Saturday, October 26, 2013

2 Timothy 3:16: the Inspiration and Sufficiency of Scripture (but not according to Greg Koukl)

Gen 3:1  Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" Gen 3:4  But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

I was struck by the sloppiness of "apologist" Greg Koukl's handling of Scripture when trying to argue against the  sufficiency of Scripture. How he dealt with 2Tim. 3:16 was of particular interest to me. He states:

"Bible only" advocates rely on a handful of references to prove that Scripture provides the sole solutions to life's problems. These three are characteristic...

The passage in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is more substantial.

Paul writes in his last epistle, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

The reasoning of "Bible only" advocates goes something like this. Paul says that Scripture is adequate. If Scripture is adequate, then nothing more is required. If nothing more is required, then the use of outside material implies the inadequacy of the Bible, contradicting Paul's statement. Therefore, nothing in addition to Scripture can be used to equip us, because nothing else is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." This function is the sole province of the Bible.
That's the argument. Here's what's wrong with it. First, in the 2 Timothy passage the word "adequate" modifies the believer, not the Scripture. The words Paul uses to describe Scripture are "inspired" and "profitable." The Bible is useful to accomplish a certain end--an adequately equipped Christian--because it is the very counsel of God. Paul's teaching in Second Timothy was meant to qualify the nature of Scripture, not to disqualify the usefulness of other material.

Second, the argument proves too much. The Scripture Paul has in view is the Old Testament, specifically the sacred writings of Timothy's childhood (note verse 15). These are what Paul identifies as being able to "give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

If the Old Testament Scriptures are adequate, and if Paul means to suggest that the addition of any useful information about man is wrong, then how do we justify adding the words of the New Testament to the fully adequate Old Testament? Even Paul's words (as well as Peter's, John's, etc.) would be inadmissible, including the very words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which make this claim.

Since this is ludicrous and self-defeating, the entire objection crumbles. Paul did not mean to convey that other sources of knowledge were an assault on the Scripture's completeness.

Third, and more debilitating to this view, 2 Timothy 3:15 doesn’t even teach that the Scripture is adequate. A close look at the text reveals that the words “inspired” and “profitable” describe the Scripture. However, the word “adequate” does not describe the Scripture, but rather “the man of God” who uses the inspired Scripture in a profitable way. Note carefully: “...that the man of God may be adequate , equipped for every good work.” Once again, the proof text itself has unwittingly been maligned to say something it just doesn’t say, given the context.

What does "adequate" mean here? It probably means what adequate usually means, that the man of God has everything that is essential. Food and air and water are adequate to keep one alive, but their adequacy doesn't imply that nothing else is beneficial.

Some have pointed out that my argument could be used to teach that Paul thought only the Old Testament was inspired, not the New. Not so. Paul's statement was about Scripture, which at that time was what we now call the Old Testament. He did not say that no more "God-breathed" writings would be forthcoming. The corpus of Scripture was expanded by the New Testament writes and therefore it's included under the claims of this verse.

The problem only arises if one imposes a foreign sense of adequacy on this passage, i.e., nothing else is allowed. If we hold that Paul and the Apostles wrote legitimate Scripture, then that proves Paul's didn't intend such a restriction. That's my point.

Now, did he properly and faithfully deal  2 Tim. 3:16? Or did he commit a logical fallacy (these men pride themselves on logic and reasoning )?

(Consider this: Koukl has a low view of Scripture and so he must attack its inspiration and sufficiency in order to adhere to Natural Theology. (On the contrary, not all truth is God's truth; also go here for an excellent treatment of this notion. ))

Here is what faithful pastor-teacher John MacArthur said on the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture in his sermon on "False Prophets and Lying Tongues":

That is precisely why modern evangelicalism's infatuation with extrabiblical revelation is so dangerous. It is a return to medieval superstition and a departure from our fundamental conviction that the Bible is our sole, supreme, and sufficient authority for all of life. In other words, it represents a wholesale abandonment of the principle of sola Scriptura....
Scripture itself is clear that the day of God's speaking directly to His people through various prophetic words and visions is past. The truth God has revealed in Christ including the complete New Testament canon is His final word (Heb. 1:1-2; cf. Jude 3Rev. 22:18-19).
Scripture—the written Word of God—is perfectly sufficient, containing all the revelation we need. Notice 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Paul tells Timothy:
From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
That passage makes two very important statements that pertain to the issue we are looking at. First, "All Scripture is inspired by God." Scripture speaks with the authority of God Himself. It is certain; it is reliable; it is true. Jesus Himself prayed in John 17:17: "Your word is truth." Psalm 119:160 says, "The entirety of Your word is truth."
Those statements all set Scripture above every human opinion, every speculation, and every emotional sensation. Scripture alone stands as definitive truth. It speaks with an authority that transcends every other voice.
Second, The passage teaches that Scripture is utterly sufficient, "able to make you wise for salvation ... [and able to make you] complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." What clearer affirmation of the absolute sufficiency of Scripture could anyone ask for? Are extrabiblical messages from God necessary to equip us to glorify Him? Certainly not.
Those who seek fresh messages from God have in effect scorned the absolute certainty and absolute sufficiency of the written Word of God. And they have set in its place their own fallen and fallible imaginations.
If the church does not return to the principle of sola Scriptura, the only revival we will see is a revival of the superstition and darkness that characterized medieval religion.
Does this mean God has stopped speaking? Certainly not, but He speaks today through His Word.
End quote.
For a full exegesis of 2Tim 3:16 by MacArthur go to:

The Work of the Word, Part 1

In "The Work of the Word, Part 2"  (and these are but only two of MacArthur's dealing with this passage) MacArthur states: 

It is profitable to give you the necessary body of divine truth to live a godly life.  That's what he's saying.  The Bible provides for you what Paul calls to Timothy the deposit.  It gives you the truth, the deposit of truth to be guarded, 1 Timothy 6:20 and 212 Timothy 1:13It is God's revelation of truth.  And it provides for you the substance to be believed...doctrine, the body of content upon which...mark this carefully...every thought and every action is to be built.  Did you get that?  The Bible provides for us the body of truth upon which every thought and every action is to be built.  So it is profitable for content.  It gives us the truth.  John 17:17, "Thy Word is truth."  If you're looking for a foundation to build your life on, it is this book.  It provides the principles that are to operate in the life of every individual at every point of need and demand, thought and action.  It's comprehensive.  Every single thing you will ever deal with in your spiritual existence is covered one way or another in the Scripture, probably many more than just one time.  It is replete with instruction for in the way that God has designed it."
End quote.
Does not our spiritual life have everything to do with all of life? Is that not what Scripture repeatedly demands of us? To walk, practice, live in every area of our lives, in a manner worthy of Christ Jesus? Does Christ Himself not demand full obedience in all areas of life? 
And does not Scripture directly or indirectly deal with money, parenting, neighbors, loans, human sexuality, law and justice, childhood, friendships, how we are to think and speak, the language we use, the clothes we wear, politics? 
What is the spiritual life if not the Holy Spirit living in and through us in every moment?
I wonder if people like Koukl think that Scripture is just for "spiritual things" and the "real" issues of life are addressed by the wisdom of scholars and psychologists--the professionals? It sure seems that way; at least that's the implication. It's compartmentalization. It's dangerous. It also goes against the greatest command of all: Love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
MacArthur says elsewhere:

 I Corinthians, Chapter 2, verse 9: "Eye, hath not seen..." You can't discover truth by empiricism ‑‑"...nor ear heard, neither have entered in the heart of man..." You can't discover truth by rationalism. "...the things that God has prepared for them that love Him." "But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit." The Spirit is the one who searches the deep things of God. Science ‑ that's empiricism. Philosophy ‑ that's rationalism. According to 1 Cor. 2:9, neither of them will ever discover ultimate truth.

The historian Schlatter says, "Everything that had to do with theories about God and the world and the meaning of human life was called `philosophy' at that time, not only in the pagan schools but also in the Jewish schools of the Greek cities." He is saying that the term philosophy was used of every single theory about God and the world in that era. It was the common term. So, anyone who had any new theory about God, or any new theory about the world--its origins, its meaning, and its destiny--was considered a philosopher with a philosophy.
~End quote.
For more go here.
Nor is the testimony of the New Testament any different from that of the Old: how could it be, seeing that both have one and the same Author! There too we read, "Which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: Who only bath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man bath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting, Amen" (1 Tim. 6:16). Such an One is to be revered, worshipped, adored. He is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in His perfections. He sustains all, but is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but is enriched by none.

Such a God cannot be found out by searching; He can be known, only as He is revealed to the heart by the Holy Spirit through the Word. It is true that creation demonstrates a Creator, and that, so plainly, men are "without excuse;" yet, we still have to say with Job, "Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of Him? but the thunder of His power who can understand?" (26:14). The so-called argument from design by well-meaning "Apologists" has, we believe, done much more harm than good, for it has attempted to bring down the great God to the level of finite comprehension, and thereby has lost sight of His solitary excellence.

Analogy has been drawn between a savage finding a watch upon the sands, and from a close examination of it he infers a watch-maker. So far so good. But attempt to go further: suppose that savage sits down on the sand and endeavors to form to himself a conception of this watch-maker, his personal affections and manners; his disposition, acquirements, and moral character—all that goes to make up a personality; could he ever think or reason out a real man—the man who made the watch, so that he could say, "I am acquainted with him?" It seems trifling to ask such questions, but is the eternal and infinite God so much more within the grasp of human reason? No, indeed! The God of Scripture can only be known by those to whom He makes Himself known.

Nor is God known by the intellect. "God is Spirit" (John 4:24), and therefore can only be known spiritually. But fallen man is not spiritual, he is carnal. He is dead to all that is spiritual. Unless he is born again supernaturally brought from death unto life, miraculously translated out of darkness into light, he cannot even see the things of God (John 3:3), still less apprehend them (1 Cor. 2:14). The Holy Spirit has to shine in our hearts (not intellects) in order to give us "the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). And even that spiritual knowledge is but fragmentary. The regenerated soul has to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Pet. 3.18).

End quote.
Let me interject with a passage of Scripture dealing with wisdom and its source and fruit:

Jas 3:11  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 
Jas 3:12  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. 
Jas 3:13  Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 
Jas 3:14  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 
Jas 3:15  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 
Jas 3:16  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 
Jas 3:17  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 
Jas 3:18  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. 

Jas 4:4  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 
Jas 4:5  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? 

Jas 4:6  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 

Gil Rugh deals with friendship of the world here.

1Ti 6:20  O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called "knowledge,21  for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you. 

Col 2:2  that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mysterywhich is Christ, 
Col 2:3  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 
Col 2:4  I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 

Col 2:6  Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 
Col 2:7  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 
Col 2:8  See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 
Col 2:9  For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 
Col 2:10  and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 

For more messages on the sufficiency of Scripture, go here.

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