Jesus and His Bible
September 28th, 1969 @ 7:30 PM
JESUS AND HIS BIBLE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-28-69 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message from the life of Christ. Every evening, every Sunday evening, unless there is an exigency that arises, the pastor preaches a message from the life of our Lord. We have been through the Book of Luke and are now in the concluding chapter. So you turn with me to Luke chapter 24, and we are going to read out loud two passages in the chapter. Luke chapter 24, and we shall read verses 25 through 27 first [Luke 24:35-27]. Luke chapter 24, these three verses: 25, 26, and 27. Now let’s all read it out loud together, Luke 24:25, 26, and 27, together:
Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Now going down into the chapter, we read verses 44 and 45; Luke 24:44-45. Now together:
And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me.
Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.
And the title of the sermon tonight is Jesus and His Bible.
“These are the words which I spake while I was with you” [Luke 24:44], speaking of the days of His flesh, He is now resurrected, immortalized, glorified. And in the days of His ministry, “I told you these things that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me” [Luke 24:44]. A Hebrew Bible, to this day, a Hebrew Bible then to this day, is divided into three parts: the things which were written in the “Law of Moses,” the Torah; the things that are written in the “Prophets,” the Nevi’im, the Prophets; and the third part, and in the “Psalms” concerning Me,” the Ketuvim. Now the word Ketuvim means the Hagiographa, “the Holy Writings.” But the most prominent part of the Ketuvim is the Psalms. So the Lord uses the Psalms, including the entire book. The Law, the Torah; the Prophets, the Nevi’im; and the Holy Writings, the Hagiographa, the Ketuvim. And in all of those three Books, the Lord took the Bible, His Bible, and He showed them in the Holy Scriptures “the things that must be fulfilled,” were fulfilled, going to be fulfilled, “concerning Himself” [Luke 24:44].
Now the attitude of the Jewish people, God’s people, toward the Bible has always been one of deepest reverence, and acceptance. I was in Jerusalem right after the war between the Arabs and the Jews, in which war the United Nations partitioned Palestine. And in that partition, there was given to the Jews, a little point on Mount Zion; the only part of the ancient city, and itself outside the wall, the only part of the ancient city that belonged, that was given to the Jews. And on that part in Mount Zion, was the tomb of David. And when I was there this first time, immediately after the war, they had converted that tomb into a synagogue. And all day long, morning till night, they were there praying. The way they were dressed, their long hair, their beard, their hats with the little tassels around, their long black cloaks, praying and reading God’s Word. And while I was there, the time came for the Holy Scriptures to be placed inside of the ark. Every synagogue at the front will have in it an ark; an ark that contains the Holy Scriptures. And I stood there and watched the people of the Lord, as they reverently rolled up the scroll, kissing each page as they rolled it together; then kissing the entire roll from the top to the bottom, and then placing it reverently inside its container; and then kissing the container and the tassels and the fringes, and depositing God’s Holy Word, inside the ark. As I stood there and looked at them, my heart was in deepest sympathy and communion with them.
I feel that way about the immutable, eternal Word of God. “For ever, O God, Thy word is fixed in heaven” [Psalm 119:89]. “The grass fadeth, and the flower perisheth, but the word of God endureth for ever” [Isaiah 40:8]. ‘Heaven and earth may pass away, but My words will never pass away” [Matthew 24:35]. Reverently, believingly, receiving from God’s hand God’s Holy Word.
Now the Old Testament that I hold in my hand is the Old Testament that Jesus held in His hands. There were thirty-nine Books in Jesus’ Bible; there are thirty-nine Books in the Old Covenant in my Bible. The same Bible that Jesus used, we use; it is our Bible also. And the attitude of Jesus toward His Bible was also one of deepest reverence, and humblest acceptance, and belief. Jonah, I wrote a book this last year, and in the book I spoke of the things of God’s revelation, and among a thousand others, that I believe the story of Jonah.
There were things said about it and Newsweek magazine wrote two columns concerning what was said about the book I had written. They entitled it “The Battle of the Book.” And it concludes with the quotation—they quote a professor in an eastern Baptist college, and this is what the professor said; he was scoffing and ridiculing my belief in the story of Jonah [Jonah 1:17]. As you know, I say that the Bible says, “God prepared a fish to receive Jonah.” It doesn’t say swallowed by a whale, nowhere in the Bible. In the King James Version in the New Testament, it says he was swallowed by a whale; but that translation is a translation of “he was swallowed by a great fish, God prepared a great fish” [Jonah 1:17]. And that’s what it is in the Hebrew in the Old Testament: “God prepared a great fish” [Jonah 1:17]. And I think that if God prepared that fish for Jonah, there is no limit to the almightiness of God. He could have prepared a beautiful suite of rooms, and He could have had wall to wall carpeting, just more luxurious than this. He could have had a television set inside of the living room, with the antenna stretched from the nose to the dorsal fin. He could have had all kinds of lovely luxurious things. It says, “God prepared that fish”; and I believe [Jonah 1:17].
L. R. Scarborough, one time when I was a student down at Baylor, L. R. Scarborough came down there from the seminary at Forth Worth, and he was talking to us. And he said upon a day, his little boy came in from Sunday school and said, “Daddy, I sure didn’t believe what I heard at Sunday school this morning.”
And dad said, “What did you hear?”
And so he said, “Well, at Sunday school today I was taught that there was man named Jonah who was swallowed by a big fish. And after three days he was regurgitated”—the boy didn’t use that word—”on the land, and he was still alive.”
Well, the father said, Dr. Scarborough said, he asked his little boy, “Well, what’s the matter with the lesson that troubles you?”
Well he said, “Daddy, I just don’t believe, I just don’t believe a man can live inside of a fish three days. I just don’t believe that.”
Well, Dr. Scarborough said to his little boy, “You come over here and sit down by me, and we’re going to talk about that.” He said, “Son, I’ve had trouble with that story all my life.” So he said, “Now son, you tell me your trouble with that story, and I’m going to tell you my trouble with it.”
So the little boy said, “Well, Daddy, I just don’t believe it. I don’t believe a man could live inside of a fish for three days and come out alive; I just don’t believe that. That’s my trouble.”
“Well,” said the father, “son, I’m going to tell you my trouble. I have trouble with that story. But my trouble is not like yours. My trouble is I don’t understand how God could make a man, and I don’t understand how God could make a fish. And, son, if I could understand how God could make a man and how God could make a fish, it’d be very simple for me to understand how God could put the two together.”
I feel that way about the almightiness of God. This is something God did. God prepared that fish [Jonah 1:17]. Now these professors say this, “If you believe it, is a mark of inanity, of idiocy.” And the professor said, “If the man who wrote that story were to rise from the dead and see that somebody believed it, he would collapse with laughter.” That was the end of the article in Newsweek, “He would collapse with laughter.” That’s the ridiculousness of believing that story. Was that the attitude of Jesus about it? If you read the Gospels you will find that Jesus said:
There shall be sign given to this unbelieving generation, and it will be the sign of the prophet Jonah:
For as Jonah was in the heart of that whale for three days and three nights; so the Son of Man shall be in the heart of the earth, and the third day rise from the dead.
There was nothing in Jesus of ridicule or scorn toward the Word of God; but deepest reverence and humility. We must hasten.
The Lord said Daniel was a prophet [Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14]. There’s not a liberal theologian in the world today that believes that Daniel was a prophet. Well, they all, with one accord say that a man in 165 BC, in 165 BC wrote what you call the Book of Daniel, and dated it as though he had written it six hundred years before. And it is not prophecy, it is not foretelling; but it is history passed back, in a form, as though the man were writing prophecy. And they scoff and they ridicule the idea that Daniel was a prophet. Yet Jesus said Daniel is a prophet, and referred to him as “Daniel the prophet” [Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14].
And the most remarkable thing that has happened recent times when they discovered those Dead Sea Scrolls—and I went over there to look at them—when they discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls they discovered the Book of Daniel, written as Holy Scripture at the very time, that copy they have in the Dead Sea Scrolls, that copy they have is written in the time when those unbelieving scoffers say that the book was forged. Yet here it is, a manuscript, received as the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures in the Bible, at the very time that they said that the forgery was perpetrated. Jesus said, “Daniel was a prophet.”
They scoff at Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden [Genesis 1:27, 2:21-25]. “This is mythological. This is legendary.” But in the nineteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spake of Adam and Eve, the pair that God made in the beginning [Matthew 19:4-5]. He believed that Bible.
Not only that, but as the Lord held those Scriptures in His hands, He said something like this: “Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass not one jot,” not one yod, that’s the least little character in the Hebrew alphabet, just a little thing like a comma, not one yod, the least little letter in the alphabet, “or one tittle,” that’s the little horn that they put on the end like a Hebrew character, a little horn on a Hebrew character; “not one yod, not one little horn shall in anywise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” [Matthew 5:18]. There may pass away heaven, there may pass away the earth, but not the slightest dotting of an “I” or the crossing of a “T” will be unfulfilled in the Word of God. That’s why I stand here in this pulpit, and read those promises of God to Israel in the Old Testament and say by the Word of God, someday those prophecies will be fulfilled. If they are not, the same Lord God that made promises to Israel and broke them, is the same Lord God who could make promises to us who are Christians, and break them again. But God doesn’t lie; and there is no variation of turning in Him [James 1:17]. And His gifts and His callings are without repentance [Romans 11:29]. And when God promises, God will keep that word forever. There are great pages of promises in the Old Testament that have not been fulfilled; but they will be, in God’s time and in God’s day. Jesus believed that.
And further, Jesus lived His life according to the Word of God. For example, when they came to arrest Him, and Simon Peter drew out his sword and started to defend Him, Jesus said, “Put up the sword, put it up [Matthew 26:51-52]. Could I not call twelve legions of angels?” [Matthew 26:53]. One angel destroyed the Assyrian army of Sennacherib [Isaiah 37:36]; think what seventy-two thousand of them could do! “Could I not ask My Father for twelve legions of angels?” [Matthew 26:53]. Then he added, “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” [Matthew 26:54].
Jesus lived His life according to the word of God; He died according to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:3]. He was buried according to the Scriptures; He was raised again according to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:4]. And some triumphant day, He is coming back to this stolid earth according to the Scriptures [Acts 1:11]. Jesus reverently, devotedly, devoutly, humbly believed the Bible He held in His hand.
Now I wish we had hours; may I speak of how Jesus used the Bible? He used the Bible to preach from, just as your pastor does today. He stands here beside and behind this sacred desk, and he opens that Book, and he preaches the Word of God. Jesus did that. “And it came to pass, that He came to Nazareth,” where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went to church, He went to the synagogue [Luke 4:16]. And they put in His hand the scroll of Isaiah”—the Bible, God’s Word— and He opened to the place where it is written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me . . . to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, to preach the gospel to the poor, to preach” [Luke 4:17-19, Isaiah 61:1-2].
Jesus opened the Bible and preached from the Word of God. That’s how He used His Bible [Luke 4:16-19]. He used the Bible for illustrations in His messages. In this sermon here, He spoke of Elijah and the widow at Zarephath [Luke 4:25-26]. In this message here in the synagogue at Capernaum at Nazareth, He spoke of Elisha and the leper Naaman [Luke 4:27]. He sometimes would speak of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness [John 3:14-15]. And sometimes He would speak of manna, the bread that came down out of heaven from God [John 6:49-58]; using the Bible. He used the Bible for the trials and the temptations with which He was assailed in this world. I turn to the fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, and as you read the temptations, the trials of our Lord in the wilderness [Matthew 4:1-11], all three times, the Lord answers in an identical way. To the first temptation, to turn stones into bread [Matthew 4:3], Jesus answered and said, “It is written” [Matthew 4:4], and He quotes Deuteronomy 8:3. Then the second temptation, to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple [Matthew 4:5-6], and Jesus said, “It is written” [Matthew 4:7], and again He quotes Deuteronomy 6:16. And in the third temptation, “Fall down and worship me, and I will give You the kingdoms of the world and the glory” [Matthew 4:8-9], and Jesus said, “It is written” [Matthew 4:10], and He quotes Deuteronomy 6:13. Jesus used His Bible in the trials and the temptations of life.
Now I’m going to turn to one other chapter, just one chapter. This will be the twelfth chapter of Mark. And look at the Lord as He spoke to those who attacked Him and castigated Him and accused Him. The Lord speaks to the officers of the temple, and to the Sadducees, and to the Pharisees, and to the rulers, what He does is, He uses the Holy Book. In verse 10, “Have you not read in the Scripture?” [Mark 12:10], then He quotes Psalm 118:22-23 about the stone that the builders rejected. And then, when they accosted Him about the resurrection of the dead, and scoffed and laughed at the idea that the dead could ever be raised [Mark 12:18-24], the Lord says, “As touching the dead that they rise, have you not read in the Book, in the Book?” and He quotes Exodus 3:2-6, “God said to Moses in the bush, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” [Mark 18:26]. And He bases the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead upon the tense of the verb that God used. “For said Jesus, God said I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living” [Mark 12:26-27]; basing the whole doctrine of the resurrection on the tense of a Hebrew verb.
I turn the page, and one of the scribes, one of the lawyers tempting Him said, “Master, what is the first commandment of all?” [Mark 12:28], to involve Him in those endless rabbinical altercations and discussions that swept through Israel. “And Jesus answered Him from the Book [Mark 12: 29-31], and said,” and He quotes Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and Leviticus nineteenth chapter in the eighteenth verse [Leviticus 19:18]. Then the Lord turned to His critics and to those who were accosting Him and yapping around Him, and seeking His life and His blood, and He said to them, “Have you read in the Word,” and He quotes Psalm 110:1, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on My right hand till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. David there calls Him Lord; how then is he His Son? [Mark 12:35-37]. And the common people heard Him gladly” [Mark 12:37]. Is that the way that story ends? “And the common people heard Him gladly” [Mark 12:37]. I don’t exaggerate when I say that the people anytime, anywhere, in any age, and in any generation will love to listen to a man who will take the Word of God and tell them what God says. Does the Lord say anything? As King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Is there any word from the Lord? Does God say anything? And Jeremiah answered, There is, God has spoken” [Jeremiah 37:17].
Not what man says or speculates, but what God says, preacher! We can listen to the radio commentators, and read the editorials in the newspapers, and buy for twenty cents, a magazine on a rack; and after I get through eating dinner, lie down on the sofa and read what they say, if I don’t go to sleep, not that! But, “Does God say anything?” If God says anything, tell us what God says! “And the common people heard Him gladly” [Mark 12:37]. I must conclude.
And the Lord used the Bible for authentication of His ministry. In the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, He says, “That the Scripture may be fulfilled. . . and I tell you before it comes that when it comes to pass ye may believe that I am He” [John 13:18-19]. The great witness and testimony to the deity and the saviorhood of the Son of God is the Word, the Book that I hold in my hand.
And the Lord used the Word for warning. He spoke of Noah, “As it was in the days of Noah” [Luke 17:26-27]. And He spoke of Lot, “As it was in the days of Lot, in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah” [Luke 17:28-30], when we were warned to flee from the wrath and judgment to come [Luke 17:31]. And He spake in the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, He said:
And this man Dives, and this man Dives cried saying,
O that Lazarus might come and dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.
And the Lord said, No, no, no.
Then the rich man said, I have five brethren, raise Lazarus from the dead—
do a stupendous miracle, and send him to my house and let him witness to my five brethren—
lest they come to this awesome place of torment and damnation and fire and brimstone.
And God replied, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.
For if they hear not the Bible, the Word of God, neither would they turn, neither would they repent, neither would they change, though one rose from the dead.
This is God’s saving message for our souls. This is how God deals with us in this life, and at the great judgment bar of Almighty God [Revelation 20:10-15]. And if I don’t listen to the witness of the Word in that Book, neither would I listen to the most astonishing, miraculous miracle that God would ever perform, even raising somebody from the dead, to testify to me and to my house.
If I am to be saved, I must listen to the Word of God [John 3:16]. If I am to find forgiveness, I must accept the Word of God [1 John 1:9]. If I am to believe in Jesus, I must believe in the testimony of the Scriptures, to my Lord [Acts 16:30-31]. And if I am to stand someday at the judgment bar of Almighty God, and there be received into the vistas of glory, and the mansions of heaven [John 14:1-3], I must base my faith, and my salvation on the word and the promise of God, in this blessed Book [Ephesians 2:8]. I cannot be saved and doubt God’s Word [John 1:12]. I must believe, I must receive [Acts 8:36-37]. And when I believe it, and when I receive it, its testimony to the grace [Ephesians 2:8] and mercy [Titus 3:5], and atoning death of Christ my Lord [Romans 5:11], I’m saved; that’s what it is to be a Christian, receiving God’s testimony to His Son:
For he that believeth the Son hath [everlasting] life, and he that believeth not the Son of God—
whose record is in that Book, whose words are in that Book—
and he that believeth not shall not see life; but the wrath of God—
the judgment of God—
abideth upon him.
I have no trouble at all, none at all; I may marvel at God’s miraculous work above me, but I believe it, I see it. There it is in its glory, the chalice of the sky, the beauty of the sunset, the verdant emerald earth beneath me. I marvel at the work of God, but I believe. There it is. There it is. I marvel at the Word of God. It is an incomparable message. I marvel at it. But the same hand that wrote His name in the skies, and wrote His name in the earth, and wrote His name in my heart, is the same hand that wrote His name in that Book. I may marvel at it, and wonder at it, but I believe it; I receive it; I accept it [John 1:12]. And in the hour of my death, if the Lord tarries, I claim the promise, “As many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name, that trust in His Word” [John 1:12]. That’s what it is to be saved.
Will you look in faith to the Lord? [Ephesians 2:8]. Will you receive His testimony tonight in your heart? Will you? If you will, the Holy Spirit will regenerate you [Titus 3:5]; He will give you a new heart, He will give you a new life, give you a new love. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; all things become new” [2 Corinthians 5:17].
In a moment we shall sing our song, and while we sing that song of appeal, somebody you, giving your heart to Jesus [Romans 10:8-13], trusting in His Word, in His immutable and unfailing promises, “Here I come, pastor, I make it tonight.” A family you, to put your life in the fellowship of this dear church [Hebrews 10:24-25]; a couple you, or just you, make that decision now and come now. In a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming.
On the first note of the first stanza, take that first step; and God will accompany you in the way. The trials you face, He will see you through. The battles that await, He will win them for you. Trust Him for it, believe in His Word. Let God do for you what we could not do for ourselves. In the hour of our death, who could save us? Only God; I have to trust Him for it, “I will trust Him now, in death, in life; in life, in death, now, and in the world to come, and here I am, I make that decision now, and here I come” [Ephesians 2:8]. In the balcony round, there’s time and to spare; if you’re at the top on that farthest seat, come down one of these stairways and here to me, “Pastor, I’m making it tonight.” On this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, “Here I come, preacher, I’m doing it now.” Make it now. Come now, while we stand and while we sing.
I. The Book He loved
A. Three Jewish
divisions of Old Testament Scripture
1. Torah – first
five books of Moses, The Law
2. Neviim – The
3. Kethuvim – the
Hagiographa, the holy writings; dominant part is Psalms
reverence for the Holy Scriptures (Psalm 119:89,
Isaiah 40:8, Matthew 24:35)
C. Unlike modern
theologians, Jesus reflects Jewish reverence for the Bible
1. Story of Jonah
(Matthew 12:39-40, 16:4, Luke 11:29-30)
2. Prophet Daniel
(Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14)
3. Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-6, Genesis 1:27, 2:24)
the jots, tittles inspired (Matthew 5:17-18,
Jeremiah 31:35-37, 32:37-42)
D. His life lived according
to the Word of God (Matthew 26:53)
II. Christ’s use of the Scriptures
A. For preaching (Luke 4:14-22, Isaiah 61:1-2)
illustration (Matthew 12:42, 2 Chronicles 9,
Luke 4:24-27, I Kings 17, 2 Kings 5, John 3:14, Numbers 21:4-9, John 6:32-35)
the weapon of warfare opposing Satan and His enemies (Matthew 4, Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 6:13, 16, Mark 12:10-11, Psalm
118:32-33, Exodus 3:5, 15, Mark 12:26-27, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18,
Mark 12:28-34, Psalm 110:1, Mark 12:35-37)
authentication of His ministry (John 13:18-19,
Psalm 41:9, Luke 24:27)
warnings (Luke 10:12-14, 17:26-32)