Why the whole Bible speaks with the authority of Jesus Christ himself
by Dr. Peter Saunders
Many people today are willing to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, even as the Son of God, but are unable to accept the authority of the Bible, the world’s most read book.
But in fact it is Jesus himself who, by his teaching, underlines the authority of the Bible.
Following Christ involves following his commands. The ‘law of Christ’ referred to in such Scriptures as John 13:34-35, 1 Corinthians 9:21 and Galatians 6:2 involves bearing one another’s burdens, loving each other as he has loved us.
But whereas these verses summarise beautifully the substance of the teaching Jesus gave first-hand, we cannot therefore conclude that the rest of Scripture is unnecessary. Jesus expands this core of moral teaching throughout the Gospels and particularly in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7). But he also endorses the whole of the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Jesus and the Old Testament
Jesus put his stamp of authority on the Old Testament. He treated its historical narratives as straightforward records of fact. Interestingly the stories that are the least acceptable to the ‘modern mind’ are the very ones he seemed most fond of choosing for his illustrations (eg. Abel (Mt 23:35), Noah (Lk 17:26-27), Jonah (Mt 12:39-41)). He repeatedly quoted it as the final court of appeal in debates, not only with his earthly opponents but with the Devil himself (Mt 4:1-11) He believed its prophecies were fulfilled in him (Lk 24:44) and used them as proof of his claims to be the Messiah (Jn 4:25-26; Mt 16:20) and he obeyed its ethical teaching (Mt 5:17-21; Mt 23:23; Jn 8:46).
Jesus commanded his disciples to obey the teachers of the law in so far as they were faithful to the Law of Moses (Mt 23:2-3), and said that anyone who broke one of the least of the Law’s commandments and taught others to do the same would be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Not ‘the least stroke of a pen’ is to disappear from the Law until ‘heaven and earth disappear’. In fact his disciples are expected to go beyond mere observance of the letter of the Law to fulfillment of the very principle of love upon which it is based…
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