaven and celebrates His triumphant rule over all Creation as the Victorious Priest-King who has been invested with all authority on heaven and earth. Ascension day is another high celebratory day in the Church Calendar.
 
In the Ascension Christ’s Exaltation moves towards its apex which finds the Lord Christ sitting in Sessional rule with the Father. You remember in Christ’s Humiliation there was the incarnation, the crucifixion, and the burial so in His Exaltation there is the resurrection, ascension, and session.
 
We remember that the Ascension of the Lord Christ is a necessary aspect of the narrative of the Gospel. We confess the Ascension of the Lord Christ when we confess the Apostles Creed.
 
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,


I.) Ascension and Christ as King

 

Here we see that the Ascension of Christ … The Father’s “setting Christ at His own Right hand,” is an act of enthronement and empowerment. In the Ascension, Christ is lifted  “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come. 22 And God hath put all things under His feet, and hath given Him to be the head over all things to the church.”
In the Ascension Christ then is seen as the Father’s assigned King to rule and have dominion. All things. This is why the great Dutch theologian and polymath could say,“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Dr. Joel Boot notes that this Ascension … this Enthronement of the Lord Christ has become an inconvenient truth in many quarters in the Church today.
“In (a prominent Reformed Theologians) culture of paradox, the Holy Spirit is practically invisible and thus the glorious ascension of our Lord is transformed from the regal setting of Christ at His Father’s right hand and the glorious procession of the Spirit upon the Church, into a tragic absence — and therefore a means of sanctifying inactivity and compromise by restricting the kingdom of God to saving souls from an alien world which God does not govern totally and consistently through His Christ. Instead, God has one rule for His church and another for the world of common grace, or natural law. What is that world? Do sinners share our moral framework? No, they suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18:32).Dr. Joe Boot 
The Mission of God — pg. 393Jesus Christ is the King over the whole cosmos. King over principalities and powers. Christ rules and so Christians are duty bound to walk in terms of God’s Law-Word as the King’s Law. King over all other powers that might contest and current dominions.

But the modern Church seeks to mute that truth or it seeks to claim the rule and dominion of Christ for their pet causes ignoring that with the King’s rule, comes already a pre-established law. Christ, in the total of Scripture, has already set forth what His cause is in terms of His rule.

That rule of the Ascended Christ is NOT merely a spiritual rule without also being a corporeal ruling. Many people hear “Spiritual” rule and they think “not real,” or “Gnostic.” Christ’s rule is absolute and while it begins as a Spiritual rule there is not spiritual ruling that does not have a corporeal correspondence.

Ascension Day should remind us of Christ’s Enthronement. The point of theAscension was to parallel the enthronement Psalms in the Old Testament. Those Psalms praised the King as he is ascending to take the Throne. In Christ’s Ascension Christ as gone up to take the Throne and He, right then and RIGHT NOW, rules over all.

God has gone up with a shout,
Yahweh with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praise to God, sing praises.
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth.
Sing praises with understanding.
God reigns over the nations.
God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples are gathered together,
the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God.
He is greatly exalted!

Here in Psalm 47 we find what looks to be the description of a coronation, with shouts, trumpets and songs of praise.  God takes his place on the throne, not only as king of Israel but of all the earth and all the nations. Jesus is God’s final Davidic King and in and with the Ascension He has taken His place on the throne, as King of all the earth and of each and all of the nations.

The Ascension of Christ thus communicates that Christ has triumphed and that His Kingdom has arrived. Christ rules as the Father’s Mediatorial King and rules to such an end as to constantly advance His already present Kingdom. Because of the Ascension of Christ, the Lord Christ is at the Right hand of the Father presenting His credentials as surety for His people. Because of the Ascension, we have peace with God.

The Ascension reminds us that inasmuch as Christ reigns we reign with and in Him. The reality of the Ascension of Christ should forever deliver us from pessimistic eschatology that insists that the Church will end defeated in time and space History.

We are connecting Christ’s Kingship to His Ascension. Here we desire to attempt to frame a proper juxtaposition of truths.

There are those in the Church who want to talk about Christ’s Kingship as if the Kingdom of God is going to be reflected absent the proclamation of the Cross of Christ. It is as if they believe that the current Kingdom of God will be participated in by men who never understood God’s just wrath against sin yet were brought into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross. This will never do. The Cross is the center of our proclamation because it constantly reminds us of our only solution for sin and our only standing before God. We can not participate in God’s building up of His Kingdom apart from the Cross.

However, on the other hand, there are those who never want to move beyond the Cross to the resurrection and the ascension. Christ is King NOW and just as His humiliation was seen in space and time History, so His exaltation will be embodied in space and time History as He triumphs by His Gospel over the nations until His enemies are made His footstool. There are those who warn against the dangers of an over-realized eschatology (expecting too much dominion now in this life) and in doing so they are warning against a theology of glory where the humility of the Cross is ignored. This is a profitable warning.

But we might also warn against an eschatology that is under-realized and one that diminishes the Ascension of Christ. We might warn against a theology that requires defeat and insists that the victories gained by the ascended Christ are only “spiritual” in nature. We might warn against forgetting the enthronement and Ascension of our Lord Christ and His intent on making his very real enemies into very real footstools. We might warn against a theology that closes the door to God’s reign on earth being made manifest so that all the Nations flow into the Mountain of the Lord’s house (Isaiah 2).

So, Jesus is the Ascended one, who has been given a name above every other name (Phil. 2), now sits at the right Hand of the Father to the end of the fulfillment of all that the Gospel intended to accomplish which is the ongoing extension of His now established rule. In His, Ascension God has set His steward King as regent over the nations until His enemy nations are made His footstool.

Now, none of this truth denigrates the message of the Cross. In order to come underneath the rule of the King one must understand their rebellion against and alienation from the Ascended King. Only the atoning death of Christ can answer that rebellion and alienation. However, once that rebellion is forgiven because of the finished work of Christ and the alienation set aside so that we are now adopted as co-heirs with Christ we now are part of the Kingdom of God and walk in terms of His law Word — a law word that will hold sway over everything once His enemies are made His footstool.

III.)  Ascension as Christ as Priest

With His Ascension, Christ appears on our behalf. He is not only Ascended to the end that He was given to be the head over all things to the church. But Jesus has ascended also to the end of continuing His priestly work on our behalf at the right hand of the Father. If you will recall, the role of the Priest was not only to offer up sacrifices for the people, representing the People before God, but the Priest also was to pray and interceded for the people. Christ made His once for all Priestly sacrifice for His people but He continues His Priestly work in His Ascension by praying for us, His Church.

Hebrews 7:24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely[c]those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Romans 8:34 Who then is the one who condemns?No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Little flock, on this Ascension Sunday we can remember that the Lord Christ is Ascended to the end to continue His Priestly work for us. His presence before the Father pleads our cause. Are you hurt? Downcast? Tempted? Persecuted? Overwhelmed? The Ascended Christ intercedes for His people.

III.) Ascension as Typological fulfillment

Jesus at His transfiguration speaks of His coming Death, Ressurection, Ascension, as an “Exodus” in the Transfiguration accounts in Scripture.
31They appeared in glory and spoke about His departure, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. That Transfiguration account revealed Christ’s glory prior to the crucifixion, and it anticipated his resurrection and ascension. The Ascension is where Christ complete His Exodus departure. In the OT the Exodus was God’s work to release His people from bondage to Pharaoh into a land flowing with milk and honey. in the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Christ what is being communicated in terms of typological insight from the OT and a reasonable reason why the word “Exodus” is used to speak of the redemptive events at the end of Christ’s life is that in the Lord Christ the Spiritual Exodus of mankind is completed. Man, because of sin, and the fact that sin had not yet been fully dealt with was in a kind of bondage. Christ being man’s representative shared in that bondage. But with and in Christ a New Exodus is thus now possible and is inaugurated, and in that New Exodus, we have been delivered from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, just as Israel was delivered from Pharaoh’s Dark Kingdom. Christ, in all His redemptive work, including His Ascension is the anti-type to the Exodus of the OT.

As true then Christ also answers Moses as a type to an anti-type. Christ has His Exodus but as He is our representative head we have our Exodus in Him and He leads us to out of bondage into God’s favor.

The Scripture gets at this when it teaches that because of the Ascension, we have the assurance that we ourselves are ascended with Christ and so are ruling with Him.
Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up [b]together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Consistent w/ Federal Theology what is predicated of the Covenant head is predicated of His people.
Christ has ascended and so Federally and Covenantally speaking we have as well.
Compare Ephesians 1:20 w/ 2:6
20 which the Father worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
2:6 — Speaking of believers

6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Conclusion

Re-cap

The Ascension of Christ communicates that Christ has triumphed and that His Kingdom has arrived. Christ rules as the Father’s Mediatorial King and rules to such an end as to constantly advance His already present Kingdom. Because of the Ascension of Christ, the Lord Christ is at the Right hand of the Father presenting His credentials as surety for His people. Because of the Ascension, we have peace with God.

Ascension day should be celebrated with the same verve as the day we celebrate Easter.

Ascension day gives us confidence that all false ideologies and religions  will be crushed underneath the reign of the Ascended Christ.

Kiss the Ascended Son folks, lest he be angry and you perish in the way.

Kiss the Ascended Son Muslims, lest he be angry and you perish in the way.

Kiss the Ascended Son Postmodernists, lest he be angry and you perish in the way.

Kiss the Ascended Son Jewish folk, lest he be angry and you perish in the way.

Kiss the Ascended Son Buddhists, lest he be angry and you perish in the way.

Kiss the Ascended Son Hindus, lest he be angry and you perish in the way.

Kiss the Ascended Son Atheist Humanist, lest he be angry and you perish in the way.

The Ascended Son isn’t playing around. Kiss the Ascended Son.

 

 

Law — Gospel or, Gospel — Law — Gospel?

Text — Titus
Subject – Apostolic Methodology of relating law to Gospel in Titus
Theme – Analysis of the apostolic methodology of relating law to Gospel in Titus.
Proposition – . will hopefully cause us to understand how it is that the Law and Gospel come to us as believers.

Purpose — . Therefore having considered the Apostolic methodology of relating law to Gospel let us rejoice that the Holy Spirit is a teacher who gives us exactly what we need as we look to Jesus Christ for our all.

I sat down to write an introduction to this sermon and instead found a whole different sermon. So, this morning I want us to consider the methodological approach of the Apostle in this book to Titus.

This is not something that should put us off. If we believe that the very words of Scripture are inspired then it ought not to be difficult to believe the way the text is organized and pieced together is inspired as well.

As we consider this section in Titus 3 we are reminded again of the great emphasis we find in Titus on living out the Christian life (vs.8, cmp. Also 2:7, 2:14, 3:1). But we need to again remind ourselves of

1.) That the Apostle still clearly teaches that salvation, narrowly considered, is completely free (3:5)

2.) how the Apostle then provides the motive for works emphasis in an epistle where the Gospel is treated as completely free.

As we have said before, the motive for good works in Titus is not found in moralism considered as an end in itself (consider 2:10). Neither is the motive found in reminding them they are essentially good people – quite to the contrary the Apostle reminds them not of how noble they intrinsically are but rather he reminds them of how ignoble they once were (3:3).

The motive that the Apostle keeps returning to is what God has done in Christ for them (1:1-3, 2:11-14, 3:4-7). The motive he appeals to is one that we all Christians, but we especially who own the Heidelberg catechism should be familiar with – and that is the motive of gratitude.

Methodologically speaking, the Apostle writing to Titus and through him to the Christians in Crete and to us today uses a Kind of Gospel, Law, Gospel approach.

Note in Chapter 1:1-4 we begin immediately with the proclamation to Titus that Christ is Savior (4). That is Gospel. God has done it all by fulfilling His promises of eternal life (1:2).

From there he goes into instruction about what the Christian life should look like in both the leadership (1:5-16) and in the rank & file (2:1-9). That is Law. What God requires.

At that point, he gives them the Gospel again (2:11-15) as he returns to the foundation of why he can make the law appeal that he makes.

From there, in the passage we are considering this morning he returns to a law like appeal (3:1-3). Then immediately (3:4-7) he reminds them again of the Gospel of Grace that God has bestowed upon them that is to provide the motive for their anticipated affirmative response.

So throughout out this book, as believers are instructed through Titus the structural methodology that is used is to remind them of the Gospel in which they stand.

For example,

“Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Then as to methodology, there is an appeal to a certain behavior or lifestyle that should characterize the believers because of how the Gospel has changed them.

So, when dealing with believers we see the pattern, at least here in Titus of,

First, — What God gives – The Gospel

Clearly what God gives is entirely free (3:5). In Salvation, God does all the doing. The triune God receives no assists from us in salvation narrowly considered.

Secondly, — What God requires – increasing conformity to the law out of gratitude for all that God has given.

This methodology is not a great deal different then what we find in Exodus 20 where the Covenant God, dealing with His people, reminds them of Gospel (What God has done) .

“I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of Bondage.”

And from there God goes on to instruct them in what he looks for from His people as a consequence of His unmerited favor.

Thou Shalt Not ..

And here we must remember that as by God’s grace we obey and increasingly conform to Christ, according to Scripture, all of that is worked in us by God’ grace.

Continue to work out your salvation in fear and trembling for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

So . in trying to rightly weigh this structural methodology we would observe.

When the gospel is preached among God’s people, but the law is neglected, God’s people reject discipline, believing Holiness to be disconnected from forgiveness.

Conversely, when the law is preached among God’s people, but the gospel is neglected, God’s people swing to one of two extremes.

1.) Either they become confident in their own ability to please God and so become self-righteous,

2.) Or they despair of ever being reconciled to God and so become depressed.

God’s people thus need both Gospel & Law and Gospel, and Law & Gospel in order to go on with Christ.

Now, having said all that we must emphasize that is the way that God speaks to His people. I would submit to you this morning that God speaks in a different way to those who are not yet part of the covenant community.

Cmp. Romans 1:17 – 3:21

To those yet apart from the covenant community, he does not speak in terms of Gospel and Law and Gospel, but rather in terms of Law and Gospel.

The first word that comes to the unbelieving is what God requires. That is law, and the purpose of the law at this point is not so that the people hearing it would, out of their own ability, move to conform to God’s expectations, (because they can’t) but rather that the people who are hearing it would, out of the illumination of the Holy Spirit’s work, see how hopeless it is that they would ever meet God’s perfect standard and so flee to Jesus Christ who alone can give them the righteousness that is acceptable before God.

Paraphrasing one of the Puritans,

“The law is the needle that pulls through the scarlet thread of the Gospel.”

So, as speaking to God’s People we speak Gospel and Law and Gospel.

BUT

As speaking to those outside of the covenant community we speak Law and Gospel.

Now, where things get complicated is in understanding that in every covenant community there are wheat and tares and so the minister may decide to speak to His people at different times with different voices. Some sermons may be Law – Gospel, while other sermons might be Gospel – Law — Gospel.

Now, combine that with the reality that in all of God’s people there resides the tendency to both covenant keeping (putting on the new man) and covenant breaking (having to put off the old man). Even in the Christian there is this self-understanding that we are live in ways that are not pleasing to God (Romans 7), and so the necessity exists at times to even speak to God’s people in terms of Law & Gospel and not Gospel & Law and Gospel.

It is because we remain at the same time sinner at the same time saint that there is a need for the law to be spoken in our lives both in the structure of Law-Gospel and the structure of Gospel – law — Gospel.

The old man of sin that the believer continues to contend with has to be spoken of in terms of Law – Gospel. That is a law word of condemnation. It is the new man rooted in Christ that is spoken to in terms of Gospel – Law — Gospel. That is a word of guidance.

This is just to say that the believer, as he struggles against the Adam that yet remains in him needs to hear the law as usus pedagoicus, while the believer as he makes it his goal to please God needs to hear the law as a moral guide to life.

At those times when we speak in the voice of Law and Gospel, the law is being used (usus pedagogicus) in its tutorial work of convicting us again as sinner, exposing perhaps areas that are still in rebellion in our lives, and leading us again to the Gospel of Jesus Christ who alone can save us. This is a different use than when use the law as a guide to life (usus didacticus). When we use the law that way we are speaking in terms of Gospel and Law and Gospel, which is the way it strikes me that Paul is speaking here in Titus.

Now, we should add that all that we have said this morning is one area that makes Reformed people Reformed and not any number of other stripes.

Gerhardus Vos, a Dutch Theologian of note who lived early in the 20th century, could hint at all that we have teased out this morning by saying,

” The preaching of the law in relation to the concept of the covenant has a somewhat different significance for Reformed Theologians than for Lutherans. The latter scarcely allow a place to the law before the fall. Both before and after regeneration the law has only a negative character, serving to generate repentance and mortification of the old man of sin (That would be speaking in terms of Law Gospel as we have used it this morning). For the Reformed it also serves that purpose, BUT that is not all. Even those among the theologians who strictly separate law and gospel and make the latter to consist wholly of promises – as a matter of fact, those theologians more than others – put emphasis on the fact that the law, as the comprehensive norm for the life of man, also determines man’s relation to the gospel. (This would be speaking in terms of Gospel – Law as we have cited it this morning.) At this point we observe the intensely moral seriousness of the Reformed point of view. Nothing can occur in man’s life where God’s law does not immediately apply and is not impressed strongly on the conscience.”

The law holds an essentially different place for the Lutherans than for the Reformed. Theoretically both agree with the threefold use of the law. The difference lies in the fact that the Lutherans only relate the third use of the law to the remnants of the old nature of the believer, while the Reformed relate it to the new man, who finds in the law a positive rule of life.”

Geerhardus Vos
Redemptive History And Biblical Interpretation

And this observation is not just true of Lutherans but also of many others in evangelicalism.

Now, I would submit that all that we have looked at this morning is exceedingly important. It is important because it is clearly Biblical but it is also important because it seems within the Reformed community there are signs of cracks and breakup and part of the reason that this is so is because people want to insist that the methodological structure for preaching as it pertains to God’s people has to be either one of Law – Gospel  OR one of Gospel – Law – Gospel when in point of fact, as we have seen this morning, that it might very well be either structure at different times (while avoiding the tendency to want to mix these into one product called Glawspel) if only for the reason that we remain at the same time sinner and at the same time saint.

One thing that should be now concluded is that it is a hermeneutical error to believe that Law and Gospel are in absolute antithesis as the Luthern hermeneutic seems to suggest. Indeed at one point in the Westminster Confession of Faith we can read,

WCF 19.VII. Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the gospel, but do sweetly comply with itthe Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.

As sinners we need to continue to hear Law – Gospel. This is the good news for who we are as considered in the eschatological ‘not yet’ of this present evil age. This is good news for all of us in Christ who remain sinners and covenant breakers and continue to struggle as Paul did in Romans 7.

As saints we need to continue to hear Gospel – Law – Gospel. This is the good news for those who are considered as living in the NOW of the age to come. This is the good news for all of us who because of the Spirit of Christ’s work so earnestly desire to be covenant keepers and who continue to press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of Christ Jesus.

As we live in this semi-eschatological age we need both the paradigms of Law – Gospel and Gospel – Law — Gospel.

I would conclude this morning that anyone who says it has to be one or the other paradigms to the neglect of either is in danger of ministering to only half of who we are (either sinner or saint as opposed to at the same time sinner at the same time saint). This can only have the unhappy consequence of retarding our maturity in Christ.

Addendum — Implications beyond the personal and individual

 We have noted that Lutherans disregard the law in the capacity of sanctification by a methodology (Law/Gospel) which treats the Church only as unbelievers. This can also be true of  Baptist/Evangelical churches.

The Reformed methodology is the only one which does not treat believers as aliens to the covenant, and so the Reformed methodology is the only one which affirms our nativity and belonging to the covenant. This implies much in the social order/ people dimension.

This informs us that a people group covenanted to God are identified by God’s law. This means that non-Christian peoples in non-Christian social orders do not have the rights, privileges and immunities that belong to a people (nation) covenanted to God.  Those in the covenant have a very different relation to the law than do others. Which of course, means that even if all men are subject to the same law, as subjects, the application of that law is subjective. Not arbitrary, but determined relative to covenanted identity.

In terms of covenant nations, this view would necessarily result not in any universal ‘human rights’, but in ideas like “the rights of Englishmen.”
Constitutions,  among these kinds of people groups, delineate between peoples and affirm rights and privileges limited to people of specific identities because those people are in the covenant (and Covenant is not possible apart from law) with God as a people.

By contrast, we should imagine the Lutheran view of law which treats all men as being strangers to the covenant — because it only speaks to them as guilty of law-breakers — as producing only liberal socialist sort of social orders where the state is required to be God walking on the earth. If people cannot have the law delivered to them as Christians (usus didacticus) then the rights, privileges, and immunities of God’s law do not belong to them in any unique way vis-a-vis the way those law given rights, privileges, and immunities belong to any other people group.

Hat Tip — Ehud Would helped me think through the Implications section

 

Psalm 2 — The God Who Mocks

We mentioned briefly last week that some scholars believe that Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 were written to be read together. The reason for that is some of the similarities between the two in terms of how God deals with the righteous as contrasted with how God deals with the wicked.

TIES TO PSALM 1
Psalm 1 — The Righteous vs. the Wicked

Psalm 2 — The Wicked world vs. the Righteous Son

 

Psalm 1  – Begins with “How blessed” (v. 1) – True happiness is not being settled in sin.

Psalm 2 Ends with “How blessed” (v. 12) – True happiness is trusting God’s Son.

Psalm 1 — call to “meditate” (v. 2) – true meditation on God’s law
Psalm 2 — “devising” (v. 1) – anti-meditation on exalting self and dethroning God …

Psalm 1 — Righteous meditate on God’s Law both day and night (vs. 2)
Psalm 2 —  The Wicked’s attitude to God’s Law is to break those bonds asunder, and cast away those cords from us

Psalm 1 — Scoffers (v. 1) – The wicked mock God.
Psalm 2 Scoffs (v. 4) – God mocks the wicked.


Psalm 1 — Righteous one is planted by streams of water
Psalm 2 — Righteous One is installed on Mt. Zion, God’s holy mountain

Psalm 1 – “the way of the wicked will perish” (6) – final end of the wicked
Psalm 2 “perish in the way” (v. 12) – final end of the Nation’s wicked leaders who oppose God

Psalm 1 — Wicked blown away like chaff
Psalm 2 — Wicked broken into pieces like pottery

Psalm 1 — True faith expressed in delightful meditation on God’s word
Psalm 2 — True faith expressed in reverent adoration of God’s Son, the living Word

So Psalm 1 -2 give us a strong contrast to the ways of the righteous vis-a-vis the way of the wicked. This is a theme of the righteous vs. the wicked is a theme that is repeated throughout the Psalms and one reason we should be much in the Psalms since the theme of God establishing His people while at the same time unseating the wicked is a comfort to God’s people.

Last week we look at the first strophe of this Psalm and noted the desire of fallen men to cast off God, His Christ, and God’s law. That fallen man remains committed to this program is seen by just a couple quotes,

“We make war against all prevailing ideas of religion, of the state, of country, of patriotism. The idea of God is the keynote of a perverted civilization. It must be destroyed.”

Karl Marx

“Come, Satan, slandered by the small and by kings. God is stupidity and cowardice; God is hypocrisy and falsehood; God is tyranny and poverty; God is evil. Where humanity bows before an altar, humanity, the slaves of kings and priests, will be condemned … I swear, God, with my hand stretched out towards the heavens, that you are nothing more than an executioner of my reason, the scepter of my conscience … God is essentially anticivilized, antiliberal, antihuman.”

Joseph Proudhon

And so as we looked at closely last week the peoples’ rage and imagining of a vain thing. We tried to establish the point that when in vs. 3 the Revolution expresses itself by a resolve to cast God’s cords away and break asunder their bonds that this an expression of a desire to be done with God’s law and His providence. We tried to connect the dots that as courts and legislators seek to overthrow God’s explicit law that these are modern day examples of attempts to break bonds and cast away cords.

This was the first point. “A People’s Rebellion Observed.” This week we move on to consider the second strophe of this Psalm in vs. 4-6 and note “God’s Ridicule Levelled.”

PSALM 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure: “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.”

II.) God’s Ridicule Levelled

A.) There is ridicule found in God’s position vis-a-vis the wicked’s raging

Vs. 4-6 moves us from the machinations on earth where we find rage and conspiring by the wicked rulers of the Nations. In first 4 we are transported as it were to God’s heavenly court room and in the face of all this rioting rage to overthrow God and His Messiah and their law we find God remaining seated.

Elsewhere in the Psalms it is said “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered.”

God is not threatened in the least. Per the Psalmist in Psalm 115,

” But our God is in the heavensHe does whatever He pleases.”

There is calm in the face of rebellion. There is nothing for God to be harried about. He does not call a council to map out strategy. No sweat lies upon His brow communicating concern. God merely sits. Sitting on the throne, of course, communicates security and control. The nations rage and God ridicules them by remaining seated.

We would do well to remember this when we see the fomenting of the wicked around us. We see antifa seeking to break asunder God’s bonds. We see Social Justice Warriors seeking to cast away God’s cords. We see a tide rolling in resolved to take a stand against the Lord and His anointed. We even see the Church and clergy marching in the streets supporting a Worldview that is hostile to Biblical Christianity… or maybe we are facing the hostility of friends and family for our Christian stand.

If we find ourselves understandably in turmoil we would do well to find calm in God’s ridicule of all this inasmuch as He remains seated. God is our God for the sake of Christ and He is not threatened in the least by those who threaten either Him or His people.

Luther adds here,

“This is to show that there is not a doubt to be entertained that all these things shall come to pass. And the gracious spirit does it for our comfort and consolation, that we may not faint under temptation but lift up our heads with the most certain hope.”

B.) There is ridicule found in God’s response

Orig: a primitive root; to laugh (in pleasure or detraction); by implication, to play:–deride, have in derision, laugh, make merry, mock(-er), play, rejoice, (laugh to) scorn, be in (make) sport.

Laughter … derision … mocking … scoffing

Psalm 37:13
The Lord laughs at him, For He sees his day is coming.
 
Psalm 59:8
But You, O LORD, laugh at them; You scoff at all the nations.
 
Proverbs 1:26 (Wisdom speaking)

I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes,

By repeating the same idea twice we have a tautology in this verse. Nothing is added in the second statement that isn’t already there in the first statement.

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. 

In Hebrew usage, it is to emphasize the truth of a matter. It is not a great deal different from our Lord saying “Verily, Verily.” By the repetition, there is an emphasis of the certainty of the thing.

J. A. Alexander offers here that this derision/mockery is “the strongest possible expression of contempt.”

This should alter our understanding of God’s character. This contempt of God for the wicked fits into the motif of “God is always angular and will never be made smooth.” God laughs, mocks and scoffs at the wicked.

This is what God delights in doing. Many might see cruelty in such behavior but I see the love of God for His own name and glory. What better response could there be to those who would roll God off His throne and place themselves in His place?

It is simply the case, citing Alexander again, “to God Himself there is something in sin that is not only odious but absurd, something which cannot possibly escape the contempt of higher much less the highest intelligence.”

We see God laughing at the wicked throughout Scripture,

1.) Pharoah decides to kill the Hebrew male issue and God laughs by placing the destroyer of Egypt at Pharoah’s table.


2.) The Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant and decide to place it in service of Dagon’s temple, only to find first Dagon lying prostrate before the Ark and then subsequent to another effort decapitated and without hands.

3.) The enemies of God kill Christ and God laughs in the Resurrection, Ascension, and judgment coming of Christ in AD 70.God is full of this kind of merriment. The wicked keep Him pealing in laughter. Some would bring a complaint against God’s compassion here insisting that this laughter isn’t very compassionate.

When we consider the issue of compassion and mockery we must keep in mind that compassion is seldom a zero sum game. That is to say that often it is the case that if God were to show compassion to one party He would thereby be showing callousness towards another party.

Compassion thus cannot be considered in a vacuum. Compassion towards a murderer is callousness towards the victim’s family. Compassion for one who is effectively advocating homosexuality as just another life-style is callousness towards those who are being charmed by that argument. Compassion towards egalitarians and feminists who are quite self-conscious about what they are attempting is callousness towards every daughter and every wife who will be hardened and hurt by the culture that the advocates are seeking to build. Just as it is callousness towards every son and every father who will be emasculated and emptied by that same culture. The loathing that is revealed by any mockery reveals a corresponding compassion and love for the opposite of that which is being mocked and lampooned.

 So we would ask,

How is it compassionate to the righteous for God to not mock the wicked? How is it compassionate to God Himself to not break out in laughter against the contrivances of the wicked? Would we really suggest this mocking of God mean or full of animosity?


Note, there is no begging of God here for the wicked to come to His Messiah and surrender their hearts. There is no “softly and tenderly Jesus is calling” here. There is only straight up derision for those who would take a stand against the Lord and His anointed.

Pop Christianity doesn’t like that kind of God. But here we find Him described as such

We should keep in mind here the words of Alexander Maclaren here when we consider the terror in the idea of God mocking His enemies,

“To draw rebels to loyalty which is life is the meaning of all appeals to terror.”

And we would add, though if the rebel refuses life terror will indeed be his lot.

C.) There is ridicule found in God’s Words,

 Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure: “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.”

 

 

Conclusion

“What a great measure of faith is necessary in order to truly believe this word: For who could have imagined that God laughed as Christ was suffering and the Jews exalting? So, too, when we are opposed, how often do we still believe that those who oppose us are being derided by God, especially since it seems as if we were being oppressed and trodden under foot both by God and men?

… We should … fortify our hearts and look forward toward the invisible things and into the depths of the Word … I also shall laugh with my God.”

Martin Luther
Commenting on Psalm 2

Application

1.) We can continue to look forward to this day and pray for its hastening.

This day has not yet arrived. The wicked still plot and scheme. We can pray for their defeat.

2.) We can join in God’s laughter and I would say in God’s mocking. That is another sermon in itself but here I will just note that from Elijah’s mocking God’s enemies on Mt. Carmel, to Amos’ mocking of God’s enemies in his book, to Paul mocking his enemies in the book of Galatians we find the saints of God mocking God’s enemies.

3.) We can praise God that by the work of Christ He has made us who were once His enemies, to be His friends and so no longer an object of His mocking.

4.) We can ask God that He might be so kind as to make His enemies His friends by sending the Spirit to convert.

5.) We can continue to advance the necessity of all men everywhere to repent before the day of the Lord arrives.

6.) We can support with our monies and efforts those organizations that are committed to overthrowing the wicked.

 

 

Psalm 2:1-3

I. The Nation’s Rebellion Observed (2:1-3)
 
A. The Psalmist Sees The Nations Rising Up for Revolution (1)

1.) Note the presupposition of the Psalmist

The presupposition of the Psalmist is that it is unnatural for the nations to rage, plot, and conspire against the Lord. The operating assumed premise throughout is that the nations ought to know better. They ought not to take up against the Lord and His anointed. The fact that they have seems to strike the psalmist as a great oddity. Do you hear it in his voice?

Why do the nations rage?

It’s almost as if he is asking, ‘why whatever has gotten into them. Don’t they know better?’ His presupposition is that what is going on here is something that is altogether contrary to nature. What is true of the nations was true of Israel at one time,

“The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”


2. Why do the nations rage?

b.) Note NationS

We’ve spoken many times on the idea of ‘nations’ in Scripture so we won’t take a great deal of time here. Suffice it to say, once again, that throughout the Scripture, it is the nations as nations God deals with.

Dutch American Theologian Geerhardus Vos offered this insight as it relates to God’s dealing with Nations,

“God’s decree is not exclusively concerned with individuals but also comprises nations and establishes the bond between generations. The destiny of a nation is weighed by Him, as is the destiny of a person. There is not the slightest interest, indeed is completely impossible on Reformed grounds, to deny national election or whatever it may be called.”

Geerhardus Vos 
Dogmatic Theology Vol 1. — pg. 111

This reality that God deals with nations clearly prohibits the New World Order agenda of erasing the Nations and turning the world into a vast melting pot. If God elects nations then nations are God’s means whereby he elects persons from those nations. To advocate positions that would destroy nations is to resist God.

As it was the Nations that mocked God and His anointed in Psalm 2 so it was the Nations that Christ commissioned His disciples to gather in Matthew 28 and so it is those Nations which come into the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:24). Everywhere in the Bible, it is nations as nations that are dealt with.

We mention this again only to note that the modern impulse to erase all distinctions from national distinctions to racial distinctions to gender distinctions is an anti-Christ agenda.

c.) disposition of nations

Rage … conspire,
so angry
in an uproar
Rebel

The Hebrew word here is ragash (raw-gash) and means

1. (Qal) to be in a tumult or commotion
2. (TWOT) to conspire, plot

Here what seems to be communicated is that the nations have as their rallying p0int a rage against God that is channeled into a joint effort to conspire and plot Revolution against God and His authority. The way the Psalmist speaks you almost get the sense of a mob scene as the nations are gathered for the purpose of dethroning God and His anointed.

Of course, this has been the motif of fallen man since the fall. He will not have God rule over him. For God’s order fallen man would replace a utopian order. So man rages, plots and conspires against God and His anointed.

We should note here that from this Scripture we can assert that conspiracy theory is true. Fallen man conspires and plots. And we see that testified to throughout Scripture.

I Kings 21 … the conspiracy of Ahab against Naboth
II Samuel 11 … The conspiracy of David against Uriah
Acts 23 …  Paul’s nephew uncovered a plot to assassinate Paul, and his knowledge foiled the attempt
John 11:47-49 … Conspiracy to kill Jesus
Matthew 28 … Conspiracy to lie about what happened to the body of Jesus

And fallen man continues to conspire against God.

Much that we see around us is the consequent of men conspiring against God seeking to implement their order over God’s order? You really don’t think, for example, that Sodomite marriage, or gender blenders, or the flourishing of transhumanism, or the Robots for intimacy craze have at its roots the reality that men are conspiring against God and His anointed?

Conspiracy is one mark of fallen man and the Christian who refuses to entertain conspiracy theory as revisionist explanation for any number of historical events is not wise.

Alexander MacLaren rightly said here,

“the conspiracy of banded rebels… set before us with extraordinary force … all classes and orders are united in revolt, and hurry and eagerness mark their action and throb in their words.”

2. Why do the peoples (Rulers) plot a vain thing?

a.) There is a little humor about this Scripture. Here you have all these rum rulers running around plotting and conniving against God and His anointed and their rule. And all the while they are meeting in secret to cast off God’s rule, God is omniscient. No wonder God holds them in derision and laughs.

That vain thing they plot is the dethroning of God and the enthroning of themselves.

Many have envisioned the soon success of this plotting.

Voltaire offered,

“Before the beginning of the 19th century, Christianity will have disappeared from the earth.”

Some years later, in the same space where Voltaire uttered this prophecy, a depository of Bibles existed.

“Change is always one generation away. So if we can plant the seeds of doubt in our children, religion will go away in a generation, or at least largely go away. And that’s what I think we have an obligation to do.”

Lawerence Krauss

 Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock and roll or Christianity.

John Lennon

So the plotting and predictions continue and will continue until the already present p0stmillennial kingdom expands to the point of exposing the fools who plotted in vain.

And this plotting happens in every field.

a.) In the area of Law men like Christopher Columbus Langdell, Roscoe Pound, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Benjamin Cardozo moved the discipline of law away from its Biblical moorings evinced in Puritan Commonwealth documents like “Abstract of the Laws of New England,” towards standards that evinced a humanistic, evolutionary, naturalistic and Statist paradigm. In the late 1800’s Langdell did yeoman’s work moving law training away from a century of Lawyers in America concentrating on what the Constitution said to Darwinian inspired notions of where the law was perceived to be moving (case law training). By Langdell’s work, the Constitution came to be seen to be evolving under the guidance of an imperial judiciary. Legal positivism, being rooted in an evolutionary basis thus was part of the vain plot to overthrow God.

b.) In sociology, the Father of Sociology plotted in vain against God.

August Comte spent his life seeking to abolish Christian worship and the Christian religion and when he was finished he established a new religion and proposed a hierarchy with himself at the top of the food chain and the soul of his deceased mistress as a sort of Queen of Heaven, and not being satisfied with that he created a liturgical humanist calendar by which to mark days and seasons.

c.) In politics

you have a variety of plotting. Ultimately all versions of Marxism, whether Fabianism, Syndicalism, Fascism, National Socialism, Communism, Trotskyism, Cultural Marxism, etc. are all just so many political plottings against the Lord and His anointed. They are ways by which the plotters seek to overthrow God and His order in favor of their utopian order where the State is God.

Having said that, there is good news here also that points to the rest of the Psalm.  All this plotting is in vain. All this energy … all the time spent … all the anxious energy is in vain. The Christ hater spends his life in vain because consciously or unconsciously he has spent his life plotting in vain against the Lord and His anointed.

Well,  this takes us from vs. 1 to vs 2-3 where the Psalmist is a little more detailed in his ponderings.

B. The Psalmist’s details the plotting as (2-3)

1. Against the Lord and His Anointed…

a. The kings of the earth set themselves

b. The rulers take counsel together

First note that this text is taken from a time when the King of the Hebrew people was seen as God’s regent over the earth. So closely was the King identified with the Lord that opposition to the King was opposed to God.

Now, we know that the anointed mentioned here as a higher and fuller meaning than just the King of Israel at this time. We know this because this Psalm is quoted in Acts 4:25-26 and applied directly to Christ. Jesus Christ is the greater King than any of Israel’s Old covenant Kings. He is the one whom the nations and rulers rage and plot against.

He is called the anointed

Because he has been ordained by God the Father,
and anointed with the Holy Spirit, 1
to be
our chief Prophet and Teacher, 2
who has fully revealed to us
the secret counsel and will of God
concerning our redemption; 3
our only High Priest, 4
who by the one sacrifice of his body
has redeemed us, 5
and who continually intercedes for us
before the Father; 6
and our eternal King, 7
who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
and who defends and preserves us
in the redemption obtained for us.

But the focus of this passage is of Jesus Christ as the great King to whom the loyalty of all other Kings must be given.

A great deal of time and energy has been spent on Christ anointed as our high priest and that rightly so. But Jesus Christ is also our great King and as King His command must be adhered to.

Presbyterian A. A. Hodge understood a Kingship of Christ that has been lost in much of the Reformed Church today,

“A Christian has no right to separate his life into two realms… to say the Bible is good for Sunday, but this is a week-day question, or the Scriptures are right in matters of religion, but this is a matter of business or politics. God reigns over all, everywhere. His will is the supreme law. His inspired Word, loyally read will inform us of His will in every relation and act of life, secular as well as religious; and the man is a traitor who refuses to walk therein with scrupulous care. The Kingdom of God includes all sides of human life, and it is a Kingdom of absolute righteousness. You are either a loyal subject, or a traitor. When the King comes, how will He find you doing?”

A.A. Hodge

Indeed, if a candidate for the ministry took Hodge’s words into his ordination service I wonder how many Presbyteries around the country might refuse to ordain him for that conviction?

But, Presbyteries notwithstanding Christ is anointed King and He rules all things as the Lord’s appointed man.

2. Against the Lord and His Anointed they say…

a. “Let us break Their bonds in pieces”
b. “(Let us) cast away Their cords from us”

What else can these bonds and cords be except God’s law?

The Hebrew word for “break” here carries the idea of snapping a chain apart. Here it would have to do with the intent of snapping the chain of God’s purpose or plan as expressed in God’s Law.

H. Rondel Rumburg offers in his work in this Psalm,


“There is no respect for the Anointed King whose truth challenges their desires. They evidence this by rejecting His role for men, by rejecting His role for women, by rejecting His role for nations, by rejection His role for families, by rejecting His role for the unborn, by rejecting His role for the Church, by rejecting His role for justice, by rejecting His role for the ministry, by rejecting His role for the Lord’s Day.”

How bizarre is this mindset? The one who provides breath and life is revolted against in favor of death. The only one who can provide meaning is tossed in favor of irrationality.

This is the culture we live in and these are the times we have been given. We live in a culture enraged against God and His anointed. But we are not to despair. We are to recognize they are involved in vanity. They can no more successfully pull down God than you can pull yourself up while standing in a bucket.

Conclusion

Here is the conclusion of the matter. The more these people are successful in their plotting the more they will fail.

“Just as all truth rests upon the truth that is from God, so the common foundation of all rights and duties lies in the sovereignty of God. When that sovereignty is denied or (what amounts to the same thing) banished to heaven because His kingdom is not of this world, what becomes then of the fountain of authority, of law, of every sacred and dutiful relation in state, society and family? What sanction remains for the distinctions of rank and station in life? What reason can there be that I obey another’s commands, that the one is needy, the other rich? All this is custom, routine, abuse, injustice, oppression. Eliminate God, and it can no longer be denied that all men are, in the revolutionary sense of the words, free and equal. State and society disintegrate, for there is a principle of dissolution at work that does not cease to operate until all further division is frustrated by that indivisible unit, that isolated human being, the individual—a term of the Revolution – naively expressive of its all-destructive character.”

– Guillaume Groen Van Prinsterer
Mentor of Abraham Kuyper

II Peter 1:21 …. Men Moved By The Holy Spirit — Infallibility

Peter, as we saw last week, is seeking to provide credibility to what he has been saying. Last week we saw that Peter appealed to his own,

I.) First-hand testimony to sustain the credibility of his message

We demonstrated last week how this kind of appeal is not unique to Peter. We find St. John doing so. We find St. Paul doing so.

“The narration of the facts is history; the narration of the facts with the meaning of the facts is doctrine. “Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried”–that is history. “He loved me and gave Himself for me”–that is doctrine. Such was the Christianity of the primitive Church.”

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism

Christianity cannot survive as Christianity if the empirical historical facts that are bound up with Christianity are found to be not true.  If Peter was lying about the History of the Transfiguration then the Transfiguration cannot be mysticized and so rescued. If St. John was lying about the History of the Resurrection the Resurrection cannot be rescued as having any meaning by somehow transcendentalizing it so that it is religiously true but not historically true.

People, seeking to avoid the hard work of studying Christian Doctrine and Christian History might appeal to the idea that it is the Christian life that is what is really important but if these historical facts are not true then any idea of a “Christian life” is just so much wish-mongering, personal preference, and poppycock.

All of this is why Peter insisted that “We had not followed cleverly invented tales.”

II.) Appeal to Scripture to Sustain Credibility

“The Prophetic word confirmed.”

You see what Peter is saying here is that their experience confirmed that which they had owned as “prophetic.”

What we labored at last week in demonstrating on this point is that their understanding of the Prophetic Word was the lens through which they understood and interpreted their eyewitness experience.

Imagine if Peter had been on the Mount of Transfiguration and had not been conditioned by Scripture as to what could and could not be possible. Peter believed in a coming Messiah. Peter believed that this Messiah would be extraordinary in every capacity and so Peter’s Scripturally informed Worldview allowed Peter to see that Transfiguration as being what it was — the inbreaking of the age to come on this present evil age.

But people who do not interpret their experienced reality through the prism of Scripture can’t see reality for what it is even if they eyewitness it.

I appeal to Luke 16. You know this account,

27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

You see what is going on here? Abraham is saying that even if they were eyewitnesses of someone rising from the dead they would not be eyewitnesses of someone rising from the dead because they have not listened to Moses and the prophets. Their capacity to be eyewitnesses of the supernatural unto believing it was anchored in what they first believed about the verity of Scripture.

1.) Experience is pre-interpreted through a grid that informs what is and is not possible. A warning from the dead would not matter to those who disbelieve an even more credible witness (Moses and the prophets) to begin with.

2.) In order for experience to be valid as a source of credible information that experience must be reckoned through the prism of Scripture. It is not only the case that Scripture must interpret Scripture but it is also the case that Scripture must interpret experience. That the Brothers of Dives would not believe the testimony of the Moses and the Prophets means that they would even interpret wrongly the testimony of the Dead come back to life to warn.

3.) Scripture then is our epistemological foundation. Not experience. Not reason. Not tradition. Not mystic revelations. Only Scripture can give us the capacity to know the times and what should be done.

In his letter Peter anchors his credibility in his eyewitness account and then he anchors the credibility of his eyewitness account in the “prophetic word confirmed.”

The prophetic word confirmed.  God has given us epistemological tools. History, reason, tradition, experience, but each of those tools is only as good as the foundation upon which they are anchored. The prophetic word confirmed is what inform all our other epistemological tools.

So, that was by way of review of last week. In the few minutes we have left we want to take up one more point here and that is how Peter,

III.) Appeals to God to Sustain Credibility of Scripture

19 [k]So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

So, Peter starts out with his eye-witness account. He then places that eye-witness account on the foundation of the “prophetic word confirmed.” Lastly, Peter places that “prophetic word confirmed” on the foundation of God’s sovereign working.

Peter spoke about the prophetic word confirmed and now he speaks to the origin of that prophet word.

Negatively — never made by an act of the human will
Positively — Men move by the Holy Spirit spoke from God

This is intended to provide a stark antithetical contrast that doesn’t demonstrate itself as well in the English.

Prophecy was not brought in by men;
but men were brought to utter it by the Spirit.

Remember, Peter is dealing with people who are being inundated with false teachers. He is trying to shepherd and protect them. He is providing an apologetic for his truthfulness… that he can be trusted.  He has appealed to his own eye-witness experience. He has based that appeal on an appeal to the “prophetic word confirmed,” and now Peter is saying “and that prophetic word it trustworthy because it comes from God.”

The words and idea of men being moved by the Holy Spirit is a picture of the wind carrying a sailboat along.  The men speak but the Spirit impelled.

Of course, this is one passage we look to for our doctrine of Inspiration. It teaches that the Scriptures, like the Incarnation, have a human and divine nature. Indeed, we might say that the Scriptures are 100% Divine and 100% human.  While we do not hold that God used men as human dictation machines we would say that God so ordained the ordering of these men’s lives, their personality, their character, their experiences, their socio-linguistic background that they were the perfect instruments to bring what they were to what God had to say.

You must understand that when people inveigh against the mechanical dictation theory of inspiration (MDTI) the problem is not that they are suggesting that God had to much control of the human author. No, the problem with the accusation of “the mechanical dictation theory of inspiration” is that it doesn’t credit God with enough sovereignty.

Those who rail against the MDTI act as if God, in inspiration, suddenly descended upon the author, who heretofore had been completely unaffected by the sovereign working of God. And yet, any Christian theory of inspiration insists on something more then MDTI. The Christian theory of inspiration says that God controlled all the events, all the learning, all the experiences, of the inspired author’s life to bring him to the point that he would say just exactly what God intended Him to say as ordained from eternity past.

No … the MDTI will never do because it doesn’t emphasize enough God’s sovereignty in the whole Inspiration process.

Now we would say here that as it is clear from the passage that God is ultimately responsible for Scripture, therefore we do no believe that it is possible for Scripture to be errant or fallible. I hope we can see the contradiction between believing in a God that cannot fail while holding that the Scripture which was “God-breathed,” is fallible.  If it is the case that God breathed out the Scripture (II Tim. 3:16) then it would be an impugning of God’s character to suggest that there are errors in God’s Word.

Now let’s take a brief moment to talk about this idea of infallibility. Many are the men both within and without the Church who mock Biblical Christians for believing that God’s word is infallible and in doing so they suggest that they themselves are more enlightened inasmuch as they don’t believe in infallibility.

But allow me to suggest that when men give up on the infallibility of Scripture they always relocate that same infallibility someplace else. They may deny infallibility as belonging to Scripture but they affirm, knowingly or not, infallibility in some other knowledge source. In short, infallibility is a concept that cannot be escaped.

Many Evolutionists act as if their evolutionary theories are infallible. And of course, if God is ruled out, a-priori, then where are we to find truth except in infallible evolution? The infallibility of God’s Word traded in for blind time plus chance plus circumstance infallibility.

In the political realm, we have the phrase,  “vox populi, vox dei.” The voice of the people is the voice of God.” Telling phrase that. In Democracy the people taken as God now speak infallibly in their majority voice. The voice of the people as the voice of God gives us an infallible truth and if we don’t like a new infallible truth we can soon enough replace it with a different one.

In the philosophy of existentialism it is the meaningful experience the individual has wherein infallibility is discovered.

For the Nihlist it is the sovereign ubermensch self who is infallible.

The Roman Catholic Church posits infallibility in the Pope as he speaks from the chair.

Infallibility is an inescapable concept because people have to have someplace certain and authoritative to stand upon. If they will not stand on the Scripture as certain and authoritative — infallible — then they will find something else that is infallible to try and stand upon.

It might be Rousseau’s theory of the “General Will”
It might be his idea of “the Noble Savage.”

— That the man who is uncorrupted by the trappings of civilization is the one who is to be most listened to and who will have the most inherent wisdom.

For Hegel it was the State which was the incarnation of the Universal Spirit and so infallible

“Every creed, every philosophy has either openly or implicitly a doctrine of infallibility. Because man has to live by an authority of certainty. He has to have something as his ultimate standing ground. A man cannot stand on nothingness, on thin air. I am standing on a platform here…it is this platform that supports me as I speak to you. And intellectually the platform that supports me and gives me the foundation for my speaking is the infallible word. Now every man has a platform on which he stands. And he must believe, he cannot escape believing, it is an inescapable requirement of human thought, that he affirm that platform without qualification, whatever it may be. That he hold to its infallibility, its certainty, its authority. And so there are a variety of infallibility concepts current among us.”

RJR

And so back to Peter. Peter says but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

And we believe therefore that Peter’s testimony and all of Scripture is infallible.