The Lord’s attitude toward the Word of God must be our own


Psalm 67

1 God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us, Selah
2 That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.


THE CHURCH OF ROME

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BAR OF HISTORY

By William Webster

Chapter 1, “The Authority of Scripture,” pp. 4,5

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“Christianity is founded upon the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His attitude to the Scriptures is supremely important. Since he is God, then all that He teaches must be true and authoritative.

“Jesus clearly taught that Scripture is inspired by God. He regarded it as truth – infallible, inerrant, historically reliable, authoritative for living, and an all-sufficient rule of faith. He could say, for example, when speaking with the Pharisees or the Sadducees, ‘Have you not read what God said?’ and then quote from Scripture (Matt. 22:31-32). In Matthew 4:4-10, Jesus repeatedly answers Satan by using the Old Testament as the Word of God, saying, ‘It is written.’ He maintained that not one jot or tittle would pass from the law until all was accomplished (Matt. 5:17) and that the Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35). In the prayer to his Father on the night before he was crucified, Jesus declared that ‘Thy word is truth’ (John 17:17). He affirmed the historicity of Adam (Matt. 19:4), Cain and Abel (Luke 11:51), Noah (Luke 17:26), Jonah (Matt. 12:40), the creation account (Mark 10:6-9), and the reality of heaven and hell (Mark 9:44-46).

“Jesus also used the Word of God as an ultimate standard of authority when he came into conflict with other people. He rebuked men with Scripture; correcting their false concepts, teaching and misinterpretations of Scripture by using scriptural proofs. Matthew 22:23-33, for example, describes how Jesus told the Sadduccees that they were greatly mistaken in their denial of the resurrection because they did not know the Scriptures or the power of God. Then he quoted a passage from Genesis as an authoritative declaration from God to correct them. It is highly significant that Christ never appealed to tradition as a standard of authority; instead he used Scripture to correct the errors of tradition.

“As Jesus is Lord over the Church, the Church must not only accept his teaching on the Scriptures; it must also adopt the same attitude towards them that he did. His entire life was submitted to the authority of Scripture. In quoting passages from the Old Testament during his conflict with Satan in the wilderness, Christ was applying them to his own life and thereby demonstrating that he was under the authority of Scripture. His victory was accomplished through obedience to the Scriptures as he used them as the ultimate authority for every area of his life. At another time, speaking of his relationship with his Father, Jesus said, ‘I know him and keep his word’ (John 8:55). From beginning to end, Christ’s life and ministry were governed by the authority of Scripture.

“As well as testifying to the truth of the Scriptures by submitting himself to their authority, Christ also declared their inspiration as he fulfilled in his life, death, and resurrection the Messianic prophecies they contained. Over and over again he said, ‘This is being done in order that that which is written might be fulfilled.’ Christ’s perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures can be seen in any cursory examination of some of the more prominent Messianic prophecies. . .”

 


 One passage Webster cited in which the Lord gave Scriptural proof:

Matthew 22:23-33

23 The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. 27 Last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.


The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the many Messianic prophecies in this single passage:

 Isaiah 53:3-12

3 He is despised and rejected of men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
and we hid as it were our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment:
and who shall declare his generation?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living:
for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death;
because he had done no violence,
neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him;
he hath put him to grief:
when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,
he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,
and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he hath poured out his soul unto death:
and he was numbered with the transgressors;
and he bare the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.


Lord’s day joy – Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood

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Mount of olives panoramic Public Domain through Wikimedia

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Isaiah 53

53 Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

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Believe!

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Repent and trust in Jesus! I’m not saying to trust in some pretty picture of how an artist thought He looked, or a movie about Him that makes a lot of mistakes, but in Jesus Himself, as He is, as He is revealed in the Bible!

The Bible gets a lot of bad press. It’s an easy thing to mock, to talk about “Bible thumpers” and other things like that. But truly, He came to die for us, to reconcile us to His Father. We needed Him to do this for us, for we all have sinned, deserve to die, and have no way to make it right with God – no way to repay Him.

But Jesus accomplished what He came to do, and one day He will return. If you mock the idea of His return, because it is so long since He walked the earth, and because foolish or wicked people keep prophesying falsely about this, you need to remember what He said about it, and believe it:  

Matthew 24:44

44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

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Here is what the Old Testament – The Jewish Tanakh – says about His death on our behalf:

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Isaiah 53

King James Version 

53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

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Here is what the Christian New Testament says about it:

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1 Corinthians 15

King James Version

15 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

(written by the apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit)

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Believe!

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Pretty pictures? Or lies.

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Deuteronomy 4 

Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;

10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.

11 And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.

12 And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.

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Are images of Jesus idolatrous? I have been thinking about this for a long time. Today, most teaching on idolatry centers on Paul’s statement that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), or condemns the exaltation of anything in our lives that takes the place of God. But what about the literal making and using of images of Jesus?

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Jesus Christ

isn’t an illustration in a Children’s Bible,

a doll in a manger,

a flannelgraph, stained glass,

statue in a cemetery,

actor,

or appealing sketch of a laughing man.

He isn’t even the central figure

in an amazing mural

in our nation’s Capitol.

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All of these things are lies.

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Many Bible-believing Christians are using so-called pictures of Jesus everywhere – on blogs, in videos, movies, emails, and even T-shirts. Please study the issue and pray. It’s not a trivial matter. My question is: Are we truly Bible-believing? May the Lord never say this about us: 

Hosea 4:17

Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.

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Being Biblical

So then, what does God’s Word teach? Here are truths revealed in a few important passages:

We are not to make images and likenesses. Exodus 20:4-6 

Whoever keeps the whole law, and yet offends in one point, is guilty of breaking the whole law. James 2:9-11

Obedience to God is love for Him. John 14:20-22

True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. John 4:22-24

We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 

(In preparing this, I came across a blog that leveled a very old charge against anyone who opposes images of Jesus. The charge is this, that if we say that He should not be depicted, we are denying His humanity. But we affirm that Jesus Christ came in the flesh – that He is God in the flesh – and affirm that since images of God are forbidden, and since Jesus Christ is God, that therefore images of Him are forbidden. )

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Being reasonable

1)     We can’t know how Jesus looked during His earthly ministry. Isaiah, and John in the Book of Revelation, described some of Jesus’ characteristics. Here is Isaiah’s description. It reveals only that the Lord wasn’t handsome, as so many images depict Him:

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Isaiah 53:1-3

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

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John described Jesus as He is now, after rising from the dead and ascending to the Father; not as He looked when He fed the 5,000, or walked on the waves of the sea. (Seeing the Lord as He is now would make us fall at His feet as if dead – just as John did.)

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Revelation 1:13-15

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

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2)    Particular depictions of Jesus may appeal to us, but not to others. Do we want to repel people for whom He died?

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Having concern for the lost

You probably don’t worship images, kiss them, or bow before them in prayer – but some people do and they think that this is right worship. Do you want to stand with them in darkness, or be a light to them? Do you want to preach Christ crucified to them, or offer them a lie?  

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1 Peter 1:8-9

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

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Being honest

I have tried not to be discouraged by the blindness of Christians to the demands of the second commandment. But it is difficult when even mature Christians disobey. After studying and praying, I believe that there is no ultimate argument that will convince them – only the Lord can do this. May He pity us! May He help us to get ready for His return! And may we find comfort in the knowledge that someday He Himself will destroy these things.

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Isaiah 2

17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.

18 And the idols he shall utterly abolish.

19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;

21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

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Isaiah 33:22

For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.

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For further study

Idolatry Condemned“J. Vernon McGee on Pictures of Jesus and Idolatry”

IdolatryCondemned YouTube channel  – “On God’s Covenant to Save His People From Idolatry”

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