Series 2, Lecture 13: Jude 3 Considered Primarily in the Commentary of Andrew Willet (1564-1621)

Tonight, 4/25, at 7:30pm EST we will hold the thirteenth and last lecture on the exegetical foundation for the theology we call the Providential Preservation of Scripture. Lecture 13 considers Jude 3 in the writings of arguably England’s most accomplished Hebrew scholars, Andrew Willet (1564-1621).

The providential preservation of Scripture cannot be classified, categorized, or easily referenced. A revealed work, Scripture’s preservation reflects the complexity of God’s eternal decree in the flow of redemptive history. Providential preservation is evidence of an algorithm of Divine proportion, according to the eudokia, “good pleasure” of God and therefore is beyond the scope of human genius and ingenuity. If ever the words of Jeremiah 55:8-9, ring true, it is in the work of God’s providential preservation: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

The modern textual critic, because the intricacies of providential preservation are beyond the grasp of their empirical models deny its existence, as if to say, “if we can’t figure it out, it must not exist.” Providential preservation can be detected only after the fact, when the “Father’s hand,” has in His wisdom invisibly moved among men to fulfill the promises of His word. We see the same in the work of regeneration in John 3:8. Only after the soul has been born again do we realize the Holy Spirit doing a regenerating work.

With an exegetical foundation, the Scripture has informed the saint of the upper and lower control limits for the formulation of a systematic doctrine. In this case, the text informs us that what is being providentially preserved are the words of God. We also learn that providential preservation plays a necessary eschatological, covenantal role in the unfolding plan of salvation. At issue is the question of how these truths point to and provide a standard sacred text for the saint. While separate disciplines may answer this question differently, from an exegetical basis, a standard sacred text is imperative because this is what the Scripture demands. It is the providential preservation of the letters (Matt. 5:18) and words (John 10:35) of the Original Standard Sacred Text with all the literary, grammatical, and syntactical limitations first imposed upon the Text by the God, the Author. The same is true, only in a providential, mediated way, of a translation.

Providential preservation’s sole purpose is to provide a standard sacred text beyond the autografa whether in the original language or in a translation. The only criteria for determining what is and is not Scripture are the preserved words of God themselves. To eliminate providential preservation from the paradigm is to submit Scripture to the fallen reason of the reasoners, a process which fails to meet the pure Holy standard the Bible holds for itself. Scripture is self-attesting, self-authenticating, and self-interpreting. The recognition of this criteria comes through the ministry of the Holy Spirit both with and through the Scripture to the covenant keeping believer. Calvin writes these lasting and profound words in his Institutes:

[But] I reply, that the testimony of the Spirit is superior to all reason.  For as God alone is sufficient witness to himself in his own word, so also the word will never gain credit in the hearts of men, till it be confirmed by the internal testimony of the Spirit. It is necessary, therefore, that the same Spirit, who spake by the mouths of the prophets, should penetrate into our hearts, to convince us that they faithfully delivered the oracles which were divinely entrusted to them…; because, till he illuminate their minds, they are perpetually fluctuating amidst a multitude of doubts.[1] 

If it is not God that authenticates, attests to, and interprets his Word, then it will be some scholar or religious tradition that will determine for you what is God’s Word, why it’s God’s Word and how you should interpret it. God witnesses to Himself in this written testimony – the Old and New Testaments. In Scripture God is telling you that He is the Author of Scripture and therefore Scripture carries His authority. In Scripture God gives a clear witness to the fact that it is indeed His Word. In Scripture we learn that God alone is a fit witness to Himself and that God, in the Holy Spirit interprets the Scripture.

Scripture does indeed teach its own providential preservation. This did not occur through some miraculous act of special providence, but through God’s providential “fatherly hand,” drawing ten thousands of ten thousand acts of the human will together to accomplish His great eschatological plan of redemption, the perfect act of God’s will at work in time.

[1] Calvin, Institutes, 1.7.4. Also see Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. “The New Testament: How Do we Know for Sure,” Christianity Today, (Feb. 5, 1988), 28-32.

Don’t miss this vital study of the ramification and significance of the Christocentricity of Scripture in Jude 3 tonight, 4/25, at 7:30 EST.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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