The Eighteen Principles of Divine Revelation

Principle No. 6 The Agreement Principle

By Clifton L. Fowler

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


For nearly two millenniums the enemies of the Word of God have determinedly contended that the Bible abounds in contradictions, discrepancies, inconsistencies and inaccuracies. The first great writer taking the positions of so-called modernism was Porphyry. He wrote in the latter part of the third century, and although his mind had never been instructed in the “newer conceptions of this enlightened age,” he took the same positions, to a very large extent, which are now taken by the modernist. His method of attack upon the Word of God. was identical with modernism. He wrote fifteen books against the Bible taking the Pentateuch, Daniel and many of the other sections which are the favorite battle grounds of the followers of Shailer Matthews, George “Albert Coe, Harry Emerson Fosdick, et al. The Christians of that early day recognized Porphyry as a wicked blasphemer and classified his writings as satanic. Jerome calls him a “rabid dog against Christ.”

The claim that the Bible contradicts itself is still heard. Books are written with such titles as “One Thousand Contradictions from the Bible,” and surface inconsistencies and alleged inaccuracies are paraded before the minds of the untrained as though they were incontrovertible contradictions. The fact of the matter is, not one supposed inaccuracy in the Bible has ever been demonstrated to actually exist. They have all been shown to have been resting upon the flimsy basis of a false transcription, or an interpretation that is repugnant to the balance of Scripture.

As has been frequently said in this series of studies on the Eighteen Principles of Divine Revelation, it is not our purpose in these discussions to prove the inspiration of the Scriptures. We are simply seeking to adduce from the Word of God itself proof of existence of underlying principles of Divine Revelation. The “Higher Critic” is constantly boasting that his conclusions are based upon internal evidence. We accept his challenge and submit the inescapable and indubitable demonstration that the Fighteen Principles rest upon nothing more nor less than a convincing array of internal evidence. The plenary and verbal inspiration of God's Holy Word is constantly assumed.

The definition of the Agreement Principle is:


(a) Under which the truthfulness and faithfulness of God become His guarantee that He will not set forth any passage in His Word which contradicts any other passage.

So common has unfaithfulness and disloyalty become among men that their conception of God has become a reflection of their own wicked and degraded condition. ‘The modernist unhesitatingly accuses the Lord Jesus Christ of accommodating Himself to the ignorance of the people of His day in many points in His teaching. The Saviour is frankly accredited with “knowing better” but He employed tact in order that He should not be guilty of antagonizing those whom He was seeking to teach. ‘This abominable defamation of the moral character of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, is quite generally held by those who have embraced the fallacies of modern thought. Furthermore, the modernist denies the accuracy of the narratives pertaining to the miracles and fancies that he sees on almost every page of the Old Testament contradictions and discrepancies, some minor and some of major importance. To entertain these ideas is to accuse God of unspeakable falsehood and to deny His faithfulness to His people.

The faithfulness of God is declared over and over again in the Word:

“Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven, ‘Thy faithfulness is unto all generations.” (Ps, 119;89-90.)

If God is faithful, and God has settled His “Word,” then it may be declared with assurance there is no unfaithfulness or falsehood in that Word. Because God is faithful He cannot disagree with Himself. Because God is faithful the Book which purports to be God’s Book cannot contain discrepancies and contradictions. If discrepancies and contradictions are demonstrated to exist in the Bible, then one of two things becomes inescapably certain, —cither the Bible is not God’s Book for God is faithful, ‘or else the Bible is God's Book and God is not faithful, We unhesitatingly repudiate both of these conclusions and accept the ultimatum of inspiration,—God is faithful, and the Bible is His changelessly harmonious Book.

If God is faithful then God does not falsify. To this the Scriptures bear witness:

“God is not man that He should LIE.” (Num. 23:19.)

“He is the Rock, His work is perfect, * * * a God of TRUTH and without iniquity; just and right is He.” (Deut. 32:4.)

“The Strength of Israel WILL NOT LIE.” (1 Sam. 15:29.)

“The Word of the Lord is RIGHT.” (Ps. 33:4.)

“Let God be TRUE but every man a liar,” (Rom. 3:4)

“In hope of eternal life which GOD THAT CANNOT LIE, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2)

|“and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, HOLY AND TRUE.” (Rev. 6:10.)

“I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.” (Jno. 14:6.)

God is not a liar. God does not contradict Himself. He cannot contradict Himself and still be GOD. God does not tell us a beautiful narrative of an astonishing miracle in order to produce dramatic effect and then let it be discovered a few thousand years later that He had put a ‘rather clever one over on His trusting and credulous people. ‘The positions of modernism are an insult to God and a repudiation of His Word. Our God is Truth!

The truthfulness and faithfulness of God become His ‘guarantee that He will not allow to creep into His Divine ‘revelation passages the true meaning of which is repugant to any other passage. ‘The Agreement Principle is that principle of Divine Revelation under which God never disagrees with Himself. If God were to say any‘thing in Genesis which He later contradicts in Revelation ‘His faithfulness would be exploded and His truthfulness ‘a farce. Well may the child of God be grateful for the fact that the Bible so insistently and repeatedly declares ‘the truthfulness and faithfulness of God. Because God {is truthful and God is faithful even finite man may come ‘to the Bible, that infinite and celestial Book, knowing that if there comes to his attention an apparent contradiction, pr: fancied inconsistency, that it is either his own limitation, which has kept him from understanding the holy Word, or else Satan himself has wrought within his soul a God-denying and Bible-destroying imagination. Be‘cause God is true and God is faithful, the Agreement Principle is wrought into the very warp and woof of God's Book.

Passages which are cloudy because of faulty translation, have become the fertile soil in. which J | the enemies of the Bible have produced fancied discrepancies and imaginary contradictions.

In view of this fact, the value of the Agreement Principle becomes instantly self-evident. This principle, underlying the entire fabric of revelation declares unhesitatingly that the veracity and integrity of God are the perpetual guarantee that the Bible will unchangingly ‘agree with itself. Hence, when an obscure passage is encountered, it must never be interpreted so as to contradict ‘a clear passage. To contradict a clear passage with a ‘cloudy one, is to place a private interpretation on the difficult passage because we have the chance to do so. The Bible is delightfully definite on this point:

“Knowing this first that no prophecy is of any PRIVATE INTERPRETATION.” (II Pet, 1:20-21.)

Surely this is final. Private interpretation is forbidden. It is manifest from this passage that the Holy Spirit regards a man’s private interpretation as dangerous, indeed so dangerous as to make it the subject of a specially emphasized warming. By the Holy Spirit’s thus repudiating private interpretation, it becomes plain to the ‘earnest and willing student that the only correct interpretation of a Bible passage is the AUTHOR'S INTERPRETATION. The Author of the Bible is God. ‘The Bible is the sum total of His revelation. Hence, the Author's notes on any given passage may be found in the balance of the Scriptures. Dear fellow-student, have you found an obscure passage which is puzzling you? Does it seem to contradict some clear passage? If this has been your experience, beware of using that cloudy passage to controvert the clear one because of your private interpretation ; beware of making God contradict Himself; beware of such high-handed methods of interpreting God’s Word. Remember because God is true and God is faithful, Bible passages cannot disagree! Reject your private interpretation and “search the Scriptures” for God's interpretation. When you get God's light on your difficult passage you will find it perfectly agrees with all the rest of Scripture. Blessed and happy contemplation! ‘The Bible is self-interpreting and the Agreement Principle never breaks down.

The Agreement Principle Illustrated by Correct interpretation of Obscure Passages

A cloudy passage, the interpretation of which has disturbed many of the writers, is found in Rev. 5:8-10:

“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints, And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every Kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth,”

Let it be observed that both the beasts (living creatures) and the four and twenty elders are represented as saying “God hath redeemed US by blood.” But John 3:16 declares, “God so loved the world” and that only included MEN, and in Heb. 2:9 we find, “He tasted death for every MAN.” Now the four living creatures are shown by Ezekiel to be the four cherubim and the four and twenty elders are the angelic leaders of heaven's worship after which was modeled David's plan of twenty-four courses of priests. These four living creatures are not MEN. ‘The twenty-four elders are not MEN. And the record is that Jesus tasted death for MEN. ‘Then why do the twenty-four elders say, “He redeemed US?”

‘This apparent contradiction is fully cleared up when it is learned that the word “us” is not in the original text. The Revised Version gives the correct translation:

“Thou hast redeemed MEN to God * * * and hast made them unto our God kings and priests and they shall reign on earth.”

This translation is endorsed by Tregelles, Syriac Testament, Ford C. Ottman, Pember, Mofiatt, Weymouth, Rotherham, Spurgeon and jas. M. Gray

‘The recognition of the correct translation completely does away with the seeming contradiction and the Agreement Principle is vindicated.

Another passage which has been pointed to as a difficult one is I Cor. 3:17:

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God DESTROY.”

This passage does, indeed, seem to contradict a truth which lies everywhere upon the sacred page, the truth of the eternal security of the believer. It is such passages as the following which seem to be at variance with I Cor. 3:17.

“I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (Jno, 10:28.)

“All that the Father giveth Me shall come unto Me; and him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.” (Jno. 6:37.)

These two statements of our Lord Jesus teach most clearly that when a man has once been saved, his salvation is sure forever,—"I will in no wise cast out.” But the Corinthian passage declares of the believer who commits certain sin, “Him shall God destroy.”

The correct translation of 1 Cor. 3:17 adjusts this entire difficulty. The passage should read:

“If any man mars the temple of God, God will mar him.”

Such authorities as Rotherham, Weymouth and Syriac Testament agree on this translation. “The message of the passage at once becomes plain. If a child of God is guilty of taking his body (the temple of God) into sin, that will “mar” the body and the result will be that God will “mar” him. The same Greek word is used in both places. When the Christian is threatened with the “marring” of God, it is not destruction but chastening, Every believer who sins shall be “marred,” chastened, punished by God, —Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.”

And once more it is demonstrated that the Bible does not contradict itself and that the Agreement Principle is constantly active.

Another supposed contradiction appears in Revelation 20:13-14:

“Death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them * * * Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.”

This passage as it stands in our Authorized Version, teaches that hell will finally be depopulated. The prophecy reads, “hell delivered up the dead,” and following this astonishing depopulation of hell, it is predicted that hell will be cast into “the lake of fire.” Now “the lake of fire” is the “everlasting fire” so often spoken of by Jesus and called by Jesus “hell” (gehenna). Hence, according to this translation of Revelation 20:14, hell is to be cast into hell! But there is still further seeming contradiction, for the Saviour in speaking of hell repeatedly declares it to be the place of everlasting burnings, and three times over in one discourse says of it, Where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” The whole thought of the teaching of Jesus, on this subject, is permanence and eternality. But Revelation 20:1 3-14 in the Authorized Version teaches that hell is only a temporary residence for the unbelieving dead. Confusion could scarcely be made worse. If hell is to be depopulated then it is not the place of “everlasting fire,” nor is it the place where “their worm dieth NOT and the fire is NOT quenched.” If the Bible teaches such gross contradiction as this and then adds the absurdity that hell is to be cast into hell, we can no longer expect men to place faith in such a Book.

But the solution of this enigma is readily understood the moment the correct translation of the Revelation passage is seen:

“Death and hades delivered up the dead which were in them * * * Death and hades were cast into the lake of fire.”

It is hades which is to be depopulated. Hell is not hades. Hades is the temporary prison-house of the disembodied souls of the unbelieving dead. Hell is the eternal torture-house of the unbelieving dead after resurrection. Hades will have eventually served its purpose and will be done away. Hell is never to be done away. The correct translation shows conclusively that this is another point where God's Word is perfect. The supposed contradiction turns out to be a mistranslation. The defect proves to be but a human finger mark on the impeccable word of God.

No matter how patent a seeming contradiction may be, the puzzled student of the Bible may confidently apply the Agreement Principle by faith, being assured that when all the facts are known the integrity and perfection of the Bible will be fully vindicated.

The Agreement Principle Illustrated by Bible ‘Testimony on Topics of Human Disagreement

There are certain Bible subjects which have, for many years, been the centers for theological wars. Because men have so completely failed to agree on’ these themes they are particularly valuable to use as demonstrations of the Agreement Principle. The Bible testimony on these subjects, as well as every other subject, is invariably harmonious and complete. In such instances, the hopeless confusion and disagreement of men becomes the dark background which causes the Divine perfection and agreement of the Scripture to stand forth with special beauty and radiance.

The truth about the scattering of Israel and her future restoration to great glory and the headship of the nations is utterly unknown to some, and positively rejected by many. Writers on Bible themes are utterly at variance with one another on this important Bible subject. What is the teaching of God's Word on the dispersion and restoration of Israel? Is it an harmonious line of teaching throughout the Bible or is it, like the maudlin guesses of men, self-contradictory? Let the Bible speak for itself in answering this inquiry. Moses wrote in Deut. 30:1-3:

“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which IT have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey His voice according to ail that I command this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.”

Notice the expressions employed by the Holy Spirit in this passage. They fall into groups of two, and each group. carries the same message:

Vs. 1—The Curse.

           The Blessing.

Vs. 2—The Lord hath driven thee * * *.

           Thou * * * shalt return:

Vs. 3—God hath scattered thee.

            God will turn thy captivity and have compasion * * * and will return and gather thee from all the nations.

The explicitness of God’s Book is the comfort of God's people. The Agreement Principle begins to show up with astonishing clarity. The dispersion and restoration of Israel are plainly and repeatedly declared in this portion from Deuteronomy. Do other Scriptures on this subject continue this remarkable agreement?

Isaiah 11:12 says:

“And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

Ezekiel 36:19 and 24 says:

“And I scattered them among the heathens, and they were dispersed through the countries * * *, For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your ‘own land.”

Psalms 147:2 says:

“The Lord doth build up Jerusalem; He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.”

Jeremiah 23:3 says:

“And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.”

Amos 9214-15 says:

“And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and ‘drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.”

Romans 11:25-26 says:

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own, conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”

Agreement! ‘There is naught but agreement. Moses and Isaiah, Ezekiel and the Psalmist, Jeremiah and Amos, yes, and even Paul, join in one united testimony of God’s judgment and God's blessing of future restoration on Israel. The separation of many centuries does not interfere with Biblical agreement for there is one Mind Who is the source of all Scripture. Vast differences of training in the lives of the writers do not hinder agreement because “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” ‘The very subject upon which human minds fumble and fall and become enmeshed in controversy is the theme upon which God delights to exhibit the matchless beauty and doctrinal perfection of His inspired Word. From Genesis to Revelation the Agreement Principle is active in the Bible.

Here is a powerful key which when placed in the hands of faith, will unlock to the willing soul the richest treasures of God's unmeasured grace and deliver intact every promise and precept of the Book of books.

Copyright 1923, Clifton L. Fowler