The Word for the World

Confidence in the Word

Examining the Bible's Testimony

Jesus' Use of Scripture

It is clear from even a fairly superficial reading of the Gospels that our Lord Jesus Christ had absolute confidence in the Scriptures as they were in his time - that is, in what we know as the Old Testament. Jesus never for one moment questioned the authority or veracity of anything in the Bible as it was in his own day, as the several examples we give on this page clearly show.

Jesus as the Fulfilment of the Scriptures

Jesus insisted that the very purpose for which he had come was to fulfil what was written in the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets, not to abolish them, for they will remain in force until the present order of creation disappears (Matthew 5:17-18). Moreover, anyone who broke even the smallest commandment in God's law and taught others to do the same would, he said, be of little or no account in the final reckoning of things. But, anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches others to do the same, will be counted great in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:19).

Indeed, from the beginning to the end of his public ministry, and afterwards, Jesus was conscious that he was fulfilling the Scriptures, as is evident from the following incidents:-

"It is written ..."

Jesus characteristically referred to the Scriptures by using the phrase, It is written or some similar expression. Using God's Word in this way he:

In the same way, when he is engaged in controversy with the religious leaders, Jesus appeals to the written Word of God. For example:-

Written for Us
As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we too may legitimately make the same appeal, It is written, in order to answer arguments advanced against the Christian faith, and the accusations of the evil one, with absolute confidence in the truth and authority of what we quote from God's own Word. We may also use the Scriptures in the same way in order gently and respectfully to answer enquirers about the reason for the hope the Christian faith gives us (1 Peter 3:15-16).

The Son of Man

Jesus frequently appropriated to himself a most important Old Testament title, the Son of Man. We find this in all four Gospels. In the Gospel of Matthew, for instance, our Lord applies it to himself no fewer than 29 times (Matthew 8:20, 9:6, 10:23, 11:19, 12:8, 12:32, 12:40, 13:37, 13:41, 16:13, 16:27, 16:28, 17:9, 17:12, 17:22, 19:28, 20:18, 20:28, 24:27, 24:30 (twice), 24:37, 24:39, 24:44, 25:31, 26:2, 26:24, 26:45 and 26:64). In Mark, Jesus applies the title to himself 13 times, in Luke, 25, and in John, 13.

The title, Son of Man, has its origin in a vision granted to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14 (NIV)). It points to our Lord's permanent and rightful rule over the entire world, which at present is misruled by the successive empires of men (Daniel 7:1-8).

As evidence of his Messiahship, at his trial Jesus affirmed that the one like a son of man whom Daniel saw in his vision was indeed himself, and that he would be seated in the place of power and return on the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:61-62).

Further Revelation
John the Divine, in his greeting to the seven churches, also refers to Jesus as coming on the clouds of heaven (Revelation 1:7). Jesus as the Son of Man is the One whom John sees standing in the middle of the seven gold lampstands (representing the seven churches) (Revelation 1:12-13 and 1:20).
(At this point you may wish to remind yourself of what we said previously about the revelation given to John the Divine.)

The Sign of Jonah

Jonah Swallowed by the Great Fish

Of particular significance for our own time, we believe, is the fact that Jesus accepted without question that Jonah was an authentic historical character, (Matthew 12:38-41 and parallels in Luke 11:29-30 and 11:32, also Matthew 16:1-4). Our Lord's use of Jonah's incarceration in the great fish as a portent of his own death and resurrection may surprise us, but it was a fully sufficient sign that he was indeed the Messiah. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear no further proof was needed.

It is still the same today. We do not need any evidence on which to base our faith in Jesus and to receive his salvation other than that already provided by the Scriptures, as Jesus pointedly told the Jewish leaders (John 5:39), and as the apostle Paul made clear to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:15). To insist on miraculous signs and wonders as evidence on which to base our trust in the Saviour is to fall into the same trap as the religious leaders of Jesus' day.

Historical Confirmation
For independent historical confirmation from the Old Testament that the prophet Jonah was a real person compare 2 Kings 14:25 with Jonah 1:1. (This is but just one small example of how Scripture confirms Scripture.)

Provision for the New Testament

In the previous sections of this page we have seen some of the ways in which Jesus used the Scriptures (our Old Testament) to authenticate his message and actions. For him, the Scriptures had to be fulfilled, for they were the Word of God - and God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19).

But Jesus not only appealed to the past, he also looked to the future. In appointing his apostles, he not only gave them the task of making known the gospel to their contemporaries, but also, of recording it in definitive form for the benefit of future generations, together with further revelations they would receive. As Jesus explained to his disciples during his last evening with them, this was one of the purposes for which the Holy Spirit would be given after his departure (John 14:23-26, 16:5-7 and 16:13-15). Only by making provision for such a definitive record could Jesus ensure that the word he had given his apostles (John 17:14) would be preserved intact and faithfully transmitted to all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony (John 17:20).

The Incarnate Word & the Written Word

Jesus Christ - the incarnate Word of God - placed his absolute trust in the Scriptures - the written Word of God - as he had received them. Indeed, on one occasion, when disputing with the Jews in the Temple, he insisted that "the Scripture cannot be broken", in the sense of being destroyed, amended or diluted in any way (John 10:34-36 (NIV)). Not only did Our Lord have complete Confidence in the Word but, as we have explained, he also made provision for further revelation to be added to Scripture under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

(We need to be careful to insist that this is something only Jesus has ever done, or ever can do. Any who presume to add to or amend the completed canon of Scripture do so under the pain of the severest of punishments (see (Revelation 22:18-19)).

Jesus' acceptance of the Old Testament as the authentic Word of God, together with his preparation for the writing of the New, offer possibly the two most compelling reasons why we may place our every Confidence in the Word.

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