I read an article posted on a news website about someone converting from Christianity to Judaism, and they were quoted as saying that they believe the Old Testament but that all the stories are not intended to be taken literal. They like the opportunity to “believe” and have “faith”.
In other words, the Old Testament is full of myths intended to help one believe and have faith.
Belief in what? Faith in what? Faith has to have an object. If it’s faith in some deity, then I suppose that’s fine, but if that deity’s book is just myth, then how can one “believe” that this deity is actually real?
There is no salvation in that. That’s cold and dead. If that is the case, then atheists are on to something.
Without a robust doctrine of the Scriptures there is nothing one can hang their hat on regarding salvation or even the need for salvation.
The source of one’s truth is vital in determining one’s framework for understanding who they are. If one tosses the reality of the content of the Old Testament away for objectless “faith” then they really don’t believe they are in need of saving, and thus they are good and faith is just there to help us get over our challenges in life and provide some inspiration.
Salvation and the Word of God go hand in hand. The Word tells us we need saving, so if we have no reliable and bedrock source of truth, then our need of being rescued is in question.
Remember, Isaiah 59:15b-20 reminds us that the armor Scripture is telling us to put on is God’s armor not some made up stuff to help the Ephesians feel good.
There is great confidence in the fact that this armor is the armor the Lord himself takes up in his warfare against his adversaries and in his protection and redemption and salvation of those who are his.
So, as we look to be armored up, we do so with great confidence that this armor is God’s armor and that he has made it available to us as a fail safe guard against the enemies of the gospel.
So, we look to the final two pieces of armor that we are to put on through prayer in our abiding in Christ.
To put on the helmet of salvation (cf. Is. 59:17), in the context of this letter, is to assure our hearts of our union with Christ—that we are already seated with him and so secure in him (cf. 2:5–8). We hold the strong ground; we are only called to ‘stand’.
To put on salvation is NOT to get saved daily.
If the armor is salvation, then the temptation is to doubt our salvation and call into question the security of our salvation.
To put on salvation is to battle for the assurance of our salvation.
Perhaps one of the most fiery and devastating arrows the Adversary shoots at us is the arrow of doubting our position in Christ and making our position in Christ something we earn rather than something we are given by grace.
Let’s look at what the word tells us about our salvation from Ephesians 2:4-9.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
A. Our salvation begins with God’s love not man’s effort v. 4a
B. Our salvation comes from God’s mercy not man’s ability v. 4a
C. Our salvation comes in spite of our being dead and not spiritually seeking v. 4b
D. Our salvation comes because God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world Ephesians 1:4-5 (2:1-9 is built upon his elective love to raise dead sinners)
E. Our salvation comes because we have been made alive WITH Christ v. 5
F. Our salvation comes because of grace (God’s kindness and unmerited favor) v. 5
G. Our salvation comes because God raised us up WITH Christ v. 6
H. Our salvation comes because God has seated us WITH Christ in heavenly places v. 6
I. Our salvation comes in order for God to show us his immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness v. 7
J. Our salvation by grace through faith comes as a gift of God, not our works v. 8-9 (to do it justice, faith is the gift by which we believe and are saved, so our salvation from its inception is completely a gift of God)
K. Our salvation is such that we can never brag we did anything v. 9
The armor of our salvation is the assurance that what Father said he would do in Christ he has done completely.
Hebrews 10:14 “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
Note, however, that this assurance of our salvation is built on what is written not our feelings on the matter.
Therefore, we must have an unbreakable dependence on the Word of God that we are assured tells us what is right and true so that our assurance can stand.
Enter the armor of the Word!
- The Word
The Scriptures are a ballast that will keep us upright and steady in the most violent of storms. Only at one’s own peril do they jettison the Word of God as their Manual on all of life.
I do not believe it is coincidence that Paul’s armor list begins with the truth and ends with the word. To have the same item at the front and back of a list is called an “inclusio”, a device used to bookend a list and show that the content of the list is found in / part of / due to what bookends that list. It’s debatable that this is an “inclusio” due to it not being a normal Pauline device. However, we are going to go with it.
The idea here is that the truth and the word are the same thing and this armor is found in and unpacked in this truth and put on, as we saw in verse 18, through prayer.
John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
If the armor is the word, then the temptation may be to disregard the word for other sources of authority.
For the Christians, the only source of authority is the metanarrative of the truth supplied in the Scriptures. It’s in the Manual!
The word is truth (noun, not adjective). If truth were adjectival then the word could be said to contain some truth. But truth is a noun. This means that the very essence of the word (bible, written words of God) is truth.
The bible does not contain some truths. The bible is the very essence of truth.
The authors of both the Old Testament and the New Testament claim that what they are writing are inspired and are in fact from God. This makes them either right or crazy or liars.
This is why we claim the doctrine of inerrancy, the teaching that the bible does not contain anything contrary to fact.
We believe that Scripture is not only inspired, but that it accurately communicates God’s instruction to his creatures about who he is, who we are, what his purpose is, why things are as they are, what our role is, why things are as they are and how he will complete the mission, etc., has been accurately transmitted from the originals to copies so often that it can be documented bibliographically and archaeologically.
What I want to do is give you a shortened version of my class on biblical reliability to help you see that not only does the bible contain the epitome of what is true, but that the bible is accurate, thus removing any foolish argument seeking to undermine any of what the text teaches.
Satan’s first attack in the garden was, “Did God say?” So, we want to remove that lie’s potency with some facts.
A. Transmission Process (process of copying from the originals)
- There are not originals that have been found (papyrus etc. rots too
easily, thus the rise of the scribal traditions to copy vital texts)
- Method: Original to copy to copy
2a. Word by word
2b. Line by line
2c. Letter count per line and per page
2d. It had to be good because writing surfaces were expensive
B. Old Testament
- Dead Sea Scrolls (1947)
“Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran cave 1 near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest manuscript previously known (AD 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.”
- Ebla Tablets and the weakening of the “Documentary Hypothesis” by Julius Welhausen
2a. DH is an unfortunate theological implication of evolution
as a worldview affecting schools of theology.
If man evolved, then language is a product of evolution and thus the farther back we go the less able people are to have complex written language.
Welhausen believed that Moses was too far back in time and evolution to have the complex ability to write what was contained in the first five books of the Old Testament, so he rejected Mosaic authorship and constructed the DH, which states there were different authors for each book based on the dominant use of names of God in each book, thus reflecting that particular author’s theological bent.
The discovery of the Ebla tablets, an entire library of written documents on tablets, discovered at Tel-Mardikh in Syria, put written language 1,000 years prior to Moses, thus placing complex writing 1,000 years prior to Moses, thus making it probable that Moses not only could have written the books, but more than likely did write them.
- Hittite Civilization
3a. Hittites were used as a “proof” that the Bible was full of
myths, because there was no proof in the 1800’s of that people.
3b. Because of archaeology, the Hittite civilization was
discovered, and lasted over 1,200 years, and one can now get a
doctorate in Hittite Studies at the University of Chicago.
C. New Testament
- The writers were inspired by God
1a. Inspiration can be a weak term. God breathed is a more accurate and bible used term to describe what is given in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).
1b. 51 times the NT uses the word “graphe” to describe OT writings as Scripture. Two times the NT calls the NT writings “graphe” (2 Peter 3:16 and 1 Tim 5:8 quoting Luke 10:7, meaning Luke was already in circulation by the late 50’s early
- The writers controlled by the Holy Spirit
2a. 2 Peter 1:20-21
“…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Remember, Peter called Paul’s writings “Scripture”.
- The time between the writing of the original and the copying of the oldest extant manuscript is extremely short for the New Testament.
Remember, we have now found a fragment from Mark dating from AD 80!
3a. Why is this important? The shorter the time the more reliable a text is considered.
Ancient classics have an average gap of over 1,000 years.
A 700-year gap is considered good among works of antiquity.
3b. John Ryland’s manuscript (oldest copy of the NT)
1. Contains fragments from John (John 18:31-33, 37-38)
2. Dates to approximately AD 117-138
3c. Bodmer Papyri
1. Contains most of the Gospels of Luke and John
2. Dates to approximately AD 200
3d. Chester Beatty Papyri
1. Contains almost all the NT (including large portions of the Gospels)
2. Dates approximately AD 250
3e. Codex Sinaiticus (The British Museum)
1. Contains the entire NT and parts of the OT
2. Dates to approximately AD 340
3f. Codex Vaticanus (Vatican Library)
1. Contains most of the Bible
2. Dates to approximately AD 325-350
3g. Codex Alexandrinus (The British Museum)
1. Contains most of the Bible
2. Dates to approximately AD 450
3h. Codex Bezae (Cambridge University Library)
1. Contains parts of the NT and most of the Gospels (written in Greek and Latin)
2. Dates to approximately AD 450-550
- The NT compared to other documents of antiquity
Author Date Earliest Copy # of Copies Accuracy
Caesar 1st Century BC AD 900 10 ?
Tacitus AD 100 AD 1,100 20 ?
Thucydides 5th Century BC AD 900 8 ?
Herodotus 5th Century BC AD 900 8 ?
Homer 9th Century BC ? 643 95%
NT 1st Century AD 2nd Century AD 5,000+ 99+%
- Our Armor is Sufficient
Father has given us all we need to stand against the schemes of the Adversary.
Truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation and the word are completely adequate and powerful to combat the enemy and stand firm on the unifying gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
So, let us use the armor and let us stand firm and let us be a warring and worshiping people.
Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant , and a song of praise is fitting.”
 The bible uses the word “salvation” precisely because Jesus’ work rescues those who are saved from the just wrath of God. The fall put all of mankind in the crosshairs of God’s justice. At the cross, Jesus takes the full force of justice for those the Father has given the Son (who will repent and believe) so that they will never get anything but mercy, grace and love. Thus, salvation is a glorious word that is loaded with meaning for the object of salvation.
 This is why a good systematic theology starts with the doctrine of the word of God. Otherwise, the entire content of that systematic theology can be called into question because the basis for determining what the whole bible teaches on a given subject is not in tact.