June 23, 2011
Verbal Inspiration under Attack
Satan seeks to undermine the confidence of believers in the Bible. He wants to reduce the Word of God to the Word of man. The gist theory of inspiration represents one kind of attack upon the integrity of the Word of God and the Church. Teachers who spread the gist theory of inspiration persecute Christ and attack the church through their teaching.
Spiritual Attacks upon Believers. The spiritual assault upon the church comes from within and without. In Acts 20:25, page 1741, Paul meets with the elders from the church at Ephesus. He spread the Gospel to Ephesus, and knows the Ephesian church well. Paul also knows that bonds await him in Jerusalem, where he is heading, and tells the men that they “will no longer see his face.” (Acts 20:25). Paul describes the perils they will face as spiritual overseers of the church.
Shepherding the Flock. Paul commands the overseers (“ἐπισκόπους“), also called elders, to shepherd the flock of God. Every elder must act to shepherd (“ποιμαίνειν“) the church of God. The Holy Spirit has installed these men as overseers, and now they must act as shepherds. They shepherd the church of God, purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ. This reference here to blood signals the intensity and seriousness of their work. Today, as then at Ephesus, the church requires its elders to shepherd the flock, and not neglect their spiritual duties.
Attack from outside the Church. In Acts 20:29, page 1741, Paul warns against wolves coming into the flock from outside. The wolves will not spare the believers. Please recall the words of the Lord Jesus: “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the world coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches and scatters them. He flees, because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me . . . .” Therefore, we can see that Jesus uses elders in the church to protect the flock from wolves who want to snatch and scatter the sheep. Jesus never left the sheep, but laid down His life for the sheep because He owned them, and was not merely a hired hand. Thank the Lord Jesus that He never leaves the church, but rather builds up His church always. A single congregation of believers may disappear from a particular location (Revelation 2:5, page 1915), but Jesus promised to build His church and nothing would prevail against Him (Matthew 16:17-18, page 1530). The wolves attack the church from the outside. In contrast to the attack from the outside, the church also faces attacks from inside.
Attack from inside the Church. In Acts 20:30, Paul gives the second warning concerning the attack from inside the church. Men inside the church spread perversion among the believers to draw disciples away after them. Notice these men start to attack the church from within. They were people accepted into the fellowship of the assembly. Their attacks draw believers out of the assembly to follow them. Therefore, the Ephesian elders had a duty as overseers of the flock to shepherd the flock and prevent men from spreading perverse teaching that would draw men out of the church and follow those perverse teachers.
Evaluate the Teacher and Teaching. Every believer, and particularly the elders, must hold fast the faithful Word of God (Titus 1:9, page 1866). The failure to evaluate both the teacher and teaching by Biblical standards results in damage to the flock of believers, and families in particular (Titus 1:11, page 1866; compare Matthew 10:32-38, page 1517). Some people claim that the gist theory of inspiration results from the pure motive to preserve the “verbal inspiration” of the Bible. Nothing could be farther from the actual truth and the Bible contains many passages contradicting such a view (2 Timothy 3:16, page 1864; John 12:47-49, page 1682; John 14:24-26, page 1685; 2 Peter 1:20, page 1901). Every person who attacks the integrity of the Bible, and denies that the words of the Bible have been inspired by God, must be confronted in love, and removed from teaching, until they confess their error. Those people who continue in sin must be rebuked in the presence of all, so that the rest will be fearful (1 Timothy 5:20, page 1858).
So we learn more about the inspiration of the Word of God today.
● The Word of God warns us that wolves will attack the church from outside, while men within the church will teach perverse doctrine and draw believers away from the assembly.
● The Word of God requires us to evaluate every teacher in the local assembly, on television, and the internet. See if they are teaching from the Scriptures, and if so, are they teaching that the words of the Bible remain true forever.
● The Word of God requires us to love everyone, but also reprove and correct those men who teach error, so that they will acknowledge their sin, confess it before God, and turn to righteousness.
Application for Today
As I listen to teaching today, I will consider what the Word of God says about itself. I will evaluate what Christ the Teacher said in His word, and compare it to the speakers I hear. Christ taught that the Word of God contains no errors, and we can rely upon every word of it as truth. Will you live in the truth of the Word of God today?