Jesus Christ's View of Scripture
- Wednesday, October 31, 2007
He came to
And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips (Luke 4:16-22).
In response to this keynote message of His ministry, as well as to His subsequent teaching, people were "amazed…for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22).
As Christ spoke, people wrestled in their minds to come to terms with what He was saying. "Teacher," one man asked, "which is the great commandment in the Law?"
He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40).
As Jesus proclaimed the Word of God, He unfolded its meaning with a power that penetrated people's hearts. His Sermon on the Mount, for example, recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew - a tax collector also chosen by Jesus to be one of the Twelve - magnified the demands of the Great Commandment with specific applications that pierced external, superficial morality. Far from being a way of salvation, properly understood, the Sermon on the Mount drives us to our knees with an acute realization of our desperate need for Christ's salvation.
The result of Jesus' teaching was that people were astonished. "Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks," they declared (John 7:46).
That's all well and good, you may say, but I've never heard Christ speak. All I have to go on today is the Bible and, like that young preacher, I have lots of questions about it. Is it indeed reliable? Is it, as one historic creed declares, "the only infallible rule of faith and practice"?
My response is that, like that young preacher, each of us ultimately does have to accept the Bible by faith. Doing so, however, does not require blind, irrational faith. To the contrary, it's quite reasonable. It's a leap not into the dark but, rather, into the light.
The Bible we have today that has been translated and passed down from generation to generation is supported by a greater quantity of historical manuscripts - and demonstrates a greater degree of textual consistency and fidelity - than any other ancient document. The
Christ Himself affirmed the inspiration and integrity of the Old Testament, which were the Scriptures in existence while He was here. The New Testament was written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses to Christ's life and ministry, by apostles and others whose work could have been decisively refuted had it been untrue.
And archaeology has repeatedly verified key portions of both the Old and New Testaments. When thoroughly considered, there is more evidence for the reliability of the Bible than other sources of information on which we make decisions and take action every day!
It really comes down to a question of our premise: Could Almighty God, in choosing to reveal Himself to the human race, inspire and superintend the compilation of a cohesive and accurate written record of His nature, ways, and will, or would imparting and preserving such a record be too difficult for Him? From my perspective - in an age when billions of bits of information are routinely stored on silicon microchips - while the Bible is certainly a wonder, producing it was for God (I say this reverently) no big deal. For most people, I think their difficulty in accepting the Bible was summed up by Mark Twain when he said, "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me - it's the parts that I do understand."
Many of Christ's hearers, especially the religious leaders, were greatly troubled by both what they did understand in His teaching as well as what they didn't. Jesus, perceiving in some the attitude that His talk could be just empty words, gave them even more to talk about - namely, His amazing works. Those works would leave them, in today's vernacular, unable to compute.
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