June 18, 2011
The Father’s Commandment
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As Jesus concluded His public ministry, He repeated His call to salvation. He linked salvation to hearing and keeping His word. The word of Jesus carries essential significance for all men. Therefore, Jesus carefully elaborated the importance of His word for the world.
In John 12:47, Jesus said: “If anyone hears My sayings (“ῥημάτων“) and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” Jesus said He came to save the world, not to judge now anyone who hears His sayings and does not keep them. Time matters here. Jesus did not say He would never judge the world, but rather He had not come now to judge the world. Jesus came to save the world now through His “sayings” of salvation. Jesus brought salvation through His sayings and empowering individuals to keep them by faith. Jesus alone stands as the sole Savior of mankind. Jesus spoke the words of life: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63; compare John 6:68). The sayings of Jesus give life or bring judgment.
In John 12:48, after explaining that He did not come to judge anyone, Jesus addressed the consequences of rejecting Him and His “sayings”: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” In verse 47, Jesus did not deny judgment would come upon those who reject His “sayings,” but only that He came to judge those people now. Instead, Jesus described a future judgment based upon His “sayings.” Jesus did not focus upon His person, but upon His “sayings.” Those “sayings” of Jesus result in one of two destinies for every man hearing them: (1) saved by Jesus or (2) judged by those “sayings.” In this case, Jesus saves people who keep His “sayings” from the judgment. No one hearing His “sayings” can ignore them. The words of Jesus form the basis for future and eternal judgment. Surely those words have been accurately and completely recorded for everyone.
In John 12:49, Jesus explained that He spoke according to the Father’s commandment: “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.” Jesus first explained that the word He spoke would sit in judgment upon everyone who rejected them. In contrast, everyone who heard and kept His word would be saved. The Gospel of Jesus Christ resulted in either judgment or eternal life. Now Jesus discloses that the Father commanded Him what to say and what to speak. Jesus did not speak on His own initiative (John 14:10). Both the content of His words (Matthew 13:10-17) and the form of His words (see for example Matthew 13:34-35) were commanded by the Father. In other words, Jesus and the Father were concerned not only with the content of the Gospel, but also the way to present the Gospel, such as speaking parables to some, and explaining the parables to others. Jesus did not add or subtract words by His own initiative. Jesus emphasized that the words He spoke He did not choose Himself, but rather the Father gave Him a message and commanded Him to proclaim it. That message contained the best news ever preached to humanity.
Some people today teach that the Bible only contains the “gist” of the words of Christ, particularly the words of Christ in the Gospels. These people, whom I will call “gisters,” provide a variety of reasons why you should reject the verbal integrity of the Bible. In essence, the “gisters” ignore the miraculous nature of revelation. They think that men wrote the Bible and, at times, got the facts wrong, or they failed to recall the exact words of Jesus and so substituted their own words. Such teaching denies the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the production of Scripture. Furthermore, “gisters” cloak themselves with the vocabulary of conservative Christianity by using terms like “inspiration” and “inerrancy.” “Gisters” try to redefine “inerrancy” and “inspiration” so that they may believe that “truth” in the Bible means the Gospel writers may not have reported the actual words of Jesus, even when they claim they did. While “gisters” agree that the Holy Spirit moved men to write, they claim that He did not necessarily overcome their faulty memories. Instead, according to the “gisters,” the Holy Spirit deemed it best to add words or change words from those actually spoken by Jesus. In their minds, it would be o.k. to pretend and write that Jesus actually said those make-believe words. Such reasoning reduces the meaning of “inspiration” and “inerrancy” to nothing more than poppycock. Furthermore, it attacks the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the righteousness of God the Father, for the “gisters” would try to strip them of every shred of veracity. The “gisters” affirm the “inspiration” of the Bible, but deny the miraculous nature of inspiration. The “gisters” affirm the truth of the Bible, but then allege that the Bible actually contains many lies about what Jesus said. To accept the testimony of the “gisters” as true means that you must reject the Bible as true in every word. Let God and His word be found true, and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).
No one seriously argues that Jesus communicated only the “gist” of the Father’s words to people, but rather Jesus spoke the very words of life (John 6:68) or judgment (John 5:25-29). Because of the gravity of the consequences of hearing and rejecting the Father’s words spoken by Jesus, and transmitted in the New Testament by the miraculous ministry of the Holy Spirit, you can understand why God never intended to communicate only the “gist” of Gospel of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, since the Father and the Son had deliberately decided how the message would be proclaimed (as prophesied centuries before Christ appeared (Matthew 13:14-17)), as well as its substance, no one should be surprised that both the Holy Spirit and the Son provided not the “gist” of the Father’s message, but both the form and content of divine words of life or judgment.
If people readily understand that Jesus spoke the words of His Father who commanded Him what to say and what to speak, why would anyone deny the miraculous ministry of the Holy Spirit performing the same communication of the Father’s words through the disciples? Taken together, the words originated with the Father, then proclaimed by the Son at the Father’s commandment as to what to say and what to speak, and finally miraculously recalled by the Holy Spirit as He moved men to write down the God-breathed text of Scripture.
Once I heard a story about missionary, serving for about thirty years in Brazil. He believed that John displayed a wonderful imagination in writing the Book of Revelation. While that missionary gave his life in the service of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he did not comprehend the doctrine of inspiration. If he did, then he would have known that inspiration guided the writing of Revelation, and not human imagination. Everyone holding to “gist” theology makes an even greater error than that missionary. “Gisters” deny: (1) the miraculous nature of inspiration and (2) the scope of the Father’s commandment regarding the content and substance of the words of Jesus Christ.
So we learn about the inspiration of the Word of God today.
● The Word of God means that God communicated His very words to Jesus Christ, who spoke them verbatim.
● The Word of God means that the Holy Spirit caused the disciples to remember all the words of Jesus and record them accurately in the Bible. Each writer used his own vocabulary and style of writing, but God guaranteed the final product to be completely without errors. God inspired the Bible by breathing His word through the individual authors of the Bible. We call it verbal inspiration (the inspiration applies to the words, not just thoughts) and plenary inspiration (the inspiration applies to all the words of the Bible). The Bible accurately reflects the intention and very words of God in writing it down. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, He moved human authors to write down the revelation of God to human beings.
● The Word of God means that the Holy Spirit worked a miracle of inspiration by taking the words and acts delivered from the Father to the Son, and then taking the things the Son said and miraculously causing the disciples to write those words and actions down.
Application for Today
God intended for us to have a permanent record of the teachings of Jesus. God never promised to record each word of Jesus (John 21:25), but He did promise to give us everything we need to live in His will and do His works (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We should always place our confidence in Christ Jesus, and the Word of God. The truth of the Bible reflects and records the truth of Christ. The Holy Spirit of God helps us understand and apply the Word of God today. As Jesus said, the Holy Spirit helps us and will lead us into all truth. Will you rely upon the truth of God’s Word and live accordingly today?