Notable and Quotable

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our primary authority is Jesus Christ our Teacher and our Lord, and our submission to Scripture is only the logical outcome and necessary expression of our submission to him. It is to Christ that we come; but Christ sends us to a book. Not that the book to which he sends us is a dead and wooden letter, or an authoritarian ogre. He bids us listen rather to his own voice as he speaks to our particular situation by his Spirit and through his written Word.

--John Stott, "Jesus Christ Our Teacher and Lord", in Guidelines, ed. J. I. Packer (London: Falcon, 1967), p. 64.

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Posted May 27, 2008 at 10:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Chris Jones wrote:

Christ sends us to a book

I am sorry, but this is poppycock.  If it is to Christ that we come, we have no need to go elsewhere—to a book or anywhere else.  It is the Scriptures that lead us to Christ, not the other way around.

Besides, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the days of His flesh, wrote no book.  He did, however, establish His Church, which He vested with His authority to be the pillar and ground of the truth.  It is in the Church, in her liturgical proclamation of the Gospel, that Christ Himself opens the Scriptures to us, to show us that they testify of Him.  Any suggestion that Christ came in order to give us the Scriptures, rather than that the Scriptures were given to lead us to Christ, is dangerous nonsense.

May 27, 10:40 am | [comment link]
2. the roman wrote:

“Take and read, take and read..” Hmmm for some reason that sounds familiar.

May 27, 11:05 am | [comment link]
3. Tikvah wrote:

... and inwardly digest.

May 27, 11:19 am | [comment link]
4. Randy Hoover-Dempsey wrote:

27“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6
Lord, help us preach Your gospel that You might be glorified among all people.

May 27, 11:32 am | [comment link]
5. drjoan wrote:

Moreover, Jesus continually and consistently went to a book: The “Old” Testament.  And when you read the two “books” together—the Old and the New—you hear the consistent voice of God.

May 27, 1:49 pm | [comment link]
6. libraryjim wrote:

As fine a definition of how we hear the voice of God for us today as I have ever read.

Reader: The word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.

Jim Elliott <><

May 27, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
7. Phil wrote:

I clicked through intending to write something along the lines of Chris Jones and the roman - but, they’ve done far better than I would have.  Dittos, gentlemen!

May 27, 4:08 pm | [comment link]
8. Pb wrote:

Jesus once defined being wrong as knowing neither the scriptures nor the power of God. He thought they had something to say. Mk12:24.

May 27, 4:36 pm | [comment link]
9. Now Orthodox wrote:

John 1:1-4

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

John 1:14-15
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

There are 257 references to “the word of the Lord” in the NASU.  I don’t know about you, the Trinity speaks to me through Scripture and my heart (which recalls the Scripture).  If you’re not reading Scripture, how do you know that what you’re hearing is not from the evil one?  We know Jesus THROUGH

May 27, 10:30 pm | [comment link]
10. Now Orthodox wrote:

Sorry ‘bout that!

May 27, 10:31 pm | [comment link]
11. Alice Linsley wrote:

The kingdom of God is foretold in Genesis. Even if we lost all the other books of the Bible, with the Spirit’s aid, we would find Christ in that book well enough.

Read this:

May 27, 11:06 pm | [comment link]
12. rob k wrote:

Chris Jones is right.  Christ gave us Himself in the Church, his Body.  The Bible belongs to the Church and was drawn up by it.

May 28, 7:17 am | [comment link]
13. Br. Michael wrote:

12, are you saying that the Church wrote the Bible and can rewrite it?  Nonsence.  Jesus can’t be known apart from the Scripture.  Jesus and the Apostolic witness speaks through the Scriptures.  Did the Church create the authority of Scripture?  No, the Church merely recognized it.

May 28, 7:35 am | [comment link]
14. GSP98 wrote:

Scripture is God breathed. Nothing else is. It is forever established in heaven. It is completely pure, & not to be added to, or taken away from.
The church grows into the head, even Christ, and the Holy Spirit opens the meaning of the God breathed words to believers.

May 28, 10:35 am | [comment link]
15. Chris Jones wrote:

Br Michael,

Neither Rob K nor I is saying that “the Church wrote the Bible and can rewrite it.”  Don’t put words in our mouths.  You are right that “Jesus can’t be known apart from the Scripture.”  But neither can the Scriptures be received and understood otherwise than through the liturgical and sacramental ministry of the Church. 

No one can read the Scriptures free from all presuppositions; everyone has an “interpretive framework” to make sense of the Scriptures. We bring to the Scriptures, as our interpretive framework, either the Apostolic preaching, by the Church, of the message of the Scriptures, or whatever presuppositions already exist in our own minds.  I know which of those I should regard as more reliable.

That we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted.  For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, Who works faith

Or, as an even older writer expressed the same idea, extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

May 28, 10:51 am | [comment link]
16. Chris Jones wrote:


Scripture is God breathed. Nothing else is.

Not so:  with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20.22)

The Holy Spirit was “God-breathed” by the Son of God Himself onto the Apostolic Church, and that Gift has never been withdrawn.

May 28, 11:03 am | [comment link]
17. Br. Michael wrote:

Chris, am am not trying to put words into your mouth.  I am just trying to understand your point.  I have a high view of the liturgy and the sacraments,  But which liturgy, sacraments and Church are you talking about?

And the actions of the Holy Spirit and those of the Church must be tested against Scripture.  I suspect that I have a more reformed view of the Church than you do.  Surely you are not claiming that the Holy Spirit prevents the Church from falling into error in all instances?

May 28, 12:40 pm | [comment link]
18. GSP98 wrote:

Yes, #16. The Holy Spirit was first breathed upon the apostles, then given in fullest measure at pentecost. Since then, the Holy Spirit has been breathed into every single believer into the church universal-with which each individual believer is sealed for the day of redemption-which is Christs body: “Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” The body of Christ is not a visible ecclesiastical monolith, but each member of the church, holding to Christ as its head ..”  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:20-22).
This is the church of Jesus Christ.

May 28, 12:47 pm | [comment link]
19. Randy Hoover-Dempsey wrote:

The problem is not with scripture. The problem is with us. Scripture must be interpreted, and we tend to see scripture from a narrow perspective. Because our culture is so sexualized we are particularly focused on sexuality. So, we are willing to “speak out” against sexual sin. At the same time that sins regarding sexuality garner tremendous attention, we are willing to ignore Jesus’ scriptural teaching on other issues. For example, in Luke 6:27-38 Jesus clearly speak out about what His followers should do, beginning with “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We are willing to ignore this (or spiritualize it so that it does not call for an active response), and to lionize those who call us to another course of action toward our enemies. I am not saying that these two examples, what scripture says about sex and what scripture says about enemies, should not both be addressed. I am saying that, in the case of “love your enemies,” we have been willing to ignore the scripture and never accuse those others who ignore it of not taking scripture seriously or being apostate. If Jesus is Lord, and I believe He is, then He is Lord in both situations.

May 28, 1:10 pm | [comment link]
20. Br. Michael wrote:

But, of course Scripture must be read in its entirety.  We are to “love our enemies”, but we are also to discipline and correct.  If necessary we are to separate from un repentant erring brothers and sisters.  Loving your enemy does not mean allowing them to have their way.
In addition God works through people.  God is in chagge that’s true, but He calls us to act or not act.  That is, He requires a response.

May 28, 1:35 pm | [comment link]
21. Chris Jones wrote:

which liturgy, sacraments and Church are you talking about?

That is the $64,000 question, isn’t it?  And it is not one that I presume to be able to answer for anyone else.  Given the complexities of history and the prevalence of both sin and error within the visible Church, it is no trivial task to determine where the true Church is to be found.  But it is no answer to give up and decide that the true Church is “invisible.”  A more false and un-Scriptural notion I cannot imagine.  Christ founded an actual, concrete, and visible community, and what once was visible and concrete has not somehow become invisible and abstract at some point in its history.

And that is my point:  not to sell my particular answer to the question of where the Church is to be found, but to say that you cannot escape the question by pretending that the Church is “invisible” and divorcing the Scriptures from the Church.  That was the point of my original complaint about the Stott quote.  What Stott said implies that Christ came to give us the Scriptures and that the Church exists to give us the Scriptures—and that once we have the Scriptures, the Church has done its job and we can be saved through the Scriptures.

That is bibliolatry and I still say that it is errant nonsense.

May 28, 1:37 pm | [comment link]
22. Randy Hoover-Dempsey wrote:

Thank you for your comment Br Michael. As you point out in your reply, we are much more likely to look for a way around scripture when the issue involved is one like loving our enemies. I think Luke 6 speaks for itself and is consistent with all of scripture. In fact, isn’t Jesus the living embodiment of scripture. As we look for the meaning of scripture, shouldn’t we always ask how scripture looks in the light of what Jesus said and what Jesus did? Would we not be lifting Jesus up as a Church if we followed the directions give in Luke 6. I find people hungering for a Church that will take all of the gospel seriously.

May 28, 1:55 pm | [comment link]
23. libraryjim wrote:

Yes, Jesus said “Love your enemies” and then turned around and made a whip of cords and drove the money-changers and sellers out of the temple, shouting at them “You have made my Father’s house, which is to be a place of prayer, into a den of thieves!”

Which brings us back to Br. Michaels point:

we must take the WHOLE of Scripture and not just pick and choose verses under the guise of “finding excuses not to follow” the only ones I like, or which prove that YOU (generic you) are a hypocrite.  Paul’s letters are as much Scripture as the Gospels.

Jim Elliott <><

May 28, 2:34 pm | [comment link]
24. GSP98 wrote:

As for what we are “saved” by is perfectly clear, and made perfectly clear by scripture-we are “saved” by faith in the shed blood and name of Jesus Christ. The church’s duty is to proclaim this salvation. The church is not invisible in the sense that it can never be seen, or never has local organization. Quite to the contrary. Paul gives a general outline of church governance in his pastoral epistles, and we see this clearly in Revelation.  The seven churches of Asia Minor were independent and autonomous, under each of their eldership/bishop. They were told “..let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.”
But to state that there is one huge concrete visible monolith that was established by Christ & the apostles is simply not to be found in scripture. Christ taught that there was not to be a single center of worship under the new covenant: “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her,  “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
This is the maturity that the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to possess. Jesus, the churchs’ visible head left this earth, and yet said something remarkable: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
John makes it clear in his first epistle that this promise [while at once initially given to the apostles] is also in effect for ALL the new testament priesthood-his church, members individually.

May 28, 3:12 pm | [comment link]
25. Randy Hoover-Dempsey wrote:

Hello Jim. I would distinguish Jesus’ actions from what Jesus calls His disciples to do. After all, He is Lord and He is judge, and we are neither. When He cleanses the Temple, He is doing so as Lord of the Temple. The words that Jesus spoke to His people about how they are to live, seem to me to be the prime lens through which we are to understand the rest of scripture.
For example when Jesus says, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ He is providing us a lens through which to understand everything else that we do with scripture. The end result of obedience to this mandate of our Lord is that, until I am able to love my neighbor, I really don’t have anything to say to my neighbor.
So, perhaps I need to quit writing and pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of love.
Blessings, Randy+

May 28, 4:29 pm | [comment link]
26. Br. Michael wrote:

21, and I don’t think that that is what Stott is saying at all.  If the Church does not preach and teach Scripture then what does it teach and preach?  Has it had a sperate revelation that the rest of ua know nothing about?  In TEC, as a symbol of their authority, bishops, presbyters and deacons are presented with a Bible.  Scripture is central.  Without that we have no liturgy or sacraments.

May 28, 4:45 pm | [comment link]
27. Alice Linsley wrote:

Randy (#25) Do you honestly believe this: “The words that Jesus spoke to His people about how they are to live, seem to me to be the prime lens through which we are to understand the rest of scripture”?

I think you have the wrong end of the string.  Jesus Christ is the lens, not His ethical statements.  All of the Bible is about Jesus Christ.  The Spirit opens the Book to those who search it with seeking hearts.

May 28, 5:08 pm | [comment link]
28. Randy Hoover-Dempsey wrote:

Thank you Alice. The context of the discussion seems to me to be what scripture is about. I would agree with what I think you are asserting, that there is nothing that takes the place of our relationship with our Savior and Lord. For those who are Christians, I am assuming that they have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and that is the reason they are interested in scripture in the first place. I also assume that the Holy Spirit will lead. Having said this, I also believe that the recorded words of Christ have a special importance to Christian disciples. For example, I believe Jesus’ mandate to love our enemies takes precedence over what some might imply from Numbers 25:17 when the Lord tells Moses to kill the Midianites—that is, that we should feel free to kill our enemies. So, while I agree that all scripture is important, I do believe that some scripture is more important than others.

May 28, 5:29 pm | [comment link]
29. Br. Michael wrote:

Of course God tells Moses to do that as an instrument of His judgment against the Midianites.  The question is what does Scripture tells about how to love our enemies.  One form of that love is to bring them to Jesus so that they will not face God’s judgment.  And I may well mean being offensive to them.  Jesus did not pull His punches when He confronted people who were barriers to God’s kingdom.  The parable of the tenants in the vineyard is horribly blunt and brutal, as is His statements to the Pharasees:
“Matthew 23:27-28   27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.  28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
While the OT is read through the NT I don’t believe that you can set up a canon within the canon.

May 28, 7:00 pm | [comment link]
30. Br. Michael wrote:

I might add that is one reason that I don’t read red letter Bibles.

May 28, 7:01 pm | [comment link]
31. libraryjim wrote:

One reason I don’t is that for me the red letters tend to blur together making it difficult to read. grin

But we cannot separate Jesus’ words from his actions, and say “oh, that’s ok, He is Lord so He doesn’t have to obey His own injunction.”

We are told to Imitate Christ, in word and deed. Loving our neighbor means we have to take harsh action sometime as well as speaking harsh words in love. 

Beyond that, what words? The only words we have from Jesus are in the Bible. Jesus said the Scriptures speak of Him, and lead to Him.  We cannot say “the scripture has no value for we have The Christ.”  That is setting up a false dichotomy.

From the start, the Church held the writings of the Apostles in high esteem, setting them up in lectionaries and commentaries.  The Church collected the writings, rejecting those that did not speak of Christ internally.  The church did not create the Bible—rather the Spirit of God through the church gathered it and formed the canon.

For the record, non-believers are also drawn to the Scriptures.  Many people have come to faith by reading the Bible on their own and being convicted of the Spirit that the words therein were/are true.  Scripture IS God-breathed and more powerful than a two-edged sword.

Jim Elliott <><

May 28, 10:28 pm | [comment link]
32. Randy Hoover-Dempsey wrote:

Thank you Jim. I’m having trouble seeing the letters no matter what the color. I’m not convinced by your comment on harsh actions, although we have raised three children and I understand that love involves many types of response. Harshness and anger often go hand in hand, and I have not seen human anger accomplish God’s purposes.
I agree that the Holy Spirit operates in a way that is consistent with scripture, and that scripture is essential for understanding who Jesus Christ is and what He is doing.
So, I would say our disagreement lies in the place of “righteous indignation” in the life of the disciple. I have found that the Holy Spirit seems to value every person in our parish. It is often the people in our parish with whom I most disagree who have the most to teach me. On first approach to such people I have often felt anger/harshness towards them, but gradually the Lord has softened my heart and led me to a place where we can have a relationship. Almost inevitably I have learned something important about the Lord (and about the meaning of scripture) in these encounters.

May 29, 11:41 am | [comment link]
33. libraryjim wrote:

So, I would say our disagreement lies in the place of “righteous indignation” in the life of the disciple.

Some examples:

“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee the wrath that is coming?”—John the Baptist
Jesus and the money changers (mentioned): As it was written: Zeal for His Father’s house would consume Him”.
“You scribes, pharisees - hypocrites! You strain at a gnat, yet swallow a camel! You are nothing more than white-washed tombs, pretty on the outside, yet inside full of dead men’s bones!”—Jesus the Christ

Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)
From St. Paul:
“Be angry, but do not sin”
“Those who insist on circumcison of the believer—I wish they would emasculate themselves!”
“and when Peter came here, I confronted him to his face, almost coming to blows”
“As to these (living in unrepentant sinfulness) who call themselves ‘brothers’, I say, have nothing to do with them”

Now, having written all that, There were times when Jesus used compassion to get his message across:

Calling the Disciples
The Centurion’s dying servant
Zacchaeus the tax collector
The rich young ruler (didn’t come to fruition there, however).
The good thief on the cross.

as did the Apostles:
You will be known as my apostles by this: how great your love is one for another. (Jesus)
The people marvelled at how much good they did, and God added to their numbers daily. (Acts)
But their over-riding mission:
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

I think what we are trying to skirt around is: there is a time for both responses.  Both are Scriptural. Both are proclaimed by Jesus and the Apostles.  Both are to be used as the Spirit leads.

Jim Elliott <><

May 29, 4:17 pm | [comment link]
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