Biblical Sexuality Sunday 2023
A call to faithfully preach God’s good design for marriage and sexuality
A Brave, New, 1984 World
On December 8th, 2021, the Canadian Government gave Royal Assent to Bill C-4, “And Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy).” One months later, on January 8th, 2022, the Bill became law in Canada. The Bill defines “conversion therapy” as: a practice, treatment or service designed to
- (a) change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual;
- (b) change a person’s gender identity to cisgender;
- (c) change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth;
- (d) repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour;
- (e) repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or
- (f) repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.
The Preamble of the bill states that the belief that, “heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions” is based on “myths and stereotypes.” This means that the historic, Biblical belief that God has created humans as male and female, existing in a sexual binary, and that the only good and right sexual expression is to be heterosexual and monogamous marriage, is now categorized as myth and stereotype in Canadian law.
What are the legal consequences of breaking this law? “Everyone who knowingly causes another person to undergo conversion therapy — including by providing conversion therapy to that other person — is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years… Everyone who knowingly promotes or advertises conversion therapy is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years.”
The Church’s Response
Several pastors in Canada, working together with Liberty Coalition Canada, determined that the best way to respond to this godless and harmful legislation was through the ministry of preaching and teaching. On the following Sunday after Bill C-4 became law, January 16th, pastors across Canada preached on God’s good design for marriage and sexuality, and were in essence breaking the law. These faithful men had settled in their hearts that after over one year of COVID tyranny, it was time to break Canadian law publicly and intentionally, and tell Caesar that Christ alone is Lord over the church, and that He alone defines marriage, sexuality, and creational norms.
We were joined by many pastors in the United States as well, in unity and solidarity with their Canadian brothers in Christ. This included Pastor Tom Ascol, Pastor Josh Boice, Pastor Tom Buck, Pastor John MacArthur, Pastor James White, Pastor Doug Wilson, and many others. The reality is that the “beastly” State in Canada more-than-rearing its ugly head in the United States and other parts of the world.
Part of our commitment included preaching on Biblical sexuality every year on the anniversary of Bill C-4 becoming law, partly in open protest of an evil law, and partly in the hopes that God mercifully leads men to repeal this harmful legislation. Our desire is to see pastors commit to joining this initiative each year on the anniversary of the passing of Bill C-4, making it a part of their annual preaching schedule.
A Call to Action
That brings us to January 15th, 2023, which is the date for our next Biblical Sexuality Sunday. The theme of this year is centered around Matthew 19:4, that God has created humans as male and female from the very beginning. Pastors in Canada are already committed to joining this and every year, and we are ready to proclaim the authority of Christ and His Word, and the power of God to transform lives. By God’s grace, there are men in Germany, England, and France who will be joining the campaign this year.
One might ask, “Why should I join in this initiative? What is the point?” I want to share a brief story with you. A pastor in British Columbia (West-coast Canada) preached on Biblical sexuality on January 16th 2022. In his church, unbeknownst to him, was a young girl who had been undergoing hormone treatments and various surgeries in an effort to live as a man, which she believed herself to be. Upon hearing the sermon, she was convicted and broken, wept with her parents, repented of her lifestyle, and turned to obedience in Christ. The Lord restored her and her family, and we marvel at the grace of God. You can see an interview we did with the pastor and the family here. We believe God can and will do similar works this year.
If you are a pastor/elder in your church, please consider joining us this year on January 15th, 2023 for Biblical Sexuality Sunday. If you attend a church and would like to encourage your pastor to join, I would encourage you to do so. In any event, please consider sharing this initiative with as may people as you can, including sharing the interview with the BC pastor and the family from his church. You can find more about the initiative at libertycoalitioncanada.com/biblical-sexuality-sunday. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. By God’s grace, we hope to see more lives transformed by the Word of God, we hope to see more faithful brothers preach the truth of God’s design for marriage and sexuality, and we hope to see our nation repent of this great evil and repeal this godless law.
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By Eric Smith — 1 year ago
31:2. At the last day, such of the saints as are found alive, shall not sleep, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the selfsame bodies, and none other; although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.
(1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Job 19:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 15:42, 43)
31:3. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honour, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.
(Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29; Philippians 3:21)
Second London Confession, 31:2–3
It was a cold, gray February afternoon when we buried my grandfather. The ground was still muddy from the snow that had melted earlier in the week. Every tree was bare. The small crowd under the tent shivered against the cold as the national guard officers folded the American flag they would present to my grandmother. But into the sorrow, the gathering of family members and friends read the Apostle’s Creed from the tiny bulletins issued to them by the Methodist minister: “…I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, Amen.” I was struck by the power of that ancient Christian confession against that bleak backdrop. It was also struck by how few funerals I attend ever even mention the hope of bodily resurrection.
In most funerals I attend, and in most popular discussions about death I observe, the focus of the Christian hope falls almost exclusively on what theologians call “the intermediate state:” the promise that upon death, the believer’s spirit leaves the body behind to dwell in the presence of Jesus in heaven. On the one hand, this emphasis is perfectly reasonable, since it is the immediate hope of all the saints who die before the Lord’s return. We are right to celebrate Jesus’ assurance that, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) We rejoice that “the spirits of the righteous” are now “made perfect” in the heavenly assembly (Heb 12:23) . We find unspeakable comfort in the truth that to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord, that for the believers, to die is gain, and that it really is better by far to depart and to be with Christ (2 Cor 5:6; Phil 1:21, 23).
But while our immortal spirit’s reception into heaven is the believer’s immediate hope, the Bible teaches that it is not our ultimate hope. As wonderful as the intermediate state will be, it is, well, intermediate. An even great future awaits the people of Jesus! A hope even richer, more thrilling, more satisfying. It takes the whole story of the Bible to understand this audacious Christian confession: I believe in the resurrection of the body.
“To the dust you shall return”
The Bible’s first two chapters map out God’s design for human life: embodied human beings made in his image, living forever in fellowship with him in a perfect, physical creation. This, God says, is “very good.” (Gen 1:31). But by Genesis 3, the rebellion of those image-bearers has destroyed God’s beautiful design. Sin’s consequences are not only spiritual and moral, but physical: the once-submissive creation now rebels against its former caretakers, and bodily life is now marked by pain, sickness, weariness, and, ultimately, death. The man formed from the dust, made to live forever in face-to-face fellowship with God, must now return to the dust (Gen 3:19). The relentless recitation of the deaths proceeding from Adam in Genesis 5 bears grim witness to the awful wages of sin, and to the unyielding truthfulness of God’s Word: “in the the day that you eat of it, you will surely die (Gen 2:17; Rom 6:23).”
These opening acts in the biblical drama remind us that there is nothing “natural” about death. Death instead is an “enemy” (1 Cor 15:26), a sinister intruder on God’s good design for human life. The Genesis patriarchs wept over the bodies of their dead loved ones for good reason (Gen 23:2), and so do we. All human beings—whether they affirm the Bible’s account of reality or not—instinctively know that death is not the way it was meant to be. I can see it in the “gone but not forgotten” memorial decals on the pickup trucks in my hometown. You can sense it in the feverish attempts to stave off the aging process in fitness centers and cosmetic products. I can hear it in the quavering voice of the old bluegrass singer Ralph Stanley, pleading: “O death, won’t you spare me over til another year, won’t you spare me over til another year…”
The apostle Paul tells us that these are all so many manifestations of creation’s “groaning” under the unnatural curse of death; we long to be “set free from [our] bondage to corruption (Rom 8:21).” But will anyone hear these groans? Can anyone deliver us from death?
“…those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”
Yes! Standing in the ruins of Eden, God not only pronounces judgment, but promises salvation: “I will put enmity between you and the woman,” God tells the Serpent, “and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:15). God did not disclose the details of his plan, but he made it clear that he would one day restore the beautiful kingdom our sin had destroyed, and deal with the awful curse of death itself.
For the rest of the Old Testament, God’s people cling to the persistent, if shadowy, hope that Yahweh would overcome death for them. One catches the patriarchs’ hope beyond the grave in their insistence on securing burial plots in the land of promise (Heb 11:22). We hear it also in Job’s confession that, “after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another…” (Job 19:26–27)
The prophet Isaiah foresaw a day when the Lord would spread a feast for his people on Mount Zion, and “will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken (Isa 25:6–8).” Near the end of the Old Testament, Daniel articulates God’s coming victory over death explicitly in terms of a bodily resurrection: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (Dan 12:2–3).” By the time Jesus comforts Martha at the grave of Lazarus, it seems Daniel’s expectation has taken hold among God’s people: when Jesus tells Mary that “your brother will rise again,” Martha immediately responds “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:23–24)
One thing this brief survey indicates is that, the saints of old longed for more than a strictly spiritual “life after death.” Rather, they looked forward to the complete undoing of death, in a glorious, bodily resurrection at the end of history. They did not know that before that could happen, Someone would first blaze a trail through death, right smack in the middle of history.
“In him was life”
From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus seems intent on nothing short of abolishing death (2 Tim 1:10). Beyond his seemingly endless reversals of leprosy and other terminal illnesses, Jesus repeatedly disrupts the funeral services of unsuspecting mourners. From the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11–17), to Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:35–43), to his friend Lazarus (John 11:38–44)—Jesus with only a mere word reaches into the realm of death to retrieving its prey. There was precedent for miraculous healings, and even resurrections, in the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, but Jesus’ sheer audacity in the face of death is entirely new. He bullies death. He takes for himself the brazen title, “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25–26). He makes the staggering claim that one day “all who are in the tombs” will hear the sound of his voice and come out to give an account to him (John 5:28–29). Never had anyone spoken like this man! (John 7:46)
But all of this is made to seem like just a sad delusion when Jesus succumbs to the curse of death himself. After an agonizing and humiliating crucifixion on Good Friday, the one who called himself “the Life” (John 14:6) is rendered a “corpse (Mark 15:45).” The dead body of Jesus is wrapped in burial clothes, anointed with spices, bathed in tears, and sealed in a tomb—presumably to return to the dust like every son of Adam before him. Yet there were also hints that, even in his violent death, “the Life” was still lurking—from his strangely victorious cry before his final breath (John 19:30), to the rending of the Temple curtain, to—least explicable of all!—the opening of the tombs of the Jerusalem saints (Matt 27:52–53)! Improbable as it seems, could it be that Jesus’s own death was in fact his own master strategy to empty the graves of God’s people once and for all?
Of course, this is precisely what his followers discovered to be true on Sunday morning. The tomb of Jesus had been vacated, his discarded grave clothes neatly folded and left behind (John 20:6–7). “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” the angels asked, “He is not here, he is risen, just as he said.” (Luke 24:5–6) Over the next forty days, the risen Jesus would himself appear to more than five hundred of his followers(1 Cor 15:6). As they heard his voice and touched his flesh, it was clear that this was the same Jesus they had known and loved before. “It is I myself,” Jesus assured them. (Luke 24:39) Yet Jesus was also unmistakably different. His resurrection wasn’t like that of Lazarus, or Jairus’s daughter, who returned from death the same, only to die again later. Jesus had passed into an entirely new state. His body, subject to ordinary limitations during his earthly ministry, now had amazing, supernatural properties: he appeared and vanished at will; he could pass through grave clothes, a sealed tomb, and locked doors. As Jesus would explain, he had not simply “survived” death; he had broken death (Rev 1:18).
And he had done it for them.
“Swallowed up by Life”
The apostle Paul helps us connect Jesus’s resurrection to our own future hope. Now ascended to God’s right hand, the risen King Jesus will one day return to us; when he does, he will transform our bodies to be just like his on that first Easter morning. “But our citizenship is in heaven,” he reminds the Philippians, “and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself.” (Phil 3:20–21)
This transformation our bodies will undergo will be like that of a seed that has been buried in the ground. A seed goes into the soil as a bare kernel, but it bursts forth at harvest as a beautiful, golden shaft of wheat! It is the same seed you left covered in dirt, but its transformation leaves it almost unrecognizable! In the same way, these mortal bodies of ours will one day go into the ground, completely used up and expired. But on resurrection morning, Jesus will raise that same body in an entirely new condition: “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. What is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Cor 15:42–44)
What assurance this gives us as our fallen physical bodies ache and age, get sick and grow weak. Paul compared life in these bodies to living in a “tent”—fragile, uncomfortable, temporary living quarters. In these tents, we often “groan,” longing for better, stronger, more permanent bodies. But instead of giving our hearts to bitterness, self-pity, or despair, Christians look with confidence to the resurrection bodies Jesus has promised us:
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Cor 5:1–5)
This new body is the destiny of every believer, even if we are still living at the Lord’s return. “We shall not all sleep,” Paul tells the Corinthians, “but we shall all be changed.” Jesus will outfit all of his people with a body like his, that can sustain the glory and joy of eternal life in a world made new. When the last trumpet sounds and the dead in Christ rise, those still alive will experience “the perishable putting on the imperishable,” and “the mortal putting on immortality.” It will be the work of a moment when Jesus appears—“in the twinkling of an eye”—but at the arrival of King Jesus, death will forever be swallowed up by life (1 Cor 15:50–55).
With this “great change” accomplished, we will at last know that unbroken reunion between Christ and his people that our hearts ache for in this life. As we together rise to meet the Lord, we know that all the “former things” that parted us before have now “passed away.” All things have now been made new, and “we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thes 4:14–17; Rev 21:1–4)
The hope of bodily resurrection makes the “committal,” or graveside service of a believer into a sacred moment of worship and gospel proclamation. Here, we remind each other that Christians are right to grieve for their loved ones who have died in the Lord, as Tabitha’s friends did for her (Acts 9:39). But we do not grieve without hope, as the world does (1 Thes 4:13). Instead, our hearts brim with confident expectation at the graves of our brothers and sisters. We have not abandoned them to the ground; we have planted a seed that Jesus is coming to raise up new, beautiful, and permanent. Our relationships have not been permanently severed; their bodies have “fallen asleep in the Lord,” and on resurrection morning, Jesus is coming to wake them up. Through a Savior whose love is stronger than death (SOS 8:6), they will rise again, and so will we. And so we will always be with the Lord.
“Then comes the end”
The Bible’s grand story is not complete without the bodily resurrection of God’s people. It is blessedly true that the spirits of our loved believers who die before the return of Jesus will immediately be welcomed into his blessed presence upon death. But Jesus did not come merely to provide a detour around death for his people. He came to destroy death. To do this, Jesus invaded the tragic story of the first Adam as a “Second Adam,” a hero come to reclaim all that the first Adam lost of his Father’s “very good” world in the beginning. That mission remains unfinished so long as that sneering enemy, Death, claims the body of even one of his people. That is why the grand finale of Jesus’ victory will be the destruction of Death in the glorious, bodily resurrection of all who belong to him:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:20–28)
The scene Paul describes is breathtaking. Before the world began, God’s Son had accepted a dangerous and costly assignment from his Father: to rescue sinners and reclaim his Father’s world, no matter the cost (John 17:1–5). On other side of that completed mission, the Lord Jesus now stands before his Father in the company of all his redeemed, resurrected people. Every promise has been kept. Every enemy has been vanquished. Not one sheep is missing. All things are now in subjection to him, the world’s rightful ruler. Then, shining like the sun, we will watch in awe as that faithful, noble Son presents it all as a gift of love to his Father. I don’t know exactly what it will feel like in that moment when “God is all in all.” But I think it may be something like what C. S. Lewis tried to capture at the conclusion of his Narnia stories:
And as He spoke . . . the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
By Tom Ascol — 5 months ago
Henry David Thoreau was an eccentric 19th century American author, philosopher, and naturalist. He spent 2 years, 2 months and 2 days living in a small cabin he built himself outside of Concord, Massachusetts. He chronicles his reflections during that experience in his 1854 book, Walden. He explains the rationale for his exile in the wilderness in the following words.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
Thoreau commendably wanted to live life to the fullest, to experience its richness at its deepest levels so that when he died, he could die without regret. Eight years after publishing Walden, on May 6, 1862, after a lingering case of tuberculosis, he did die. While on his deathbed, his Aunt Louisa asked him if he had made his peace with God. Thoreau’s response was, “I did not know we had ever quarreled.”
Those words, no doubt spoken in sincerity, reflect the kind of willful ignorance that has tragically plagued mankind since our first parents turned away from our Creator. I call it “ignorance” because it reflects a lack of knowledge about the way things actually are.
The Bible teaches us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 6:23) and that because of sin we are all “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), that is the wrath of God. The Apostle Paul says that we are all naturally “enemies of God” (Romans 5:10).
That is undeniably the way that life is now. But it is not the way it was in the beginning. Originally, God made Adam and Eve “upright” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) and enjoyed perfect fellowship with them. Sin caused them to be separated from Him and at odds with Him. Failure to acknowledge that is to be ill-informed. It is ignorance.
Such ignorance is willful because, as Romans 1:18-20 says, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
So yes, we all have quarreled with God—including those who, like Thoreau, are willfully ignorant of it. Sin has placed everyone in jeopardy and exposes us all to His wrath. The result is that, left to ourselves we cannot ever have peace with God.
But the good news that is revealed to us in the Bible is that God has not left us to ourselves. On the contrary, in our weakness and helplessness, He has come to us. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, He has provided salvation for us—a way for us to be restored to Him; to have our sin forgiven and to experience genuine peace with God.
Because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God now reconciles to Himself all who turn from sin and trust in Jesus as Lord.
That truth is what empowered the Apostle Paul to live the way that He did as a minister of Jesus Christ. And that truth is the very foundation of His church throughout the ages. It is what Christians live for; what we stand for. It is the one message that we have that we must declare to men, women, boys and girls today: “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
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By Allen S Nelson IV — 5 months ago
Baptists love the Bible. This is not to diminish the love other orthodox traditions have for the sacred Scriptures, but it is only to highlight that present-day particular Baptists come from a long line of godly men who have given their lives to studying, preaching, translating, and submitting to God’s Holy Word.
In this post we want to consider the theology of inspiration. That is, what do we believe it means that the Bible is “inspired” and how did this “inspiration” come to be?
The Meaning of Inspiration
The go to passage for the inspiration of the Bible is 2 Timothy 3:16. There Paul says that all Scripture is “breathed out” by God. Thus, the various connotations of the English word “inspiration” do not fully capture what we are communicating when we say the Bible is inspired by God.
We are not merely saying that the Bible is “inspirational.” Nor are we saying that the Holy Spirit gave the Biblical authors good ideas to write about. We are not saying that the Bible “contains” the Word of God. Instead, what we are saying is that the Biblical authors were moved by the Spirit of God in such a way as to write down the very words He would have them to write.
Louis Berkhof puts it this way, “By inspiration we understand that supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Holy Spirit, by virtue of which their writings are given divine truthfulness, and constitute an infallible and sufficient rule of faith and practice.”
Inspiration, then, means that the Bible is God’s Book containing all of God’s Words that He desires His people to have. The Scriptures are God’s Words in such a way that, in the words of Joel Beeke, “when we read the Bible…we hear the voice of the living God.”
This is what the Apostles believed (see Acts 1:16, 4:25, 28:25, 2 Peter 3:14-16, 2 Tim. 3:16). This is what Jesus believed (see Mark 12:36, Matthew 22:31). This is what Christians believe.
The Method of Inspiration
The Holy Spirit didn’t just send down the Bible from heaven. Nor did He overtake men’s brains in such a way as to put them in a trance and have them write without thinking. The method of inspiration is a beautiful mystery affirming the sovereign praiseworthiness of the Holy Spirit.
What is the method of inspiration of the Bible? I have 4 points here for us to consider.
I want to mention here that not only is the Holy Spirit responsible for the writings of the Scriptures themselves, but also the circumstances surrounding the writings.
What would the book of Ephesians be like if Paul wasn’t writing under Roman guard? What would Revelation be like if John wasn’t in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day? What would the letter of 1 Corinthians be like if the church at Corinth wasn’t in such a mess?
What I mean here is that the Holy Spirit has ordered the circumstances, timing, audience, and culture surrounding the writing of the Scriptures in a sovereign way so as to give us the 66 books that make up the Bible.
The theological term here is concurrence. The idea is this: The Holy Spirit moved in and through the biblical authors in such a way that what they wrote is what they wanted to write while simultaneously being the very words that He had for them to write.
As the writers were writing the Scriptures they were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit as He was working in and through them and their circumstances to breathe out His Word (see 2 Peter 1:19-21).
The Spirit carried the writers in such a way that what they wrote is what He wrote. It’s not that He physically carried them or put them into a trance but worked through all of their circumstances in such a way as that when they produced the final product, it was the very Word of God, breathed out by the Holy Spirit of God.
Louis Berkhof notes, “The term ‘writing’ must be taken in a comprehensive sense. It includes the investigation of documents, the collection of facts, the arrangement of material, the very choice of words, in fact all the processes that enter into the composition of a book.”
So, as Luke is doing his investigative work into the life of Jesus, as David is writing his poetry in the Psalms, as the Chronicler of 1 and 2 Chronicles is putting together facts and information, as Paul is penning his letters to the churches, as John is writing down what he saw in heaven, in all of this, the Holy Spirit of God is working through the different circumstances, personalities, cultures, investigations, compilations, research, and languages of these writers. The Holy Spirit worked through all of these events and processes in such a way so as to give us not only the words of these men, but through the words of these men, His own very words.
In the Bible sometimes you have divine dictation. God spoke and said write this down. Sometimes you have a dream or a letter or a poem or a prophecy or a historical account. But what I am saying is that in all of this the human authors wrote even as the Holy Spirit worked by, in, through, and upon them.
Perhaps some read this and say, “I hear you preacher, but these were sinful humans, so the Bible must be tainted.” The reality is that God did use fallen men to write the Bible. Isaiah, Moses, Matthew, Jeremiah: Yes these were fallen men, as were all the biblical authors. But the Holy Spirit used them, nonetheless. And He used them in such a way so as to keep their sin out of the Bible.
I don’t mean the Bible doesn’t record their sin. Of course, it does. What I mean is that the Bible is not tainted or corrupted by the hands of fallen men. John Macarthur put it beautifully this way: “As a person can draw a straight line with a crooked stick, God produced an inerrant Bible through imperfect men.”
So, we are discussing the method of inspiration. And we have seen Providence and we have seen Partnership. 3rdly I want to mention:
Here is what I mean by precision: The Holy Spirit breathed out not just the ideas into the minds of the biblical writers, but the very words. Do you remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:18? “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
The very dots and marks on the very letters of words were given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit – these very letters comprising the very words they composed were breathed out by God.
This is what we call the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Bible. That is, the Holy Spirit breathed out the words of the whole Bible so that every word and the entirety of the Bible is the Word of God. The words and sentences and syntax and grammar – it is all from the Holy Spirit, breathed out precisely as He wanted it to be.
The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy puts it this way: “We affirm that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration. We deny that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.”
So, in every song, in every prophecy, in every epistle, in every historical narrative, the Holy Spirit is not giving the Biblical authors big ideas, but actually words – the precise words that He would have them write.
And so, while He uses their numerous circumstances, individual personalities, and various genres of writing, the Holy Spirit is doing so in such a way as to give us His own very words. Precision.
This brings me to my 4th point here. We have considered Providence, Partnership, Precision, and now:
There is power in the Word of God for sure. But that’s for another post. Consider here for a moment the power of the Holy Spirit in giving us His Word. The power over every circumstance. The power over every jot and tittle. The power over the preservation of His Word.
Put 40 authors in a room and tell them to write a unified story. And then make them speak different languages. And then make some of them kings and some of them paupers. And then demand each of them write in a different genre. And then separate these authors geographically over 3 continents where they cannot communicate and separate them historically over a span of 1500 years.
You’re not going to get a unified story. You are going to get a mess. It would be like taking some of the pieces of 40 different puzzles and trying to cram them together to make one picture. Whatever you get its going to be ugly.
But this is not the case with the Bible. Why? The power of the Holy Spirit! He took these men and these time periods and these languages and these circumstances and He produced this beautiful Book that tells a cohesive, unified story.
The story of Christ! This inerrant, infallible, authoritative, sufficient Book tells us of Christ. Praise the Holy Spirit for giving us this Book. But what the Book points to is exactly what the Holy Spirit wants us to see: Christ! (cf. John 16:14)
Now, I have one more point here that I will mention briefly and then we will close. We have considered the Meaning of Inspiration, the Method of Inspiration, and finally let me just mention:
The Mystery of Inspiration
Here I just mean that while we’ve worked through this and seen the Biblical position on inspiration, there is still some mystery here, isn’t there?
I understand Paul writing and the Holy Spirit writing but fitting this all together takes us ultimately to the mysterious workings of our sovereign God. And yet we see the veracity and beauty of the Scriptures and we trust them.
What a glory it is to trust the Holy Spirit giving us His necessary, authoritative, sufficient, and clear Word. How wonderful that we have an inerrant and infallible Bible!
But this brings up another mystery to me. Since the Scriptures are the very Word of our great and glorious triune God, why are our bibles so dusty? Spurgeon said, “There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers.”
Let me close this post with some serious implications regarding all I’ve said. If the Bible really is the breathed-out words of the living God (and it is!),
Why do you not bring your Bible to church? Or why do you at times leave it there?
Why are you not reading it every day? If you do not read your Bible every day but still have a social media account and Netflix, you are living in folly.
Why do you not read the Bible with your spouse and children?
How much contempt must we have for the Holy Spirit and our own children not to read the Good Book with them?
Why do you buy your children new clothes but not furnish them with good Bibles? Do you only care to clothe their bodies and not their souls?
Why do you disregard its precepts, its promises, its warnings?
Why do you treat this Book so frivolously and cavalierly?
Why do you not trust it as sufficient and obey it as the authority that it is? Since the Bible is God’s Word, to disbelieve or disobey the Bible is to disbelieve or disobey God.
We could go on ad infinitum with questions like these! But please consider today, what a Book God has blessed you with. His very words! Do you not think He will hold you accountable for your lack of knowing His Book? You have time for so many things but not for His Book?
Will we prize this grand possession that the Holy Spirit has given us? Will we repent of any disregard practically or theologically that we have had concerning this great Book?
Beloved, let us cherish these 66 Books that tell us the story of Jesus. Let us give our lives to trusting these words. Let us give our time, energy, and resources to knowing all this Book has for us and teaching it to others for the glory of our triune God.