Monday, January 30, 2012

What Jesus Said about the Bible

Several years ago, in a one-on-one discussion I had with a local religious leader, it became apparent that he and the group he served questioned some basic teachings of the Scriptures. When I asked him about the importance of belief in creation, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the virgin birth, he hedged. “We are a unity movement,” he said. “We only ask that people believe in Jesus.” He also said that one’s view of sexuality and marriage, including homosexual behavior, should not be an issue.
One problem with this approach, “Give me Jesus, but do not insist on some Bible teachings,” is that it ignores what Jesus himself said about the Bible. His words indicate unmistakably that he held the very highest view of Scripture, that it is inspired, without error, true, and authoritative.
The four Gospels are the earliest and most detailed accounts we have of the life and teachings of Jesus. We dare not minimize or discount their value as ancient documents, written within a few decades of the person and the events that they describe. Only these records can tell us what Jesus believed and said about the Bible. Only a radical, skeptical rejection of their testimony would indicate otherwise.
According to the Gospels Jesus affirmed the Genesis account of creation. In Matt 19:1-12 he declared that God himself (not just Moses or another human author) had spoken the words of Gen 2:24. He also taught in that passage that marriage consisted of a male and female whom God has joined together.
Jesus believed that God had actually spoken to Moses at the burning bush (Mark 12:26). He agreed that Jonah had been swallowed by a large fish, in which he remained for three days and three nights (Matt 12:40-42). He used that historic event as a type or parallel to his own death and resurrection. Can a person reject such teachings and still say, “I believe in Jesus?”
In Matt 5:17-20 Jesus supported every “jot” (the yodh, the smallest letter in Hebrew) and “tittle” (a serif or small stroke distinguishing one letter from another) in the Law and the Prophets. Regarding the Psalms, Jesus quoted Ps 110:1 as the words of David, speaking “in the Spirit” (by inspiration). In his hometown synagogue Jesus read as Scripture the words of the prophet Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21). When talking with the Pharisees in Matt 15:1-9, Jesus distinguished the written law (given by God) from the oral law (added by man). There he referred to the words of Moses and of Isaiah as words which God had spoken. In Luke 24:44 he referred to the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. These three categories included all the writings in what we call the Old Testament.
Jesus said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). To believe in Jesus is to believe what he taught, that the words of Scripture are the words of God, unbreakable and perfect.
It may be argued that, in all these statements, Jesus was talking only about the Old Testament. What did He say, if anything, about the New? Plenty! He told the apostles that there would be occasions on which the Holy Spirit, not they, would be speaking (Luke 12:12). He said in Luke 10:16, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” He also said, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt 18:18).
Also clear are Jesus’ promises to the apostles the night before he died. He told them, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). Then, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:12-15).
Shall we just believe in Jesus? Yes, as long as we believe in the Jesus who taught what he taught about the Bible.
-- Cory Collins


Scott said...

Great article!

Jesus also said that He would send scribes declaring, "Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city" (Matt. 23:34).

Scott said...
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