Visions from the Vincents

April 7, 2008

The Unity of the Bible: Bound with the Blood of the Lamb

Filed under: Bible — Joshua @ 9:05 pm

I think we would all agree that the Bible is chock full of diversity.  Some examples come to mind immediately.
1.    The Bible is divided into two different testaments (the Old and the New).
2.    The Bible is written in different languages.  The Old is written in Hebrew and Aramaic, while the New is written in Koine Greek.
3.    40 different authors contributed to the Bible.
4.    A number of different genres are used in the composition of the Bible—narrative, poetry, apocalyptic literature, wisdom literature, letter, prophecy, etc.
Some might ask—and believe me many do—“How can there be any sense of unity to the Bible with so much diversity?”  The Bible offers at least two truths that help address this question.

Scripture’s Authorship is not Merely Mortal
As is with so much of Christianity, we hold to a worldview that the world scoffs at—that God has spoken to man.  The world says that Scripture is merely a work of men.  The world’s wisdom doesn’t have an advantage over the Christian though.  Actually, the world scoffs at what it does not know—man has sinned against his good, creator God and needs a Savior.  The world lacks ears to hear the Word of God as a message delivered to men through men.  Two years ago, my wife could not hear me.  She began to go deaf.  When we went to the doctor, he informed us that she had a disease that was affecting the stapes bone in her middle ear that would eventually leave her completely deaf.  This doctor took this bone out of her ear, and replaced it with a prosthesis stapes made of titanium.  Now, she can hear things even I can’t hear and occasionally has to ask me to quiet down.  When she could not hear, her problem wasn’t that she didn’t believe I could speak.  Her problem was that she couldn’t hear my voice.  Sin, like the disease in my wife’s ear, leaves us all in need of an ear surgery so that we can hear God speak.  God gives the Christian ears to hear at conversion.  Converted people look to the Bible and hear it to be the voice of God.  God’s sheep both hear and recognize His voice.  Scripture itself attests to the fact that it was written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Weeks ago, Brian preached on the Authority of the Word of God.  The Bible’s authority comes from its divine author.  In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul tells us “all of Scripture is breathed out by God.”  For this reason, the Bible’s self-attestation as the Word of God is the ultimate argument for trusting it as carrying God’s authority.  Because, if it is the Word of God—and it is—then there can be no greater authority to appeal to.  So, the person that rejects to Word of God as being Authoritative suffers a greater problem—they are dead in their sins, and unable to hear and believe and trust God at His word.

Scripture’s Main Point is not Merely Mortal
God has spoken!  He has spoken over millennia past through choice human authors.  But, what has God said?  What is the main point of what He has said to us?  Just as the Bible is where God speaks through man, Jesus Christ is where God speaks through man.  Jesus was not merely mortal.  Jesus is fully God and fully man.  Surely we could all agree that Jesus is the point of the New Testament, but perhaps there are some naysayers who would be reluctant to support the statement that Jesus is the point of the Old Testament as well.  Where do I get this?  I get this from Jesus.  After God raised Jesus from the dead, Jesus joined two men traveling to Emmaus—who didn’t know they were walking with Jesus.  They lamented the death of Jesus referring to him as a prophet in Lk 24:19.  Jesus responds saying, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? And beginning with Moses an all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24:27).  Two things are apparent from this text.  First, Jesus tells us that all of the Old Testament clearly points to himself.  Second, the death of Jesus on the cross was a necessary implication of the teaching of the Old Testament.  Thus, Jesus claims that He is the point of the Bible, and that his life, death, resurrection, and ascension were central to his purpose.  Jesus is indeed the main point of the Bible.

Don’t Live a Life that is Merely Mortal
As Christians, we are actually given the Spirit of God so that we are no longer merely mortal.  Interestingly, the Spirit’s purpose is to point us to Christ.  John 15:26 says, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds form the Father, he will bear witness about me.”  The same spirit that led the prophets and apostles now indwells Christians.  Just as the Spirit pointed them to Christ, He now points us to Christ.  This leads us to an important thought.  There is actually a wrong way to read the Bible.  To read the Bible as a flat set of ethical principles to be followed to make one right with God is a pagan reading of a divinely inspired text.  This type of reading would be tantamount to seeking to please God by doing him a favor.  Maybe this person wouldn’t say this out loud, but his actions communicate the message, “Hey God.  You scratch my back and I will scratch yours.”  God has spoken to us to tell us that the point of Scripture, and all of history for that matter is to reveal the Excellencies of Christ.  This is central to rightly understanding everything in life.  But, how does this play out?  If you are reading your Bible, then it means that to understand how any Scripture applies to you, you must first understand how it applies to Christ.  A good test question is why don’t we still practice animal sacrifices as the people of God.  The answer is that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were actually signs or arrows pointing to a greater sacrifice that was to come.  John 1:29 tells us that Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb who has come into the world to be sacrificed for our sins.  Hebrews tells us that he was offered up once for all.  So, Jesus is the perfect sacrifice that meets the need of his people to be saved from condemnation.  Now, the Christian is called to offer up her body as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1).  Even in our offering up of ourselves, we actually “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings” (1 Pet 4:13).  The Christian can only understand truly ethical behavior in Christ.  Outside of Christ there is no ethical behavior.  All good deeds are as filthy rags outside of the atoning work of Christ. This is the point of the Spirit and God’s authoritative word, the Bible—to point to Christ.  As a Christian, this means that I need to live all of life in light of Jesus.  I am called to live an intentionally Christ-centered life.  Praise God that I am not left alone to my own devices.  God has given me his Spirit to help me look to and trust in Christ, the one man who could live up to the ethical standards set by God.  Not only this.  He has empowered me to please him, giving me a desire and love for his commandments.  There is unity to the Bible, just as there is unity to all of life.  As a Christian, all of my life—like the Bible I read—is bound by the blood of the Lamb.

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