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Monday: The Unity of Scripture — 24 Comments

  1. We need to open up this idea of what is meant by the "Unity of Scripture" because if we misinterpret that we can end up with a very rigid, and consequently fragile, view of unity.

    More than anything else, the Bible is a record of God's dealings with his people over several millennia. And during that time God's people grew in their understanding of God and his purpose for us. The underlying themes of God's sovereignty, his love, and his desire for restorations come through loud and clear. But the Bible also records man's faltering response to those themes and sometimes, because we, the readers at the end of the line, see this conflicting view, we misinterpret or underestimate the precedence of the big themes. The big picture of Scripture is the growth of understanding, not the apex of understanding.

    For example, if we look at the Psalms, we find David using language about his enemies that we find repulsive in our modern context. Such language is not used in the New Testament era.

    If we accept the idea of "a growing understanding" as a unifying biblical theme then the notion of unity makes a lot more sense when we read the Bible in our modern context. The notion that at some point in history, we or our forefathers got "it" right, limits the development of our relationship. We may indeed have lots to learn (and by inference unlearn) in our understanding of the unity of the Bible.

    • Maurice - would you agree that there is power embedded in the words of the Bible's revealed record that is able to enlighten/elevate men to comprehend the overarching message of Salvation?

      I can see the scientist wanting to keep the ball rolling and prefer "growth of understanding".
      Consider that there IS an apex embedded in the understanding of scripture's record; reached when, by empirical application of the message of the Scripture - truth upon truth - will be revealed: FAITH.

      Through FAITH, all knowledge and understanding from the Scripture will find its equilibrium/balance.

      • Jesus grew in his understanding:

        And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2: 52

        I don't have a problem with a growing understanding either personally, or collectively as recorded in the Bible.

        • Maurice - I spoke of Faith and believe that the "big picture of the Scripture", its apex, is - Faith - and that Faith is the real gateway to inspired/enlightened understanding.
          Everything written in the Scriptures is based on being received by faith, but once applied/lived, Faith manifests itself in the material/visible/observable world.

          • Perhaps the meaning of: "received by faith" needs to be elaborated on? Many claim to have faith in God's word, but how can I know for sure if I have faith or not? How is faith measured/observed?

            One scripture studied by two claiming to have "faith", yet they hold opposing views/interpretations.

    • RE: >>For example, if we look at the Psalms, we find David using language about his enemies that we find repulsive in our modern context. Such language is not used in the New Testament era.

      I think many times when we compare the Old Testament to the New in this way we sometimes leave the book of Revelation out of our consideration. There is no stronger language against the enemies of God to be found anywhere i n Scripture than in Revelation.

      • applying our present standards and understanding to 1000years ago is a bit odd. If the prophets of old knew how to express things like aeroplane, internet, computers, high-speed rail, cars...etc, I bet he would have written them down or described them. There are many values people held 150 years ago which today are reprehensible. Context gives clearer meaning and brings out the intent and we then draw the lessons to apply to our lives...

        • If one studies closely in Ezekiel and John the revelator, one can see they both were trying to describe things they could not comprehend, Locusts sound like modern helicopters and airplanes. That's what was shown to me and it made makes sense given where we are today.

          • Locusts also represents devouring hordes that would overrun many countries, as was done by the Ottoman empire in past centuries, in fulfillment of the 5th and 6th trumpets.

  2. The unity of the Bible is a re-affirmation of the existance of the Holy trinity in colaborative harmony, this fact strengthens the foundation of our belief.

  3. We are studying about the 'Unity of the Scripture', but the writer is using the word 'assume' twice -

    1. "..we can 'assume' a fundamental unity and harmony among the various parts of Scripture in regard to the key issues it teaches.
    2. "Jesus and the biblical writers, however, 'assume' the unity of Scripture, which is based on its divine origin.

    Definition of the word 'assume' based on Merriam/Webster Dictionary:
    'assume' -
    1: to take upon oneself
    2: to pretend to have
    3: to take as granted though not proved

    Respectfully, is this the right word to use when speaking about the power of the Unity of Scripture and what it establishes - which is unshakable, unmovable Truth?

    At this point in our studies about the Scriptures, as far as I am concerned, there is nothing any longer left to assumption.

    No longer is there a question about the source or authority of the Scriptures! We can boldly state what it is -
    The revealed Truth by our Creator God, the Redeemer of mankind and His work of redemption of His creation.
    Is not, therefor, now also the time to engage in declaring the three Angels message to the world?

    The focus of the Bible student needs to always be on this very point - Salvation and the times of the end. Everything should be read and interpreted to highlight this Truth. If not, we get into the weeds and are lead of track.

    We have decided to trust Jesus. There should therefore be no more doubts or assumptions left to cause us to waiver in our resolve to live the life of a believer wholeheartedly and show the lost their Maker.

    If we look for Truth and encouragement that will enlighten us and guide us through this life on earth, we can find it in Psalm 37.

    Please, read it through with a grateful heart and willing spirit - apply it to our time. It is filled with encouragement and wisdom to strengthen our walk of Faith.
    v.23,24 - 'The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
    You see, we are not walking in our own strength, but in the strength of the LORD!

    Now we understand that it is God who directs our steps and keeps us upright, moving us forward by His power. Even our faith is in His hands.

    We need to give Him our unconditional TRUST!

    • Interesting point of view, Brigitte. For sure the Bible has to be THE Word of God, which cannot be divided in itself. How can a God be three in one? As you said,faith holds it all together. But God's Word is about love for humanity. And Jesus is the theme that makes all the difference! The focus has to be on Him! But the Scriptures contains a whole lot more subjects that can be add up, in order to help us live through in this planet! Have a great day!

  4. Maurice, you wrote: “For example, if we look at the Psalms, we find David using language about his enemies that we find repulsive in our modern context. Such language is not used in the New Testament era.” And I agree! Here is what David wrote:

    “Blessed be he that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock” [Psalm 137:9]

    Consider the contrast between what David wrote and Jesus’s order to love out enemies.

    This is evidence that the understanding of God’s character grew especially thanks to the revelation exhibited by Jesus Christ.

    “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” [Proverbs 4:18]

    • Hi Nic -
      I read your comments on Psalm 137:9. Yes, a difficult read! After reading all of Psalm 137, I am seeing things a bit differently, though.

      I use the King James version to study. In this translation, the writer (David) refers to the WARRIOR being 'happy' when the time comes for Babylon to suffer the same destruction as Babylon had visited upon Jerusalem.

      v.8 - O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he (warrior) be that 'rewardeth' thee as thou hast served us. (An eye for an eye.)

      God does not bless the warrior for the act of destruction of the little ones. I believe that the focus is on the event of Babylon's defeat by an enemy that will inflict the same slaughter (defeat) on them as they had visited upon Jerusalem. In this context the warrior is 'happy'.

      The warrior David's happiness is ultimately resting in the assurance that Israel's God will serve judgement on the people who want to destroy it.

    • Yet, "all scripture is given by inspiration of God". Perhaps there is a "truth" in this poetic verse? Have you compared the verse you quoted from the Psalm with Rev 18:5-8,20?

      We know that God takes no delight in the death of the wicked, yet what do these verses say about justice for those who believe they can abuse their fellowman with impunity?

      Also, Psalm 137 was not written by David(perhaps a captive during the time of Ezekiel?), and was expressing belief in the promise of God through Habakkuk(and others) that Babylon would eventually be on the receiving end of being overrun by an enemy as they had overrun other nations.

      The Revelation also states that "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword"(13:10).

  5. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me,......and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men Isa 29:13

    Unity of the Scriptures-

    1. Unity means- the state of being united or joined as a whole. e.g being in harmony or one in spirit. The opposite of divide.
    2. Uniform means- remaining the same in all cases and at all times; unchanging in form or character. e.g wearing the same
    uniform for pathfinder club.
    3. Uniformity means- the quality of state of being uniform. e.g
    two or more cooking alike, dressing alike despite belonging to two or more different culture.

    How do people choose to study the scriptures may or may not make a difference in their understanding of same. People are at different level of their learning of the scriptures. Therefore, many who are 'babes'/drinking milk, in Christ will not understand/comprehend deeper understanding how the scriptures form a unity from Genesis to Revelation.
    Today I was studying Elijah and the woman of Zidon/Sidon. God sent Elijah to a heathen widow not a Jewish widow. Jesus made mentioned of this story while he ministered to the people. Different culture, people, beliefs and with her little knowledge of God, she was used to fulfilled God purpose of unity between a man of God with a heathen.

    Paul spoke about those who are eating meat, to eat meat you have to be grown with teeth, (years of experience). The scriptures has a beginning to an ending. As mentioned, no one can pull a text from here or there and run with it. Isa 28:9-10. For precepts must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.
    Precept means a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.
    This unity comes from the Holy Ghost who inspired each bible writer over a period of hundred of years with the same knowledge. He is still inspiring humans today with knowledge for us to understand the bible. The bible is a holy book that portrays unity in a broad way. E.g There is unity in purpose, unity in understanding, unity in fellowship, unity in love, etc. No one can remove a verse or a letter and thinks it doesn't matter.
    John 17:1-26 with our focus on John 17: 20-23. This is the unity Christ had prayed that both the disciple and we be in unity with each other as with him. This unite came for the disciples when 120 people gathered in the upper room for 10 days and forgive each others and made things right. Act 2:1-4. After such, the Holy Ghost came in his mighty power. This unity Christ is looking for his people.

    The scriptures are about people and how the interact with their Holy God and humans in general.

    Many look at unity of the scriptures as something that is abstract.

  6. Hi Ray -
    In reference to the prove of truth as revealed in Scripture, I understand #3 - 'to take as granted though not proved' differently. Maybe its semantics.

    To use the word 'assume' to me means we still do not KNOW. I think it to be better expressed saying: "With GOD as the Bible's author, we can be ASSURED of the fundamental unity and harmony among various parts of Scripture in regard to the key issues it teaches."

    We do proof and we have proved! We use scripture to prove scripture. There is no other authority, a better way to prove its truthfulness. We HAVE proof - we do not assume anything any longer because God is its author!

    'Assuming' therefore comes only after we have placed our trust in the God of Creation and His word as it is revealed in the Scriptures. Therefor will we be able/ready to 'assume' that He gives us Truth and does not lie; that everything proceeding out of His mouth will be Truth and will generate truth.

    Heb.4:12 - For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    2 Peter 1:16-18 speaks about that we are not following cunningly devised fables; that Jesus received from GOD the Father honor and glory - he was proved and approved!

    We are not taking the inspired word of God for granted and assume its value without prove. We have proved it, considered it true, and by Faith now believe its message.

    As mentioned in the lesson: 2 Tim.3:16,17 - 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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    By the power of the Holy Spirit, the seeker for the Truth started out by proving the Scripture, found it true, placed his trust in it, and now has come to the place were he/she walks by Faith.

    As a believer, we now TRUST the Truth as revealed in the Scripture and have laid down our old life to allow it to be transformed into our new life.

  7. The unity of scripture must be seen in it's doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness". How else is the "man of God" to be found "perfect" unto "every good work" of righteousness? That is; to be a repentant sinner who is able to overcome by faith? If the scriptures had no unity, how could we be certain of what is truth? How could men like Luther have stood unflinchingly in the face of the "abomination of desolation" which caused nations to tremble? He had to have a sure foundation to stand upon while the opposition was often in contradiction of itself, and was certainly in opposition of Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

    Truth is a sure foundation that will not fail under the fierce tempest of persecution or the deception of flattery and deceitfulness of riches. It promises enduring riches that go far beyond the value of perishable things.

  8. Everlasting fire a topic has turned many faithful Christians to turn their back on a loving God because of our human understanding projected on the word everlasting.

    And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. . Matthew 9:43

    When you hear Jesus’ word on hell fire it seems to affirm the fact this fire will never be put out. Those in hell will burn forever and ever.

    1“For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, when all the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble; the day is coming when I will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of Hosts. “Not a root or branch will be left to them.” 2“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and leap like calves from the stall. 3Then you will trample the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day I am preparing,” says the LORD of Hosts Malachi 4: 1-3

    What do you do with two conflicting verses?

    The answer is the effect of the fire will have eternal consequences. Once the wicked are burnt up there will be no second chance given to them.

    Just like Sodom and Gomorrah once destroyed there will be no restoration of the cities. Once the rock fills the earth all other earthly kingdoms will come to an end. God’s kingdom will reign forever.

  9. Scripture has to be unified. Jesus understood everything he knew about himself by reading scripture. He spent many hours in prayer to be able to understand it. He was led by the Holy Spirit as we can be. His disciples had a fixed belief of what the Messiah would look like and act like. It wasn’t until their (false) hopes were shattered by Jesus death, that Jesus was able to help them see the truth, by leading them through scripture. Only then were they able to understand, and when they did understand, they were unstoppable.
    We have the ability to see this unity of scripture just like the disciples did, and by obediently moving forward, we will continue to grow. My husband and I were reading something this weekend that described it as “the lamp unto our feet”. When you’re walking at night using a flashlight, you can’t see the whole path, but as you keep moving forward, more of the path is illuminated. Scripture is the same way, you have to keep moving forward, and as we do, we will have more understanding of the unity and the central theme of the Bible.

  10. “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” Isaiah 28:10 KJV.

    Many years ago, I recall a Sabbath School in which a Bible zealot in our church reeled off many KJV proof texts to prove his point. What was most frustrating is that none of the texts seemed connected or in context or relevant to the discussion we were having. His point was completely lost in jumble of texts that may have had some sort of meaning to him but to no one else. When another person in the SS asked him what he meant, he just reeled off more proof texts. This was when I admitted out loud that I did not understand his point and wondered if anyone in the class could tell me what his point was. No one could. So I said, “Brian, just tell us what you are trying to say.”

    The Bible is not a collection of proof texts that one lines up “precept upon precept, line upon line” to establish doctrinal truth. Contrary to what one reads in Bible studies and hears in evangelistic crusades, this is not what Isaiah intended in 28:10. The context of this text is this: Intoxicated by pride and wealth, the rulers, leaders, priests and prophets of the northern kingdom of Israel (“Ephraim”) are incapable of comprehending God’s messages and acting justly, but are indignant and offended by Isaiah’s continuing straightforward warnings. They figure he is treating them like children, so

    They complain about me [Isaiah]. They say, "Who does that man think he's teaching? Who needs his message? It's only good for babies that have just stopped nursing! He is trying to teach us letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson." Isaiah 28:9-10 GNB.

    This text in Isaiah is certainly not a call for thoughtful Bible study or the formation of sound doctrine. It is a mocking reply to the sincere efforts of the prophet, yet that is how it is misapplied by proof texting. The proof-text approach to studying and teaching the Word of God undermines the unity and coherence of scripture and leads to misunderstanding, confusion and bad doctrine. It certainly does not align with the Protestant principle of sola scriptura.


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