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The Theology of Jesus: Part 2 Bibliology

Bibliology, the study of God’s revelation to man, is our next theological category to consider. What did the Lord Jesus believe about general and special revelation, the canon of Scripture, the truth of God disclosing information about Himself?

We are on a strange quest to ask what the Lord Jesus’ theology was. What did He say and teach about issues such as the nature of God’s Word and man’s response to it? We are using a systematic theology approach, attempting to collect the data in logical categories.

These posts can’t be exhaustive because we have ten areas to cover! We can only hit one or two highlights in each division of theology. We’ve seen (in the first area of prolegomena) that the Lord Jesus put the highest premium on the issue of belief. Belief was such a critical matter to Jesus that He actually allowed His friend Lazarus to die so that others would believe in Him!

Systematic theology divides this topic into two sub-divisions: general revelation (God communicating truth about Himself to all people everywhere) and special revelation (God communicating truth about Himself to a select group).  In terms of general revelation (its three avenues being nature, human nature, and human history), we have many references by the Lord to nature as He refers to animals, plants, locations, weather, natural disasters, etc.  He used the objects of nature to drive home spiritual points about a relationship with Himself.  He made evident the care of God when He said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Mt 6:28-29).

Perhaps this is why the most frequent analogies Jesus makes to the natural world are from farming, fishing, vineyards and shepherds: human beings working together with nature, transforming the raw materials of nature into food and drink and clothing. The images Jesus uses are dominated by a picture of the environment that shows human beings using, domesticating and cultivating nature for their own use: mustard seed, yeast, bread, sowing and seeds, vineyards and vines, new and old wine, sheep and goats, the good shepherd, the sheepfold, the flock, weeds among the wheat, fishermen, a net full of fish. (https://incommunion.org/2004/12/11/jesus-and-the-natural-world/)

Jesus also appeals to man’s human nature (conscience, for example) as He tells a parable such as the parable of the tenants in Matthew 21 (v. 40- “What will he do to those [wicked] tenants?”).  When He is anointed by a sinful woman, Jesus, after telling the story of two debtors’ being forgiven, asks Simon the Pharisee “which of them will love him more?” (Lk. 7:42).  The conscience was important to the Lord Jesus — and He appeals to it often.

The Lord also uses human history to speak of God’s actions in His creation.  He affirms the historicity of Adam and Eve (Mt. 19), makes reference to the Noahic flood (Mt. 24:37), refers to the real existence of Jonah (Mt. 12:40), and alludes to the history of the Jewish nation (Jn. 8:33).

But what did the Lord Jesus say about special revelation?  First of all, there is no question that He affirmed in the strongest terms possible, the divine authority of the Old Testament Scriptures.  He affirmed the authority of the Old Testament in His confrontation with Satan (Mt. 4:4), described the imperishable nature of God’s Word (Mt. 5:18), said that the Scripture cannot be broken (Jn. 10:35), appealed to Scripture when confronting false doctrine (Mt. 22:29), said that God’s word is “truth” (Jn. 17:17), declared the historicity of Jonah (Mt. 12:40) and Noah (Mt. 24:37-38) and Adam and Eve (Mt. 19:4-6), saw the creation story as reliable (Mk. 13:19; Mt. 19:4), made reference to the Law and the Prophets as canonical (Mt. 5:17), used Moses and all the prophets to explain the things concerning Himself (Lk. 24:27), and referred to the entire canon by mentioning all the prophets from Abel to Zechariah (Mt. 23:35).   Wow. (https://carm.org/what-did-jesus-teach-about-old-testament)

And, in terms of the divine canon (the collection of inspired books making up the Bible), Jesus clearly predicts the coming of the New Testament when He says the following in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-16):

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (Jn. 14)

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. (Jn. 15)

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16)

This “Spirit of truth”, this “Advocate, the Holy Spirit,” “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” From those words in John 14 we may infer that the Holy Spirit would “carry along” (2 Pe. 1:21) the Apostles and help them remember what Jesus had said to them. It would be their job to record the teachings of Jesus.

This same Spirit, Jesus says, “will testify about me.” (Jn. 15:26). How would the Holy Spirit most likely do that? We suggest it would be by inspiring the New Testament writers in their work.

But Jesus states He had “much more” to say to the disciples. The Spirit to come would “guide [them] into all the truth.” (Jn. 16:13). He would tell them “what is yet to come” (Jn. 16:13). But there is cooperation between the Son and the Spirit. Jesus says, “He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16:14). The Spirit “will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16:15)

So, the Lord Jesus had much to say about bibliology.  As the Word, He embodied God’s communication to man, as the writer to the Hebrews tells us in his first chapter:
Read over John chapter one and take a few notes on the Lord Jesus as “the Word.”  Why would the Creator desire to communicate to His rebellious creation?  Feel free to post your Comment below. (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2018 in the theology of Jesus

 

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Back to the Basics! Bibliology #2 “Natural” Revelation!

We Christians are often accused of making God in our image. If that were so, I for one would have left out issues like His holiness, His wrath, the doctrine of eternal hell. How about you?

Biblical Christianity teaches that God is not created, but discovered by us. Better said, He reveals Himself to us through various means. His primary means of self-disclosure is the Word of God, the Bible.

However, what about before the Bible? The Bible is not an eternal book in the sense that it had no beginning. There came specific points in human history when God the Holy Spirit led Moses to write the first five books of the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul to write over half of the New Testament, and someone (who knows who?) to write the epistle to the Hebrews! These were men guided by the Spirit of God (2 Pe. 1:21) who used their literary talents to write what God wanted written.

But what about before then? The Bible is quite clear that God has always been revealing truth about Himself. Through nature, human nature, and history He has communicated truth about Himself. Listen to Romans 1: 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Theologians refer to this revelation as natural revelation. That is, God has through the creation communicated truth about Himself to all people everywhere. Note what Romans 1 says:

1. God’s wrath has been revealed because man suppresses the truth that nature gives about God (v.18).

2. There is a plainness to God’s communication in nature: His eternal/invisible qualities have been clearly seen (vv. 19-20).

3. Therefore, people are “without excuse.” In some sense all people (because of creation) “know” God, but choose not to glorify Him nor to give thanks to Him (v. 21).

4. In their rejection of “natural” revelation, man’s own thinking has been adversely affected! His thinking has become futile, leading to a darkening of the human heart (v. 21).

5. Man has made a terrible exchange. He has swapped God’s glory for idols! John Calvin put it this way: “man’s nature is a perpetual factory of idols.”

But natural revelation is still true — and is still there for us to point to.  We can proclaim with Psalm 19 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2018 in natural revelation

 

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Back to the Basics! Bibliology #1 The Logic of Revelation!

“You’ve made God in YOUR image! That’s what you’ve done!”, my friend John said to me. Rejecting biblical Christianity, he charges followers of Jesus with fashioning a god in their own likeness, with qualities they would wish in a deity.

I’m not sure John is all that wrong. It is certainly possible to think of God as WE want Him to be, rather than as He discloses Himself in the Scriptures. But when Christians think clearly, they recognize that God is not created, but discovered. Better put, God reveals Himself to us. We wouldn’t have the sense to search for Him.

Logically, if we have been made by an infinite, personal Creator, does it not make sense that He would want to communicate to His creatures? And that is what biblical Christianity claims. God has communicated Himself to us in the Bible.

The idea of revelation is that God gives us a massive amount of information about Himself and His ways in the literature of the Scriptures. If we want to get to know God, we must get to know His Word!

If someone really wanted to get to know me, they could talk directly to me. They could interview my wife. They could ask questions of my friends. And, if they were, for some inexplicable reason, really desperate to get to know me, they could read the books I have written.

The God of the Bible can be known!  He is not some deistic deity who wound up the world and then went away on vacation.  He is intimately involved in His world and wants to be intimately involved in my world.

The Apostle Paul prays in the book of Ephesians: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Eph. 1:17)  Are you seeking to know Him better?  Are you praying for others to have the same goal?

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2018 in bibliology

 

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