Continuity in the Word of God

The Father gave Christ, the Living Word, the spoken Word of God to teach and say.

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. 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. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me – John 12:48-50

He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me – John 14:24

And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. – Mark 2:1

Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; – Luke 5:1

Christ confirmed that scripture is also the Word of God

Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘ I said, you are gods ’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming, ’ because I said, ‘ I am the Son of God ’ – John 10:34-36

He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘ Honor your father and your mother ’; and, ‘ HE who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death ’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God), ’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” – Mark 7:9-13

Christ in turn gave the apostles the Word of God from the Father

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. – John 17:14-17

I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me – John 17:6-8

Christ told the apostles that those who truly listen to Him and know the Father will also listen to the words of the apostles. We were able to believe in Christ through their faithfulness in sharing this word!

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘ A slave is not greater than his master. ’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me – John 15:20-21

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;” – John 17:20

The Holy Spirit reminded the apostles of Christ’s Words (so that they could teach them and record them as the New Testament scriptures)

“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” – John 14:25-26

The apostles boldly spoke the Word of God. They also wrote down the Word of God for us to preserve the message that originated from the Father.

And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond- servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. – Acts 4:29-31

For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. – 1 Thes 2:13

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us – 2 Thes 2:15

Many verses in Acts talking about the Word of God being spoken, preached, growing, and multiplying as people believed in it and the seed fell on fertile soil
Elders and teachers are to continue to teach and preserve the Word of God as it has been passed down from the Father to Christ, from Christ to the apostles, and from the apostles to the early church and as recorded in scripture. It is not to be changed, and it is to be accurately handled.

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. – 2 Tim 2:2

holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. – Titus 1:9

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. – 2 Tim 2:15

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Bearing One Another’s Burdens (Galatians 6)

Galatians 6:1-2: Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

 

  • Paul was writing this to the brothers and sisters in Christ in the church in Galatia: “Brethren”
  • “caught in any trespass”
    • (prolambano) Greek word sometimes was used to describe an animal being caught in a trap.
    • You can’t get out of the trap based on your own strength. You need the strength of Christ through the Holy Spirit to get you out.
    • Christ’s tools are Spiritual and not according to the flesh: (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. we are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
  • Notice that it isn’t all of the “brethren” who are to restore the entrapped brother or sister – it is those brothers and sisters who are “spiritual”.
    • And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? – 1 Cor 3:1-4
    • All who are in the Body of Christ are born of the Spirit and are of one spirit with Him. We are all complete In Him, and we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Him. We all are spiritual In Christ.
    • Even though we are born of the Spirit, it doesn’t mean that we are walking by the Spirit. In the New Testament, walking is used to describe the predominant way we are living our life. A single step or an occasional stumble is different than a long, consistent walk.
      • If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. – Galatians 5:25
      • for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light – Ephesians 5:8
      • Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, – Colossians 2:6
      • If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. – 1 John 1:6-8
    • Those who are “spiritual” are those who tend to abide in Christ and walk in the reality of the true life in Christ more often than they walk in the flesh. As we are sanctified, we become in time what we already are in eternity. The image of Christ becomes more and more seen in us as we mature, as it is His life coming through us more than our old man.
    • Those who are spiritual will tend to be the ones both inclined to and looked to get involved with helping restore a brother or sister caught in a trespass or sin.
    • In addition, depending on the type of the trespass/sin/burden, certain members of the body may have proven in their life to be spiritual, or yielding to Christ and not their flesh, in that certain area.
    • Also notice that it is a responsibility of those who are spiritual to help restore, regardless of if they were personally offended or a victim of the sin or trespass. Sometimes we take Matthew 18 too literally and read into it that the brother or sister on the outside of the sin offense cannot intervene to help with the restoration.
  • “restore” is the Greek word katartizo which was used to describe mending a broken bone by physicians. Restoring the brother and sister to who they really are In Christ. Broken bones always heal stronger at the break if properly restored.
  • The restoration should be done in the “spirit of gentleness”. Restoration is the goal, not condemnation. Using the sword of the Spirit (the word of God) in love.
  • “Bear one another’s burdens”
    • burden here is the Greek word “baros” which means a heaviness, weight, burden, trouble. It is crushing.
    • Note that this is different from the burden/load used in verse 5: “For each one will bear his own load.” This greek word is “phortion” and is used to designate the pack carried by a marching soldier. Phortion, not baros, is used by Christ in describing his burden in Matthew 11:30, and it is light: “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
    • One of the biggest problems in the church at large today is that many live hidden, independent lives and do not view fellowship as a shared life. You can’t help bear my burden if you don’t know I have it. We need to be vulnerable and trust one another with our burdens, yet we also need to prove ourselves to be trustworthy and respond with the Spirit and not just fix-it words from our flesh.
      “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7)
  • Each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” –
    • sometimes we like being called on to play doctor and we approach an issue with a hint of pride, either that we were called on to help or we don’t have the same problem that they do.
    • If we truly look to ourselves we will realize, like Paul, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” (Romans 7:18)
    • If my brother or sister can be entrapped in the flesh, so can I if I am not walking by the Spirit. Therefore I need to examine my own heart, especially in relation to this issue to ensure that the Holy Spirit can teach me in the process as well.
    • In examining ourselves, we may be able to humbly relate to the issue and speak to how Christ has freed us from that in the past. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10)
  • “And thereby fulfill the law of Christ”
    • Christ in us can fulfill this law if we allow him to do it. Bearing one another’s burdens is one of many examples of the Law of Christ being fulfilled through us.
    • What is his law? Walking and being led by the Spirit and loving God and one another as Christ loved us.
      • (John 13:34-35) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
      • (John 13:34-35) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
      • (Romans 13:10) Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
      • (Galatians 5:13-14) For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
      • (Galatians 5:18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
      • (James 1:25) But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
      • (James 2:12) So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
  • What are some examples of burdens?
    • Sin burdens (sin, trespasses, strongholds, addictions, bitter roots, etc.)
    • Emotional burdens (depression, anger, fear, unforgiveness, etc.)
    • Physical burdens (health issues, physical needs for food and shelter, etc.)
  • The Greek implies that the burden should be continually borne as long as it is a burden. It is not just a pep talk – it is a carrying of one another in prayer and ministering the life of Christ to one another. This requires true ongoing fellowship.

God’s Love (agape) defined

God uses his own example to define and show us what his love (agape) looks like.

Scripture shows us that God’s love (agape) is the sacrifice and laying down of one’s life for another so that other person may live. The only way that someone can truly live is through Christ who is the Life.

The Father sacrificed by sending and giving up his only begotten Son for us, giving us life in Christ (if we believe in Him).

  • For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life – John 3:16
  • By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him – 1 John 4:9
  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – Eph 2:4-5
  • In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins – 1 John 4:10

The Son sacrificed by laying down his own life, shedding his blood, and giving himself up for us so that we could be joined to Him as our life.

  • For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:7-8
  • walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma – Eph 5:2
  • Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her – Eph 5:25
  • We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren – 1 John 3:16
  • “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

The Holy Spirit is constantly laying down His life by not speaking about Himself, but rather speaking about Christ who is the only source of Life to us and the world.

  • “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me” – John 15:26
  • “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” – John 14:26
  • “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you” – John 16
  • The Spirit is seen through the unnamed servant in Genesis 24 who followed Abraham’s (picture of the father) directives to find a bride for his son Isaac.
    • The servant led the bride Rebekah (picture of the Church) to Isaac (the son – picture of Christ).
    • The servant never spoke of himself or his own interests.
    • Many speculate that the servant was Eliezer (Gen 15:2) – Eliezer in Hebrew means helper of God.

The second of the greatest commandments said to love one’s neighbor AS yourself. Christ gave us a new commandment: love one another MORE than yourself by sacrificing and laying down your life for the other – as He loved us.

  • “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” – John 13:34
  • “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” – John 15:12
  • Because we have the agape of God in us through Christ, we have, through Christ, the same ability to love as He loved. We have the very same love in us that the Lord has and had in Himself when deciding to come and die for us sinners. We are partakers of the divine nature in Christ (2 Pet 1:4)
  • Since “the love (agape) of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5), are we going to let it out and flow through us to others?
  • This requires us to “pray without ceasing” – talking to the Lord and asking Him how He wants to love in each situation – and choosing (not just feeling) to obey the Spirit’s prompting and the word the Lord already spoke through scripture to sacrifice and lay down our life for someone else.

The origin of Love (agape)

God is love (agape)
1 John 4:8

Agape comes from God
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God – 1 John 4:7

We receive the Agape of God when we become saved and joined to Christ. It is his very nature, and this was only possible by Christ’s death and resurrection.

  • Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. – 1 John 4:7
  • and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love  with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. – John 17:26
  • and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us – Romans 5:5

Agape is how we (and others) know whether or not we are born of God (Christians). Agape is “other-worldly” and does follow the world’s rules, therefore it stands out.

  • The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. – 1 John 4:8
    “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
  • By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. – 1 John 3:10
  • We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. – 1 John 3:14
  • But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love  of God abide in him? – 1 John 3:17
  • but whoever keeps His word, in him the love  of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him – 1 John 2:5
  • (Jesus speaking to the Pharisees) “but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.” – John 5:42

When we love (agape), we are abiding in the very Life of God and walking in the Spirit at that very moment. As a result, we are fulfilling the law.

  • The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. – 1 John 2:10
  • God is love, and the one who abides in love  abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:16
  • No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. – 1 John 4:12
  • “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.“ – John 15:9
  • keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life – Jude 1:21
  • Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves  his neighbor has fulfilled the law. – Rom 13:8
  • For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE  YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” – Gal 5:14
  • We have come to know and have believed the love  which God has for us. God is love,  and the one who abides in love  abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:16
  • and walk in love, just as Christ also loved  you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. – Eph 5:2

Everything we do should be done in Agape. It is a required ingredient for walking in the Spirit.

  • Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Cor 16:14
  • For the love of Christ controls us – 2 Cor 5:14
  • If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Cor 13:1-3

Purposes of Scripture

What is the purpose of the written Word (scripture)?

  • To testify of Christ, revealing Him as both a sinless man who tabernacled among us and as the eternal God who was there in the beginning and who created all things. To describe his attributes, nature, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do. These things were written so that we can know and identify Him and know and identify His voice.
    • You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me – John 5:39
    • The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. – Revelation 1:1-2
    • John 1:1-18, Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:15-20, Rev 19:11-16, John 10:27
  • To provide us eyewitness accounts of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection
    • For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. – 2 Peter 1:16-18
    • What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. – 1 John 1:1-3
    • “For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.” – Acts 22:15
  • To give wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus – 2 Tim 3:15
    • and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
  • To lead us to belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God – John 20:30-31
    • Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
  • Spirit-breathed and Living words to constantly lead and redirect us to the Life who is Christ:
    • 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
    • Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” – John 6:68
  • To guide us and prepare us with faithful and true words, for He Himself is called “The Word of God” and “Faithful and True”. All that He says is true and will come to pass.
    • And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” – Rev 21:5
    • And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. – Rev 22:6
    • And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True – Rev 19:11
    • He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. – Rev 19:13
  • To teach, reprove, correct, train in righteousness, to help the man of God be complete, and to equip (prepare) the man of God for every good work – 2 Tim 3:17
    • All Scripture is inspired by God (God-breathed) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
  • To nourish our faith
    • In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. – 1 Tim 4:6
  • As written instruction for us so that we would not make the same mistakes Israel did during the exodus and wilderness when they ate the same spiritual food and drink (Christ) – namely that we would not crave evil things, not be idolators, not act immorally, not try the Lord, and not grumble – 1 Cor 10:1-12
    • For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
  • To divide the soul and spirit and judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. To help us know and identify what being led of the Spirit looks like vs. what the deeds of the flesh look like.
    • For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. – Hebrews 4:12-13, Galatians 5:19-21, Galatians 5:22-23
  • To instruct us and encourage us so that we might have hope – Romans 15:4
    • For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
  • To comfort us – 1 Thes 4:18
    • Therefore comfort one another with these words
      To feed and nourish and sustain us so that we may grow and mature in our relationship with the Lord and our dependence upon Him. His words are life-giving.
    • like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord – 1 Peter 2:2-3
  • To provide a standard of sound doctrine for the church to follow – 1 Tim 6:3-5
    • If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
  • To hear the words of Christ so that we may act on them in order to wisely build the foundation of our lives
    • Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. – Matt 7:24-28
  • So that we might not sin
    • My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin – 1 John 2:1
  • As part of the armor of God to help us stand firm against the schemes of the devil and resist in the evil day. The word of God is a sword and an offensive weapon, however it is double-edged and capable of cutting the holder as well when being used. It should always be used in love – Eph 6:10-17
    • Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
  • To communicate the apostolic tradition, commands, and teachings for the church to follow, given to and spoken through the Apostles but from Jesus Christ Himself and His authority – 2 Peter 3:1-2, 2 Thes 2:15, 1 Thes 4:1-2, 1 Thes 4:15, 2 Thes 3:14-15
    • This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
    • So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.
    • Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
    • For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
    • If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
    • (Footnote) – Paul as an Apostle sent from Christ and his authority, by default uses the authority of Jesus through the Holy Spirit to give commands and instructions in his letters to the churches which make up our scripture and Bible (Peter affirms Paul’s letters as scripture in 2 Peter 3:16). All scripture is God-breathed. Paul reaffirms in many places that his commands are from Jesus himself (1 Cor 14:37, 2 Thes 3:6, 2 Thes 3:12), however Paul is also careful to point out instruction that he did not receive from Jesus as a command (1 Cor 7:25, 2 Cor 8:8, Cor 7:6).
  • As instruction on how to conduct oneself in the church, the household of God – 1 Tim 3:15
    • but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
  • To bless those that read, hear, and heed/observe the prophecy of Revelation of Jesus Christ – Rev 1:3
    • Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
  • To enlighten the path that we should walk – Psalms 119:105

The Apostolic Gospel – a Message of Salvation

The word “gospel” means simply “good news”. Scripture teaches that there is an inexhaustible amount of good news available to believers because of Jesus Christ. Paul calls them the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8). Some examples of these include:

  • We are united as one Spirit with Christ (1 Cor 6:17)
  • Christ lives in us as the hope and seal of the glory that we are to receive when we see him face to face (Col 1:27)
  • We have been freed from the power of sin and no longer slaves to it (Romans 6:6-7)
  • We will receive a new resurrection body when Christ returns (1 John:2-3, 1 Cor 15, et al)

Many of these great, unsearchable riches of Christ become more apparent to us as we mature, study, and are discipled into the teachings and knowledge of Christ through scripture. Some we will never fully understand or grasp until we can see Christ face to face and fully know as we are known (1 Cor 13:12). Even if we desire to know and understand all the deeper truths of God, we cannot do this until He permits us to go onto maturity according to His timing and perfect will (Hebrews 6:1-3). These topics are good and should be taught as part of discipleship in the church.

With that said, the “Gospel” that the apostles preached after Pentecost was a specific message outlining Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-4). What was the good news about that? Specifically that we can be saved. Our sins would be forgiven, Christ’s righteousness would be imputed to our account, and we would receive His eternal Life and Holy Spirit instead of perishing in our former sin and separation from God.

Here are a few verses showing how the apostolic Gospel was specifically a message of salvation:

Mark 16:15-16
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Acts 13:26
“Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.

Acts 13:46-49
Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us,
‘I have placed You as A light for the Gentiles,
That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’”
When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. – Acts 15:7-9

Acts 16:17
Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”

Acts 28:28-29
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.]

1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

Romans 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “ But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

Ephesians 1:13-14
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Hebrews 2:3-4
how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

1 Peter 1:9-12
obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

Acts 11:13-14
And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’

“You search the scriptures” – Addressing the subtle twisting of John 5:39-40

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)

It has become somewhat commonplace today for some “deeper-life” inclined believers to misapply and twist John 5:39-40 (whether intentional or unintentional).   Sometimes it is used in response to another believer who has a high regard for scripture as the written word of God and is providing scriptural balance or correction to a deeper-life doctrine.  Sometimes it used as a way to avoid having to apply or submit to a biblical command or exhortation from the New Testament.  And in its worst form, this verse is twisted to imply that a believer who is advocating for the submission to the New Testament scriptures is doing so at the expense of coming to Christ who is the Living Word.

First, let’s look at this verse in it’s context and proper application:

  • In John 5, Jesus was speaking to the Jews who were trying to kill him, the Pharisees, for breaking the Sabbath and calling God His Father (John 5:18)
  • Earlier in chapter 5, Jesus begins to establish who He was and His equality with the Father. He then begins to list out all of the different testimonies that have been presented to the Jews in regards to who He was:
    • John the Baptist testified of who Christ was (v33-35)
    • The works and miracles that the Father gave Jesus to perform also testified that He was the Christ (v36)
    • The Father Himself testified of who Christ was (v37-38)
    • And finally, the scriptures themselves testified of who Christ was (v39-47)
  • The scriptures Jesus was referring to were obviously the Old Testament – especially the writings of Moses (v45-47). The religious Jews took much pride in their knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures, especially the Mosaic law. They believed that they were saved and righteous before the Lord by their outward, self-righteousness appearance and knowledge of the law, however Christ rebuked them for being hypocritical, white-washed tombs who looked beautiful on the outside but inside were dead and unclean (Matt 23:27-28)
  • When Jesus admonished them in v39-40, it was due to their failure to acknowledge and recognize Christ as the promised Messiah sent from the Father in accordance with Old Testament prophecies and scripture that all spoke and testified of Him. In their arrogance in believing that they had superior knowledge of the Old Testament, they failed to receive the One whom the Scriptures testified of. As a result, they rejected and failed to come Christ who is the Eternal Life of God and instead believed that they had eternal life through their supposed knowledge of Old Testament scripture.
  • Continuing this theme, after the ascension of Christ, the Apostle Paul was in Thessalonica presenting to the Jews in the synagogues over 3 separate Sabbaths that scripture has testified that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and Christ, and that he had to suffer and die for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 17:1-9). There were “some” of the Jews who believed, along with many Greeks, but many of the Jews became jealous and formed a mob to persecute Paul and Silas. Immediately following this account, Paul was sent to Berea and began to preach to the Jews in the synagogues there. Scripture tells us that “many” of the Jews in Berea believed, and they were commended in scripture as being more “noble-minded” than the Jews in Thessalonica because “they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:10-12). Note that the difference here is that those who were noble-minded were so based on 1) their eagerness to receive the word and teaching about Christ 2) the fact that they searched the Old Testament scriptures to see if these things were so, and 3) their belief in Jesus as a result. The issue was not that the Pharisees searched the Old Testament scriptures, but rather that they did not submit to the testimony of the scriptures on who Jesus was and did not believe upon Him as God in the flesh and the way of salvation.
  • Given the proper context and application of this verse in John 5, it is completely inaccurate to apply this verse to Christians who have already come to Christ as the only source of eternal life through faith in Him and His finished work on the cross. In addition, this inaccuracy is magnified when this verse is used to somehow argue that Christians who value and esteem the authority of God’s written Word in scripture, especially the New Testament revelation and commands of Christ and His apostles, are doing this at the expense of or in exchange of Christ who is our Life. Jesus Himself says that if we love Him, we will obey His commands (John 14:15), and this is echoed many, many times throughout scripture. Peter makes it clear that his apostolic epistles were written to stir up the saints as a way of reminder of the words and commandments of our Lord (2 Peter 3:1-2, 1:12-15), and those saints who revere and treasure the written Word of God in order to better know their Lord and His commands should be commended, not dismissed as legalistic Pharisees who are somehow rejecting Christ as the only source of Eternal Life.

In addition, some will use John 5:39-40 to conclude that any thought, truth, or verse in scripture, including the New Testament, can only be understood in the light of what it says regarding the person of Jesus. In other words, how that verse specifically “testifies” of Him. Here are some of the errors with that type of hermeneutic:

  • It mis-interprets the context and target of Christ’s statement in John. As we have outlined above, the context was rebuking the Pharisees for refusing to accept Him as the Messiah of whom the Old Testament scriptures testified of. As a result, they failed to come to Him who was the eternal Life of God.  While this passage could be stretched to apply to someone who studies and quotes the New Testament but has no saving knowledge, belief, and relationship with Jesus, this is not the original context and meaning of the passage.
  • It prevents New Testament scripture from being understood objectively as a propositional truth by a believer in Christ. Instead, scripture is completely dependent on what one “discerns” it is revealing and testifying about the person of Christ, even if that negates the clear reading of the scripture itself. The objective becomes subjective and is limited to one’s “discernment” of what it reveals about the person of Christ, even though the person of Christ, through the Holy Sprit, breathed the scripture that was written by the apostles. An example – if a King wrote a letter to his subjects of specific things that he wanted them to do and to understand while he was away, should his subjects read and obey and heed the words of the King? Or should the subjects take the commands and words of the King and re-interpret them based on what they think best describes the King’s character, according to their own limited understanding?
  • It prevents the church from coming to the unity of the faith, as each person can claim that the Holy Spirit is revealing something specific to them that may be independent or contradictory to what is already revealed in the Word of God.

Finally, below are some of the ways that the objective Word of God can be undermined by those who want to subjectively determine whether or not they should submit to it:

  • “Is this verse what the Life is saying?”
  • “Is following this verse eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or eating from the tree of life?”
  • “Is this verse revealing the person of Christ?”
  • “Only the Holy Spirit has the authority to reveal to me what the scriptures are saying to me – no man has the right or authority to interpret what the scriptures are saying to me.”
  • “Is this verse what the Holy Spirit is saying or communicating to THIS church?”
  • “Jesus’s words and commands do not apply to the church as that was only for the Jews in relation to the kingdom.”
  • “I only need and listen to Christ’s words – not Paul or any of the other apostles”.
  • “Before I adopt or apply any new testament teaching, I first have to find whether or not this teaching was displayed in the life of Christ (as portrayed in the gospels)”

The following research paper provides an excellent overview of the Neo-Orthodox view of scripture and some of its errors: The Neo-Orthodox View of Revelation.  While knowing the Lord and having a relationship with Him is vital to Christianity, Neo-orthodoxy has pushed the pendulum too far by undermining the objective authority of scripture as God’s eternal Word to us today.