Triple Fulfillment

“To be more precise, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy is usually in three stages. First came an immediate or literal fulfillment. The second stage, in which we are living, is the gospel or spiritual fulfillment. One day will come the third stage, which will be the final or heavenly fulfillment. Thus, the promise to Abraham of an innumerable posterity was historically fulfilled in the children of Israel (cf. Num. 23:10; 1 Kings 4:20), is being fulfilled today in Christ’s people, and will be consummated in heaven in the “great multitude that no one could count” round God’s throne (Rev. 7:9).” -John Stott, Understanding the Bible

Definition of Organic Inspiration

“The dual authorship of Scripture is an important truth to be carefully guarded. On the one hand, God spoke, revealing the truth and preserving the human authors from error, yet without violating their personality. On the other hand, men spoke, using their own faculties freely, yet without distorting the divine message. Their words were truly their own words. But they were (and still are) also God’s words, so that what Scripture says, God says.” -John Stott, Understanding the Bible

Revelation is Bound Up with the Idea of a Transcendent God

“The fundamental word is “revelation.” Derived from a Latin noun meaning “unveiling,” it indicates that God has taken the initiative to make himself known. The reasonableness of this concept should be plain. For whoever or whatever God may be, he is altogether beyond our knowledge. “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” (Job. 11:7). Indeed not. His infinite greatness is veiled from our eyes. We cannot discover him by ourselves. If we are ever to know him, he must make himself known.” -John Stott, Understanding the Bible

Crisis of Authority

“Drop the word “authority” into any conversation today, and it sets off in people a whole range of different vibrations. None of us has escaped the crisis of the last two decades. The widespread, conscious revolt against all established authority—government, university, church, family, tradition, Bible—broke out in 1968 when students and workers took to the barricades in Paris and the “Free Speech” movement erupted on the Berkeley campus of the University of California. Since then some genuine gains can be registered, in that contemporary society is more open and participatory than before. But there have been serious losses too, especially in the rejection of values and standards. Anarchists, in an uneasy alliance with existentialists, declare that nothing has meaning any longer, and that therefore no intellectual or moral authority of any kind is left. The Christian evangelist who seeks to infiltrate the defenses of anarchists will not begin with the authority of the Bible, but rather with the authority of Christ. For Jesus of Nazareth remains an attractive figure to them, in spite of the fact that he somehow managed to combine with his radical challenges to tradition a strangely conservative attitude to God and to Scripture. Moreover, his humble submissiveness had a self-authenticating quality, and still has when embodied in his followers. His authority does not simply impose itself from above; it commends itself from below. It is unexpectedly liberating.” -John Stott, Understanding the Bible

An Overview of Jesus’ Three-Year Ministry

“Although the evangelists are not concerned to give us a strictly chronological account of the Lord’s public ministry, it appears from John’s Gospel to have lasted approximately three years. We can call the first the year of obscurity, the second the year of popularity and the third the year of adversity.” -John Stott, Understanding the Bible

The Problem with Bible Genealogies

“When shall we date Adam, then? The chronology which was added in 1701 to the Authorized Version of the Bible (1611) was calculated by James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, from the biblical genealogies. By working backwards he reckoned that Adam was created in the year 4004 BC. But the genealogies never claim to be complete. For example, it is written in one of the genealogies of Jesus that Joram “begat” Uzziah, whereas we know from the Second Book of Kings that he was actually not his father but his great-great-grandfather. Three complete generations have been left out. And recent Near-Eastern studies have confirmed that such omissions were a regular practice in genealogies. Certainly the purpose of the biblical tables was more to establish the line of descent (for example, that Jesus was descended from David) than to provide a comprehensive family tree. If, then, they do not profess to be complete we have no ground for complaining about their omissions. Nor can we use them to calculate a detailed chronology.” -John Stott, Understanding the Bible

History, But More of a Testimony than ‘Straight Up History’

“This does not mean that the history recorded in the Bible is identical in every respect with the modern view of history. A historian today is supposed to give a full and objective account of all the facts of his period. The biblical historians, however, made no such claim. On the contrary, they were regarded as “the former prophets,” for they were writing “sacred history,” the story of God’s dealings with a particular people, for a particular purpose. They were convinced that God had “done this for no other nation” (Ps. 147:20). So their record is more a testimony than a history. They were writing down their own confession confession of faith. Therefore, they were selective in their choice of material and (the secular historian would add) unbalanced in their presentation of it. For example, ancient Babylonia, Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome—each a mighty empire and a rich civilization—are only included as they impinge on the fortunes of Israel and Judah, two tiny buffer states on the edge of the Arabian desert, which hardly anybody had heard of. The great thinkers of Greece like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato are not so much as mentioned, nor are national heroes like Alexander the Great (except obliquely) and Julius Caesar. Instead, the scriptural record concentrates on men like Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah and the prophets to whom the word of God came, and on Jesus Christ, God’s Word made flesh. For the concern of Scripture is not with the wisdom, wealth or might of the world, but with the salvation of God. Biblical history is Heilsgeschichte, the story of salvation.” -John Stott, Understanding the Bible