Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P5 (02-16-21)
You cannot separate the word of God from the person of God. They are so intertwined. When God says something it is a total reflection of who He is. You cannot separate who He is from what He says. They are one and the same, unlike us. God is not like us. When someone asks us, “How are you doing?”, we say, “Fine” when we know very well we are not fine. We can be phony. God is never phony. When God speaks, it is always truth.
The scriptures are the very words of God and Jesus, who is God, quoted from His own words. When scriptures prophecy something is going to happen, it happens as recorded in the scripture. Scriptures spoke of what is going to be fulfilled in Christ long before the unfolding events happen, and those events happen just as the Word says it will happen.
Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus validated the Word of God as the absolute standard of truth. The gospels record Jesus making almost 160 quotations from or allusions to the Old Testament. Three-fourths of the books in the Hebrew scriptures are cited in these references. Whether He was teaching His disciples, exhorting people to action, answering His critics, or rejecting the temptations of Satan, Jesus used the scriptures as His principle means. In a time when the Scribes and Pharisees placed more emphasis on the traditions passed down from their leading rabbis than on the Word of God, Jesus’ reliance on the scriptures alone both baffled His enemies and impressed His followers. His continual testimony was, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17 [NIV]).
17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth
Jesus not only accepted without question the validity of the Old Testament, He continually referred to His own life as the fulfillment of the Scriptures. Appearing in His hometown of Nazareth after beginning His public ministry, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah.
21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
The magnitude of this claim was not lost on the listeners, as you read their response.
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
Before His most bitter enemies, He maintained the testimony of the Word concerning Himself.
39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me
The witness of the Scriptures (the written word) and Jesus (the living Word) were so intertwined. Recall the words Jesus had spoken.
46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.
Now, we are going to study in more detail about the testimony of the apostles concerning the Word of God. So follow along in the study guide, in A Closer Look at the Word of God in chapter 2, The Testimony of the Apostles Concerning the Word of God. But know this, that the same God the Father that spoke through the prophets of the Old Testament is the same God who is Jesus, as God in the flesh, and the same God the Spirit who spoke through the apostles.
The word of God did not originate with man, but with God, who wants to proclaim a message for all mankind to know. Although man wrote words down on a scroll, God spoke the message through them what He wanted men to know and have recorded down, so we may know His unfolding plan for our redemption and restoration. We come to understand more clearly the meaning of God’s word now that Jesus completed the work He came to do, through His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven, where everything has been explained concerning Christ Jesus, and revealed to man through the Holy Spirit that has been given.
This has been an exciting time for us, as we have been studying through A Closer Look at the Word of God. This is one of those series we tend to put on the back burner, saying, “Everybody knows that.” You can ask an evangelical Christian, “Do you believe the word of God is the word of God?” “Yes, absolutely”. Then you would ask, “Why do you believe it is true?”, “Why do you think it is inerrant?”, “Why do you think it is the word of God?” and “Why do you think it is without error?” You might get an answer, “The pastor said so.”, or you might get a response, “I read it and I believe it is true. Since I read it, then I know it is true.” Those are feeble reasons for understanding and believing that the word of God is true.
25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus talked about it being a foundation. If we cannot build upon that foundation, our house will crumble. When you build a house on sand, it will sink on you sooner or later. There are some foundational truths that are absolutely essential if we are going to build our life upon something. That foundation has to be totally secure. The foundation obviously we are talking about is that of Christ Jesus, the cornerstone.
You cannot separate Christ Jesus from the word of Christ Jesus. With man there is a sense in which we can separate our word from our being. That does not mean that if Bob George is saying something that is certainly me saying it. But what it means when what I say can be separate from me is that I may be saying something I really do not believe or be saying something that is not true or saying something I am not convinced of. Then your word is not totally consistent with who you are.
That is why you can go home and find your wife depressed or something, and say, “What is wrong, honey?” And she will come back every time saying, “Nothing”. “You need to notify your face something is wrong because I can see on your face that something is wrong.” We will say that. We will meet people at church, and someone asks, “How are you doing?” “Wonderful”, yet your guts are hanging out. What we say as people is not always a reflection of what is going on inside.
But when it comes to the testimony of God, God is not phony like we are. When God says something, it is a total reflection of who He is. You cannot separate who He is from what He says. They are one and the same, unlike us. I believe to a degree that is one of the reasons it is so difficult for us to get our arms around that truth because in our own human experience that is just not the case. We are constantly, whether we want to think so or not, lying in regard to the true honesty of what is going on down underneath the skin. At times, people can get so mad at someone they want to strangle him. But do they say that? No, just “praise God”. Mad as a hornet but we will not say that.
I just want to re-emphasize what we as people normally say is not necessarily a reflection of what really is going on inside down under the skin where we live. That is totally in contrast to God. One of the things important for us to get a handle on is that you cannot separate the person of God from the word of God. They are one and the same.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
That does not mean there was a bible up there. There was a word, a thought, a plan, and intelligence.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The word of God in all of its fullness, the truth of God, the emotion of God, the love of God, all the characteristics of God, became flesh. It was characterized in the person of Jesus Christ, God in flesh, God in flesh letting us know what God is like. At the same time, miraculously letting us know what man is like, and that is man from God’s vantage point. It is not the unbelievable thing we have become, a putrid representation of what we were meant to be, but what God intended man to be. So Jesus exemplified that. He exemplified true man from what God meant man to be and He was also God. The Word and the Lord God cannot be separated.
That helps us to understand, “Do I have a foundation I can grow on?” “Do I believe the word of God is based upon not just because of what a pastor says it is or just because I believe it is?” You have heard people say, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” I tell you, “When God said it that settles it whether you believe it or not.” We always want to get ourselves in there. We need to believe why we believe the word of God and not just the fact I believe it. There is pride that comes in when you say, “I believe it and that settles it.” Why? Because “I believe it”. I do not believe the word is true because I believe it. I believe the word of God is true because of the testimony of the one I know to be God testified concerning its truth, and that is Jesus.
Last week we talked about that. Christ Himself testified about the Word of God. We did two weeks based upon that particular subject. How Christ testified to Satan concerning the word of God when Satan in all of his audacity quoted scripture. I cannot believe it to this day. He quoted scripture to Jesus who is the word and out of context.
Then we talked about Jesus’ testimony concerning the word of God to the masses, and then to the religious leaders, telling them they missed the whole point. You searched the scriptures. You hoped you would find eternal life in them. “They all point to Me and you refuse to come to Me” They say, “We believe Moses”. Jesus said, “if you believed Moses, you would believe Me for Moses wrote about me. The mere fact that you do not believe Me means that you really do not believe Moses even though you say you do.”
So all of His testimony to Satan, the masses, the religious leaders is in regard to the validity of the truth of the Word of God. Then He characterized that with tradition. Your tradition. You are worshipping at the foot of tradition instead of at the foot of the one who is the Word of God. And, of course, He testified concerning the validity and the truth of the Word of God to His disciples, even to the point in John of the work of the Holy Spirit.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
The book that we hold in our hand, that although it was written by a human being, an apostle, Jesus was the initiator of everything that was written by the apostles, by Paul, by all of the writers of the New Testament. That is why there is no difference why what was recorded by an apostle, by what Jesus said and what was recorded by what Paul said. Paul got his instruction by the Holy Spirit and the writers of the gospels also got their instruction by the Holy Spirit. There is no difference between the two. Jesus said, “I do not say anything unless the Father tells me to say it.” It was the Father telling Him to say it and it was Father telling Paul to say it.
50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
Let us look now at the testimony of the apostles concerning the word of God. Jesus had told the apostles that when the Holy Spirit comes He will guide you into all truth and He will take the things of mine and make them known unto you and cause them to come back to your memory, all the things I have told you.
25 All this I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
That was the Holy Spirit’s job to bring back to memory everything Christ communicated with the apostles as He walked with them. Then to put it into a form we see today that we call the bible.
The same thing Paul said. The things he got, he claimed he did not get from the other apostles. He said he got it from direct revelation from God.
Galatians 1:12 (TLB)
12 For my message comes from no less a person than Jesus Christ himself, who told me what to say. No one else has taught me.
Same thing. God communicated it and they wrote it down.
So what did the apostles, those who walked with Christ, who were unbelievably privileged people to have seen Him in His humanity, who witnessed His death, burial, resurrection and His ascension into heaven, and waiting eternally for His ultimate bodily return, message come from? Christ, who said, “Just as I have left bodily, I will come back bodily.”
11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Let us turn to 2 Peter 1:20-21.
2 Peter 1:20-21
20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Now, Peter then, the apostle, said that all scripture is God-breathed. That is, nothing that is written came about by a prophet’s own interpretation. As a matter of fact, the prophet was not there to interpret anything anyway. That is why it did not come from his own interpretation. He was there to sepak what had been spoken to him through God. That is not interpretation. Now interpretation is what you and I do today when we look at the word of God and attempt to interpret it. But the prophetic utterance of the prophets, which started verbally before it was ever written down, did not come from the prophet himself. It came from God. All of it’s origin was not in the will of man, but it had it’s origin from God Himself.
Again, I get back to what Jesus said. “Anything you see me do, it is the Father doing it through me. Anything you hear me say, it is the Father telling me to say it.” Jesus walked in total dependency upon His Father. The apostles did the same thing. In their dependence upon God, they were not there to make up their own theology. They merely recorded as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit of God what God as the originator of all things put in their minds and, therefore, they recorded the mind of God.
So from Peter’s vantage point, as well as Christ’s, that every piece of scripture that you and I look at today in what we have as the bible there was not one iota of that that came about by the writers own interpretation. That prophecy never had its origin in man. Man did not sit around and think up something that would be nice sounding for us to enjoy. That was all from God. It had its origin, not in man, but its origin in God as these men were carried along by the Holy Spirit of God.
Therefore can we have faith in that written word of God? In other words, if the origin and interpretation did not originate with man, although the apostles were the scribes of it, who wrote it down. In the scriptures is the canon. That word is used in every country of the world. It means it is the standard. The canon was what books went into the word of God. In that the bible had to be written by an apostle, the New Testament, or by an emanisserant of an apostle, which is a scribe. You will see in the writings of Paul where he would say so. Tertius is an emaninserant, who wrote down what Paul was saying as God was dictating to him.
22 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.
So the bible we hold in our hands today, they had to be written by an apostle. What is an apostle? Someone who has been with God in the beginning, who had witnessed His death, His burial, and His resurrection. That is the criteria for an apostle. Paul, as one out of sync, he did not get his revelation direct from the apostles.
1 Corinthians 9:1
Have I [Paul] not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?
Galatians 1:12 (TLB)
12 For my message comes from no less a person than Jesus Christ himself, who told me what to say. No one else has taught me.
He got it directly from God, and who appeared to Paul directly and proclaimed to him the fullness of the gospel. Not a different gospel, but a fullness of the gospel, which enables us to understand Christ living in us is our only hope of glory.
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The truth is that was revealed by God was confirmed by the apostles, who said that Paul’s writings was on the same basis as any of theirs.
6 As for those who were held in high esteem – whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism – they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised,[Gentiles] just as Peter had been to the circumcised.[Jews] 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas[Peter] and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me.
So we have a bible that was written by either an apostle, an eyewitness to Christ, or an emanuisserant to an apostle, a scribe, and in Paul, one who was revealed and whom Christ appeared to him, took him to heaven and revealed to him truth that today is setting us free.
The book that we hold in our hands is as reliable as the author and this is Christ Jesus who is the Word who became flesh.
Now, Peter also wrote in 2 Peter 3:1-2.
2 Peter 3:1
1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.
Is that interesting that Peter wrote that I want to stimulate you to wholesome thinking? He did not say wholesome behavior. He could have said to wholesome behavior, but God is wise enough to know you can get a monkey to behave. But if you get your thinking changed, your behavior will be a by-product of who you are because who you are is a by-product of your thinking. That is why as a man thinks so he is. That is why He came to renew our minds and not to renew our behavior. As our minds are renewed, our behavior will be renewed.
It is interesting that how people get into the behavior mode and want us to act holy, and that we need to be teaching more holy living, are the ones who are also walking in such an unloving attitude toward people that you would not want to be around them if your life depended on it. They have no problem of keeping records of wrongs, have no problem of always thinking the worst of people, no problem at all about being impatient, unkind, not trusting, no problem at all with those things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. <sup.5< sup=””> It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.</sup.5<>
8 Love never fails.
Those people keep saying, “I want some holy behavior.” The fact of the matter is that holy behavior you are talking about can be faked like a monkey. But love cannot be faked like a monkey. To be patient, long-suffering, not keep records of wrongs, not be easily angered, believe the best and trust the best, that is the fruit from the Spirit of God and has nothing to do with my godly behavior. It has to do with wholesome thinking. So the word of God said that I want to stimulate to wholesome thinking.
2 Peter 3:2
2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
So once again, reminding his friends to stimulate to wholesome thinking and to remind them that words that were spoken by these holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior was given through your apostles. So the word we hold in our hands today, written by an apostle or an emanuisserant of an apostle, where did he get those words? They were directly from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Would you conclude then that the same God who spoke words in the Old Testament is also speaking words in the New Testament? It would appear to me that is what it is saying. I want to remind you of the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets. So you have Old Testament prophets. Then the command given by our Lord, who is Jesus, and now passed on through the apostles, and that is New Testament passed onto us.
It is interesting we talk about the word of God and the Trinity. In the Old Testament, we saw God the Father spoke through the prophets. Then Jesus Himself, the Son, spoke His own words concerning Himself. Then the apostles went out and proclaimed what had occured in Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit that was given to them at Pentecost. Today, the message of Jesus is still being proclaimed by His servants, who through the Holy Spirit of God is still revealing truth of that message and is still being proclaimed by God’s servants.
So God testified in the Old Testament. The Son testified about Himself when He was here on earth. Today, the Holy Spirit is still testifying about His Son through His servants. What a privilege we have.
2 Peter 1:19
19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
So he is talking about, again, the words of the prophets made more certain. In other words, what was taught in the Old Testament is more certain as to what it means now. Because Jesus, like when He spoke to the two men on the road to Emmaus, what did He do? He gave them a bible lesson. And did what? He told them every place where He was in the Old Testament. So the testimony of the prophets is more certain. So we have the word of the prophets made more certain than it has been. We stop to think about how Christ, when he was here on earth, He was explaining the scriptures. I keep going over that verse of scripture.
39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
He said to the Pharisees, “You search the scriptures in hopes to find eternal life.” You became students of the word but you missed the Word. You became custodians of the written word, and the living Word is standing in front of you, but the living Word is not in agreement with your interpretation of the written word, so what do you do? You crucified the living Word to protect your own interpretation of the written word. Is that not crazy? We do the same thing today.
Christ explained the Old Testament. He explained what it meant. People did not know what it meant. It is like asking, “Who did it?” The last chapter was not written yet. When Christ came, He explained the Old Testament and then proclaimed the good news of the New Testament. The words of the prophets of the Old Testament were made more certain. Now they have been made more certain in relation to the fact that the whole book is about Jesus. It says, “You will do well to pay attention to it as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Now he compares that to Psalms 119:105.
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
So when he is talking about the fact that this word of the prophets that has been made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it just as you would to light shining in darkness, that the word of God, therefore is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. It is interesting when you look at night, and that is the condition of the world. It is dark. That is why we do not pay dark bills, but light bills.
The condition of the world is total darkness. If you want to think about something powerful. This darkness is all consuming. What is the only thing darkness has to give into every time? The Light. It cannot hold up to light. As strong and permanent as darkness appears to be, it is no match to light. The sun comes up and the darkness gives way to light. And you and I can see. You go into a dark room and you turn on a lamp or a flashlight or a lightbulb and the darkness gives way to an overpowering light. It is no match for light.
Now he is equating darkness to this world in which we live. And in many cases, he talks about our minds becoming darkened. In the book of Romans it says this.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
All that means is that our minds are totally at the disposal of the philosophies, the psychologies of the world. That is called darkness. It is not truth. It is darkness. False religion is darkness. It is not truth. Now the only solution to darkness is not to try to understand it necessarily. It is to put light in it. The word of God is the lamp to my fight and a light for my path.
There are people today, in the name of Christ and under the auspices of a Christian banner, are casting doubt and dispersion upon the word of God, stating that the only thing it is good for is initial salvation but for dealing with day to day problems, you need psychology or philosophy or something else, in order to deal with the problems of man today, as if problems of man today is different than problems of man 2000 or 4000 years ago. The bible says nothing has changed, that there is nothing new under the sun. The same depression we have today, Job had back then, and he did not have to wait for some chemical to come along or some psychological thought to come along. If that is true, let me tell you something. It is like the gospel. If this message is new, it would cease to be the gospel.