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“I Only Believe The Red Letters!” (Part 2)

January 22, 2013

This is the “fleshing out” of my argument in Part 1. If you haven’t read Part 1, I would encourage you to do so before reading this so that you can get the fuller context of my argument.

In Part 1, I made a series of claims as to why the statement “I only believe the Red letters” is both an illogical argument and contrary to Jesus’ own teachings. This post is meant to further defend those premises with three arguments backed up with logic and the very words of Jesus…

Truly Believing Jesus’ Words

Do you really believe what Jesus said? Then you must also accept what the Apostles taught. Why? Simply put, Jesus gave his approval of the apostles and what they would teach…

John 14:25-26 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

We see two things in this section of scripture that are of extreme importance. The first is that Jesus was talking directly to the Apostles without reference to the coming generations of Christians who would follow them. In other words, this is a specific application to the Apostles and not to us. This is further seen when we evaluate the end of verse 26 where Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

This verse is clearly not referring to us because of two important phrases found in that quote. The first is the fact that the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance; which cannot happen unless you have already been seen, learned, or experienced those things. What the Apostles taught (according to Jesus) was not their opinion but rather they were simply teaching what they had seen, learned, and experienced while they were with Jesus. What they taught was what the Holy Spirit brought to their remembrance.

The second important thing is the fact that Jesus said that it was His Words that the Holy Spirit would remind the Apostles of. When the Apostles taught the Church, they didn’t do so from their opinions but rather through the Holy Spirit bringing to remembrance the words of Christ. The very commission of “Apostleship” signifies this because an Apostle was someone who “spoke on behalf, and with the authority of the one who sent them”. And who sent and commissioned the Apostles? Christ did, and therefore they spoke on behalf of Christ.

John 13:20 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Luke 10:16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Christ clearly is the one who sent and commissioned the Apostles to go out as witnesses (Acts 1:8) and to reject these Apostles’ teachings is not pious. According to Jesus’ own words, to reject the Apostles is to reject Christ and to reject Christ is to reject the one who sent Christ.

By the way, this isn’t something that I just made up. The idea that the Apostles speak with the same authority as Christ is the very foundation of the beginning of the Church.

Acts 2:41-42 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

But of course, we don’t have the Apostles to teach us. So where do we turn so that we may know what Christ taught and know what the Christian life truly is? To the teachings of the Apostles that have been faithfully recorded and faithfully translated.

Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…”

Another issue is that we have clearly been given a command from Christ that we should teach people all that I have commanded you. And where do we find the teachings of Jesus? In two places; first we find some of His words and teachings recorded for us in the Gospel texts. However, John readily admitted …

John 21:25 “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

So the second place where we find the teachings of Jesus? In the very teachings and commandments given to us through the Apostles…

 ..

Okay, so maybe this answers some of the questions about a lot of the teachings in the New Testament but what about Paul? He wasn’t with Jesus during His earthly ministry; why should I believe that his writings and teachings are inspired?

I’m glad you asked…

One Untimely Born

Many times, people can understand why the Apostles had some authority to speak and teach. They were with Jesus. They learned directly from Him. They saw the miracles. They asked questions. Jesus explained the meaning behind the parables that he taught.

But What About Paul? He was a heathen who hated God and then God converted him, just like us. What makes him so special and where does he get the authority to speak as an Apostle? He wasn’t with Jesus while Jesus was doing His earthly ministry!

The story begins with the purpose of God in the conversion and commissioning of Paul.

Acts 9:15-16  But the Lord said to [Ananias], “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

Acts 18:9-11 – “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”

I have to really wonder if the people who claim to believe the Words of Jesus (and reject the words of Paul), have actually even read the Words of Jesus. Scripture clearly shows that it was Christ’s very words that established Paul as an Apostle.

Not only did Christ establish Paul but look at what Paul pointed to for his authority.

1 Corinthians 15:8  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
1 Corinthians 1:1  Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus
2 Corinthians 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
Romans 1:1  Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God
Galatians 1:1  Paul, an apostle–not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead–
Ephesians 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God

Paul continually emphasized the fact that it was God who called him to this ministry and it was God who set him in the position of authoritative Apostleship.

There is an important question that we must consider when thinking about the authority of Paul’s teaching. I think that I have clearly shown that the Apostle’s teachings were authoritative because they had spent much of their time learning directly from Christ but what about Paul. Jesus’ earthly ministry had been over for some time before the conversion of Paul and we know that he was not a devoted disciple before Jesus died, so how do we think about this. I propose that there are three things that will help your thinking on this matter…

1) Paul learned from Christ and not from men

Galatians 1:11-12 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul was adamant about the fact that the Gospel that he preached did not come from him or any other man but rather what he preached was taught to him by Christ (just as it was the other Apostles). We don’t know if this was a supernatural “information dump” into Paul’s mind or if he learned from Jesus in the period of three years that he spent in Arabia and Damascus (Galatians 1:17-18). Regardless, we see that when Paul taught people (or wrote epistles), he didn’t teach his “opinions” but rather he conveyed what Christ taught him and advised the Church based on Godly wisdom (James 1:5).

This idea of Paul having received the true Gospel is further confirmed in his relations to the other Apostles. When Paul went up before the Apostles in Jerusalem and laid out the Gospel that he was preaching, they confirmed that he was speaking the truth and gave him “the right hand of fellowship”.

Galatians 2:2 “I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.”

Galatians 2:9 “When James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”

2) A quick lesson from the Thessalonians and the Bereans

1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”

From the beginning of the Paul’s ministry, his preaching of the Gospel of Christ powerfully lead people to faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, the Thessalonians willingly accepted and believed that the teaching of Paul was “the word of God”. This might sound like it is just a small group of people that have been deceived by this “opinion-giver” Paul but when you combine it with the commissioning of God and the agreement of the Apostles; this passage becomes a powerful demonstration of how we should look at the epistles that Paul wrote…. not as the words of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in us who believe.

Acts 17:11 Now these Jews [at Berea vv.10] were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

(Historical note: The church at Thessalonica hadn’t been formed at this point). Notice that the Bereans were called noble because they both received the word with all eagerness (the word that Paul brought to them) and they faithfully compared it to the scripture that they had (the Old Testament) to see if Paul was telling them the truth. I think it is safe to say that they concluded that Paul’s words agreed with the Old Testament because they accepted the teaching with eagerness and because many of them believed (verse12).

To those of you who might say “I only believe the Red Letters”, the Bereans would say to you, “Compare Paul to all the rest of scripture and you will find him a faithful teacher of God’s Word and you will not find any falsehood in him.”

3) Peter Confirming Paul

2 Peter 3:15-16 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Peter (who learned directly from Jesus Christ) recognizes Paul’s writings as Scripture.

as he does in all his letters… the ignorant… twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

The connection is unmistakable. People who reject the letters of Paul sound so pious at times but really what they are saying is that 2000 years later, they know better than Peter did. Peter walked with Jesus while he was on earth and yet these people today are so smart that they can determine that Paul was preaching opinions rather than the Words of God… Anyone else have a problem with that kind of Pride?

Every Letter in the Bible is a Red One…

2 Peter 1:20-21 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

These are two passages that you should cement into your mind as the foundation for how you should think about Scripture.

Note the first passage. We already know that Peter says that Paul’s writings are Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16), but notice what Peter has to say about Scripture. Scripture doesn’t come from someone’s interpretation but rather it comes by the will of God. Paul’s writings (and the rest of Scripture) are not a matter of opinion but rather are the very Words of God come through men. The doctrines and teachings that are contained are not a matter of debate or opinion and we cannot say that we accept this part of Scripture while rejecting another part.

This is further confirmed by the fact that Paul told Timothy that Scripture is Breathed Out By God. When people say that the Red Letters are true, they say it because “Jesus actually said those words”. The truth of the matter is that if all of Scripture is Breathed Out By God then that same statement should apply to all of Scripture. Truthfully, Jesus (who is God) was the author and speaker of All of Scripture.

Truly all the Letters of Scripture are Red Letters. If you are going to say that you “believe the Red Letters” and not contradict yourself, you must accept the entire canon of Scripture (that includes Paul btw).

By the Grace of God and for His Glory…we believe what He has revealed to us. Not in Pride; rather we humble ourselves and see the Scripture as our Authority…

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From → The Word

19 Comments
  1. It does not sound every time very clear. Though the right words are written, the impression could be that you consider the Word of God the same as the word of Christ. They are two different persons. Jeshua, Jesus Christ is the Nazarene Jew, a man of flesh and blood in the lineage of King David, who was the promised prophet and Messiah. He proofed to be able to do the Will of his Father and brought the Words of his Father. The Words of his Father were not Jesus words but those of Jehovah, the Only One God in the universe.

    • I think that you either deny or misunderstand what the bible teaches concerning the trinitarian nature of God. That being that the Son and the Father are two persons but one being. That they are both God, but not two gods but One God. See the link for a creed which accurately represents the biblical teaching on the matter…

      http://www.ccel.org/creeds/athanasian.creed.html

      It really doesn’t matter whether or not I think that Jess’s words are the same as the Father’s. The authoritative scripture is clear on the matter…

      John 1:1, 14
      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

      • Yes Jesus was in the Plan of God and he came to make the words of God clear, but that does not make him God. Jesus came from God, who is Mightier than him and without His Father Jesus could do nothing.

        “you have heard how I said to you, I go away and I am coming to you [again]. if you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, I go to the father, for my father is greater than I.” (John 14:28 MKJV)

        “then jesus answered and said to them, truly, truly, I say to you, the son can do nothing of himself but what he sees the father do. for whatever things he does, these also the son does likewise.” (John 5:19 MKJV)

        The Trinity is a teaching which came into use many years after Jesus his death, and is nowhere prescribed in the Bible.

        • Yep, no one recognized Jesus as God until many years later… oh, except for that heretic Thomas of course…

          John 20:28
          Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

          I am sorry but you have to do damage to both scripture and to history to deny the fact that christian orthodoxy teaches Jesus as God in flesh.

          It is a fact that the word “Trinity” appears nowhere in the biblical text. However, this doesn’t mean that the doctrine isn’t clearly taught in scripture. The idea of a trinitarian God was one that has been accepted ever since the beginning of the Church except for heretical groups like the Gnostics and the arians. The reason why the Doctrine of the Trinity became a big issue in church history was not due to the fact that people were making it up but rather because they were defending its truth against people who were saying that Christ was other than God in flesh.

          To deny either the deity or the humanity of Christ is to deny the Gospel itself… sorry…

          • It’s hard to say exactly what they saw that morning on the banks of the Jordan. It’s hard to know exactly what the voice sounded like. As the young man Jesus prayed, water still dripping from his hair, the grey sky split. An arc of sunlight pierced slantwise through a crack in the clouds. They said they saw some kind of bird. What kind of bird? What colour were its feathers? Did the bird really rest gently like a dove? Or did it come crashing down, with purpose, swooping like a hawk? What did the voice that spoke those words sound like? What was the pitch, the tone, the cadence?
            This Jesus, some remembered the stories of his birth. the shepherds, the angels. But that was many years ago. No one expected the sky to split when the young man came, with the others, to be baptised.

            For sure there was a Voice out of heaven which said:
            “and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 MKJV)
            “and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, this is my son, the beloved, hear him.” (Luke 9:35 MKJV)
            “while he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them. and behold a voice out of the cloud which said, this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased, hear him.” (Matthew 17:5 MKJV)
            “and the holy spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on him. and a voice came from heaven, which said, you are my son, the beloved; I am delighted in you.” (Luke 3:22 MKJV)
            “behold my child whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my spirit on him, and he shall declare judgment to the nations.” (Matthew 12:18 MKJV)
            “for he received honor and glory from god [the] father, when was borne to him a voice from the excellent glory, “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” (2 Peter 1:17 MKJV)
            “truly [he] who did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 MKJV)
            “in this the love of god was revealed in us, because god sent his only begotten son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9 MKJV)
            “for god so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 MKJV)

          • Again, I find amazing that on one hand you claim that the bible is inspired and true and then on the other hand, you so willingly pit verses against one another as if some statements are truer than others.

            I also hope that you realize the irony in some of the verses that you quoted…God says that He WILL NOT SHARE HIS GLORY WITH ANOTHER … and yet He clearly shares it with Christ… Isaiah 42:8; 2Peter 1:17

            I do not think that this is the most profitable way to have this discussion and so I will attempt to lay out my case for the deity of Christ in an upcoming post. I look forward to your thoughts on it

  2. When Jesus was baptised, why did God not say that the people could see Him?
    That God only shares His glory with Christ is obvious because Jesus is the only one who managed to stay clear of sins. We all are created in the image of God, though we are not God, but the Nazarene man in the image of God kept his spirit also totally according Gods Will.

    I hope I shall get to know when your article is published.

  3. In case Jesus was or is God, though that one can not die, why did he pray to his Father asking that God His will would be done and not Jesus his will? Was Jesus then a schizophrenic person, faking his death and faking his humanity, though the pupils could clearly see his wounds after his resurrection. Jesus also told them that it was really him and not a spirit; God is a Spirit, so then he would once more have lied, like the other occasions when he clearly indicated not to be God but to be his send one, to be the son of God (which is totally different from being god the son.)

    • It really doesn’t matter what I think, what matters is what has been revealed to us in the Word of God. What are we supposed to think of when we think of the phrase “son of God” and is that definition antithetical to the statement “God the son”? We MUST define our terms based on the biblical text and not on our own opinions.

      Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

      According to this passage, God calls the Son, God. The bible defines what it means for Jesus to be the Son. And why did Jude refer to Christ as “our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4)

      Isaiah 43:11 I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.

      Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other.

      2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and SAVIOR Jesus Christ. To him be the GLORY both now and to the day of eternity.

      So only God is savior and only God will receive Glory but we clearly see that Jesus is called SAVIOR (making him to be God) and he is given Glory (which also supports Jesus as God)

      • Be Aware that there is a difference between a god and the God. A god, like there are many gods, still today, is a mighty or honoured person but is not the most High Almighty One God. In the Old testament you shall find that the Pharaoh and others are also called god, but I do hope you will not take them as God being on earth at that time.

        “Instead, continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Messiah. Glory belongs to him both now and on that eternal day! Amen. ” (2 Peter 3:18 ISV) does no where indicate that Jesus would be God.

        We should honour Jesus for what he was and is and for what he has done and still shall do, but that does not make it that we should worship him as the Almighty God.

        Isaiah speaks not about Jesus but about the Most High Creator of everything. In case God would not have provided is the liberator Jesus and would not have accepted his blood-offering as a ransom then Jesus actions would be without results and we would not be saved. Only by the Most High Saviour Jehovah the act of giving Jesus his blood and body for our sins can be accepted.

        As any other man or woman can save somebody (out of the water, out of a fire, etc.) only god can save our total being.

      • Men and women can give somebody glory. We should give also glory to our partner or children, to Jesus, but that is an other glory than the one we should give to the Elohim Jehovah.

        • Those two comments display a total lack of care for solid hermeneutics or the authority of Scripture. You are so willing to do damage to what the author is trying to convey just so that you can reject what is revealed and hold on to your own opinions.

          The word used in Heb 1:8 is θεός which simply means “a deity, especially (with ὁ (G3588)) the supreme Divinity”. The clear meaning in this text is that of deity. The author is trying to convey the fact that Christ is God and you are rejecting the scripture in favor of your own wisdom…

          • I, for one, appreciate thinkinhard’s Biblically-sound comments on this post. Thankful for Christians who actually believe what the Bible says — ALL of it, not just the bits and pieces they want to believe. If I cannot trust God with all, I cannot trust Him at all. And for someone to think they have the authority or the knowledge to say what is or isn’t true in the Bible is to elevate oneself above God — that is unwise.

  4. You quote yourself “a deity” which is not the same as “the Deity”

    • I apologize for the Delay (the life of a college student and all that) but my post about the deity of Christ is now up.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. TAKE GOD TO WORK WITH YOU! « "Working for Christ"
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  4. Crawl to the Cross. Septuagesima Sermon (Matt. 20:1-16), Jan. 27, 2013 « De Profundis Clamavi ad Te, Domine

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