VI. The providence of God has, in a most marvellous manner, PRESERVED the scriptures of the Old and New Testament from being lost or corrupted. While perhaps millions of other books, once of considerable fame in the world, and which no one sought to extirpate, are lost and forgotten, the Scriptures, though more early written, and though Satan and his agents unnumbered have hated them, and sought to cause their memory to perish from among men, or to corrupt them, still remain, and remain in their purity.
In great wisdom and kindness, God, for their preservation, ordered an original copy to be laid up in the Holy of Holies (Deuteronomy 31:26); and that every Hebrew king should write out a copy for himself (Deuteronomy 27:18); and appointed the careful and frequent reading of them, both in private and public. With astonishing kindness and wisdom has he made the contending parties who had access to the Scriptures–such as the Jews and Israelites, the Jews and Samaritans, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jews and Christians, and the various parties of Christians–MUTUAL CHECKS upon each other for almost three thousand years past, that they might not be able either to extirpate or to corrupt any part of them. When the Christians had almost utterly lost the knowledge of the Hebrew originals, God, by his providence, stirred up the Jewish rabbins to an uncommon labour for preserving them in their purity, by marking the number of letters, and how often each was repeated, in their Masoras.
By what tremendous judgments did he restrain and punish Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syro-Grecian king; Dioclesian, the Roman emperor; and others who attempted to destroy the copies of Scripture, in order to extirpate the Jewish or Christian religion! And he has bestowed amazing support and consolation on such as have risked or parted with their lives rather than deny the dictates of Scripture, or in the least contribute to their extirpation or misinterpretation.
By quickly multiplying the copies or the readers of the Scriptures, he rendered it impossible to corrupt them in anything important, without causing the corruption all at once to start up into every copy dispersed through the world, and into the memories of almost every reader;–than which nothing could be more absurd to suppose. Nay it is observable that of all the thousands of various readings which the learned have collected, not one in the least enervates any point of our faith or duty towards God or man.
The following post was originally written in 2007. I thought maybe it would be a good time to post something edifying about Noah in light of the recent unpleasantness.
“This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” Genesis 6:9-12
The God who promised to send the Seed of the Woman to crush the Serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15) gave Noah the faith to believe this promise. God was the ultimate basis of Noah’s righteousness. The way in which the Seed of the Woman would crush the Serpent’s head, destroying Satan’s power through sin over God’s chosen, had not yet been revealed. Noah did not know how God’s promised Seed would save him from sin, he just believed that he would. As we study through the Old Testament, we’ll learn that God reveals his plan to save sinners progressively, a little bit at a time.
Our lives are like that. We set goals, but we don’t know everything we’ll need to do yet, or what will happen to us before we reach our goal, but these details become clear to us day by day. This is the way it works with the history of God’s work of redemption from sin. First we learn the big picture: God had announced his plan to send Someone to defeat the great enemy of our souls; then, bit by bit, who this Someone is, and how he’s going to defeat this enemy slowly became clear to people like Adam, Seth, Enoch and Noah one detail at a time. A few of these details are revealed to us in the righteous life of Noah.
By his grace, God promised to deliver Noah from the flood of judgment which he and the entire world deserved (Genesis 6:18), and Noah believed God’s promise, so one of the factors of Noah’s righteous life was faith. This faith in God’s promise was the basis for Noah’s righteous life, but it was not his faith that saved him, it was the gracious, promise-keeping God who chose to save him that was the ultimate basis of his righteousness and his salvation. Noah was a righteous man because God made Noah a righteous man.
The other factor that adds up to righteousness for Noah was his obedience to God’s commands. God gave Noah very specific instructions to build an ark (Genesis 6:14-16), what size to build it, what to build it with, how to build it and how many of the various beasts, birds and bugs to gather into the ark (Genesis 6:19-20). The testimony of Moses was that Noah obeyed all that God commanded him to do (Genesis 6:22). Yet this obedience by itself did not earn for Noah his status as a righteous man. Remember he was righteous by God’s grace through the faith granted to him by God (see Ephesians 2:8-9) with which he believed the God of the promise of salvation from sin, Satan and the flood. Noah’s faith was the root of Noah’s obedience. Noah’s obedience was the fruit of Noah’s faith. Therefore Noah’s faith evidenced by his obedience was what Moses was talking about when he wrote that Noah was a righteous man (Genesis 6:9).
God saves us the same way. All of us were born with Adam’s guilt legally imputed to us (Romans 5:12-14) by virtue of the fact that Adam represented us in the covenant with God which he violated when he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3; cf. Hosea 6:7). In addition to this, we were born, having inherited a corrupt human nature that wants nothing but sin (Romans 3:10-18), unable to do anything (Romans 8:7) that will please him (Hebrews 11:6) and save ourselves. As things stand, we deserve death and an eternity of suffering the wrath of God.
But out of the mass of condemned humanity, a remnant finds favor with God (Genesis 6:8; cf. Romans 11:5-7). Because of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection for sinners, God looks on this remnant with grace and gives them the faith (Acts 13:48; 18:27) to trust the work of Christ that is preached to everybody (Mark 16:15). We then rely on his grace to give us the obedience with which we show our thanks and love for the work of Christ on the cross (John 14:15). So we learn how God saved us in the Bible, and we also learn how to respond to this good news in grateful love by learning the commands of God—because true faith works by love (Galatians 5:6). That’s how we can be remembered as a righteous man or a righteous woman after our story has been told, just like Noah, by a God-given faith in Christ that obeys God’s commands.
Noah (2014) is Gnostic!
In his post, “Sympathy for the Devil,” Dr. Brian Mattson connects the dots and demonstrates The Noah movie is not a Bible movie, but it’s “creative license” was issued from the Kabbalah, and other Gnostic sources, from the bodiless Adam and Eve at the beginning of the film, to the circular rainbow at the end of the film.
Darren Aronofsky has produced a retelling of the Noah story without reference to the Bible at all. This was not, as he claimed, just a storied tradition of run-of-the-mill Jewish “Midrash.” This was a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and Gnostic sources. To my mind, there is simply no doubt about this.
So let me tell you what the real scandal in all of this is.
It isn’t that he made a film that departed from the biblical story. It isn’t that disappointed and overheated Christian critics had expectations set too high.
The scandal is this: of all the Christian leaders who went to great lengths to endorse this movie (for whatever reasons: “it’s a conversation starter,” “at least Hollywood is doing something on the Bible,” etc.), and all of the Christian leaders who panned it for “not following the Bible”…
Not one of them could identify a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story when it was right in front of their faces.
DO NOT ignore Dr. Mattson’s post! This is the most important and informative one to surface in this deluge of Noah “conversation.”
Dr. Mattson recommends that all Christians get informed on Gnosticism so they can spot this kind of stuff in the future. He recommends we begin by reading Against Heresies by the Church Father Irenaeus of Lyons (begin here). It gave us most of what we’ve known about Gnosticism since the late second century. It’s required reading in this era of Gnostic revival. Noah is only the latest platform promoting Gnosticism in our culture.
For the record, no one is saying don’t go see the movie. What people like me would say is be an informed viewer. I don’t care if you like it or hate it, or if you ever see it. But if you do, do not miss the fact that there is more to “creative license” than meets the eye.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV).
Jeffrey A. Stivason discusses the development of B. B. Warfield’s understanding of how the words of Scripture were not just those of the human writers, but the very product of the breath of God.
This weekend we are in Boerne, TX with a small band of church friends to attend the Texas Hill Country Bible Conference sponsored by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Today is the first day, and we spent last night in the local La Quinta Inn.
I dreamed that it was Halloween, or as we Reformed folk sometimes refer to it, Reformation Day, and two of my favorite local churches were celebrating the Reformation and promoting their churches by being out and about on their properties to interact with trick-or-treaters and fellow observers of Reformation Day. I have no idea why I’m home and not at church and participating, but the events were covered on the local news, and I noticed in the footage that legendary (in his circles) Reformed theologian and Ligonier Ministries founder, Dr. R.C. Sproul was at one of the churches!
What? I decided to call one of the elders of one of the churches to see if this was still going on so I could come meet Dr. Sproul, but couldn’t reach him! As I prepared to call another guy, my alarm goes off and I’m frustrated because I want to get through to someone!
I didn’t want to get up yet, but I reluctantly succumbed to consciousness. I laid there wallowing in my missed opportunity for a moment, and then I sighed with relief when I realized that it’s okay, because at least today I get to meet the current president of Wheaton College and former pastor of Philly’s Tenth Presbyterian Church, Dr. Phil Ryken.