The Bible and Nothing but the Bible in the Judgment Hour!! (full text)
J. Smith wrote and asked the following question—
"Is it a possibility that James is an apostate book? One only has to read Romans 3:27- 28 "...we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law." 2 Timothy 3:16,17 says, "all scripture is inspired." Unfortunately Paul was referring to scriptures of the Old Testament, not his own Epistle's or those that James, Peter, etc. wrote. Besides, imperfect men decided what scriptures would canonize the Bible. The Muratorian Fragment of 170 AD left out the books of Hebrews and James. Both of these books were not accepted until 348 AD at the Cyril of Jerusalem. Can anyone explain the 178 years of these books being rejected by these council's?"
Ralph B.'s reply to Joseph:
Joseph, I feel we are on very dangerous ground when we start claiming that only the OT is inspired, not the NT. I know of no Christian denomination who holds to that teaching. Once you start saying this book is inspired, but that book is not; this letter is OK, but that letter is not; you have started on a downward road that will only lead to a shipwreck of the reef of doubt and disbelief.
The Experience of a Minister Friend
I had a friend and fellow minister who went through seminary with me. We were classmates, and both marched down the same aisle when we graduated with our M.Div. degrees. Later he started doing exactly what you have suggested--rejecting certain books of the Bible according to the teachings of Higher Criticism. Eventually, he found he could no longer get up in the pulpit and preach, so he requested a teaching job, and was put to work as a Bible teacher in the Midwest. But his doubts in the Bible continued to grow, and finally, he quit his teaching job in the middle of the school year. He could no longer get up in front of his students. I meet him years later in the Oregon region, where I was a pastor. He was living in a small upstairs apartment, divorced, and discouraged with life itself. I came across his name while visiting interest cards that pastors get from time to time. It was a Friday evening visit that I will never forget.
Basically he told me the above information. When I asked him if he believed in the teachings of the evangelical gospel, he said No. When I asked him if he believed in the Bible, he said, "Unfortunately, no." Then when I asked him if he at least believed in Jesus Christ as the Savior, he again replied "No." Then he said, "Frankly, Ralph, I don't think I even believe in God Himself any more."
What is Included in the Bible?
The statement "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16) includes both the OT and NT. One is not more important than the other--they belong together. After all, it was Jesus Himself who promised to the disciples: "the Counselor, 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" and "he will guide you into all truths" (John 14:26; 16:13, NIV).
Also we have several NT references that the NT is to be considered inspired: Paul "commands in the name of the Lord to read this letter to all the Christians" (1 Thes. 5:27, TLB); in the same letter Paul commends their ready acceptance of his spoken word as "the word of God" (2:13), and in I Cor 14:37 he insists that "the things I write unto you are the commandment from the Lord." Moreover, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, Paul's letters are included with "the other scriptures."
Oldest NT Papyri
You mentioned "the Muratorian Fragment of 170 AD" Actually, the Muratorian Fragment is a late 800 AD document written in vulgar Latin--is a discussion of NT books as represented in one area. Scholars believe it reflects a translation of an earlier Greek document that could be dated somewhere between 200 and 400 AD.
Actually two of the oldest papyri of the NT are the Chester Beatty Papyri II (P46, a first century papyrus of 86 leaves which dates before 81 AD and includes almost all of Paul's epistles and the book of Hebrews), and the Ocyrhynchus papyri, including thousands of papyri fragments (including P13, which contains Hebrews 1-5 and 10-12 and dates to the 2nd century AD). Interestingly, P46 is an incomplete document--originally we believe it contained 104 leaves, and certainly would have contained more of Paul's books in the missing 18 leaves (pages of paper).
Zondervan's Pictorial Bible Dictionary states: "From the second half of the second century onwards, the Church acknowledged a NT of the same general dimensions as ours." P. 584. Moreover, the first three outstanding church fathers--Clement, Polycarp, and Ignatius--freely quoted from the vast majority of the NT books--indicating these books were being accepted as authoritative without argument by 2nd century Christians. (Only Mark, [which closely parallels material in Matthew], 2 and 3 John, Jude, and 2 Peter are not clearly affirmed by these three church leaders.)
Reply from J. Smith:
Ralph, Paul wrote most of the letters in NT. Now for him to claim that his letters were inspired would have made him a laughing stock to ridiculers of his day. Remember Paul was sending a letter to Timothy to ensure him the scriptures of their century were inspired which was the OT. Not to brag about Paul's letter's as being something special. Was Timothy teaching from the New Testament in his days of ministry? Did Paul write his portion and hand it to the high council of Jerusalem and say, "Here's you the latest version of the truth"?
Reply of Dave G. to Joseph:
Joseph, I agree with Ralph that claiming only the OT as inspired is very threatening to your faith. The Holy Spirit inspired OT writers and NT writers. None of them even thought about the inspiration of their writings. But just as the Holy Spirit inspired, He influenced people to know the difference between inspired writings and common writings. The point of any inspired writing is to testify of Jesus (John 5:39). This was the determining factor in discovering inspiration among the NT writers. Another factor was the early Christians had the Holy Spirit in ways not seen today. They had gifts of tongues, healing, and other miracles. There were books that needed to proclaim the fulfillment of the OT came in Jesus and to testify of His works, His quotes, His Life, His death, and His resurrection. There were books to clarify points of doctrine and to warn of the future before Jesus comes again. The proliferation of the Holy Spirit was needed in that day to help us in this day. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit is closely aligned to the needs of our faith today. I never want to tamper with that.
God Bless, Dave G.
Reply of Kandi:
Dear Joseph, Paul was not just assuring Timothy or other Christians, throughout his writings that the OT was inspired. Indeed he taught and preached for it was in the OT of all the things concerning the Messiah, of whom was Christ. Even before His accession, when Christ walked with two of His disciples, He opened their understanding of the Scriptures, which was only the OT at the time. Would you say the gospels are not inspired? "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Luke 24:27
In the book of Acts, when Saul had been converted on the road to Damascus, Ananias told him God had chosen him. "For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard." (Acts 22:15) Christ Himself said to Paul, "...rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you." (Acts 26:16) So he also was witnessing of the things he saw, heard, and that which was being revealed to him. "...the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24) "And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months reasoning and persuading, concerning the things of the kingdom of God." (Acts 19:8)
The NT wasn't written yet because it was being lived and preached. It's the Holy Spirit that inspired the writers of the OT and NT. God has kept His two Witnesses (OT & NT) down through the many centuries. Do you really think there could be any parts of the Bible that are not inspired and should not be included? I believe the Holy Spirit also inspired those who kept, and those who found, and those who put the various books together. God protected His Word from the enemy who wants to destroy it when He sent it into the wilderness. Since the Devil can't destroy the Bible physically, he is trying to destroy it's validity. It is Satan who puts doubt and unbelief in the minds of men. As Brother Ralph B said, "we are on very dangerous ground when we start claiming that only the OT is inspired, not the NT." To this I would add, "or any part of it!" Doubt and unbelief will make shipwreck of your faith. He gave you an example in the story of his friend. Words you would do well to take to heart.
Please accept these words in the spirit of love for that is my intention.
Have a Blessed Sabbath,
Your sister in Christ,
Reply of Bill Diehl:
This is, in my opinion, the most important thread that has ever appeared on this online forum. The quality and beauty and accuracy of the answers that were provided by Ralph, Dave, and Kandi were absolutely beyond anything that I have seen on this forum and get to the very heart of the Christian faith. The entire body of doctrine of the Christian church is built upon unshakable faith in the veracity of word of God, the Bible. If one loses faith in the Bible as the word of God, then all is lost for that person. The Bible answers the most basic questions that reach to the very core of Man's being— who are we? where do we come from? what are we doing here? and where are we going? There are men and women who spend their entire lifetime searching out the answers to these questions. They literally travel the farthest seas, climb the highest mountains, and explore the depths of the deepest abyss to find the meaning to these profound questions. Yet as the Bible says, "But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? ... Or, Who shall descend into the deep? ....But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach." Paul is thus proclaiming that in the Gospel is found all the answers to all of our most profound questionings.
Only those who have been totally consumed by this search for these answers will, when they find Jesus Christ and the Gospel of justification by grace through faith in His sinless life and atoning death, sell all that they have to buy the field in which they find the Pearl of great price!! "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." Matt13:45.
Is it any wonder that Satan's fiercest attacks are upon the authority and integrity of the word of God? Constantly in the modern media and even within the church we hear the subtle question, "Yea hath God REALY said....?" Was the world REALLY created in 6 literal days? Did Adam and Eve REALLY live and did they REALLY fall into sin by eating a simple bite of the forbidden fruit? Did the miracles of the Old Testament REALLY happen? Was Jesus Christ REALLY God in the flesh who lived a sinless life and died for the sins of the world in our place? Did the Holy Spirit REALLY inspire the authors of the New Testament and direct in the compilation of the New Testament canon? And of course there is the one question that continuously comes up on this forum, Did God REALLY raise up the Restoration Movement to make the final repairs in the rebuilding of the Temple of God begun by the Protestant Reformation by restoring the harmony, yet distinction, of the Law of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
As we approach the final conflict with the wrath of the Dragon, there can be only one weapon in our hand, the word of God. It is sharper than any two edged sword and is the only defense for the remnant people. "IT IS WRITTEN that Man does not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."