What Jesus Taught: The Word of God

I’m currently having a conversation with a former student (I’m a Youth Pastor) who has some conflicting views about the Christian faith. My student, and I count him as a friend too, has questions concerning what Jesus taught. He wrote to me, “We can debate so many different aspects of Christianity but what seems to be the most misunderstood part of the entire religion is its main message, which is peace and love. Christ died so that we would be forgiven for our sins, but that is not the main point of Christianity. We need to focus on what he taught, not how he died.”

In response to his email, which questioned the authority of the Bible, the necessity of Christ’s death, and the existence of Hell, I am writing about what Jesus taught. Below are my comments on what Jesus teaches about the authority of the Bible as a guide for life.”

What Jesus teaches about the Bible.

1. Jesus taught that the Old Testament is the authoritative and inerrant word of God.

Jesus believed, and taught, that the Bible is inspired by God, without error, clear, and sufficient for knowledge and life. All of his teachings assumed that the Old Testament was the authoritative word of God the Father (I’m using the term ‘Father’ because that is what Scripture uses in talking about the first person of the trinity, not in any masochistic meaning or sense). In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus teaches,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Jesus referred to dozens of Old Testament people and events and always treated the Old Testament history as historically accurate. He quoted from Genesis as God’s authoritative word when he said,

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and he said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Jesus assumed that the creation story was true, and he also quoted freely from Old Testament narration as words that God himself “said”. Often Jesus’ teaching depends upon the truthfulness of the Old Testament account. Here are a few examples where Jesus’ teaching entirely depends on the accuracy of the Old Testament: Matthew 5:12; Matthew 11:23-24; Matthew 12:41-42; Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 4:25-27; Luke 11:50-51; John 8:56-58. Jesus viewed the Old Testament the same way the Old Testament viewed itself: as the divinely inspired, inerrant, word of God sufficient for all of life and knowledge.

2. Jesus taught that his teachings are the authoritative and inerrant word of God.

Jesus taught that not only was the Old Testament authoritatively inspired by God, but also that his teaching was inspired by God and was a fulfillment of Old Testament promises (Matthew 26:54; Mark 8:31). Throughout his life Jesus used scripture to guide his life: in resisting temptation to sin (Matthew 4:1-11), to settle arguments (Matthew 19:1-12; Matthew 22:39; Matthew 27:46; Mark 7:1-13; Luke 10:25-26), and he died quoting scripture (Matthew 27:46 cross-reference with Psalm 22:1). After his resurrection he explained how the scripture taught about all that he had done and that had to happen to him to some disciples as they walked along the road and to his disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-17, 44-47).  Jesus saw his teaching as no less inspired by God than the Old Testament. He taught with authority that distinguished him from other teachers and he interpreted the Law on his own authority rather than relying on rabbinic tradition (Matthew 5:21-48). He described his teaching as having the same permanence as the Old Testament in Matthew 24:35. Jesus viewed both the Old Testament and his own teaching as the very word of God.

3. Jesus taught that the New Testament teachings are the authoritative and inerrant word of God.

Jesus took scripture to be the authoritative word of God upon which he based his entire life and teaching. The gospel accounts of his life and the New Testament witness by the Apostles were direct results of Jesus’ giving his disciples authority and power to proclaim the authoritative and inerrant word of God. (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-13, 14-40). These apostles were given power and authority to proclaim God’s very word in writing and in witness (Mark 3:13-19; John 16:12-14; Acts 26:16-18; I Corinthians 2:12-13). These 12 Apostles wrote the New Testament; Gospels, Acts, Epistles, Pastoral letters , and Revelation. Matthew and John were disciples, John Mark, who wrote Mark was an attendant of Peter, a disciple of Jesus, Luke was a physician and close associate of Peter’s, Paul was an apostle and wrote 2/3 of the NT in his letters and epistles, Peter wrote 1 & 2 Peter, John the disciple also wrote Revelation while exiled on the island of Patmos. Jesus taught that he had inspired these men and given them divine revelation to record orally and to be preserved in written form for those of us who would see the Word of God later (John 20:29; 2 Timothy 3:16).

We can have favorite Bible passages and trust that they are the truth because we trust Jesus’ teachings. Jesus teaches that the Bible is authoritative and accurate in its entirety.  Either he is a liar who is deceiving us with false teachings about God and life, or he is crazy and believes this stuff when it is not true, or he is who he said he is (the Son of God), and his teachings are what he said they are (the very authoritative and inerrant word of God). Christians believe his teachings matter and that he is who he said he is, and therefore, God’s word is authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient for knowledge and life.

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Posted on April 1, 2010, in Scriptural Authority and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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