Bible (Part 1): We Believe In Jesus Christ, Therefore We Believe In The Reliability Of Scripture

REVIEW

Special Revelation

“Special revelation” is a type of God’s communication in which he makes himself known with a clarity and fullness not available in general revelation. We said there are three different kinds of “special revelation”:
1. The revelation of Jesus Christ
2. Scripture
3. Particular revelation

The Deity and Teaching of Jesus

Regarding the deity of Jesus, the majority of Bible scholars believe that:
• Jesus actually died on the cross,
• he was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb,
• three days later the tomb was found to be empty by a group of his women followers,
• he made post-resurrection appearances before several groups of people, and
• there was no existing belief or myth in the Jewish culture of that time about a Messiah who would rise from the dead that could explain the resurrection narrative.

For these reasons, there is a good rationale to believe in the resurrection of Christ, his claims of deity and his teachings about the gospel.

You can come to understand all of the above facts about Jesus of Nazareth without believing in scripture at all. A simple historical inquiry using the accounts of eyewitnesses who were there will tell you all of these things about Jesus. You do not have to believe in the inspiration and authority of scripture in order to understand that he rose from the dead, which makes him more than just a good teacher.

A TRANSITION FROM HISTORICAL INQUIRY TO EVALUATING SCRIPTURE

In our blogs describing the resurrection, we used perhaps ten eyewitness sources that were written closest to the time of Jesus to demonstrate that he experienced a bodily resurrection from the dead. Some of the best source material happens to be specific references that can be found in the gospels of the Bible, but we also said there is corroborating evidence in many secular sources as well.

That was a strictly historical inquiry into what certain individuals observed or heard regarding the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. We treated those specific references to the resurrection as historical source material and did not try to suggest that they were scripture.

In this blog, we will go beyond historical inquiry and evaluate whether it is appropriate to call the Bible “scripture” and “the inspired word of God,” particularly the Old Testament. To do this, we will examine how Jesus viewed the Jewish Bible, or what Christians might call the Greek Old Testament.

JESUS CHRIST: THE “LIVING WORD OF GOD” AND THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF TRUTH

The Living Word: Because of the eyewitness testimony for his resurrection and his constant use of scripture as an inspired authority, we consider Christ to be the living word of God as expressed in John 1:1 and 14 (RSV):
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

The Primary Source of Truth: In John 14:6, Jesus himself claimed to be the source of truth and only way to God:
Jesus is the source of truth and life and the way back to God:
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”

BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN THE DIVINITY OF JESUS, WE BELIEVE IN THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE

At this website, we do NOT believe in Jesus’ divinity because of scripture. We believe in scripture because we are convinced of Jesus’ divinity.

In the last few blogs, we focused on eyewitness testimony about Jesus that was all written in the first century A.D (not enough time for legendary embellishment to have distorted the essential aspects of the resurrection narrative).

We started with Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 that he said he received as a new Christian, which even the most skeptical scholar says was within two years of Jesus’ death. This was the oldest known oral tradition in the entire New Testament.

We then substantiated the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus through eyewitness testimony found in the Bible and corroborated by several different external sources.

The fact that there were multiple independent sources all written within one generation of Jesus’ death is a testament to the historical reliability of the resurrection narrative. We tested this resurrection hypothesis against all of the major existing theories and found it to be more credible than the alternatives.

If the simplest explanation is a supernatural act, it would indicate to us the divine nature of Jesus, that he was more than simply a man, that to overcome sin and death in that manner makes him deity.

IF JESUS WAS DIVINE, WHAT DID HE THINK OF SCRIPTURE?

If Jesus is the primary source of truth, we now want to examine what he thought about scripture:
• Did he think that scripture was inspired by God?
• Did he think that scripture was God’s authoritative word that should guide our lives?

ARGUMENT FOR THE INSPIRATION AND AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE

We base our view of scripture on Jesus’ attitude toward scripture, what we call the Old Testament:
• Jesus’ resurrection makes it clear that he is the Son of God.
• Jesus constantly quoted scripture from memory.
• Jesus called scripture the “word of God” and treated it as being completely reliable, trustworthy and true.

In simple terms, this is the argument for the inspiration and authority of scripture:

1. Whatever God teaches is true (he is a perfectly moral being, the greatest conceivable being, not a deceiver).
2. Historical, prophetic and other evidences demonstrate that Jesus is God.
Conclusion: Therefore, whatever Jesus teaches us is true.

Second part of the argument:

1. Whatever Jesus teaches us is true (conclusion from the last argument)
2. Jesus taught that the scriptures are the authoritative word of God.
Conclusion: Therefore, the scriptures are the authoritative word of God.

So scripture’s “authority” is NOT based on inductive reasoning. It is the result of a deductive argument as shown above.

Therefore, we don’t believe in Christ because of scripture; we believe in scripture because we first believed in Christ.

JESUS CHRIST: “IT IS WRITTEN”

In Matthew 4 of the Bible, it tells us that after 40 days of fasting Jesus was tempted by the devil. Each time the devil would tempt Jesus and offer him something, and Jesus would respond, “It is written”:
1. In response to the first temptation described in Matthew 4:3-4, Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
2. In the second, Satan quoted Psalm 91:11-12 and Jesus responded with a quote from Deuteronomy 6:16: “It is written, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
3. To the third temptation, Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13: ” Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Each time, Jesus was quoting the Greek Old Testament called the Septuagint (LXX).

JESUS: IT’S FOOLISH NOT TO BELIEVE THE ENTIRE OLD TESTAMENT, ESPECIALLY PROPHECIES OF JESUS

In John 5:39-40 and 46-47, Jesus said that men searched the Greek Old Testament “scriptures” (Septuagint or LXX) to find eternal life but failed to understand that it was talking about Jesus who is the way to life:

“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life . . . If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

“In Luke 24:25-27 and 44, two men on the road to Emmaus told Jesus that their friends had seen the empty tomb but no one could understand it, at which point Jesus called them “foolish” for not understanding that the Old Testament was testifying of him:
And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself . . . He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

WHAT IS SCRIPTURE?

Scripture is a communication from God that has been recorded for the benefit of all generations of believers. Does this mean that scripture is “inspired writing”? Yes, it does. Scripture is authoritative: It is reliable for teaching and guidance.

SCRIPTURE IS INSPIRED

Before reading this passage, you need to understand that the Greek term “graphē” (for “scriptures”) was used 51 times in the New Testament and had a very specific meaning: the Greek Old Testament or Septuagint or LXX that was used by the New Testament Church.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV) describes the functions that this inspired, written word performs:
“All scripture [entire Greek Old Testament] is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable:
• for doctrine,
• for reproof,
• for correction,
• for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

The Bible is “inspired.” 2 Timothy talks about scripture that is “given by inspiration of God,” which comes from the Greek term “theopneustos” that literally means “God-breathed.” So the NIV Bible says “All Scripture is God-breathed.”

SCRIPTURE CANNOT BE BROKEN

In John 10:34-36 (RSV), Jesus quotes from Psalm 82:6 and reminds us that, “. . . scripture cannot be broken . . .” (i.e., cannot be annulled or set aside).

This is direction from Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Therefore, the “scriptures” are “authoritative,” meaning that to disbelieve or disobey them is to disbelieve or disobey God, particularly in those teachings that are considered to be central or core doctrines.

CONCLUSION

We do NOT believe in the divinity of Jesus because of scripture.

We believe that scripture is the inspired and authoritative word of God because:

• of the divinity of Jesus who was the living word of God,
• Jesus claimed to be the primary source of truth,
• he appeared to have memorized the entire scriptures,
• he called scripture “the word of God,” and
• he constantly referred to scripture as an authoritative guide we should live by.

FURTHER READING

John Wenham, Christ and the Bible, Third Edition (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2009)

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