Hope Against Hope

faith, God, God's Word No Comments

Speaking of Abraham, Paul wrote, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall they seed be” (Rom. 4:18).  Paul gives us the essential elements of hope.
First, God’s word is essential to hope.  In Abraham’s situation the word of God came in the form of a promise. The promise was repeated to Abraham on various occasions.  However, a complete statement of it is given in Gen. 22:17-18, “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.  And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”  Paul references this prophecy and applies it specifically to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment (Gal. 3:16).  This promise was not fulfilled in Ishmael.  It was fulfilled through Isaac (the son of promise).
Second, God’s power is essential to hope.  Abraham and Sarah were old.  Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born and Sarah was 90.  In addition to their old age, Sarah was barren.  Paul mentions both obstacles in Rom. 4:19.  The seed promise could not be fulfilled without God’s power.  “Is anything too hard for the LORD? (Gen. 18:14).  God has the power to accomplish His purposes!  God’s power is also a grounds for hope.
Third, man’s faith is essential to hope.  Abraham’s faith was not weak.  Yea, it was strong!  Abraham is known as the “father of the faithful” (Rom. 4:12; Gal. 5:26-29).
Abraham did not reject God’s promise in the face of his own impotence and Sarah’s barrenness.  He believed God.  He believed the promise that God made to him.  As a result, he hoped against hope.  His faith in God’s promise and power gave him hope in the face of his and his wife’s physical “deadness” (Rom. 4:19).  He was fully persuaded that God could perform what He had promised (Rom. 4:21).  Abraham’s faith in God’s ability to perform His promise was tested when God commanded him to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice (Gen. 22).  Abraham believed that if he took the life of his son, that God could raise him to life again and so continue with His promise and its fulfillment (Heb. 11:19).
Hope is confident expectation of good things to come.  This confidence is based upon God’s Word and God’s power to accomplish His purposes.  Faith in God’s promises working by God’s power gives hope.  Abraham’s hope was realized when Isaac was born.  Isaac’s birth strengthened Abraham’s faith even more.
Without faith in God’s promises and power we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).  Without faith in God’s promises and power we cannot have hope.  Unbelief is a bandit that robs of hope.  Faith and hope are inseparable and both are based upon God–His faithfulness to His word and His power to accomplish His purposes.

The Word of God and Truth

Bible, God's Word, Truth No Comments

Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).  This is one of the most profound questions ever uttered by man.  The answer to this question is vitally important.  Jesus makes it clear that the Word of God is truth (John 17:17).  He affirmed that, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).  He promised that the Spirit of Truth would guide the apostles into “all truth” (John 16:13-15).  The words of Jesus Christ and the apostles constitute truth.  These words are found in Scripture (II Tim. 3:16-17).  Consider the following aspects of truth.

The Bible is completely true.  All of its affirmations and denials conform to reality (this is the correspondence theory of truth).  Truth conforms to reality as God defines reality.  We do not create our own reality.  If we created our own reality, then truth would be subjective rather than objective.  We do not create our own truth.  God’s Word (objective reality) is truth!  When you destroy the foundation of truth–the Word of God–you eliminate God’s will from consideration in the everyday events of life.  This means that man is free to pursue the lusts of the flesh without restraint.  The result–anything goes!  Lies multiply when truth is suppressed or rejected.  When God speaks, His word is truth.  It matters not whether that reality is historical, factual, or spiritual.

The Word of God is the result of inspiration and revelation.  The Holy Spirit superintended the revelation of God’s will to holy men of God (apostles and prophets).  “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretaion.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Pet. 1:20-21).  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (II Tim. 3:16).  “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All  things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-15).   The Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16) is the Word of God (I Pet. 1:25).  In God’s Word, we have an objective reality, an eternal reality, and an authoritative reality.

Truth and inerrancy are synonymous.  The statements of scripture are always without error.  Skeptics look for errors in the Bible in vain. Error stands in opposition to truth.  The concept of inerrancy must be qualified.  Consider the following areas of study.
1.  Modern technical precision.  The Bible records numbers–size of a crowd, or the size of an army, or the number of years between one event and another–by rounding them.  The rounding of numbers does not constitute errors of facts.
2.  Irregularities of grammar or spelling.  For example, New Testament authors sometimes give a different spelling to Old Testament names.  These are not errors.
3.  Observational descriptions of nature.  The Bible speaks of the sun rising or the sun setting.  These are descriptions as they appear to the observer on earth.  They are not errors.
4.  Reporting falsehoods.  The Bible records the lies of Satan and the fradulent teachings of false prophets.  But, it reports them as lies and not the truth.
5.  The use of hyperbole.  Hyperbole is a figure of speech where exaggeration is used to make a point.  When the Bible says that the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven–it does not mean every single person, but that the preaching of the gospel was pervasive in the world (Col. 1:23).
6.  The use of free citations.  The New Testament writers frequently quote from the Old Testament.  About 10% of the New Testament is made up of Old Testament quotations or allusions.  But, the New Testament writers adapt many of these Old Testament quotations to their intended purpose.  These are not mistakes or errors.
7.  Arrangement of material.  Sometimes chronological arrangment of material is used by a writer and sometimes it is not.  The author may have a different purpose and so arrange material to fit that purpose.  However, these are not errors.

The Bible is not full of contradictions.  Alleged contradictions in the Bible can be answered by showing that two statements, that seem to be incongruous, can be harmonized.  The law of contradiction is as Aristotle noted, “that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect.”   “In other words, if the same thing is said to be and not be (1) for the same person, place, or thing. (2) at the same time, and (3) in the same sense (respect), then a genuine contradicton exists” (Eric Lyons, Dealing Fairly With Alleged Bible Contradictons Part II, Reason and Revelation, Nov. 2013, p. 122).  The Bible has been falsely charged with contradictions.  If the Bible contradicted itself, then it would not be true.  If it is not true, then it is not believable.

The Holy Spirit affirms, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2, see also Heb. 6:18).  God’s Word reflects His truthfulness.  The Word of God reflects the very nature of God Himself!  The Word of God does not lie.  But, any doctrine that contradicts the plain teaching of God’s Word is a lie.  Thus, we have a truth test and can try the spirits to see if they are of God (I John 4:1 and II John 4).  Why not put your own beliefs to the test of truth and see if they endure.