VIDEO Responding to the New Attacks on Scripture

Nov 19, 2014

Dr. Farnell’s lecture given at the 2014 National Apologetics Conference.

It’s getting very bad out there in evangelicalism. Today the term inerrancy is used and there are critical evangelical scholars are attempting to redefine what they mean by that. You can trust the Bible. But here’s the question: can you trust this new group of evangelical critical scholars that are attempting to redefine inerrancy?

Denying the Account of the Resurrection of the Saints

Let’s read Matthew 27:45–56. First, notice “and… and… and… and…” Everything is connected here. It’s a complete story. Certain scholars though are saying that part of this story didn’t actually happen. In particular, Dr. Michael Licona, says that the account of the resurrection of the saints is a strange little story and without any real proof, attempts to remove it, claiming it didn’t really happen historically.

Evangelical seminaries are now following this kind of thinking. And it’s having a devastating effect on some pastors. Licona says, “It seems best to regard this difficult text in Matthew a poetic device.” In other words, the resurrection of the saints, Licona says, didn’t happen historically.

Not A New Battle

This battle is not new. This same thing was happening in the 70s in evangelicalism. Scholars from all denominations traveled to Chicago and created a statement affirming the Bible. The CSBI doesn’t just represent a few people, but hundreds of evangelical scholars…

God Said it, I Believe it, that settles it!

God Is Listening

soldier praying
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. —Psalm 5:3

The day before Billy Graham’s interview in 1982 on The Today Show, his director of public relations, Larry Ross, requested a private room for Graham to pray in before the interview. But when Mr. Graham arrived at the studio, his assistant informed Ross that Mr. Graham didn’t need the room. He said, “Mr. Graham started praying when he got up this morning, he prayed while eating breakfast, he prayed on the way over in the car, and he’ll probably be praying all the way through the interview.” Ross later said, “That was a great lesson for me to learn as a young man.”

Prayerfulness is not an event; it is a way of being in relationship with God. This kind of intimate relationship is developed when God’s people view prayerfulness as a way of life. The Psalms encourage us to begin each day by lifting our voice to the Lord (Ps. 5:3); to fill our day with conversations with God (55:17); and in the face of accusations and slander, to give ourselves totally to prayer (109:4). We develop prayer as a way of life because we desire to be with God (42:1-4; 84:1-2; 130:5-6).

Prayer is our way of connecting with God in all life’s circumstances. God is always listening. We can talk to Him any time throughout the day. By Marvin Williams

We are not told about the events that precipitated the writing of this psalm. Some scholars speculate that the enemies David speaks of may have been Doeg the Edomite (1 Sam. 22) or Ahithophel (2 Sam. 15–17). David brought his concerns to God because he knew God would deal with his enemies and care for him.

Thinking It Over
What is one major obstacle to developing your prayer life? What changes do you sense God wants to make in your heart so that you see prayer as a way of life?

In prayer, God hears more than your words— He listens to your heart.

The Search for Authentic Discipleship

Jesus Door
When it comes to true discipleship in a community, planning can only get us so far. It requires intentionality and—most importantly—God’s involvement.

The retreat center sat nestled in the woods, blanketed by dark night. A few scattered lights directed me down the winding road toward the main building. It was a common occurrence, me being late to a meeting because of my job. But I was thankful that I’d get to attend most of the event, and as they say, better late than never.

As I approached the massive door, I noticed Jesus, at least a large image of Him carved into the wood. His outstretched hand formed the handle, and the words “Come unto Me, and I will give you rest” encircled His head. I entered and found my group. The members were deep in discussion, talking about their personal lives as if they had already spent an entire weekend together. Some of them were relative strangers, but we had all accepted our church’s invitation to join an “experiment” regarding discipleship.

I sat quietly at the table, listening as others laid bare their souls. We shared; we talked; we prayed. Much the way those lights had guided me through the dark, we sought something that could direct us through the murky waters of our task. So we asked the Lord for answers to two questions: What is discipleship? And how should it look for our larger church family?

Ten of us—five men and five women—had been selected for the group by one of our pastors. The experiment was set up to provide answers twofold: first, by allowing us to bring our own discipleship experiences to the table, and second, by practicing spiritual disciplines together, modeling the unified life in Christ. In short, we not only talked about but also practiced discipleship.

Without vulnerability, integrity, and honesty, true discipleship cannot exist.

Over a period of eight months, we assembled collectively and as smaller groups to explore the topic, learning from one another and combining notes. We realized the best setting was in groups of two or three. A few of us men would grab breakfast and talk about what the Lord had been doing in our lives. Pairs of the women would get together to pray for a specific need. It was here that we defined the disciple as simply one who increasingly reflects the character of Jesus in all areas of life. And it was during these moments when we discovered the most crucial component: intentionality.

Think back to the calling of the 12 disciples. Jesus handpicked these men. He wanted to spend time with them. As Dr. Stanley says in his Life Principles Bible:

“Jesus trained His disciples primarily by being with them—walking with them, talking with them, eating with them, laughing with them, and listening to them. He welcomed their questions, just as He does ours today. There is no substitute for spending time with the Savior.”

And just as we must choose to spend time with God, we have to put effort into relationships with other Christians. But to do this effectively, we need three essential components if we’re to be intentional: vulnerability, integrity, and honesty. Without these, true discipleship cannot exist.

Vulnerability supposes a trust that will allow us into the deeper places of one another’s life. It means we’re willing to open up to our trusted brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing they want God’s best for our lives. This can be really tough. Many of us have been wounded in the past when our trust was abused by others, and we need to seek the restoration of our Father, who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3). It is critical to lower the walls of our heart to both love and be loved.

Integrity is a mark of godly character.The root of the word means “complete” or “whole,” lacking defect. Though we all were once “dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5). We now put on His character. The apostle Peter encouraged believers to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Pet. 2:12 NIV). The willingness to walk in this kind of character is crucial to healthy discipleship because it allows us to trust one another.

Honesty is at the heart of the gospel. With the same complete abandon people must give in turning to Jesus, we must open ourselves and share truthfully about our lives with one another. Those in discipling relationships can go only as far as they’re willing to live and speak truthfully. For instance, when we ask one another, “How are you doing spiritually?” we need a sincere reply because we cannot grow deeper roots without that. When I asked my wife to marry me, I handed her a card. It said, “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips” (Pro. 24:26 NIV). And it is.

Though our group realized the necessity of intentionality, we weren’t looking to simply institute another program in our church. Planning and structure will get us only so far. To see God’s life flourish within us, we need Him to do the deep inner working He alone can provide. And so we realized that true discipleship requires organic growth as evidenced by the presence of the Holy Spirit. That growth requires our involvement, but the responsibility is God’s. It is the embodiment of Proverbs 16:9: “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Or as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6).

As with anything worth fighting for, we have to consistently ask ourselves difficult questions to deepen our relationship with the Lord. Are we willing to spend significant time with other Christians to disciple them and likewise be discipled? Will we walk the Christian life out with others in close community—close enough that we risk looking like fools for walking on water one moment and sinking the next?

What began that weekend in a dark, secluded wood led to our experiencing the light of Christ in one another. By being intentional about discipleship, we were able to expect God to bring the growth He longs to provide.

Jesus is the door to the abundant life of discipleship, and He beckons us to enter. May we accept that invitation.

Life together is essential for discipleship to flourish. When spending time with one another, earnestly ask:

• How are you doing? (3 John 1:2)
• What are you doing to promote spiritual growth?
• What challenges are you currently facing?
• What is God doing and saying in and through your circumstances?
• How may I/we specifically pray for you?

By Joseph E. Miller

In Time of Trouble

“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)

In this psalm of praise, David expresses his confidence in the Lord, even though “the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh” (v. 2). In spite of the danger, he looks to God for safety. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (v. 1). Why did God preserve David? The answer is at least twofold.

First, David had a heart for God. “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple” (v. 4). “Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (v. 8). “Teach me thy way, O LORD” (v. 11).

The second reason is the nature of God Himself. God, by His very nature, hates evil and extends grace toward His own. He is pictured here as a warrior conquering the evil enemies of David. His laws forbid their actions; His gospel robbed these evildoers of their grip; His final kingdom will be rid of them. Until God’s justice, His gospel, and His purpose all fail, we can be sure that He will act.

In our text, David is hidden in the Lord’s “pavilion.” The word, which literally means a protective covering, was used for the tent of the commander-in-chief. Here, with the commander-in-chief, is the most fortified, guarded, and safe area of the battleground. If the pavilion falls, the battle is lost and God has failed. Hidden in His pavilion, we are as safe as He. He sees to it that we are not frightened (v. 13) amid the din of battle, and we shall share in the ultimate victory.

In this world, we have tumultuous war; in the next, unbroken peace. Assured of the outcome, we can “wait on the Lord: [and] be of good courage” (v. 14). JDM

God Is Not a Railway Porter

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? —Isaiah 40:12

We must be concerned with the person and character of God, not the promises. Through promises we learn what God has willed to us, we learn what we may claim as our heritage, we learn how we should pray. But faith itself must rest on the character of God.

Is this difficult to see? Why are we not stressing this in our evangelical circles? Why are we afraid to declare that people in our churches must come to know God Himself? Why do we not tell them that they must get beyond the point of making God a lifeboat for their rescue or a ladder to get them out of a burning building? How can we help our people get over the idea that God exists just to help run their businesses or fly their airplanes?

God is not a railway porter who carries your suitcase and serves you. God is God. He made heaven and earth. He holds the world in His hand. He measures the dust of the earth in the balance. He spreads the sky out like a mantle. He is the great God Almighty. He is not your servant. He is your Father, and you are His child. He sits in heaven, and you are on the earth.

God, I fall on my face before You in worship today. Forgive me for those times I have treated You as though You were my servant. I am Your servant, Lord, and I humbly bow before You today. Amen.

God’s Voice Still Entreats Lost Mankind

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. Romans 8:19, 22

Why is it that the shining world of which men have dreamed, and that every man secretly believes is somewhere before him, is nevertheless lost to men?

It can only be because we are out of the way.

The world we inhabit is a lost world. It is a sick, fallen planet upon which we ride. The sacred revelation declares plainly that the inhabitants of the world are also lost, by a mighty, calamitous visitation of woe which is still upon them.

But with this, it also tells us a glorious fact—that this lost race has not been given up!

Thankfully, there is a voice that calls, a voice that entreats! If we were not lost, there would be no voice behind us saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”

I say again that we have not been given up. That is plain from the Book of Genesis. Recall that the sound of God’s gentle voice was heard saying, “Adam, where art thou?”—and that voice has never died out!

All of His entreating calls blend into one, whether it be the voice of God’s love, or the voice of Jesus’ blood, or the voice of conscience, or the voice of the dead or of the living, or of the lost or of the saved!

So, the holy writer says the lost planet is full of vanity and has lost its meaning, crying like a woman in travail—but waiting, as it were, to be born again into the liberty of the sons of God, and saved from decay and corruption!

Tears of Joy, Amen!

He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. LUKE 3:16

We need not be afraid of a genuine visitation of the Spirit of God! Blaise Pascal, the famed seventeenth-century French scientist and philosopher, experienced in his lifetime a personal, overwhelming encounter with God that changed his life. Those who attended him at his death found a worn, creased paper in his clothing, close to his heart—apparently a reminder of what he had felt and sensed in God’s very presence.

In Pascal’s own hand it read:

From about half past ten at night, to about half after midnight—fire! O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob—not the God of philosophers or the wise. The God of Jesus Christ who can be known only in the ways of the Gospel. Security. Feeling. Peace. Joy. Tears of joy—Amen!

Were these the expressions of a fanatic, an extremist? No; it was the ecstatic utterance of a yielded man during two awesome hours in the presence of God. The astonished Pascal could only describe the visitation in one word—”Fire!”

Dear Lord, I pray that I will experience the “fire” of Your holy presence in my life. Burn away all the dross by Your Spirit. I want to live for You and You only.