Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P17 (03-16-21)
We have been reading the testimony of the bible concerning itself. As you read through the pages, you cannot but help notice a divine author, the testimony of Jesus Himself, who is the living word who came down from heaven, who speaks into the hearts of men. You cannot separate the word of God from the person of God. And if Jesus is who He claims to be, God, and the divine author, then what is written through these pages is true.
So all those people and events we read about in the scriptures are true, whether from the Old Testament or the New Testament. Not only are they true, but they testify of what will be accomplished in and through the person of Jesus Christ. For example, the prophet Jeremiah testified of a new covenant that will come after a certain period of time in history. We are now living under that new covenant today. As history unfolded, we discovered that Jesus fulfilled all that was spoken of through the prophets concerning Himself. Jesus Himself testified of these people and events. He Himself said He would die on a cross only to rise again, a command He said He received from His Father. So Jesus fulfilled all the words spoken through the prophets, including Jeremiah, in order to inaugurate a new covenant or new will with his shed blood and death on a cross.
In the past God spoke to men through dreams and visions and in an asundry of ways, but now when Christ came, He spoke to us through the Son. And with the Spirit alive living in us, the voice of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit living in Jesus, speaks to us still today. And He speaks through us through His word, which cannot be separated from the person of Christ Jesus, who is God. There is no new revelation to be given to men. All that has been spoken through the prophets and His Son has been written down.
The reason for signs and wonders and miracles during the Old Testament and the early church was to authenticate the word of God, that the message really came from God and not mere men. That is why we had the Passover sacrifice, of the blood of a lamb placed on the doorposts so the death angel would pass over them, and os htey could cross over the Red Sea, out of slavery in Egypt. Such events had a future meaning referring to Christ who would be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. All that was spoken and written down was for a message to be revealed to the hearts of men. But the hearts of men are hard and dead to God, and men are so slow to believe all that God has spoken. So for men to know these things were of God and not of men, signs and wonders were given for our benefit.
But now that the last miracle, the empty tomb, there is no need for signs and wonders, except in those early days of the apostles to authenticate that the message spoken through the apostles was of divine origin. There was a period of time that miracles continued until the authentication of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, for example at Pentecost, and for men to know these men were appointed by God, and had to be eyewitness, to authenticate the message from the Spirit in Christ Jesus, and not a mere message of men. But as Jesus said, a wicked and perverse generation asks for a sign and a wonder, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. This was said so that men would not be looking for a continual magic show or circus act, but place their faith firmly and securely in what Jesus had accomplished for them and receive the eternal life He came to give.
Now, we will move onto further details concerning the testimony of the New Testament writers. These writers were eyewitnesses of all that Jesus said and spoke. Even though the meaning was not fully known to them, Jesus promised them that after His departure to wait and receive the promised Holy Spirit, who would come and indwell them forever. That happened on the day of Pentecost. At that time, He said He would bring back to their remembrance all that He had spoken and reveal to them the meaning of those words He had spoken. That is how the New Testament came to be written down. So just as the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets of old, He spoke also through the men God had appointed as apostles to proclaim the message of His grace to the ends of the earth.
The message God spoke of is new life in Christ Jesus. Since the fall of man in the garden of Eden, a plan was in motion, being directed by the Holy Spirit of God to redeem fallen man back to Himself. The cause of our death, which is sin, had to be taken away first in order for life to be given. When Adam sinned, the Spirit of God left Adam because of sin, and all men since then were born separated from God, having inherited the same sin nature of Adam, and so all mankind were born spiritually dead.
God, so full of compassion and love, looked upon His fallen creation, and satisfied the just requirement of the law for us, the demand of death for sin, for us. He died in our place. So the shed blood of Jesus on a cross was a necessary preparation for life to be given. For unless the cause of death was taken away first, life could not be given. For if man should sin again, he would die again.
God wanted to give something called eternal life, His life, the Holy Spirit of God, to be put back into man, with no possibility of man ever being able to be separated from His love. Such is the nature and character of God, in whom Jesus is the exact visible representation of God in human flesh. Jesus is the firstborn, the only man born with the Spirit of God in Him, and is Himself God, to show us what pure righteousness is, so that we, who are not God and never will be God, after having been born again, will know the pattern of faith in God as Jesus demonstrated perfectly, in order to live in the new life He has given.
So the appeal to man is the same appeal of Jesus to Nicodmenus in John 3, explaining what is now available to us in our day, now that Jesus died, was buried and rose again. The necessity of being born again to enter the kingdom of heaven is the message Jesus spoke to Nicodemus. This kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, which is Christ alive living in you. Yes, there will be a new heaven and a new earth some day, as scripture testifies of, but eternal life is this, to know God and His Son Jesus Christ. All of scripture is focused on Jesus, the centerpiece of human history. That is why human history is divided into two sections, a time period before the cross and a time period after the cross. Everything has now been fulfilled in our day that is necessary for our salvation, of being made complete in Christ. The new life is ready for all and is to be received by faith in Christ Jesus, in what He alone accomplished for you.
It is exciting to go through this series on A Closer Look at the Word of God. This is, to me, one of the most exciting series in our entire bible study series. Sometimes we have a tendency to put this subject on the back burner because we do not think of it as a bible doctrine. But it is bible doctrine because it is what the bible itself says about itself. So it is a self-contained testimony. The bible and the word of God does not have to go outside the word of God to go to man’s testimony to testify of its validity. It testifies of its own validity. So the question Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” and when we come to the conclusion that Jesus is God, then the next question is “What does God have to say about the word of God you are reading?”
160 All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.
That is what ties into this entire study. If Christ is God and God says the word is true, we do not have to wonder if the word of God is true because the truth of that is based upon who He says He is. So if you today are in Christ, and truly are in Christ. First of all, you would not have not known much about Christ if you had not gone to the word of God to begin with. So if you are going to base your salvation based on the testimony of the word you might as well base the rest of it on the testimony of His word. It would be ludicrous to believe that the bible was true in one aspect and totally erroneous in another.
So our whole foundation we are under today is Christ Jesus. But you cannot separate Christ Jesus from His word.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
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.
There is no way to separate God and Christ Jesus from the word of God. It really does give us a foundation to live by, when talking about the foundation being Christ. You cannot separate that foundation, being Christ, from the word of God. So the word of God we hold in our hands today does become the foundation for our faith, for that word which testifies of our faith, which is Christ Jesus our Lord.
In the first chapter, we read about what Christ claimed about the word of God. Then in the second chapter was the testimony of the apostles, who walked with Christ, their testimony of the word of God, and their testimony was based on His. Then we looked at the Old Testament. The bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The only testament Christ held in His hands was the Old Testament. It was not because He did not like the new covenant. We did not have it yet. He testified that it was truth.
So we do not have to go into the Old Testament and think it to be a book of fairy tales or some type of fantasy. The Lord Jesus Christ testified to the validity of every event that He mentioned in His life that occurred during those Old Testament times. Never once did He ever give a clue that they may not be true. Therefore as we talked about, if you are going to believe in Jonah or Noah or any of those characters in the Old Testament or the splitting of the Red Sea or any of those types of historical events, you are dealing with the fact of asking did Christ testify of those or didn’t He? If He testified that they are true, we do not have to wonder if they are true or not.
Let us now turn to The Authority of the New Testament chapter in our booklet. We will start our lesson by looking at our key verse in Hebrews 1:1-2
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
It very definitely tells us that there is a division in regard to revelation that took place. In times past, long ago, the writers of the Old Testament, in other words, through the prophets and writers of the Old Testament, He spoke to those men in many ways. If you remember, He spoke to them sometimes in dreams. He spoke to them in appearances. He spoke to them in all kinds of various and sundry ways. That is how we have our bible written today. Those men were carried along as the Holy Spirit of God illumined their minds and they taught the truth of God, and wrote it down.
Now we have a contrast. “But.” In these last days, and those are the days we are living in today, from the day of the cross on, which is how God delineated and divided human history. In these last days He has spoken to us, not in dreams, not in visions, but in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the world.
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
In Hebrews 2:1, we ask, “What is our response to that?” We must pay more careful attention therefore to what we have heard so that we do not drift away. Our attention span is to be on what we heard, past tense, not what we are hearing, present tense. It alleviates this idea of God giving us words of knowledge. It alleviates the fact of God speaking to us in dreams and in visions and all of the things that, quite frankly, are at the root of every cult you have in the world today. But today He speaks to us through His Son.
We, therefore, must pay careful attention to what we have heard so we do not drift away. When it is talking about paying attention to what we have heard, there is certainly implied that what we had heard, that has now been recorded, that is a true statement. There is no ongoing revelation taking place in the world today. That He spoke to the forefathers in many various and sundry ways, but today it is confined to His speaking to us through His Son. So, therefore, even though there are many in these practices of Christianity. I do not know if true practice of relationship to the Lord, but you see people who are insisting on the fact they are getting all kinds of new revelations from God and all kinds of visions and all kinds of dreams and all kinds of ideas and people are flocking to that like a cat after milk. But the fact of the matter is I believe the bible speaks very clearly to the fact that is not true. The information that God wants us to have has now been placed in His word, in His book. Today, what He wants us to know has been revealed through his Son and then through the Holy Spirit of God to writers of the New Testament, whereby He said, “I will cause all things to be brought back to your remembrance.
25 “All this I have spoken while 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 said to you.
So the scripture was written as a result of men who were in Christ being inspired internally by the Spirit of God, revealing to them the truth that would set people free and to put it down into writing, in which we call the New Testament today.
So, whenever you are dealing with revelation outside of the word of God, you are dealing, my friends, on some very thin ice. Because every hair-brained idea that comes along has to be matched up to the word of God. Just because somebody says that God told me to say something does not mean that God told them to say something. Our imaginations and our desire to be something greater than someone else is an insatiable desire and many times turns into an ego, whereby people are doing nothing more or less than attempting to make themselves look superior in the eyes of man.
If you have a deep firm conviction, it is a life. Christ is alive, living in you. Therefore, you have the Spirit of God living in you, giving you the capability of understanding the truth of the word of God, then why would you want to drift away from that? It is the wisdom of God who is setting you free. Why would you want to drift away from something that was setting you free, if indeed that is what it is doing? If it isnt’then take a closer look at what truth you are believing because Christ said the truth will set you free.
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
If you are not being set free, it is certainly not Christ’s fault. It is because what you are believing is contrary to truth. That, many times, is because we have drifted away from the revealed word of God, in the word of God, and onto our experiences, or what someone else has told us is the word of God. Folks, there is a way of drifting away, but what we are drifting away from is confidence in the word of God, in what the word of God said it would do, and that is to set us free, to teach us truth and set us free.
3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
It also tells you a little something about the writer of Hebrews. He was not one of the original apostles because it was confirmed to someone who was taught that by the apostles, the ones who heard him. Many times, you will get people who say that Hebrews was written by Peter or one of the apostles. I think that statement alleviates that. It also alleviates the fact this book was written by the apostle Paul. Paul said he did not get the message from the other apostles but by direct revelation from God.
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.
And the writer of Hebrews said he received what they received, and of course the Spirit of God is behind all of that, but from those who heard him, and I would assume that would be from the original apostles. I do not believe that the apostle Paul was necessarily the writer of Hebrews. In the final analysis, I do not care who wrote it because the Holy Spirit is the originator. The book of Hebrews, no one has to doubt who has spent time reading it and having lives affected by it, would have no problem seeing that it is the word of God.
He was saying to us, do not escape, do not ignore this salvation that has been announced to us. When it was announced and in the early new testament times, when that message was announced, God testified to itself the validity by signs, wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to His will. Not something you went out and sought to get, but according to His will.
Also, the reason for gifts and miracles and wonders and signs were to verify the word of God. Every miracle you ever saw Jesus do was certainly not done for Jesus’ benefit nor was it done for God’s benefit. It was done for man’s benefit, who in our stupidity, who are so slow to believe, that we sometimes need a sign or wonder in order to verify the truth of the word of God.
But I also want to caution you and bring you to remembrance that that mentality was challenged and chastised by Jesus Himself.
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Jesus essentially said, “If you want a sign, I will give you a sign.”
40 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.
So he was talking about a sign. “You want a sign? Take a look at my resurrection.” If the resurrection of Christ Jesus today and the truth of that is not enough of a sign as to who He is, God, and the validity of what He has said through His word, I believe what Jesus is saying to him is, “What other kind of sign are you going to need?” Why would you believe, as an example, that straightening out somebody’s leg is a greater sign than being raised from the dead? Speaking a language you have never learned than being raised from the dead? Folks, I tell you anyone can mimic any one of those other deals. A good magician can pull that off. But I defy you to raise yourself from the dead. I would think you would find that very difficult to do!
When God is talking about signs and wonders, those things in the early days were done in order to verify the message of Christ Jesus. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He had just announced, “I am the resurrection and the life. I am the true resurrection. What you saw physically happened to Lazarus is a picture of what I, Jesus, will do spiritually to each and every one of you.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he [Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
After He fed the five thousand (John 6), the next day He announced “I am the bread of life”. He said, “You are looking for bread? You just got fed. But I am the true bread of life, not physical food, but spiritual food.” When they followed him over to Capernaum, after having been fed, He said this to them.
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
The reason you came over here is because you saw me feed people over there. You are not following me for the true bread of life, which is spiritual birth, but for physical bread, which you can go back to your bakery and bake on your own.
So the Lord not only gave us signs and wonders but also cautioned us to not have our faith in signs and wonders. Our faith is not in signs, wonders, miracles and gifts. Our faith is in Christ Jesus. Those things were only given to testify of the truth of Christ Jesus and His word.
Why was the gift of speaking in a language that they had not learned? Why was that accompanied in the early days of Christendom? Because the message was being proclaimed by mere men, apostles, men like you and me, that had been named by Christ to proclaim a message. They were not God. They were not any more spiritual than you or me today. They had to be born again just like you and me. But they had walked with the Lord and He had revealed to them and brought back to their memory everything He had told them. He had commissioned them with a message.
Here is a mere man bringing a message to another mere man. The other mere man said I did not see Jesus or walk with Him so how am I going to know this message they are speaking is true? An uneducated fisherman in Galilee was speaking in a language, fluently speaking the mystery of the grace of God to them in a language they had never learned. I think that would have a tendency to get your attention. Seeing someone babbling in some language they had never heard before would be a sign to no one. The sign was that an uneducated fisherman was speaking not only in my language he had never learned but speaking in someone else’s language they had never learned. That is a miracle, a sign that only God can bring about. That, quite frankly, was what tongues was. That is what Paul said, “Tongues is a sign to the unbelieving Jew.” What was it a sign of? That what those people were speaking about Jesus was absolutely true.
We are talking about salvation presented to the second generation of Christians. God testified to this message by signs and wonders and miracles and gifts of the Spirit that were distributed according to His will and obviously at such a time He wanted them to occur. God has the ability to give a gift to anyone that He chooses to and exercise that at any time that He wants to. That is part of God being God. Now, He did that in order to solidify and to verify that the message that Christ has given us is what is going to change our lives, that that message is true.
You can have a sign and you have it and when it is gone it is gone. You can see a wonderful miracle but after it is done it is gone. You can see a wonder of wonders and after it is gone it is gone. When you live as long as I have, anything you saw five years ago you forget what it was anyways. So it is gone. You can have a gift that comes and goes. But all of those things testify of those things that cannot come and go, the one who is and was and always will be, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the reason for those things, to verify the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and verify truth that what these men are speaking and writing are absolutely from God Himself.
Even from a casual examination of the bible, a person will find it is divided into two sections called the Old Testament and the New Testament. That can be called an old will and a new will. You and I, if we have a will today, and I hope that we certainly do. If you do not have a will the government has one for you. But we go and make a will, but that will not go into effect until the one who made it dies. When it does go into effect, it is what spells out the inheritance of the heirs. Once that death occurs, you can accept or reject your inheritance but you cannot change it.
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance — now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.
The same thing is true. We have an old will and testament. Today we have a new will and testament. So many times it is assumed that when we look at B.C, before Christ, and A.D., in the year of our Lord, that is referring many times to the birth of Christ. But I have always said that refers to the cross of Christ, B.C. being before the cross and A.D. being after “D” cross. I jokingly said that is an Italian term for after “D” cross. In any case, it is B.C. and A.D. I always say before the cross and after the cross because it is there that Christ divided all of human history from His standpoint in regard to how He was dealing with man. Before the cross He is dealing with mankind under an old covenant. After the cross, He is dealing with mankind under a new covenant.
1 Corinthians 11:25
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
After the crucifixion, Jesus lifted up that cup, saying this is a new covenant in my blood. A thrill of wonder and excitement should have come over the disciples, if they were able to grasp what the Lord was saying. For many hundreds of years, God has said through the prophets of Israel that some day He would make a brand new covenant with His people. Through the prophet Jeremiah, He said it would not be like the covenant He made with their forefathers.
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Part of the old covenant law was to keep it. But they could not keep it. This new covenant would have had wonderful provisions, such as pouring out God’s Holy Spirit and final forgiveness of sins. Now Jesus is announcing its arrival. Anyone who was aware of Old Testament writings knew there was a new covenant coming. Now, He is saying, “Hey, it is about to get here.” The very next day He fulfilled that old covenant. Not only that, He actually did a new one when He inaugurated a new covenant with His death on a cross. He fulfilled the old covenant through His life. In other words, Christ walked on this earth totally sinless, walked in perfect love, love being the fulfillment of the law, and fulfilled the law in its entirety through His life. When God gives something to man, until it is fulfilled, how could He give something new to us? But we could not fulfill it so He came and did. So it is through His physical life that He fulfilled the law.