“… The Scripture cannot be broken” (Jn. 10:35)
While away on a recent trip I was able to visit with a friend. While sitting on a rushing river bank, we had a lengthy discussion of many things. She seemed particularly distracted and as I pressed her, she confessed that she was concerned about her pastor. She voiced concerns regarding her pastors’ exposition from the Old Testament, mainly she was worried about the potential danger of excluding the Gospel message. Ironically, I have Jewish friends who hold to the Old Testament alone. In this article, I wish to share a few things which helped my friend and which I hope is helpful to my sisters in Christ. But in order to keep this brief, I will only touch on a few things in a very cursory manner, as this subject is complex, immense and the most relevant of all subjects. Therefore, please look to the theological resources at the end of this article.
The first issue I believe is imperative to address is that both the Old and New Testament is inspired by God. “All Scripture is inspired by God 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.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We tend to forget the supernatural nature of Scripture, that it is “God-breathed”. As a “people of the book” we know that God divinely superintended the accurate recording of His divinely breathed truth by His divinely chosen human instruments. All Scripture, meaning the words originally revealed and recorded, is God’s infallible and inerrant Word. God moved men to utter and write Scripture, this known as the doctrine of Inspiration, as they were allowed their own unique personality to come through, God controlled word for word what He wanted. “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.” (2 Pet. 1:19-21). From the first author, Moses who wrote Genesis and every book unto to the very last, Revelation which was written by the Apostle John is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. There is no more revelation other than the words within the Bible and yet the Holy Spirit within each Christian, aids the meaning and understanding of Scriptures. The Scriptures are the recorded history of God’s self revelation to His creation. They are Word revelation and Event revelation, as the men who recorded Scripture recorded actual historical events. Between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the biblical writers make some 4,000 claims to be writing God’s Word. The Old and New Testament is one unified book by one Divine Author.
God supernaturally orchestrated over several thousand years, men born along by the Holy Spirit to write His words, and then the people of God collected what was true, all the while rejecting that which was not true. God preordained this massive majestic event through His sovereign providence –the completed Bible for His people. This is authenticated through thousands of years, men all over the world, understanding the same Bible –as being truth.
When the Scripture was finally put into its modern book form after the printing press was invented, many forget that the later addition of chapter and verses, and the page or separation between the Old and New Testament was imposed by man for convenience sake.
The first Gospel account is found in Genesis 3:15. The theme of the Gospel is woven throughout redemptive Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation—every word to glorify God. As the plan of salvation unfolds more details are revealed. The Old Testament provides the very foundation and context to the New Testament, thus providing context and meaning to everything in the New Testament. Themes in the Bible which originated in the Old Testament are reiterated and expanded in the New Testament, this is called progressive revelation. Progressive revelation provides more and more revelation and detail from the beginning of God’s revelation to the end. The Bible has a beginning, a middle and end; it is His story. It is one unified book—the God-breathed unfolding plan of salvation. And since Scripture explains Scripture it is critical to utilize the proper interpretation. The literal, historical, grammatical hermeneutic, is the Bible’s self attesting paradigm for understanding the originally intended meaning of Scripture by the Divine Author. Progressive revelation begins with God and ends with God—as God glorifies Himself.
Before Jesus came into this world, He was in eternity past with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in full resplendent glory. The creation account records that Jesus was as active as the Father and the Holy Spirit, when the Trinity spoke creation and mankind into existence, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Gen. 1:26, cf. 1-31). Both the Old and New Testament reveal Jesus power and majesty. “ All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (Jn. 1:3). Jesus is the eternally pre-existent Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn. 1:1). It is important to recognize that Scripture and Jesus are inextricably unified—He is the Word, yet He condescended to enter this world as a mere man: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:14). What awe and wonder Scripture provokes in our hearts, as we meditate on God’s plan of salvation through His God-breathed Word. Jesus is not only the Word but He spoke the Word.
What is most interesting is that Scripture records the Father and Son affirming one another and thus the affirmation of Scripture. God the Father attests or testified to His Son Jesus, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matt. 3:17). God can only affirm that which is perfect and holy. Another declaration by God the Father is when Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus transfigured and glorified while speaking to Moses and Elijah (men representative of the Law and Prophets), “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35). Scripture records God the Father’s pleasure in His Son as well as commanding our obedience to His Son. “And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me.” (Jn. 5:37). Jesus testified that He only spoke words which pleased God the Father. “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” (Jn. 12:49-50). It is awesome to stop and ponder John 17 or statements from Jesus such as this, “I know Him; because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” (Jn. 7:29).
The Father and Son affirm one another, and in doing so they affirm Scripture, the “theopneustos” which means “inspired by God” or “God-breathed”; the supernatural, inter-Trinitarian work of God through His revelation. The Self-attesting Scripture, such lofty things our finite minds attempt to comprehend.
The Old Testament also known as the Hebrew Bible consists of a threefold division, the Torah, Nevi’im, and the Kethu’bim, or as we may know it –the Law, the Prophets and the Writing. Our Lord Jesus taught from all three, the Old Testament; “For if you believed Moses you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me.” (Jn. 5:46, see Deut. 18:15). Jesus had the authority to command our obedience and without obedience to God we will not receive eternal life. “And He said to him,’ You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40). Furthermore, the resurrected Christ exposited all of Scripture to His Disciples; “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.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scripture” (Luke 24:44, 45).
It is most notable that our Messiah testified to the necessity of every Word in Scripture, even the very letters of each word, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:18). This significant statement by our Lord is reminding us that He is the fulfillment of much of Scripture and He will fulfill the rest of Scripture. Those who have received salvation, rejoice at the thought of the millennial kingdom.
If one attempts to separate the Old and New Testaments they violate Holy Scripture. “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18-18) and “Do not add to His words Lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar.” (Prov. 30:6– see Deut. 4:2). For our Redeemer Jesus stated; “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” (Matt.4:4) as the Son of God affirmed that Scripture must be held together. “… The Scripture cannot be broken” (Jn. 10:35).
The author of Hebrews authenticates the Old and New Testament as God-breathed; “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Heb.1:1-2). Scripture is God-breathed and inerrant. The Old and New Testaments are one cohesive book and every word is relevant to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and therefore must be to the Christian. The things which were hidden in the Old Testament are now revealed in the New Testament. “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven– things into which angels long to look.” (1 Pet. 1:10-12).
When the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they in turn taught and evangelized from the Old Testament, in the same era when the New Testament was being written. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life– and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—“ (1 Jn. 1:1-2).
It is wisdom from the Holy Spirit and not human wisdom which is recorded in the Scriptures and thus provides the sanctifying words needed to change sinful man. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (1 Cor. 2:12-13).
Additionally, Jesus death, burial and resurrection would have no meaning without the context of the Old Testament. “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘Thou art My Son; today I have begotten Thee.” (Acts 13:32-33).
The early church received the Scriptures as God-breathed. “And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” (1 Thess. 2:13). The Apostle Paul attested to the necessity of Scripture as he prepared men to become evangelists and preachers. “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Old Testament) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15).
The New Testament records numerous examples of people who were saved by faith through grace who believed the Old Testament Scriptures, for example; Anna, Simeon, Joseph, Mary, Eunice, Lois, Stephen, the Ethiopian eunuch, Lydia, ect. “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4).
And finally in the last chapter of Revelation, the Apostle John instructs us of the blessings to come to those who remain steadfast in the sanctifying life-giving Scriptures. “…”These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place. “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Rev. 22:6-7).
In recognizing Scripture is one unified book and is the inerrant, infallible fully sufficient Word of God is crucial. There is no other life-giving truth. As stated so powerfully by Francis Schaeffer, “Any denomination or church group that forsakes inerrancy will end up shipwrecked. It is impossible to prevent the surrender of other important doctrinal teachings of the Word of God when inerrancy is gone.” Therefore men who faithfully teach and preach from the entire God-breathed scriptures are passing on from generation to generation the divine word of life, God has given to His people for salvation.
“And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2).
Tools for further study:
*A helpful encapsulated discussion on the Bible can be found in the front section of The MacArthur’s Study Bible.
* A book on the Bible is: Michael Kruger’s book, “Canon Revisited; Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament”.
*For a deeper study in the Bible: The Bible Expositor’s Handbook Old Testament and New Testament by Dr. Greg Harris
* The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series
* Biblical Doctrine, by MacArthur and Mayhue
*See Dr. Barrick’s Recommendation list for many more: https://drbarrick.org/recommendations/