IT IS WRITTEN
David said when speaking to God in Psalm 8:4: “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” David knew that God was so much bigger than mere man...why would he even bother? And yet God is mindful and cares for man because God is love. God loves us, but he is not concerned if we know all the details of all that he has done (1 Cor. 13:12). Look how long it took for us to get more details on the person of God himself. It wasn’t until Jesus came 1500 years after God first speaking to Moses that we come to learn that God is one God, but one God in three persons. And from the time of Adam to Moses we have a time span of 2555 years before God told Moses to write down about the beginning of man that later became a part of the book of Genesis. God does not care about our demands, nor does God answer to man. God has always been the initiator toward man, while man’s role is to simply respond. One of the most ignorant and naive public statements I have ever heard from a prominent personality was: “Well if God is real, he sure has a lot of explaining to do.” This person needs to come to discover just how much he wishes he never made that statement. And that’s the key right there: ‘come to discover.’ There are details that God wants us to discover for sure; but those details are only going to be revealed to those who seek God earnestly (Heb. 11:6). Jeremiah 29:13 says: ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ God does not want a half-hearted attempt, but a serious one. God will get serious about us, when we get serious about him. God only wants in return what he gives to us...love. And our seriousness about seeking him is the beginning of our loving him.
Another thing David said when speaking to God in Psalm 139 verses 1 and 4: “O lord, you have searched me and known me...Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.’ God is all knowing. He knows when human beings are not being earnest. He knows when they are not being honest with themselves. To truly get to know someone is to listen to the words that come out of their mouth. To truly get to know God is to listen to what he has said. The ‘explanation’ that the ignorant, naive person proudly demands has been available and established for thousands of years. The fact that he can’t get to that place of discovery because he can only perceive God through the prism of religiosity is the choice he has made...a choice that stems from a dishonest attempt to discover the truth. Jesus said of God’s word, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). To come to discover the truth and to come to discover the person of God himself requires paying attention to what God has said. In the era of time in which we now live, God speaks to us only through his Son (Heb. 1:2). This means that anything that has to do with God is going to come through Jesus Christ and through the words he has spoken.
The very first words that Jesus spoke when he started his public ministry were: “It is written” (Luke 4:4). By taking this fist action, he is immediately validating the established authority of the time which was the Old Testament, also known as the Old Covenant. This is what was in affect at the time carrying all its power as Jesus used it here in Luke to overcome the temptations of Satan. One of the reasons why Jesus is referred to as the Word of God is because he is the actual physical representation and culmination of the Old Testament itself. He comes presenting himself to the nation of Israel because ‘It is written.’ However, the Jewish leadership never gets this because they are so blinded by their religiosity. Jesus tried to get them to recognize his authority as stated from their own scriptures...something that he adamantly tried to get across to them over and over again to no avail. And for us Gentiles today the significance of ‘it is written’ at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry is validation that the Old Testament is the reliable and trusted source of authority; just like the New Testament will also be that is coming in the future. Jesus coming onto the scene of human history began with the word of God...the Old Testament, and so does the Gentile’s relationship with God begin with the word of God, but with the New Testament, because it contains the New Covenant, which is what we are under today.
When Jesus talked about the scriptures throughout the gospels, it was always the Old Testament he was referring to. The New Testament was yet to come. The first book of the Old Testament was written approximately 1400 years before Christ and the last book was written approximately 400 years before Christ. Jesus is validating a book that has 1000 years of history inspired by God. To the best of your ability, try to relate to 1000 years. You can’t! You cannot even relate to 100 years. 1000 years back from 2016 would be the year 1016. We as human beings lose sight of the huge amounts of time periods used by God in his dealings with man. If something isn’t happening for us now, or in the recent now, then it’s like it never happened. The Israelites were only in the desert for 40 years, and yet they had forgotten the miracles (Neh. 9:17). We today would have given our right arms to witness those miracles...so we say. No, we would have forgotten the miracles also just like the Israelites because it is human nature to live in the spur of the moment. Human nature in its unregenerate and presumptuous way of thinking cannot handle God taking his time. We mistake this to mean that God does not exist at all... instead of seeing it for what it really is...God’s patience...because he doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:3-9).
Not only was the Old Testament inspired by God, but it was also preserved by God for 1000 years. What sense does it make for God to inspire his word, if he’s not going to preserve his word? Otherwise if it wasn’t preserved, Jesus couldn’t have come along in the future approximately 430 years after the last book of the Old Testament was written and make the statement he made in Luke 24:44: ‘Now he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”’ If the word of God was not preserved Jesus could not have said in Matt. 5:18: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
The point that is being made here is that the preservation of the word of God is not dependent upon man. Just like it was inspired by God, so has the word of God been preserved by God. This prevents anyone from coming along who wants to start their own scriptures while evoking the name of God in an attempt to make themselves look credible. And this is exactly what has happened throughout the history of Christendom. The reasons for wanting to start something different certainly are understandable given the vast infamous history of the church being mostly religious (the very thing that blinded people to the truth, as stated by Jesus on many occasions). It was only during the time period of the Apostles and shortly thereafter that the grace of God was truly understood. But mostly the church’s history has produced a dead lifeless church, because it has neglected the very life from which it was born. The Protestant Movement started as a result of rebelling against the corrupt political tyranny that the Catholic Church had become. The Protestant Church was not as bad as the Catholic Church, but it was still a long ways from having the understanding of the gospels that the Apostles had. The Reformation as it came to be called produced the Protestant Movement, but the Protestant Movement only reformed itself from the extremity of Catholicism. It did not quite reform enough because it just took on its own legalism that has remained to this day.
The problem with the critics of Christianity is that they all make the same mistake. They look to the people as to be the determining factor to give Christianity credibility. Jesus had said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. In other words there is nothing that can destroy the church. If the gates of hell can’t, then nothing can. The real church is an invisible church that is made up of born again individuals that live all over the world. This is what will be raptured off the earth someday. What you see physically on the earth is the organized man made church that is always religious because it cannot help itself from putting most of its emphasis on that which is seen before men. That which is not seen is what is of value to God...faith. Remember, the church is made up of flawed human beings coming from a world that is rooted in a performance oriented mindset that started at infancy. This mindset will either carry over into your Christianity, or...you will be one who grows spiritually (as God intended) because you are letting God set you free from all of that. Unfortunately it has been the former that has prevailed, as we look back in hindsight at church history.
The physical church that is in buildings comes in all forms...from the Catholic Church, to the Protestant Churches, to the Nondenominational Churches, and then what has been characterized as the Cults. All these are religious entities saying the same thing: ‘we are the right church’...therefore follow our rules, follow our own particular legalistic system which identifies and separates us from the rest. The Baptists have baptism, the Seventh Day Adventists have the seventh day, the Mormons have the book of Mormon, the Jehovah Witnesses have Jehovah, the Presbyterians have infant baptism, and the Catholics have a whole slew of particulars. Jesus never called us to be any of these things. He called us to believe in him...the Person. And then after that...start learning exactly what that means. When Jesus was asked by the crowd: “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29). Instead of coming into the understanding of what the word ‘believe’ means, the churches have taken it upon themselves to interpret that word to its congregations as meaning to be involved in works...keep the Law, attend church, give your money, get busy for God, get doing for God, perform, perform. The best meaning of the word ‘believe’ is found in John 15:4-5. Our belief in God is the expectation (because you trust God to do so) that the life of God itself is pulsating through our very life resulting in the fruit that comes from God...not the fruit of the flesh that counts for nothing.
Start learning the full significance of all that you have, because Christ’s life indwells you. God is not going to give anymore than what he has already given. What more could he possibly give that goes beyond the giving of his Son? Our problem is we are too busy praying to get from God without ever coming into the understanding of what we already have in God. We’re not taught what it means to be ‘in Christ.’ We just use that language all the time without ever realizing what it really means. It says in 2 Pet. 1:3 that God has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness. Everything means everything. If we have been given everything, then there is nothing lacking. Dig into the New Covenant and discover the ‘everything.’ One of the main things of everything is the fact that God does not deal with us on the issue of our sins anymore (Heb. 8:12). That is unbelievably significant, and yet people refuse to believe it.
Grow from the inspired and preserved word that God has provided...what God has provided...not man! You reading the word of God, and reading it for yourself is your relationship to God. It is a direct relationship; not a relationship that has to go through a church first. Human beings do not have a relationship with their own children through another entity. They have a direct relationship with them. This is how it is to be with God (the one who invented relationships) and yet people fail to see this. You do not need anyone to teach you the scriptures because you have the Holy Spirit to teach you (1 John 2:27). It’s not what the words say that tell us the truth, but the meaning of the words as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12-13). This is why you can have so many translations out there that are valid. God will reveal the meaning to an earnest heart (Heb 11:6). God did not inspire and preserve a Bible for it not to be understood. True, all the details are not going to be known, but you will know what God knows you are ready to know.
And in regards to your church leadership; you only listen to them because they are stating what you know God has already stated, or what will be in agreement with what God has already stated. You always have the word of God available to verify what someone is claiming. Don’t fall prey to the subtle ploy of resting in tradition which is usually the case. People will believe and even admit that the church is not before the Person, but in reality that is not what they will live. They will be taught through the subtlety of implication that the church comes first...meaning people will be putting their faith in their church before putting it in Christ. And this is not necessarily the intent of the church leadership, because they don’t know any better themselves. The subtlety of how all this deception happens cannot be stressed enough. It is simply one of the successful tactics of the enemy since becoming a member of the church himself.
Jesus constantly validated the Old Testament throughout the four gospels from the beginning to the end. He was constantly saying: “It is written”...”Is it not written”...”This is what is written”...”You have heard that it was said to the people long ago”...”Haven’t you read”...”What did Moses command you”...”Are you not in error because you do not know the scriptures”...”If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” And there is further validation when Jesus refers to specific events that happened in the Old Testament. He talks specifically about Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jonah being swallowed by a whale. If I’m not mistaken, these are the exact same events that are constantly mocked at in the world. The validity of the scriptures was a well intended message that Jesus wanted us to get. The word of God is what is of utmost importance. It is the reliable standard from which we derive and base everything. And it’s not because of man’s doings, but because of God’s. We thank God that he is the one who initiates, leaving us to simply respond.
If the Old Testament is valid, then how much more valid is the New Testament, since it contains the New Covenant of which we are now under? The Old Covenant has become obsolete as it says in Heb 8:13. It ended because it has been fulfilled in Jesus (Matt. 5:17). Understanding Hebrews is paramount to understanding the New Covenant. Here we go with another interesting aspect of church history of not understanding the book of Hebrews. It’s hard to understand a book that plainly states you are not under the Law, when all a long, you want to be a church that adamantly insists on being under the Law. Is it any wonder that Hebrews has been neglected? If there is one thing that the church intended for its people to understand, it was that they were to always keep the Law. And not just the law of God, but the ridiculous laws they came up with on their own. This way the church could always control the people. This got so bad that the Catholic Church at the time would use it to influence the political world making everything unbelievably corrupt. Thanks to Martin Luther who got into the scriptures for himself, this would soon start coming to an end.
It really is amazing, and yet then again, it isn’t so amazing to see the similarities between the religious church of today and the religious Jewish leadership of Jesus’ day. Both are blinded from seeing the truth because religiosity gets in the way. Both are in error of what they have come to believe, because they do not know the scriptures. The church of today is still under the presumption that the Old Testament is a book that is addressed to the Gentile. It is not. It is addressed to the nation of Israel only. Jesus said in Matt. 15:24: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The Apostle Paul explains in Ephesians 2 that the Gentles are no longer excluded as they were before. Now they too can benefit in the effect of the resurrected life of Christ spilling over for them. And this was always the plan of the Father to bring the two groups together as one (Eph. 2:11-15). The Gentiles do not come onto the scene until after the New Covenant went into effect. If you look at the discourse in Matt. 15 between Jesus and the Canaanite woman (a Gentile), what you find is a microcosm of that which is coming...the Old Covenant transitioning into the New Covenant (Matt. 15:22-28). When the Bible gets laid out like it’s supposed to be, it sure makes it much easier to understand. The Bible is like pieces of a puzzle. When you fit the pieces together that should go together, then the whole picture starts to come together.
I want to mention one more point of how we got it wrong. From God’s perspective the dividing line of human history did not begin at the birth of Jesus; it began at the death of Jesus. It was at the death of Jesus that the New Covenant went into effect that changed everything in how God deals with man. Therefore...all calendars throughout human history are actually off by 33 years if we want to be correct and line up with God.
The New Covenant began, not at the birth of Jesus, but at his death (Heb. 9:16-17). When Jesus said on the cross: “It is finished” he was including the Old Covenant in that statement. So when Jesus was alive, he was actually teaching under the Old Covenant, while at the same time proclaiming the New Covenant that would be coming in the very near future. You will notice this transition coming from the Old to the New more so as you read John chapters: 13,14,15,16 and 17. Also in these chapters Jesus is passing on to his disciples the mission to carry on where he leaves off...resulting in the writing of the New Testament...under the inspiration of the Spirit of Truth (John 15:26-27). Just like the Old Testament was inspired by God, so is the New Testament. And so also was the New Testament preserved by God. What we have today as our Bible is what comes from manuscripts. A manuscript is what comes from an original, and an original is what was penned by the Apostles. What came from the Apostles is what was inspired.
An original is also known as an autograph. There are no autographs or originals available today, only manuscripts. So how do we know if a manuscript is authentic to the original unless we have an original? We know because there are so many manuscripts in many languages that are almost absolutely without error when compared to one another. The only errors you will find are typo errors. So certainly diligence was in affect when making a copy from an original. In fact we can say there are so many translations out there, that there are more differences between the translations than there are differences between the original to the manuscript. In his book, ‘A General Introduction to the Bible,’ Norman Geisler says when speaking of manuscript transmission, preparation and preservation, “It can be concluded that no major document from antiquity comes into the modern world with such evidence of its integrity as does the Bible.” And besides all this, we have already established that the Old Testament was preserved by God, so why would he not also make sure the New Testament was preserved? Again, preservation is not dependent upon man. Getting the word of God to man (which is what preservation is) so he can be influenced by its power is not the problem. Man’s much bigger problem is he doesn’t want to believe regardless.
In closing let me quote from a very well known and respected preacher that lived in London during the 1800s. He was known among all denominations as the ‘prince of preachers.’ In regards to the Bible; Charles Haddon Spurgeon says: “The word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.”