Jesus' Treatment of the Word of God
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Modern historical criticism and liberal treatment of Scripture are a recognized change from the historical position of the Church. And the historical position of the church on Scripture is decidedly connected to Jesus' example of how to treat Scripture. The purpose of this study is to examine Jesus' actual treatment of Scripture. Does His explanation and treatment of Scripture give us any lessons in how God Himself would have us treat Scripture?
John 10:35 is one of the first passages on Jesus' teaching on Scripture which comes to mind. Here, Jesus, citing Scripture, underlines the fact that "Scripture cannot be broken." Taken in context, this comment of our Lord is the very clear teaching that the Scriptures are the Word of God and they must always be true. The Lord's argument here very clearly hinges on the fact that the Scriptures cannot be broken - the difficult point He is trying to establish here depends on the authority of Scripture. It is very easy to see that Jesus considered the "Scriptures" the inerrant Word of God.
Does this lead you to believe that Jesus thought that there might be errors in Scripture? Read the full context of this particular quote. The point which Jesus is trying to establish here is a difficult one, contrary to what we normally would be able to accept. It requires faith to accept what Jesus is saying here. As you read the context of Jesus' remarks, do you think that it requires as much faith to accept what the Scripture says about the point Jesus is making as it does to believe what the Bible says about creation?
In Luke 11:28, we have Jesus' comments on the relative importance of the Word of God as compared with earthly things. One of the women in the crowd said that for bearing Him, His mother must be very blessed. But even in comparison with motherhood, even Mary's high honor as the mother of the Lord, Jesus says, "No, those are more blessed who hear the Word of God and keep it." How different this attitude is from the attitude which allows almost anything to keep people from reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God. Does Jesus' attitude toward the Word here suggest that it is more important than simple folk myths from past generations? Would Jesus' statement make any sense if Scripture is only man's reflection and understanding, pious words with good thoughts, but that's all? How does His attitude here argue for a high view of the nature, source, and purpose of Scripture?
Jesus also believed that God's Word is intelligible to rational people. In John 14:24 Jesus connects His Word to God - what He speaks is God's Word. As you study this statement, those which we have just looked at, and many of Jesus' other statements, you will see statements of fact and arguments from logic. God's Word is not the subjective thing many people make it out to be. The message of the Word of God can be discussed, understood, and considered under the rules of logic.
This tells us that the Word of God deals with facts and reality, not subjective interpretations and feelings which might be in the eye of the beholder, as existential approaches to Scripture suggest.
Jesus also clearly considered the Genesis account of creation and the origin of man to be accurate history. In Mark 10:6-9, Jesus explains the origin of marriage, citing creation and God’s authorship of marriage - actually quoting from Genesis 2:24. He does this because the purpose and meaning of marriage lie in reason for its creation in the first place. Read the entire context of His remarks here to the Pharisees and you will see that they have erred in their reasons for allowing divorce because they have forgotten, or reinterpreted, what Genesis has to say about it. Do you think that there is a similar connection today between the rejection or reinterpretation of Genesis and the liberal churches' ever-widening reasons for condoning divorce? What things do we learn about the marriage relationship and how to make it work from the Biblical description of its origin?
Even more may be learned about Jesus' view that Scripture is God's inerrant Word, in His references to the prophecies of the Old Testament which must be fulfilled during His ministry. From these statements, it is obvious that He considered the Old Testament prophecies supernatural revelations directing man to God's plan of salvation. He definitely did not consider the Old Testament to be folk myths of human hopes and of human origin. Jesus clearly had a very high view of Scripture!
The question, which those who do not have this high view of Scripture must answer, is whether Jesus knew what He was talking about. Nor is it any answer to say, as some do, that Jesus was just a child of His times - that if He knew better than the people of His day, He didn't bother to change their opinions. This is no answer because it is based on something that never happened! Besides, when men were in error in their teaching about God He was always quick to correct, and in many cases, such as the example above on marriage, Jesus actually encouraged a higher view of Scripture than was commonly held.
As the Man in Whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, Jesus is our Savior, and the One Who is the greatest authority on the nature of the Word of God. Those who suggest that we accept a different view of the nature of Scripture than Jesus did are actually offering us another religion. They are offering us a religion with a savior named Jesus who obviously was not God because fullness of the Godhead did not dwell bodily in him, a savior who, at best, realized some sort of divine mission and high goal but was largely ignorant of important facts like the nature of Scripture. We can easily see that this religion of modernism is not Christian when we see that even other non-Christian religions like Islam offer a higher view of Jesus than this! And it all began when they traded Genesis for the naturalism of evolution!
© 1985 Bible Science Newsletter, Pastor Paul A. Bartz.
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