Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,
I am reading an interesting little book on the preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, arguable the most prominent English-speaking preacher of the last century.
In it, he is quoted on the issue of inspiration, and how the differing views of what Scripture actually is have impacted the church:
“From the moment that the idea began to gain currency that the Bible was the history of the quest of mankind for God, rather than God’s revelation of Himself and the only way of salvation to mankind, the Church began to decline and to wane in her influence and in her power. From the time the Church threw overboard the great evangelical doctrines, and substituted for them a belief in the moral and spiritual evolution of mankind, and began to preach a social gospel rather than a personal salvation – from that moment church attendance really became a mere matter of form, or a merely pleasant way of gratifying one’s appetite for ceremony, ritual, oratory, and music.” (pg 51)
A couple of pages later, he continues on the theme:
“We all therefore have to face this ultimate and final question: Do we accept the Bible as the Word of God, as the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice, or do we not? Is the whole of my thinking governed by Scripture, or do I come with my reason and pick and choose out of Scripture and sit in judgment upon it, putting myself and modern knowledge forward as the ultimate standard and authority? The issue is crystal clear. Do I accept Scripture as a revelation from God, or do I trust to speculation, human knowledge, human learning, human understanding and human reason. Or, putting it still more simply, Do I pin my faith to, and subject all my thinking to, what I read in the Bible? Or do I defer to modern knowledge, to modern learning, to what people think today, to what we know at this present time which was not known in the past? It is inevitable that we occupy one or the other of those two positions.” (pg 53/54)
There is, of course, much, much more to say on the topic of inspiration, but this sufficiently establishes an absolutely foundational truth: WHAT I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS SHAPES EVERYTHING ELSE.
It is well and good to say “It is all about Jesus.” There is a sense in which that is true. But it is also true that what you mean by that phrase is dominated by what you believe the Bible is. People with differing views of what the Bible is say exactly those words and mean wildly different things.
So much more to say, but that’s all for now.