Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thy Word IS Truth - Part 2

Not All of Scripture is All Scripture

Many claim to hold God's word in high regard, yet are very selective as to what they will adhere to or acknowledge. They either esteem parts of God's words over others or try to completely discount certain texts altogether.

The Torah

One way this is done is via the elevation of the Torah. The amazing thing is that ones who do this often charge other Christians with neglecting God's words, yet very few embrace the New Testament texts with the same vigor. Instead, they often do the exact opposite by denigrating the significance of the NT text or changing its meaning in order to justify elevation of the Torah.

One assertion made is that the word "Scriptures" in the Bible is speaking only of the Old Testament texts because these were the "Scriptures" as they knew them at the time. Some go even further and will discredit the majority of the NT text by labeling Paul a false apostle and asserting that his writings are not inspired by God.

Yet, these claims are addressed in the Scriptures directly when Peter writes:

"As also in all his [Paul's] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." II Peter 3:16

The Apostles knew that many of their writings were a continuation of the Scriptures. Not only did these New Testament writings hold the weight and authority of Scripture, but Paul's writings specifically are recognized as Scripture. These were not just letters to the churches, but are signed off on by God as inspired by Him.

In His wisdom, God continued to follow the same process He initiated with His people in the old covenant: giving them a written copy of His words so that they could know Him and know His ways. The New Testament writings are part of these Holy Scriptures, including the writings of Paul.

God's communication of His will to His people did not end with the Old Testament text. To elevate that text above the NT writings is to blind one's self to God's revelation to man, which will result in a perverted understanding of God's will.

Just the "Red Letters"

In the same way that people elevate the Torah, others will say that only the "red letters" matter. If Jesus isn't specifically recorded as saying it, then it can be disregarded; it may not even be the words of God, but merely the opinions of men.

Yet, this is a complete misrepresentation. All Scripture is "God-breathed" (II Timothy 3:16) which means that they all can be literally said to be God's words. These are not the words of Moses, Isaiah, Matthew or John, but are "What saith the Lord".

We don't have to seek out only the literal spoken words of Jesus Christ (the red letters) because the same Spirit by which He spoke is the Spirit which inspired all of Scripture, including the Old Testament (Galatians 3:8; I Peter 1:10-12; Hebrews 4:2).

Neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit say anything different than what has been decreed. They are both constrained to only speak and do that which God the Father has declared (John 8:28-29, 14:23-26). The words and life of Jesus are not a separate or different testimony from what is seen in other parts of Scripture, but they are all a part of the same story or work.

"Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." John 4:34

When we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Father for He only glorifies the Father. Jesus came in the flesh to finish the work His Father had begun, a work whose beginning is detailed in the OT texts. How can one properly understand the work being completed without perceiving the foundation from which it began? If Jesus is only doing what the Father decrees and finishing the Father's work, then we need to understand what that is. Jesus does not bring a new testimony from the Old Testament, but He fulfills the testimony of the Father given in that text.

This is why it is also incorrect to say that the OT writings are not relevant for those in the new covenant. The Old and New Testaments together make-up the Holy Scriptures; and we need them both. From Genesis (the beginning) to Revelation (the manifestation), these books form a complete picture and detail one story of God's plan for salvation via His Son Jesus Christ (John 5:39). The Old Testament gives insight into the promises of God and serves as an example for us (Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:11). The New Testament text gives us understanding about how these promises have been, and are being, fulfilled.

There is one work, one message, one testimony being revealed in Scripture, and that work did not begin or end with Jesus' physical existence on the earth. In order to understand the whole story, we must consider the whole book.

Merely Cultural Admonitions

Another way people dismiss entire sections of Scripture is a belief that certain texts do not apply to us because they only address specific issues at a particular place & time. Let me offer that if there is any Scripture which you think is not relevant to the present church of God, then I suggest you have not yet properly understood the text in question. Just because a certain command may not be applicable to us today does not mean there is no truth to be gained from the text.

God tells us that all of Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, & instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16). As a result, there can be NO Scripture which does not meet that criteria...or else it is not Scripture. Instead of dismissing what we do not understand, we need to seek God for enlightenment about why the text is present. God does not mince words and everything He says and does is for a reason.

The Bible Does Not Contain ALL of God's Words

It is true that the Scriptures do not contain all that God knows or even all that He desires for us to know; neither is that the purpose for why the Scriptures were given. The more important question is what do the Scriptures contain?

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." I John 5:13

The Bible does not have to contain all of the words God has ever said or will ever say. What was written is more than sufficient for us to believe on Jesus Christ and have eternal life; and that is why they were given. The purpose of the Scriptures is not to tell us how to handle every situation in our lives, but to show us the way to salvation (John 5:39; Luke 24:27; Romans 1:1-2, 16:25-26; II Timothy 3:15).

There will certainly be things God tells us which are not written in the Scriptures. For example, when Paul endeavored to go into Asia, the Spirit forbade him (Acts 16:7). There was nothing in the Scriptures which Paul could have studied to get this directive. He needed a present word from the Lord to know exactly what to do in that situation...and so do we! We need to be able to hear God's voice (and thereby His words) as He leads us each day (John 10:16, 27).

Both the written and the spoken word have a purpose in our lives; in leading us into salvation and guiding us in the ways of righteousness. Yet, we know that God's words - whether spoken or written - will always be in agreement with each other as they are all coming from the same source (Galatians 1:6-9; II Thessalonians 2:15).  We can always refer to what is written to discern the authenticity of what is spoken.

God says that "all" Scripture is breathed by Him and fit for the purposes of bringing us into and raising us up in the faith. How then can we justify discounting any of it?

If we truly love and honor God's words, then we will hold to and esteem all of the Scriptures. That means not cherry picking through what we feel is acceptable, but receiving with gladness the whole counsel of God.

Thy Word IS Truth Series


  1. Thank you for making these truths so clear in these posts. It has brought clarification to my understanding of the way God teaches His Truth to His children. God bless.

  2. Hi Esther (which is a name very close to my heart LOL),

    If there is any clarity or truth in the article, then I thank God for it. May He continue to renew our minds and teach us His ways.

    May God Bless you as well!


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