THE BIBLE–WHY AND WHAT?

ewf_beardTHE THIRD DAY OF APRIL IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN.


To read the Old Testament scriptures with enlightened mind is to discover a preview of Jesus the Messiah–his supernatural birth and faithful life, his substitutionary passion and atoning death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension, his present intercession and his coming kingdom (Luke 24:27, 44-47). Because they point to Jesus, the Old Testament scriptures provide wisdom that leads to salvation through trusting in him (2 Timothy 3:15). For those who follow Jesus to whom they point, the Old Testament scriptures also remain useful for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteous living (2 Timothy 3:16). The adventures and misadventures of God’s people of the older Testament serve as examples and warnings for us who have received even greater grace than they (1 Corinthians 10:11). Indeed, Jesus Christ himself viewed with the greatest respect the sacred writings of the Jews (John 10:35).

After the Christian community had begun and the world did not end, the apostles and those whom they trained, aided by the Holy Spirit, wrote their own memoirs (Gospels), narrative reflections (Acts), occasional and general letters (Epistles), sermons (Hebrews, James), and prophecies (Revelation) — for the benefit of believers then living and of those who would come after them (2 Peter 1:12-15; John 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:13-15). These writings that we know as the New Testament scriptures, rapidly grew to share the same esteem that the faith community already gave to the older scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16). That is not surprising, since the New Testament scriptures are essentially reflections on faith and life in light of Jesus and of the Old Testament scriptures that point to him (Revelation 19:10).

As to specific content, the New Testament scriptures preserve many of the words and deeds of Jesus, to feed faith and provide instruction (Gospels). They describe the original evangelization of the Mediterranean world in the power and under the guidance of the Spirit of the Risen Christ (Acts). They unpack the implications of the person and achievements of Jesus Christ for personal and community life and ethics, and they regulate Christian conduct in all areas of interaction with the world (Epistles). The New Testament scriptures anticipate Jesus’ future coming in person, in power, and in glory to bring to final fulfillment God’s reign over and redemption of the whole creation. They assure his faithful people of ultimate victory with Christ, even though they may now be called upon to die at the hands of earthly powers falsely claiming absolute and universal authority (Revelation). Alongside the older scriptures of the Jews, the writings of the Christian apostles and prophets served both then and now as a primary resource for growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:1-2, 15-18).