Sentinels For Christ :: Pledge Principle III Biblical Credibility

Pledge Principle III Biblical Credibility

Posted by jimgrier on February 20, 2015

Pledge Principal 3

"I will commit to seeking God’s will for my life by reading His word daily …"

John 10:35 

Let’s look at the word from a different angle today.  It’s worth taking a little extra time with this and we’re going to start from a foundational perspective which surprisingly won’t be a list of scriptures.  I have found for myself that my journey in Christ involves a direct understanding of God directly connected to an understanding of God’s Word to us.  A Christians we grow in our relationship with the Word just like we grow in all aspects of our faith.  A cursory contemplation of the Bible and its uniqueness will avail us little insight.  We need, if we are to mature in our faith resolve questions like “Does this book, the Bible actually have the answers for all the remedies of life here and in the afterlife?” More personally we have to carry that question to its conclusion in our own faith which is “Just how deeply do we really believe it?”  This is a central question to faith and the quality of the Christian life.  It really boils down to how we perceive the “Word” in its entirety.  Is it completely reliable and authoritative? Or, as many believe without even knowing it, “Is it simply the best commentary and road map for living a better way?”

 I’m going to stay away from a defense of the word.  There are great books available if you want to read up on the subject.  Instead let’s just start with how this book interacts with the central figure of history…

 Jesus.

Now I’m talking to a friendly audience so let’s remind ourselves of a couple basic truths about what we think and believe about Jesus as Christians.

First, Christians believe Jesus is God’s Son, not a divinely exceptional human being. He is one with the Father the second part of the Trinity, with the Holy Spirit and an expressed complete part of the Father and the Spirit in human form that frankly we can’t completely wrap our minds around!  But as such a couple truths are inseparable from who He is…

He is the full representation of the Father in physical form.   Colossians 2: 9 “For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form.”

As the Son of God and “one with the Father” (Jesus own words for himself in John 10: 30) He is as God incapable of deceit, and incapable of a lie. Jesus is completely credible because of who testifies and backs him up, God the Father, “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God…” By all means if you haven’t worked this aspect of Jesus out, read the eighth chapter of John and settle the matter.  Jesus is the embodiment of living truth, it’s impossible for him to lie.

Now that we reminded ourselves of this let’s look at what is probably the three most controversial stories of the Bible and what Jesus said about them based on the premises above, Jesus is the Son of God and as God he cannot lie.

The Story of Jonah:  For a long time as a new Christian I considered this book and allegorical tale out of my own ignorance, comparing it to “Aesop’s fables” and covertly not giving the tale the respect it was due.

Take Jesus reference to the story in Matthew 12:38.  In response to the Jews who are demanding a sign from Jesus to prove who he says he is, Jesus responds.  “He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.” In one statement  Jesus who is God and cannot lie Jesus establishes:

1.)     Jonah was a real prophet

2.)     Jonah spent three actual nights in the stomach of a huge sea creature

3.)     Jonah’s ministry produced the repentance of Nineveh just as the Bible records and that

 truth is important enough that the people of Nineveh will have something to say about the unbelief of those towards Christ when he returns to earth! Time to put the allegorical reference Christian, of the story of Jonah to bed!

The Great Flood and Noah (Genesis 6-9)

Perhaps some of you are old to remember flannel graph Noah and all those cute little animals?  This story seems to be an anchor in every children’s Sunday school from the beginning of time. Which by the way has probably resulted in it’s diminishment as a cute children’s tale to encourage us to “be good,” as opposed to the immense spiritual truth it represents.

Again, in Matthew chapter 24: 37-39 in a discussion with his disciples a couple days prior to the crucifixion, Jesus is talking to the disciples about his eventual return and the establishment of the new earth. It’s a deadly serious chapter when Jesus is talking about His specific return to earth and the state of mankind at the event.  “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.”  Here we are again with Jesus establishing:

1.)     Noah existed as a real person

2.)     Noah built the ark therefore the ark is real

3.)     Noah entered the ark

4.)     The Great Flood actually occurred as written in Genesis

5.)     It destroyed mankind

Again this is not allegorical; this is the Son of God using a scriptural event to describe another scriptural event yet forthcoming.

“flannel graph” Noah just took on new meaning. But lets look at one more commonly dismissed “story” in modern day evangelicalism.

Adam and Eve Genesis Chapter 2

Well this is probably the toughest one for the non-Christian.  If you can believe the Adam and Eve of Genesis you can probably get though the rest of it right?  I mean after all, there’s huge investment to us as humans based on our first parents, right?

In Matthew 19: 1-8 Jesus is yet again in another argument with the Jews.  This time the issue is the covenant of marriage.  So Jesus wants his opponents to be perfectly clear, how God instituted marriage and its purpose, who it’s between, and what it involves.  The Bible records:   “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Jesus response is a direct scriptural quote from Genesis 2: 24.  If your familiar with section of Genesis, this is the account of the creation of Adam and subsequently Eve with all the fantastic events of the creation, i.e. Adam naming the animals, Eve being taken from Adams side in the form of a rib, all of it… validated by Jesus.  Nor is it coincidence the parallel account of creation is verified and validated by Christ as well as He quotes from Genesis 1:27. The argument the “accounts” of creation in Genesis are actually two accounts one being poetic and the other representative collapses in light of this.  Of course, that’s based on what you believe about Christ and what comes out of his mouth.  The two apparent accounts of creation are one general and one more specific, if understood that way there is no conflict.

Now let’s look at John 10: 35.  This is one remarkable statement by Jesus. Don’t get sidetracked in what Jesus says about “gods" let’s look at the use of the word “Scripture” what it means and what Jesus meant when he used it saying “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken) …”  The word Scripture used in John 10:35 in the Greek is the same word used in the New Testament when referring to the Bible of the day, which would have been Genesis through Malachi.  In Greek the word is graph-e meaning “a document i.e. Holy Writ,” for you detail addicts.  Jesus is quoting from Psalm 89 in the passage but establishing the holy writs of the day” as the scriptures they are familiar with and that they are divine.  That’s why the word “graph-e” is used. The most remarkable statement is added on to this by Christ, “and scripture cannot be broken.” In context, we find Jesus saying to his hearers who are ready to stone Him for what he just said “I and the Father are One,” his statement means “The very scriptures you rely on to justify your incorrect perception of who I am are unbreakable.”  The emphasis for our purpose again is not to interpret Psalm 89 but to recognize what Jesus himself states about scripture the “Holy Writs”:

1.)     They are “Holy” meaning divine in origin

2.)     They are unbreakable

That certainly gives the story of Jonah, the Flood and the Creation a new perspective.  Isn’t it interesting that Jesus made it a point, (and so did the Gospel writers) of using what would be some of the most controversial stories of the Bible to reinforce the following bedrock truths of our faith.

1.)    Jonah -  His Death and Resurrection

2.)    Noah and the Flood – His Return and establishment of Earth.

3.)    Adam & Eve The design of God to express himself through the human race through a committed intimate relationship

By the time Peter is writing his second epistle it’s obvious that the writings of the New Testament had become regarded as the same “Holy Writs” with the same authority of the complete Old Testament of the day.  Notice Peter’s references to the letters of Paul which had already begun circulating:  “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.  He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”  Peter uses the same word again “graph-e” referring to the writing of Paul.

The argument about Bibles reliability takes a different turn when we look how Jesus used it. I have found when presenting anything about our faith, it’s a safe bet to return to Jesus as often as we can.  Jesus is remarkable in who he is in himself that you can reflect his own words to reflect truth about our faith.  Let’s stop feeling squeamish about the Bible.  If your pastor does consider  changing your church as the church has no power without the word. Just because your church elevates the Bible in its statement of belief doesn't mean if perceives the Bible the same way Jesus did. Jesus considered it reliable!  All those incredible events from the Old and New Testament are meant to introduce us to a huge God with a great plan that’s a personal “love letter” to each one of us.

“There is a famine in the land. It is not a famine of wheat and grain but a famine of the Word of God. On any given Sunday, what is put forth as preaching from pulpits all over our nation is little more than the stand-up routine of a Jay Leno or a David Letterman wrapped up in the cloak of contemporary piety”

David Allen Dean of the School of Theology Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

I would like to challenge my evangelical brothers and sisters to stand for the Bible as credible and quit apologizing for it.  If you haven't worked out whether the Word of God is credible, (Jesus did) do the faith a favor and at least acknowledge you have not come to a place of reliance on the word that Jesus had.  Don't downplay the Bibles authenticity or make excuses for it.  It's intellectually dishonest to claim Christ as your Lord when your not following the same roadmap as he did.  Semantic ascent to the Bible isn't enough, if your professing to be a Christian and in leadership, settle your confusion in your prayer or devotional time with God, consider even taking a sabbatical  instead of working out your lack of faith through the pulpit or the stage.

JP Grier M.S. Counseling, M.C.M. Pastoral Counseling

JP Grier is the founder and writer and Sentinel For Christ – A network of Christians helping each other to press deeper in Christ.

 

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