Anything that contradicts Jesus, whether in the bible or not, must be rejected out of hand.
Jesus says: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). Many take this to mean there is life in the scriptures. But Jesus says different. He tells the Jews: “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40).
Life can never be in a book, not even a book as essential as the bible. Life can only be found in God and in his son Jesus Christ. John says of Jesus: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4). “As the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:26).
The Pharisees crammed the scriptures, nevertheless, they did not receive life. This is because they rejected Jesus. John testifies: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:14).
The angel asked those looking for Jesus’ body on resurrection morning: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). We seek life in all the wrong places. We seek life in dead things including religious books. We look for life in money, in material possessions, in marriage, and in children. As a result, like the Samaritan woman Jesus met by the well, we drink and drink but continue to thirst. We fail to come to the Lord to receive the living waters whereby we would thirst no more.
Wheat and tares
The bible is, like the kingdom of God, a book of wheat and tares. (Matthew 13:24-25). While men slept, the enemy sowed tares in the bible. Thus, Jeremiah asks the Jews: “How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.” (Jeremiah 8:8).
Jesus maintains that Moses, the giver of the Law, gave the Israelites false bread to eat. (John 6:32-33). His so-called manna from heaven killed all those who ate it in the wilderness. (John 6:49). But Jesus is: “The living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” (John 6:51).
Indeed, Jesus corrects several misconceptions of Moses still found in the bible. For example, while Moses instituted divorce, Jesus reveals it is not of God. (Matthew 19:7-8). While Moses says God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:2-3); Jesus insists God has never stopped working. (John 5:17). While Moses says a man is defiled by what he eats (Leviticus 11:8); Jesus corrects him by saying a man is only defiled by what is in his heart. (Matthew 15:11).
Today, the bible of the New Testament is not written on tablets of stone or in a book. It is written in the hearts of believers. God says: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33).
To receive the word of God today, we don’t need a bible. We only need the Holy Spirit. Isaiah says: “Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21). This ensures the word of God can come even to the deaf and the blind. It can come to the illiterate who cannot read. Therefore, Jesus says: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 11:15).
As a matter of fact, Jesus put more reliance on his own parables than he did on the scriptures. Matthew says: “Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable he did not speak to them.” (Matthew 13:34). In Jesus’ core sayings, scriptures are conspicuous by their absence.
When Jesus’ disciples used the scriptures as their exclusive terms of reference, they wanted Jesus to destroy a village that refused them free passage, just as Elijah did. But Jesus rebuked them, affirming the saliency of spiritual revelation to the letter of the scriptures. He asks elsewhere: “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” (Luke 12:57).
Some people spoke against the institution of slavery in the United States. Others threw the bible at them, after all even the bible legitimises slavery. But the opponents of slavery insisted slavery contradicts the spirit of Jesus.
New Living Bible
God, the Father sent his Son Jesus as the sole authority on the scriptures. According to John, Jesus and not the Torah, is the word of God. (John 1:1/4). Black provides suitable contrast to white. Other parts of the bible remain useful but only to the extent that they serve to conform to, or contrast with, Jesus’ pure words.
Therefore, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the Father counselled that, henceforth, we should only listen to Jesus. He put this to dramatic effect by having Moses and Elijah, representing the law and the prophets, appear to speak to Jesus. A bright cloud overshadowed them and when it cleared, only Jesus remained. Then a voice came from heaven, saying: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” (Mark 9:7).
Let me take the liberty to paraphrase what God declares in this live parable. He says: “Jesus is my Son: Moses and Elijah are not my sons. Listen to my Son. Don’t bother to listen to Moses and Elijah anymore.” Do you get it? Jesus, the Son, is the only true and faithful witness of God. (John 1:17; Revelation 1:5). Listen only to him.
Jesus says: “No one knows the Son, except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and he to whom the Son desires to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27). He says furthermore: “The servant does not know what his master is doing.” (John 15:15). Moses and Elijah are only servants of God.
Therefore, we are not to preach the law and the prophets anymore. Neither are we to rely any longer on the bible as the authority on things of God. Jesus says: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, …teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus is now the final authority. We are now to make men into disciples of Jesus and not those of Moses or anyone else. No longer are we to teach men to observe the commandments of men. Instead, we must teach them to observe the commandments of Jesus.
Jesus says: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27). “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5). Only Jesus’ words lead to eternal life. (John 6:68). Jesus’ words now constitute the entirety of the New Testament bible. Anything that contradicts Jesus, whether in the bible or not, must be rejected out of hand.
- This article first appeared in the Vanguard