Theme: Jesus, the Final Authority, the Bible, His Perfect Word
This weeks lesson teaches us that no one can fool Jesus because he is God.
But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
In his response to the first of his enemies questions Jesus provided the classic biblical teaching about the authority of civil government and the right relationship of the believer to the state. In his reply to the second question Jesus taught the authority and complete reliability of the Bible in everything it teaches. When we speak of the Bible’s authority, infallibility and inerrancy, and we are ascribing these qualities to it because, as Jesus taught, the Bible is the very Word of God.
There are really only three basic positions in regard to the Bible, and we have them today even as they existed then: either 1) the Bible is the Word of God and is infallible, or 2) the Bible is the words of mere men and is not binding on anyone, or 3) the Bible is a combination of both.
The first is the classic, evangelical doctrine. It has been held by Christians throughout history. Thus, even when there were debates about the nature of Jesus Christ, man, or justification, there was always the Bible to which the people involved in those debates appealed. Even the heretics regarded the Bible as the Word of God. They disagreed with the church about what it taught, and they had to be corrected as the church studied the issue, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through the Word to the people of that day. But everyone stood by the conviction that the Bible is Gods Word and is therefore inerrant in whatever it does teach. It is only in recent times that his position has been abandoned.
When we speak of the classic, evangelical view of the Bible and say that the church believes that the Bible is the Word of God, this does not deny that it is also expressed in human language. Some people have fallen into thinking that the Bible was somehow dictated by God. Then they have difficulty explaining how the style of one book differs from the style of another book. That problem is solved when we understand that the Bible also comes to us through human authors, who wrote according to their own style and vocabulary. When we are talking of this we acknowledge that there is a sense in which the Bible is also the words of men, though it is more than that.
The classic evangelical view is that God so guided the human authors that the result, in the whole and in its parts, is what God desired to be expressed. Thus the Bible is the Word of God from beginning to end and is entirely true because God himself is truthful.
The second view, that the Bible is the words of men, is the view of liberalism and neo-orthodoxy, though many of the neo-orthodox theologians had great respect for the Bible and were willing to listen to it. Neo-orthodoxy said that God is so transcendent, so far above us, so separated from where we are, that he cannot actually speak in human words but rather reveals himself in ways that we cannot even talk about. So what we have in the Bible is men testifying in their own words to what they believed God said in this real but mysterious and non-verbal fashion.
The third position is that the Bible is the Word of God and the words of men combined – in this sense. When you read the Bible you find things that have certainly come to us from God and are therefore truthful. But we have to admit (so this thinking goes) that when we read the Bible we also find things that are not truthful, things we know to be in error, and because God does not speak that which is untruthful, these things must have come from human beings and from human beings alone. In other words, in the Bible we have a combination of divine words and human words, and it is the task of scholarship to sort these out.
What happens in this framework is that the scholar becomes God. That is, he becomes the authority who tells Christian people what is true and what is not true, what is of God and what is not of God, what they are to believe and what they are not to believe. The result of this is that, because we are sinners, we tend to weed out what we do not want to hear. The words of God that are given to correct the church, discipline our thinking, and influence our lives is the very parts we decide are errors and get rid of. It was the error the Sadducees had embraced and that Jesus refuted by his teaching in these verses.
Which view of the Bible is accurate? Why?
What is the problem with allowing man to decide what words in the Bible are Gods and which are mans?
What do you believe about the Bible’s authority? Is it infallible?