Christ and the Bible

D.W. Brealey

Part 20 of 24 of the series Problems

II. Christ's Use of the Scriptures?

Christ's attitude to the Bible is one of conviction of its tiring power. We gather this from His habit of using the Scriptures in different circumstances and toward all sorts of different people, and from the effectiveness of such use. Tim He did with very great skill.

(1) His skill in the use of Scripture may be seen-

(a) In Subduing the tempter; He met. each tempt sit ion with a quotation from the Scriptures - "... It is written . . . It is written ... It is written . . . Then the devil loaveth Him" (Matt. 4. 4, 7, 10, 11), It was an effective answer.

(b) In saving the loci. No better example could be found than in the case, of Nicodemus, where Christ refers to the account of the brazen serpent in Numbers 21 - "And us Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should not parish, but have eternal life" (John 3. 14, 15),

(c) In silencing His enemies. To their foolish question about the resurrection He replied, "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God . . . have ye not read that which was spoken by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and thy God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Mart. 22, 29, 31, 32, quoting Ex. 3. 6). So "He put the Sadducees to silence" (verse 34). And in the same chapter His masterly use of Psalm 110 in regard to the Messiah put everyone to silence - "And no man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man, from that day forth, ask Him any more questions" (verse 46),

(d) In strengthening and reassuring His disciples. When Christ died, some of the disciples thought that that was the end of everything; but on the third day He rose again. To these amazed disciples He did not first of all show Himself so obviously that they would recognize Him at once; rather did He open their eyes to Him by opening the Scriptures to them, thus giving them the strength and reassurance that they so much needed: "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself . . . and their eyes were opened and they knew Him . . . and they rose up the same hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together mid them thin were with thorn, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed'” (Luke 24. 27-34).

So it is early seen with what skill and effect the Lord used the Scriptures upon different kinds of people and in such varying circumstances. It is, in itself, a testimony to His conviction of the living power of the Word.

(2) The Secret - His knowledge of the Scriptures.

We may say, without hesitation, that the secret of Christ's skill in the use of the Bible was His knowledge of it. As the Son of God He was, of course, omniscient; but Isaiah (ch. 50, vs. 4 & 5) seems to let us into the secret of His profound knowledge of the Scriptures as the Son of Man.

   (a) He is listening - "He wakeneth mine ear to hear" (v.4)

   (b) He is learning - "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of them that are taught that I should know how to speak a word in season . . .'' (v. 4, R.V.)

   (c) He is obedient - "The Lord God hath opened mine ear and I was not rebellious neither turned away back" (v. 5 )

Seclusion with God seems to have been the secret of His knowledge; the open ear, the attentive mind, the willing heart. By what means God imparted His word to Him we do not know; we are not told. But Christ was a reader! His reading of a part of Isaiah 61 in the synagogue at Nazareth, as recorded in Luke 4. 18, 19, must have been arresting indeed.

His knowledge mystified His hearers! "And the Jews marvelled, saying, 'How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?'” (John 7. 15). But He had learned! Not in the schools, perhaps, but in inclusion with God.

If we would share His knowledge, we must follow His example and precept, and “search the Scriptures . . . “ (John 5. 39). That is how the Lord would have us come to His Word, how He would have us study it. And if we thus search the Scriptures, and listen to the voice of God we shall learn; and if we follow what we learn, we may expect to age it with skill and effect in our measure, as Christ did without, measure.

Every Christian needs this knowledge: children at school, young people at college or in business and in the world, as well as preachers and teachers, need the knowledge of the Scriptures as their principal safeguard from the errors that abound, their weapon of offence and defence. And as our knowledge grows, so will our conviction grow that "the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4. 12. E.V.).

So we may say that the second attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Bible was conviction of its living power. He studied it, followed it, taught it, because He was convinced of its effectiveness, and His conviction was borne out by its use.

(3) His method of interpreting the Scriptures. In His interpretation of the Scriptures, the Lord affirmed two basic principles:

(a) The principle of apprehension: Christ "in all the Scriptures." Apart from an understanding of this principle the Bible largely becomes a closed book to us. But use it as a key, and it will unlock the rich treasures of its teaching. He Himself has told us, ''the Scriptures . . . testify of Me" (John 5. 39); and it was as He "expounded . . . in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” to His disciples that He "opened . . . their understanding, that they might understand the

Scriptures" (Luke 24. 27, 45).

(b) The principle of application: "not of the letter, but of the spirit" (2 Cor. 3. 6). What is understood from the Scriptures must be applied in the life, not just by the keeping of its letter, but by the keeping of its spirit. This in the principle for widen Christ contended so dearly in the Sermon on the Mount, where He showed how He had come not "to destroy but to fulfil" the law, by adding to the letter of its commands find prohibitions His own command to observe the spirit, that lay behind them (Matt. 5. 17-48).

May the Lord help us to follow the example of His own attitude to and use of the Bible, leading us into a fuller confi­dence in its truth, into conviction rather than ideas, and to a reverence for its spirit that shall lead us into a holy walk with God.