Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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December 2003, Volume IX, Issue 20


Scripture Twisting (1)

So far we have seen that God-breathed Scripture is absolutely sure and unbreakable, and that it shall never pass away.  How then are sinful men going to avoid submitting to it? Many try to ignore it. Others attack it, calling it "cunningly devised fables" (II Peter 1:16).  Others argue that the Bible's meaning is simply a matter of personal opinion: "That's what you say it means!"  Many try all three of these methods to avoid obeying God's Word. Moreover, Peter even writes of these who are "unlearned and unstable" who "wrest" or twist the writings of Paul and "the other scriptures" (II Peter 3:15-16).

The "other scriptures" (16) certainly include the inspired OT.  Paul's epistles (15) are also Scripture, placed on par with the OT as divine writings, since Peter refers to the OT as "other scriptures" (16).  The OT, all the inspired letters Paul wrote, and indeed the remaining NT books constitute the sacred Scriptures. The 39 OT and 27 NT books are the product of divine "wisdom" (15) given to God's chosen penmen. Wisdom is that which perfectly adapts to reality, and all Scripture perfectly accords with the reality of the sovereign Triune God and His redemption in Christ Jesus. The 66 books of the Scriptures, as the product of Jehovah's infinite wisdom, are a perfect unity and contain no mistakes. For what part have errors in God's wisdom?

There are, however, difficult parts in God's Word—in the OT, in Paul's epistles and in the rest of the NT—for there are "some things hard to be understood" in the Scriptures (16). This does not oppose the orthodox doctrine of the perspicuity or clarity of Scripture. "Hard to be understood" does not mean impossible to be understood. Furthermore, "some things" are "hard to be understood;" not all or even most things; merely some things. This means that most of the Bible is not hard to understand. As the Psalmist says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Ps. 119:105). Thus "ordinary" believers—and not just church officers or those with theological degrees—can and must read the Scriptures in the confidence that most of Scripture can be understood. There are some hard bits, but do not let them discourage you.  Interpret the hard parts in the light of the easier parts. Study more diligently. Pray over the Word for divine illumination.  Use commentaries or ask an orthodox church teacher.

The infinitely wise God included some hard parts in Scripture in order to serve our salvation.  These difficulties subdue our pride and stir us up to pray and search the Word. Moreover, we often only esteem that which we obtain with difficulty.  God also uses the difficult sections of His Word to snare the wicked, for they twist especially the hard parts of Scripture to their own destruction (16), as we shall see (DV). Rev. Stewart

The Role of Israel (5)

In the last two issues of the News, we have seen that Jeremiah 31:31-34 is fulfilled in the NT catholic church of Christ. This sheds light on the interpretation of the surrounding chapters, Jeremiah 30-33, which are widely recognised as Messianic.

First, the days of Jeremiah 31:31-34 ("the days come" [31]; "those days" [33]) are the "last/latter days" which began with the coming of God’s Son in the flesh (Heb. 1:2) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17-18), as we have seen from the last two issues. This suggests that other verses—and their contexts—in Jeremiah 30-33 which refer to the "latter days" (30:24) or "those days" (31:29; 33:15, 16) or which state that "the days come" (30:3; 31:27, 38; 33:14) must be so interpreted. Second, the NT passages we have considered in this connection (Matt. 26:28; I Cor. 11:25; II Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:8-12; 10:16-17) all teach that the new covenant of 31:31-34 is established in the blood of Christ. Thus when Jeremiah predicts the coming Davidic king (30:9; 33:15-18, 19-22), these sections refer to the NT age. Third, Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew tells us, is a prophecy of the slaughter of the innocents in the days after Christ’s birth (2:16-18). Fourth, Jeremiah 31:31-34 is not the only passage in Jeremiah 30-33 which speaks of God’s faithfulness to His covenant. The word "covenant" (31:31-33; 32:40; 33:20-21, 25) or the covenant formula—"ye shall be my people, and I will be your God" (30:22) or variations of it (31:33; 32:38)—occur in all four chapters of Jeremiah 30-33. Fifth, two of the great blessings of the new covenant are mentioned not only in Jeremiah 31:31-34, but elsewhere in Jeremiah 30-33. I am thinking here of "heart-religion" (31:33; 32:39-40) and the forgiveness of sins (31:34; 33:8).

Thus Jeremiah 30-33 speaks of the repentance (31:9, 18-19), joy (30:19; 31:4, 7) and spiritual unity of the one true Israel of God in all ages (32:39). The prophecies of the return to the land (30:3), the rebuilding of Jerusalem (31:38-40), the multiplication of man and beast (31:27), and agricultural plenty (31:12; 33:12-13) are fulfilled in the return of God’s people from Babylon which is a picture of the Good Shepherd’s gathering His redeemed from the four corners of the earth (31:10-11; John 10:14-16).

God’s promise of the continuous reign of the Davidic house (33:17, 21) and the continuous labours of the Levites (33:18, 21) is false if taken literally, since for many centuries there have been no earthly throne of David (33:17) and no literal Levitical offerings (33:18). It will not do to say that these verses speak of their restoration in a future millennial age. The text does not say that these things will be restored in the days ahead; it says that they will always continue from Jeremiah’s day to the end of time (33:17-18, 21-22). The Holy Spirit tells us that the ascended Christ sits (present tense) on the throne of David (Acts 2:29-30) and that the Christian church is the new priesthood (I Peter 2:9) which offers "the sacrifice of praise" (Heb. 13:15). Only the Reformed principle of Scripture interprets Scripture—and not dispensationalist "literalism"—fits the biblical facts. Rev. Stewart

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