Friday, September 30, 2011

What Jesus Believes About the Bible

Matthew 5:17-18

Most of you are like me.  You believe the Bible is God’s Word.  You would affirm 2 Tim. 3:16 which says, “All Scripture is inspired by God (God-breathed).  You would gladly affirm 2 Pt. 1:20-21 regarding the Scripture, that “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  And most of you are glad to read Titus 1:2 that reports, “God cannot lie.”  And you would say that since God is perfect and He cannot lie then everything He says must be true.  And since everything God says is true and every word of Scripture is God-breathed then all Scripture must be true.  This is what we call the doctrine of Inerrancy.  That the Bible contains absolutely no error.  It seems so simple to you that you assume this is what others who call themselves Christians believe.  But listen to the results of a survey of over 10,000 clergy by sociologist Jeffrey Hadden.  The respondents were asked if they believed that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God. 95% of Episcopalians said "No." 87% of Methodists said "No." 82% of Presbyterians said "No." 77% of American Lutherans said "No." 67% of American Baptists said "No."  And I could offer quotation after quotation of Baptist leaders in Texas who deny the very doctrine of Inerrancy.  And as a matter of fact here in Erath county I have found some pastors even in churches who share the name Baptist to be opposed to the belief of Inerrancy.  My question is this:  Does not the name Christian necessarily mean that we are to follow Jesus?  And if Jesus believes the Bible is without error shouldn’t we do the same as His followers?  I have entitled this message, “What Does Jesus Believe About the Bible?”  Or in other words, “The Perfection of Scripture.”
Jesus says He did not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets.  The phrase “Law and Prophets” was the Hebrew way of referring to the Old Testament.  So essentially Jesus is saying He did not come to destroy or tear down the Old Testament.  He did not come to destroy the Scripture.  Rather, He came to fulfill the Scripture.  Jesus came to bring Scripture to its fullest meaning and to its completion.  To fill it up to the full.  So when we read the Bible we are to read it through Christ in order to understand it, for every page and every paragraph are pointing us to Jesus.  And every page and every thought are only properly understood through Jesus.
And it is important to notice that He spoke with authority as the deliverer and fulfiller of Scripture.  He speaks with great command when He says, “I have come to you...and I say to you.”  And do you notice that He begins His statements with Amen.  All other teachers said Amen at the conclusion of their talks which means “let it be.”  But Jesus unequivocally sets the record straight by stating Amen at the beginning of His message.  The prophets of the Old Testament said, “Thus saith the LORD”.  The New Testament apostles said, “It is written.”  But Jesus says, “I say unto you.” 
It does not matter what the scholar says He believes about the Bible.  It does not matter what the philosopher says He believes about the Bible.  I am not interested in the latest documentary of liberal historians regarding their view of the historicity of the Bible.  I am not even interested in what the moderate fence-straddling preacher thinks about the Bible.  I want to know what Jesus believes about the Bible.  And I want to follow Him.
First, Jesus believes the Bible is completely true.  The technical term today would be that Jesus believes in the plenary inspiration of Scripture.  That is that He believes that all of it is true.  He says in verse 18, “not one jot or tittle will pass away.”  The English word jot represents the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  And the word tittle represents the smallest stroke in the writing of Hebrew.  So Jesus is saying that not one syllable of the Scripture will pass away.  Not the smallest letter and not even the smallest stroke in the language.  Not one breath of God’s Word will be tainted or destroyed or adversely affected in any way.  Certainly other Scriptures come to mind such as 2 Timothy 3:16 which states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”  Or in some translations, “all Scripture is God-breathed.”  The word is theopneustos which is literally God breath.  And in John 17:17 Jesus prayed that God would sanctify us by His word, “for Thy word is truth.”  And Psalm 19:7-9 the word of God is found to be, “perfect...sure...right...pure...true and righteous altogether.”   I would agree with the great preacher of old, Charles Spurgeon who said, “This is the Word of God.  Come, search, ye critics, and find a flaw; examine it from its Genesis to its Revelation and find error.  This is a vein of pure gold, unalloyed by quartz or any earthly substance.  This is a star without a speck;  a sun without a blot; a light without darkness;  a moon without paleness;  a glory without dimness.  O BIBLE!  It cannot be said of any other book, that it is perfect and pure;  but of Thee we can declare all wisdom is gathered up in Thee, without a particle of folly.  This is the Judge that ends the strife, where wit and reason fail.  This is the Book untainted by error, but is pure, unalloyed, perfect truth.  Why?  Because God wrote it.  Ah!  Charge God with error if you please, tell Him that His Book is not what it ought to be ... Blessed BIBLE, Thou art all truth.”  The Bible is completely true.  Every book is what it ought to be.  Every phrase is how God intended it to be.  Every word is God’s communication to us.  Every syllable and every stroke of the ancient pen is exactly the Word of God.  The Scripture is the very breath of God.  
Next, Jesus believes the Bible to be eternally enduring.  He says in verse 18, “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law (or as we have seen the Scripture) till all is fulfilled.”  What Jesus is saying is that not one letter of the Scripture will ever pass away.  The smallest letter and the smallest stroke must be fulfilled and that the Scripture will endure even beyond the universe.  There is no way that the Scripture will pass away.  Not even if heaven and earth pass away would the Scripture fail.  It is eternally enduring.  He says in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”  And again in John 10:35, “the Scripture cannot be broken.”  And that great statement of Isaiah 40:8 quoted again by Peter, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever.”  The Bible has known many enemies.  The early Roman emperors issued edicts to have Christians killed and the Bible destroyed.  Martin Luther was hunted by officials while he hid in exile translating the Bible into the German language.  18th century Rationalists like Thomas Paine and Voltaire claimed that the Bible would be destroyed within 100 years.  Higher Critics and their liberal philosophies have sought to tear down portions of the Scripture by way of rationalistic literary criticism.  Communists have sought to destroy the Bible.  Mohammedans around the world right now are killing the followers of Christ.  But after thousands of years the Scripture has not been torn down.  And in thousands more the Bible will not be destroyed because the Bible will never pass away.  Heaven and earth will pass away.  Nero and Diocletian have passed away.  Paine and Voltaire have passed away.  Critics and liberal scholars are passing away.  Communists are passing away.  Mohammedans are passing away.  The grass is withering.  The flower is fading.  But the word of our God will never pass away.  It is eternally enduring.  
Thirdly, you see that Jesus believes the Bible brings things to be.  He said in Matthew 5:18, “not one jot or tittle will pass away until all is fulfilled.”  Now this is a different Greek word than what He used in verse 17 but due to the limitations of the English language it is also translated “fulfilled”.  Verse 17 is plerow which means to fill up to the full.  But here in verse 18 He used the word ginomai which means to bring something into being.  Matthew uses this word 74 times in his gospel account and it means to bring something forth, for something to come to be or exist.  And that is exactly what the word of God does.  It brings things forth into being.  Hebrews 4:12 says that the Scripture, “is living and powerful.”  1 Peter 1:23 says it is the “incorruptible seed by which we have been born again.”  In John 17:17 God’s word is the truth by which we are sanctified.  And Romans 10:17 states that “faith comes by hearing the word of God.”  So it is the word of God which brings our faith into being.  It is the unbroken, indestructible, eternal Scripture which calls us out of death and into life.  It is the light of God’s Word which drives out the darkness.  
In the creation of the universe God said, “Let there be” and there was.  The power of His word brought it all forth.  When Adam and Eve rebelled and tried to hide from God it was His word that brought them back.  When Moses stretched out his staff into the waters of the Red Sea it was God’s word that told the waters to stop and be divided.  It was the word of God that told Joshua to go into the Promised Land and it was God’s word that brought forth the destruction of Jericho.  It was the voice of God that silenced the lions in the den and protected the prophet Daniel.  It was the word of the LORD that was prophesied in the valley of dry bones and made dry bones live.  It was the mighty word of God that calmed the wind and the waves when Jesus said, “Peace, be still.”  The divine word drove out the legion of demons when Jesus healed that man from among the Gadarenes.  It was God’s word that called Lazarus from the grave when Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth!”  It was God’s word that broke through the darkness of my sin and brought me forth.  And it is God’s word that will today bring you forth out of the darkness, out of bondage, out of depression, out of sin, out of discouragement.  It cannot be destroyed.  All of it is true.  The Bible brings life into all who will believe.

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