May 25th, 1997
by Dr. Phil Fernandes
A chapter from his doctoral dissertation
© 1997, Institute of Biblical Defense, All Rights Reserved
CHRIST’S TEACHINGS CONCERNING THE OLD TESTAMENT
This work has shown that the evidence demonstrates that Jesus is God. Therefore, whatever Jesus taught should be accepted as true and authoritative. John W. Wenham discussed Christ’s view of the Old Testament:
Our Lord not only believed the truth of the Old Testament history and used the Scriptures as final authority in matters of faith and conduct, he also regarded the writings themselves as inspired. To Him, Moses, the prophets, David, and the other Scripture writers were given their messages by the Spirit of God.1
Some of Christ’s teachings concerning the Old Testament are as follows:
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. 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 has been accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18).
And He answered and said to them, “And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ ” (Matthew 15:3-4)
But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? (Matthew 22:31-32)
He was also saying to them, “You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down. . .” (Mark 7:9-13).
David himself said in the Holy Spirit, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet.’ ” (Mark 12:36)
It is abundantly clear that Jesus considered the entire Old Testament (what the Jews of His day called “the Law and the Prophets”) to be the inspired Word of God. He referred to the Old Testament authors as prophets (Matthew 11:13; 12:39; 22:40; 23:31-35; 24:15; 26:56; Luke 16:16-17, 31; 18:31; 24:44; John 6:45), meaning proclaimers of God’s truth. In fact, Jesus spoke of the prophets as beginning with Abel and ending with Zechariah (Luke 11:49-51). This covers the exact time period of the Old Testament, from creation to about 400BC. Since Christ is God Himself, his view of the Old Testament must be correct. Therefore, the Old Testament is the written Word of God.
CHRIST’S VIEW OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Christ ascended to heaven before the New Testament was recorded. However, the promises He made to his apostles guaranteed that the New Testament would be the inspired Word of God:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away (Mark 13:31).
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you (John 14:26).
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning (John 15:26-27).
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come (John 16:13).
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
From these quotes of Christ, five conclusions can be drawn. First, Jesus promised that His teachings would be preserved. Second, He said that the Holy Spirit would remind the apostles of all that He told them. Third, the Holy Spirit would reveal future events to the apostles. Fourth, the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into the truth (prevent them from promoting doctrinal errors). Fifth, the Holy Spirit would empower the apostles to be Christ’s authoritative representatives to the world.
From the above conclusions it is clear that Christ promised to preserve His teachings through the apostles’ writings. Obviously, these writings make up the New Testament. Since Jesus is almighty God, His plan cannot be thwarted. Therefore, since He promised to preserve His words through the teachings of the apostles, then their teachings (which have been passed on to future generations) are the teachings of Christ. Hence, they are the Word of God
It should also be noted that Jesus taught that only the Old Testament and the teachings of His apostles (the New Testament) were the Word of God. The evidence declares Jesus to be God. Jesus taught that both the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God. Therefore, the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God.
THE SUPERNATURAL WISDOM OF THE BIBLE
The evidence presented above is sufficient to demonstrate that the Bible is God’s Word. Still, there are other factors which help corroborate this evidence. The supernatural wisdom and the fulfilled prophecies of the Bible verify that the Bible is God’s Word.
Christian thinkers such as Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)2 and Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)3 have noted that only the Bible offers an adequate explanation for both man’s greatness and man’s wretchedness. Modern man, even with all his accumulated knowledge, cannot sufficiently account for both aspects in man. Atheistic evolutionists may be able to explain the wretchedness of man, for they see man as merely an animal, but they cannot satisfactorily account for man’s greatness. New Age Pantheists recognize man’s greatness by attributing godhood to him, but, they offer no convincing reason why man is so wretched. The Bible alone offers an adequate explanation for both aspects of man. Man is great because he was created in God’s image; he is wretched because he is in a fallen state.4 This indicates that the wisdom found in the Bible supersedes the wisdom of man.
Evidence for the supernatural wisdom of the Bible can also be seen in the realm of science. At a time when men thought the earth was flat, the Bible taught that it was a sphere (Isaiah 40:22, 700BC). At a time when men thought the earth rested on the back of a giant turtle, the Bible taught that is was suspended in space (Job 26:7, 2000BC). At about 1500BC the Bible taught that the stars could not be counted (Genesis 15:5); yet, in 150AD an astronomer named Ptolemy taught that there were exactly 1056 stars.5 Today, modern science confirms that the stars are innumerable.
In about 1850AD, the first and second laws of thermodynamics were discovered by modern science. The first law teaches that no new energy is being created or destroyed. The second law teaches that, though the amount of energy in the universe remains constant, the amount of usable energy is running down. Therefore, the universe is winding down. The Bible taught both of these laws thousands of years ago. The Bible states that God is resting from His creation work (Genesis 2:1-3), and that the universe will someday pass away (Mark 13:31; Isaiah 40:31). The Bible does teach, however, that God will make a new heaven and a new earth when the old ones pass away (Revelation 21:1).
There was no such thing as modern science in biblical times. Hence, the information mentioned above demands a source which transcends that of man, a supernatural source.6 H. L. Willmington commented on this subject:
In 1861 the French Academy of Science published a brochure of fifty-one “scientific facts” which supposedly contradicted the Bible. These were used by the atheists of that day in ridiculing Christians. Today all fifty-one of those “facts” are unacceptable to modern scientists.7
The Bible claims repeatedly to be the Word of God. One of the most powerful witnesses to the truth of this claim is the many fulfilled prophecies proclaimed in the Bible. This work has already examined a sample of prophecies fulfilled by Christ. Here, a few more of the many biblical prophecies that have already come to pass will be discussed.
The Bible has made many predictions concerning the future of great nations and cities. The following is a brief discussion of a few of the prophecies fulfilled concerning these cities and nations.
Around 590—570BC, the prophet Ezekiel predicted that the city of Tyre would be destroyed and never be rebuilt, and that it would become a barren rock which fishermen would use to mend their nets (Ezekiel 26:4, 5, 14). Though Tyre was destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout history, it was ultimately devastated in 1291AD by Muslim invaders. Today, all that is left of the ancient site of Tyre is a small fishing community which uses the barren ground to dry their nets.8
In the sixth century BC, Ezekiel also predicted that the city of Sidon would suffer much violence and bloodshed throughout her history, yet remain in existence (Ezekiel 28:23). Though Sidon has been invaded and defeated numerous times throughout her history, the city still exists today.9
In 625BC, the prophet Zephaniah predicted that the city of Ashkelon would someday be destroyed, but that it would eventually be inhabited by the Jews (Zephaniah 2:4, 6). Ashkelon was destroyed in 1270AD by Sultan Bibars. The city remained uninhabited for centuries until the nation of Israel was reestablished in 1948. Now, the Jews have rebuilt and re-inhabited Ashkelon.10
Zephaniah also predicted that the Philistines—a powerful enemy of the Jews throughout much of the Old Testament—would be totally wiped out. Though they continued to prosper for many centuries, they eventually became extinct in 1200AD (Zephaniah 2:5).11
The prophet Obadiah, writing in either 841BC or 586BC, prophesied the extinction of the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau and enemies of the Jews (Obadiah 18). When the Romans devastated the city of Jerusalem in 70AD, they also defeated the remnants of Edom (called the Idumeans at that time). At that time, all traces of the Edomites disappear.12
In 740—680BC, the prophet Isaiah predicted that Egypt would still be a nation in the last days (Isaiah 19:21-22). In spite of the many wars Egypt has encountered throughout her four-thousand year history, this ancient nation remains in existence to this day.13
In 1410BC, Moses predicted that Israel would be scattered among the nations of the world (Deuteronomy 28:64). The prophet Hosea, in 710BC, predicted this dispersion of Israel as well (Hosea 9:17). History records that after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, the Jews were scattered throughout the world.14
Both Isaiah and Ezekiel prophesied that Israel would be re-gathered in her land in the last days (Isaiah 11:11-12; Ezekiel 37:21). This happened in 1948AD when the nation of Israel was reestablished. The Jews continue to return to their land to this day.15
God told Abraham that those who cursed Israel would be cursed by God (Genesis 12:3). This prophecy has been fulfilled many times. Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, the Roman Empire, and Nazi Germany are a few examples of nations or empires that persecuted and oppressed Israel. While the tiny nation of Israel still exists today, Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, the Roman Empire, the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany have collapsed and are no longer in existence. During the 1930′s and 1940′s, Nazi Germany had slaughtered six-million Jews and its war machine was devastating Europe. By 1948, Nazi Germany was nonexistent and the Jews had control of their homeland—the nation of Israel— for the first time since 586BC.16
Each of these prophecies has been fulfilled to the detail. Many other biblical prophecies have also been fulfilled. It should also be noted that no futuristic prophecy of Scripture has ever been shown to be false. This separates the Bible from false prophets such as Edgar Cayce and Jean Dixon. Their success rate is much lower than the perfect accuracy of the predictions made by the Bible.17 Henry Morris made the following comment:
It seems reasonable to conclude that the phenomenon of fulfilled prophecy constitutes a unique and powerful evidence of the divine inspiration of the Bible.18
The evidence provided above for the Bible being God’s Word is threefold. First, Jesus (who is God) taught that the Bible is God’s Word. Second, the Bible contains insights that go beyond mere human wisdom. Third, the Bible made numerous predictions, many of which have been fulfilled. None of these predictions have proven false (though some prophecies have yet to be fulfilled). In short, there are good reasons for believing the Bible is God’s Word. Those who reject the divine inspiration of the Bible have failed to explain the three factors above.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE DIVINE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE
Since the Bible can be shown to be God’s Word, several implications follow. First, since the cosmological argument has shown God to be infinite and perfect, there can be no error in His Word as originally recorded. God can only proclaim truth; otherwise, He would be less than perfect. Therefore, the Bible is wholly true (inerrant). Second, since the Bible is God’s inerrant Word, it is authoritative. God has spoken, and everything must be tested by the truth He has given. Third, whatever is taught in God’s inerrant and authoritative Word should be adhered to by all.
This work has already presented evidence for some of the major tenents of orthodox Christianity (the existence of one God, creation by God, the resurrection of Jesus, and Christ’s deity). Since the evidence indicates the Bible is God’s Word, whatever it teaches must be true. Therefore, other important Christian doctrines (e.g., salvation by grace through faith in Christ, the substitutionary death of Christ, the Trinity, and Christ’s future return to earth) can be defended by showing that they are taught in the Bible
Concerning salvation, the Bible teaches that all people are sinners who cannot save themselves (Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23; Matthew 19:25-26). Scripture teaches that man cannot earn his salvation; salvation is a free gift given by God’s grace (unmerited favor) to those who trust (believe) in Jesus for salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16-18; 6:35, 47; Romans 6:23). Only through Jesus can man be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
The Bible teaches that Jesus took mankind’s punishment upon Himself by dying on the cross for their sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, 12; Matthew 1:21; Mark 10:45; John 1:29; Romans 5:8-10; Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:15, 21; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; Hebrews 10:10, 14; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 1:7; 2:1-2; Revelation 5:9). The God of the Bible is holy and just; He cannot forgive sin unless it has been paid for in full. The good news is that Jesus (who is fully man and fully God) is the ultimately worthy sacrifice who has paid for the sins of the world through His death on the cross (Revelation 5:1-14). He died as a substitute for all of mankind. Those who accept Jesus as their Savior receive the salvation and forgiveness that He has purchased for them.
One of the most controversial teachings of Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity, for this teaching transcends human understanding. This doctrine declares that the one true God eternally exists as three equal Persons (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). God is one in essence or nature (Mark 12:29; John 10:30), but three in Personhood (Matthew 3:16-17; John 14:16, 26; 15:26).
The Bible teaches that the Father is God (Galatians 1:1; 1 Peter 1:2). However, Jesus (the Son) is also called God and is described in ways that could only apply to God (Isaiah 9:6; Zechariah 14:5; John 1:1, 14; 5:17-18, 22-23; 8:58-59; 10:30-33; 17:5, 24; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 5:20; Revelation 1:17-18). Jesus is worshipped as God (Matthew 2:11; 28:9; John 9:38). The Holy Spirit is also called God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
Some have speculated that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, since they are one God, must also be one Person, but, this is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons (Isaiah 48:12-16; Psalm 110:1; Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; John 14:16, 26; 15:26). Before anything was created, the three Persons of the Trinity communicated with each other (Genesis 1:26; 11:7), shared the glory of God (John 17:5), and loved each other (John 17:24). Even while Christ was on earth, He and the Father spoke to one another, thus proving they were not the same Person (Matthew 3:16-17; 26:39; Luke 23:46; John 17:1). When all the data is considered, it is clear that the Bible teaches that there is only one true God, but this God eternally exists as three equal Persons. Hence, the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity.
The Bible also teaches that Jesus Christ will someday return to earth in power and glory. After His return, He will rule over the nations for one-thousand years (Matthew 24:29-31; Revelation 11:15; 19:11-16; 20:4-6).
Since the available evidence declares the Bible to be God’s Word, whatever it teaches must be true. Therefore, the biblical teachings concerning salvation, Christ’s substitutionary death, the Trinity, and Christ’s return should be accepted. It is also important to note that since whatever the Bible teaches is true, the morality taught in the Bible is authoritative. If God calls a practice wrong, then it is wrong, regardless of common political sentiment. Though the Bible student must differentiate between absolute moral laws which are universally binding on all men and temporary cultural laws prescribed for a specific people at a specific time, absolute moral laws taught in the Bible should be adhered to by all. The day will come when all must answer to God, at the judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15).
The argument of this chapter is threefold. First, Jesus of Nazareth, who is God incarnate, taught that the Bible is God’s Word. Therefore, the Bible is the Word of God. Second, this is confirmed by the supernatural wisdom of the Bible, as well as the many fulfilled prophecies of the Bible. Third, since God has been shown to be infinitely perfect, His Word is totally trustworthy. Therefore, whatever the Bible teaches is true.
Since the Bible teaches that salvation comes only through trusting in Jesus as one’s Savior, then Christianity is the one true faith. All religions which deny salvation only through Christ alone are false religions. One’s eternal destiny depends on his response to Christ. It is Jesus who calls out to all mankind, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
17 The predictions of Scripture are always clear in their meaning and no prophecy of Scripture has ever been shown to be inaccurate. On the other hand, the prophecies of Edgar Cayce and Jeane Dixon have been shown to be extremely vague and often inaccurate. Specific cases of false prophecies uttered by Cayce and Dixon are documented in Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Handbook of Today’s Religions, 169-174, 181-185. According to Deuteronomy 18:22, one failed prophecy is enough to identify a person as a false prophet. Hence, both Cayce and Dixon are false prophets while, as mentioned above, no prediction of the Bible has been shown to be false.