2002-05-21 - The New Testament
2 Timothy 3:16,17 All Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
A couple of months ago someone asked me if I would touch on the New Testament and why we view it as God's Infallible Word. The hard part of this question is to fit the argument within one page and still leave room for some application thoughts. But I am here to try.
It is generally agreed that the Christian church all believed that the four gospels, Acts, the 13 epistles of Paul, some of the general epistles, and Revelation were all to be considered God's Word by 200 AD. So there is early evidence to Christians recognizing that, in Christ, there had been a new revelation from God. In addition, Christ, when He spoke, used His words and quotations from the Old Testament with equal authority. Both were God speaking. Christ also calls His coming, ministry, and Atonement a new covenant. (Luke 22:20) The divinity of Christ is one basic element in the forming of the New Testament.
Christ, during His life, surrounded Himself with several men (Apostles) who also had the authority to share the Christian message. (Mark 1:16ff; 3:13, 14; John 15:26, 27; Acts 1:1-8) In addition Paul also claimed this authority. (1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8-11; Galatians 1:1,11) The book of Revelation, in particular, makes clear claims to inspiration. (Revelation 1:10, 11; 2:1, 7ff) Several other books in the New Testament make similar claims. This brief self-examination of the books in the New Testament helps to establish the authority of the New Testament. We could go further and look at the witness of the Christian church, but because of space, this is rather impossible. It is more important to look at the internal claims of the New Testament and I hope the above was helpful.
Ultimately we take the authority of the Bible on faith. We either trust that the Holy Spirit established and protected the 66 books that comprise our Bibles or we don't. There is a further claim in 2 Peter 1:20, 21, "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." If we trust the Lord with our lives, our souls, and forgiveness of sin, it makes little sense that we would then say, "but God was not sufficient or able to protect His revelation to us."
However, if the Bible is God's Word, then consider how significant that fact is. We can say with 1 Corinthians 10:11, that, "These (things) were written for our instruction." It, therefore, is not the exceptional, or "super" Christian who is to be an accomplished student of God's Word, but rather it is every Christian's duty. The Bible is our "how to" book; How to think, behave, and feel. It is our life manuel.
Our situation is little different from that of the Christians in New Testament times. We also await the return of the Lord. We have the same struggle with sin, though the conditions may be varied. We have the same forgiving Lord and Savior. For the New Testament Christians and for us the center of all history is Jesus Christ. We are very much alike and this makes the New Testament as relevant to us today as it was to them 1800 years ago.
Soli Deo Gloria,