July 24, 2014.
“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
(1 Thessalonians 2:9-13)
What do we regeard as the word of God? The gospels? The OId Testament? The whole bible? I believe the majority of those who wear the name of Christ would typically say the whole bible is the inspired word of God. Have you ever wondered why? There are plenty of people that claim to only follow the words of Jesus and not the rest of the Apostolic writers because they are just men. Let’s explore if the entire bible should be considered scripture and the implications that come along with this.
For the sake of those who would say we should follow only the words of Jesus, let us start with his words.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
John records a lot of Jesus’ teachings about the coming Holy Sprit, but this one is particularly interesting to the topic at hand. Notice what Jesus says to his disciples here. The Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. Not “some of the truth.” Not “most of the truth.” He will guide you into all truth. I think that is saying something. The disciples (as far as I can tell these were the Apostles) would be guided into all the truth after Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross. Now, if the apostles were given the truth, would that not mean what they would later write would be the truth? Honestly, you must trust that what the disciples write is the truth because the gospels were written by the disciples, not by Jesus. If the words of Jesus were penned by disciples of Jesus, then to follow them is to believe the writers were inspired to pen the full truth.
Some still may say, sure the gospels may be inspired and the Holy Spirit may have guided them into the truth, but that doesn’t mean that their words are binding. Let’s examine Jesus’ teaching on this.
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
We see here Jesus, again talking to his apostles (specifically Peter) handing authority to them to bind and loose on earth. Thus, when we read the apostle’s letters, I believe we can take them as authoritative. For us, this may be a little easier to see than for those in the first century, especially for those who did not like what Paul had to say. There are several occasions that Paul basically has to make a defense of his apostleship to the people he was around/writing to. Sometimes I wonder if he simply got tired of this. There are times that Paul seems to just come out and lay down his authority. Well, not his authority, but the one from whom he gets it. Consider passages like this:
“Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.”
(1 Corinthians 14:36-38)
Paul says this after discussing orderly worship and some things that should and shouldn’t happen in worship. Paul says what he is writing is a command from the Lord, not just his opinion. In fact, when he does have an opinion about something, he makes that abundantly clear (ref. I Cor. 7). Peter, too, puts Paul’s writings on the same level as Scripture:
“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.”
(2 Peter 3:15-16)
In the opening passage, you can see that Paul commemorates the Thessalonians for taking his word as the word from God as opposed to a word from man.
So, if all Scripture is truly inspired by God (II Tim. 3:16-17), what implications does that make?
I believe this realization should make us step back and take the apostle’s writings and the gospel for what they are: inspired. When something is said, we should believe it. When the people are told not to do something, we should not do it. We need to realize that the words penned by inspired writers are both commands from the Lord and binding. But we also need to understand the second part of Jesus’ statement, the “loosing”s of the apostles should be considered loosed. We must not bind where nothing is bound. I don’t see a way to take one side of the statement and not the other.
So, let’s ask the question. How do you regard the word of God?
Suggested Daily Reading: John 16, I Corinthians 7, 14, II Timothy 3.
The Lord guide you into His truth.