The Harmony of the Scriptures

The Harmony of the Scriptures

Text: Proverbs 30:2-9


I.         The denominational world has long debated the relationship of faith, works, and grace in man’s salvation.

            A.        Some argue that salvation is by faith alone while others argue the necessity of works. Some turn their attention to grace and argue that grace alone saves men.

            B.        The problem has always been that various adherents have focused on a limited set of passages

                        1.         For example, most Protestant denominations focus on

                                    a.         Ephesians 2:8-9

                                    b.         Romans 3:22-24

                                    c.         Romans 4:2-5

                        2.         But they will avoid passages such as James 2:14-26

                                    a.         Martin Luther went so far as to express doubt as to James authenticity because of what James 2 contained.

                        3.         Yet those who oppose the faith alone view often will focus on James 2:14-26 and ignore the “problem” texts such as Romans 4:5

            C.        The issue can be understood if we simply dump the baggage of the past several centuries and concentrate on what is actually stated.

II.        There is a science of understanding the meaning of what someone writes called hermeneutics.

            A.        One basic principle is a general assumption that every author’s writings are in harmony, unless it is clearly established otherwise.

                        1.         Authors write to be understood, hence we would expect consistency in their individual messages.

                        2.         We would expect a theme or purpose behind the writing with points supporting the theme.

            B.        In Principles of Interpretation, by Clinton Lockhart: “One of two contradictory statements must be false, unless corresponding terms have different meanings or applications.”

            C.        In biblical hermeneutics this general principle becomes an absolute law.

                        1.         Since God is the expressed author of the Bible and God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then there is no contradiction in work of God.

                        2.         When we run into an apparent contradiction in the Bible, we need to examine the context of the statements to see if there are terms being used in different senses of meaning or application.

            D.        This principle was used by Jesus in his temptation - Matthew 4:6-7

                        1.         Satan quoted Psalm 91:11-12 where God promises protection

                        2.         Jesus countered with Deuteronomy 6:16 by stating “Again it is written.”

                        3.         By pointing out an additional verse that appears to contradict the interpretation given to another verse, Jesus is pointing out that an error was made.

                        4.         Psalm 91:11-12 must be in harmony with Deuteronomy 6:16 since the all-knowing God wrote both passages.

III.       Application

            A.        How many angels?

                        1.         Matthew 28:1-3 mentions one

                        2.         Luke 24:1-4 mentions two

                        3.         Sceptics are quick to pounce, declaring a contradiction

                        4.         Suppose I related an event that happened in a meeting and mentioned that brother X said something important. Would it be reasonable to conclude that only I and brother X met? Of course not!

                        5.         If Matthew mentions the appearance of an angel and what that angel said, does that preclude any additional angels being presence? For the same reason as before, it does not.

                        6.         Why the difference in details? There is difference in the purpose of the two books

            B.        How are we saved?

                        1.         When Romans 4:5 held up against James 2:24, a contradiction does not exist

                                    a.         To claim so is to claim that the text is not inspired.

                                    b.         Instead, we need to examine the context of the two passages to see how the terms are being used.

                                    c.         In particular we need to know if they are being used with a different sense of meaning or application.

                        2.         There are several terms being used:

                                    a.         Faith, works, and justification

                                    b.         Are there multiple faiths?

                                                (1)       Most realize that the faith exhibited by demons (James 2:19) is not the faith talked about in Hebrews 11:6, though they are worded similarly.

                                                (2)       James’ point is that the faith of demons is missing an essential element.

                                    c.         Are there multiple works?

                                                (1)       There are works of God - John 6:28-29; 9:3-4

                                                (2)       There are works of the devil - I John 3:8

                                                (3)       There are works of man’s hands - Acts 7:41

                                                (4)       There are works of the Law - Romans 3:20, 27-28; Galatians 2:16

                                                (5)       There are good works - Ephesians 2:10; I Timothy 2:9-10

                                                (6)       There are dead works - Hebrews 6:1

                        3.         Just these two terms shows that we cannot make blanket statements about faith or works without defining the kind of faith or the kind of works with which we are dealing.

            C.        When baptism is mentioned as saving, as in I Peter 3:21, many object and hold up John 3:16

                        1.         The line of argument is in error. All they are claiming is that “my favorite verse is better than your favorite verse.”

                        2.         The reality is that all verses in the Bible come from God.

                        3.         As Jesus pointed out to Satan, you cannot use a select set of verses against the rest of what the Bible teaches.

                        4.         Unfortunately, the denominational world does not look to harmonize the Scriptures, instead they search high and low for ways to dismiss the verses that do not agree with their preconceived notions.

IV.      In order to understand any writing, including God’s Holy Word, we must be willing to seek the harmony of what is stated.

            A.        We cannot pull a passage out of its context because the context defines how the words are being used

            B.        We cannot pit one passage against another without denying the inspiration of the Scriptures.

            C.        As David said - Psalm 119:160

            D.        Or as Paul stated - II Timothy 3:16-17