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The Believer and the Bible (2): The Saviour and the Scriptures

G Hutchinson, Belfast

"Learning from the Master"

(Brian Edwards, Nothing but the Truth, Evangelical Press, 2006)

The Saviour’s appreciation and utilisation of Scripture is a lesson for believers today to follow in His steps. In the context of the Bible, consider the following facts.

Profound in its Ministry

The Bible is "not like any other book" (Interpreting the Bible, P Masters, Wakeman Trust, 2004), not least because of its association with the Saviour.

Spotlight on Christ: The Lord taught that the Scriptures spoke of Him (Lk 24.27; Jn 5.39, 46-47). The OT has three sections: the Law, Prophets and Psalms, and they all bear witness to Christ (Lk 24.44).

Similarities with Christ: The Lord is the incarnate Word (Jn 1.1; Rev 19.13) whereas the Bible is the inspired Word (2 Tim 3.16). Both communicate the truth of God, with vital links to the Spirit (Lk 1.35; 2 Pet 1.21). However, the Saviour is the object of worship and the Scriptures are a pointer to Him.

Sanctification to Christ: The Lord spoke of the Scripture’s power to sanctify the believer (Jn 17.17). Conformity to the Saviour is dependent on conformity to the Bible.

Powerful in its Authority

The Saviour’s use of Scripture confirms it to be fully authoritative. For the evidence, consider the points below:

Author: The Saviour highlighted the "God-breathed" character of Scripture during His temptations (Mt 4.4). As the Son of God, His words were equally authoritative as God’s Word (Mt 24.34-35).

Blessing: The Saviour outlined the importance of the Bible to salvation (Lk 8.11, 15; 10.26). The enemy’s failure to recognise His credentials as Messiah was attributed to their ignorance of the truth (Mt 22.29).

Completeness: Miracles had their place in His earthly ministry, but the Saviour confirmed the absolute sufficiency of Scripture (Lk 16.31). In the workplace, we are encouraged to "think outside the box", but, when it comes to preparation for eternity, we err when we "think outside the Bible"!

Durability: In Jn 10.34-35 the Saviour deployed a Psalm (Ps 82.6) to not only refute the charge of blasphemy but also confirm His 100% confidence in the abiding truth of Scripture: it [the Scriptures] "cannot be voided or annulled" (R Saucy).

Effectiveness: The Saviour used the Scripture as a weapon to defeat the devil (Mt 4.1-11). He did the same when He interacted with the religious leaders (Mt 12.3, 5; 19.4; 21.42; 22.31).

Precise in its History

The Saviour considers the OT to consist of real people and events, and most importantly it is the source of instruction for the child of God.

Far-reaching: In Lk 11.51 the Saviour displayed His complete grasp of Scripture — the murders of Abel and Zacharias are the first and last recorded in the Hebrew OT (Chronicles being the last book).

Factual: The Saviour confirmed many OT passages that continue to be ridiculed by the enemy: the accounts of Adam and Eve (Mt 19.4-6); the flood in the days of Noah (Mt 24.37-39); the experiences of Jonah (Mt 12.40); the prophecy of Daniel (Mt 24.15) and even the unity of Isaiah’s prophecy (Jn 12.37-41).

Functional: The Saviour used Scripture for spiritual and practical purposes (over and above the confirmation of history). For example, Adam and Eve support the life-long institution of marriage (Mt 19.4-6); the serpent of brass points to the work of Calvary (Jn 3.14) and the manna anticipates the provision of Christ to satisfy the soul (Jn 6.31-51). Bible study should fill both head and heart!

Pinpoint in its Accuracy

The Saviour came to fulfil OT Scripture which extended to the smallest of detail (Mt 5.17-18; Lk 16.17).

Essential: As the Lord Jesus is the subject of prophecy (Rev 19.10), the OT Scriptures which anticipate Him have been (and will be) fulfilled. Relative to the volume of prophecy, only a few portions remain to be fulfilled!

Exact: For example, in His birth the Saviour fulfilled Scripture (Mt 1.22-23; 2.5-6, 15, 17-18, 23), as He did in His death (Mt 26.24, 31, 54-56; 27.35, 46; Jn 19.24, 28, 36-37) and resurrection (1 Cor 15.4).

Encouraging: The Biblical account of the Saviour’s earthly sojourn is a powerful witness to its inspiration and inerrancy.

Practical in its Testimony

The Saviour’s adherence to Scripture carries important practical teaching for present-day Christian witness.

Proclamation: The Saviour was clear and authoritative in His reading of Scripture (Lk 4.16-22). When called to, we too should read the Bible aloud and without mumbling!

Quotation: The Saviour knew the Scriptures and routinely quoted from them (and not from other sources such as the Apocrypha). This was true in both hard times (eg Lk 23.46 & Ps 31.5) and good times (eg Lk 24.44-45).

Submission: In His fulfillment of Scripture, the Saviour (as the perfect Servant) taught the importance of abiding by its instruction (Heb 10.5-7 is a key text but also consider, for example, Lk 18.31).

Meditation: Throughout His ministry, the Saviour displayed the importance of literally interpreting (OT) Scripture, but He also savoured its truth (Is 50.4).

Illumination: The Saviour confirmed the importance of the indwelling Holy Spirit to the understanding of Scripture. The Spirit of truth is the divine guide who enables the believer to understand divine truth (Jn 14.17; 16.13).

Satisfaction: Periods of Bible study with the Saviour left His audience encouraged and strengthened (Lk 24.32). Like the two on the way to Emmaus, may we know what it is to have spiritual (and scriptural) heartburn!

To be continued.

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