Monday, December 13, 2010

Living By Every Word That Proceeds From the Mouth of God - Part 5


The Relevancy of God’s Written Word in Every Age.

(This is part five in a series that examines the view of Justice Boshoff who advocates that God’s word comes to us personally and directly from the Holy Spirit through prayer for wisdom and that the scriptures are a hindrance to hearing the word of God. You can read a transcript of two of his You-Tube videos: According to the Scriptures, You Won't Make It and Breaking Through the Bible Barrier.)

Paul would disagree with Mr. Boshoff’s position that the inscripturated word of the past is irrelevant to those of a later generation. Paul makes special reference to the written record of the wilderness experience of Israel and reveals that they were written for the benefit of his own generation:

Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 1 Cor 10:6-11 (ESV)
Paul did not refrain from applying the Old Testament Scriptures to the Church in Corinth. He did not think the wilderness situation of Israel was so unrelated to the situation of a body of believers in a thriving city several hundred years later, that it was useless to draw any application from it. Through the ordinary use of language, logic, and reason, he understood the written words of the Old Testament account of Israel’s experience in the wilderness. From that understanding he drew the conclusion that Israel’s behavior served as an example of how God’s people are not to act, and that to behave that way had severe consequences under the displeasure of God.

Paul explains to Timothy that there is a fourfold profitability in scripture: all scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 2 Tim 3:16. That profitability is not only for those to whom the scriptures were written, but also for those who were to read them in later generations. Paul saw that the profitability of the Holy scriptures not only made Timothy wise unto salvation, 2 Tim 3:15, but also made the man of God (in his day) complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work, 2 Tim 3:17 [1].

In this text (2 Tim 3:16, 17) Paul provides examples of applying scripture in two ways: (1) specifically, drawing certain conclusions about a situation that occurred centuries before and deducing from them rules to be applied to a situation in his own day, (2) generally, stipulating that all of scripture was profitable for the believer in his day providing doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction. Taking the apostle's lead, we may draw the principle that the scriptures are useful for believers of all ages and that we may apply them to our situation in our day. [2]

This underscores the value of the written word. The usefulness of the written word for the preservation and transmission of the New Testament apostolic and prophetic word is evident in the many references to writing as a medium for the communication of that word (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1, 2; 1 Cor 4:14, 14:37; 2 Cor 9:1; 13:2; Gal 1:20; Phil 3:1; 1 Thess 4:9, 5:1; 1 Tim 3:14, 15; 2 Pet 3:1; 1 John 1:4; 2:1, 7, 8, 12, 13; 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:13; Jude 1:3; Rev 1:11; 3;1). This usefulness is clearly seen in Paul’s order for the exchange of letters between the churches in Colosse and Laodicea, Col 4:16. Such high regard for the New Testament written word indicates the intention to provide a corpus of documents which would serve in the same capacity for the New Testament era as did the Law, the Psalms, and Prophets for the Old Testament era (cf Luke 24:44).
[1] Paul may be referring not only to the writings of the Old Testament, but also to that collection of apostolic writings that were in circulation in his present day. Paul’s own writings had reached such high recognition in Peter’s estimation, 2 Pet 3:15, 16.

[2] One cannot object that the liberty to apply scripture from an Old Testament situation to a New Testament situation was exclusively Paul’s because of his apostleship. Paul’s apostleship did make the recipients of his letters take special heed to his words. But when Paul in his apostolic word pronounces all of scripture profitable, we should take special heed as well. There is nothing in Paul’s pronouncement that would lead us to conclude that that profitability is restricted to a single situation at a specific point in time. Because Paul saw all of scripture profitable for all saints of all ages, he was able to apply them specifically to the various situations of the churches under his care.

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