God’s Word Declared
“What I have spoken does not come from myself; no, what I was to say, what I had to speak, was commanded by the Father who sent me,
and I know that his commands mean eternal life.
And therefore what the Father has told me is what I speak.”
When given the option, the Jews clung to the Bible and rejected the Gospel. So that Christians would not do the same, the Apostles rescinded the Torah, releasing us from every rule in the Old Testament. (Acts 15: 5-29).
They did this so that we would understand that Jesus was greater than the Bible. Seemingly a paradox, this truth is so fundamental to our understanding of God that it should be headlined in the largest print.
We say that the Bible is the word of God, and it is. But, as the Apostles have borne witness, not all the words in this sacred book share the same divinity or authority. Jesus Christ is greater by far than the Old Testament which predicted Him.
Most of the Bible is made up of words inspired by God, not His own personal Testimony. There is an enormous difference between the two, because one has power to save us from death and the other does not.
The fundamental difference separating Jesus Christ from the rest of scripture is the supreme authority of Christ’s Gospel. The words He spoke come directly from the mouth of God (Jn.12:48-50).
Jesus is God’s voice on earth. His words come straight from the throne of heaven. Jesus in fact, is God — a fact proved by the Trinity. This revelation is unique. Nothing like it has ever happened in the history of religion.
The Gospel He preached not only tells us in clear detail what God expects of us, it is the key that opens the door to the hidden secrets that lie buried behind every mysterious word written in the Bible.
Without His words (without the Gospel of Christ) scripture would lead nowhere. It would remain divinely and impenetrably sealed — it’s buried truths hidden in God’s concealed language.
The Bible was sealed in divine metaphore. The Torah’s didactic statements all had deeper meanings — meanings that revolved not around themselves, but around the divine righteousness of the Gospel Jesus was sent to preach. “I want mercy, not sacrifice.”
His revelation of scripture’s symbolism put Jesus in direct conflict with those who held that the teachings of the Old Testament were absolute and needed to be accepted literally and followed exactly as they were written.
Because obsession with these rules was so pervasive and so compelling (even among early Christians), reforming the ritual of the Old Testament became one of the earliest priorities of God.
When the Apostles gathered in Jerusalem to decide this matter, there was much disagreement among them as to how much of the Torah should be retained and how much discarded.
Moved by the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up before the assembly and argued, “God, who can read everyone’s heart, showed his approval of the pagans by giving them the same Holy Spirit he gave to us. It would only provoke God’s anger now, if we were to impose on them the very burden of the Law that neither we nor our ancestors were strong enough to support. Remember, we believe that we are saved in the same way as they are: through the grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:8-11).
This statement silenced the discord.
In one of the most momentous decisions in the history of the Christian Church, the Jerusalem assembly then decreed: “It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right.” (Acts 15:29).
With this decree, the Apostles in Jerusalem severed the Church from its bondage to the rules of the Torah so that Christians could live their lives in the mercy and justice of Jesus without having to struggle with the voluminous decrees of the Law of Moses.
When this meeting ended, only the template of the Torah and the symbolism it advertised remained in place. The Laws and rituals of the Old Testament were all discarded. These were replaced almost entirely by the commandments of the Gospel and the directives of a ‘new’ Testament which had begun to be penned around the letters of Paul.
Despite authorizing this freedom, Jesus predicted that obsession with the Law would continue long after he was gone. “Beware of men…” (Mt.10:17). The ministers, he said, would keep trying to promote their own traditions despite everything He warned about.
This we have seen for ourselves. There has been no end to the stream of religious potentates and prophets who have tried to tie us back in one way or another to the old rules and regulations of the Mosaic Law.
The importance of what happened that day in Jerusalem cannot be overstated. The religious freedom of the entire Christian Church occurred instantly the moment those council directives were approved. Who has power ever to overturn their decree?
The entire Apostolic body was there. All the elders of the Church were in attendance, the great and the small. In addition to Christ’s original twelve Apostles, Paul, Silas and Barnabus were present as well.
Of the council members, those who were of the Pharisitic party and had converted to Jesus, argued that the Laws of Moses should be incorporated into the rules of Christian doctrine.
There was a long discussion on the matter (Acts 15:6-7). When all the members of the gathered assembly had presented their views on the subject, and after Peter had made his own statement, James, the head of the Jerusalem church arose and said:
“My brothers, listen to me. Simeon has described how God first arranged to enlist a people for his name out of the pagans. This is entirely in harmony with the words of the prophets…I rule then, that instead of making things more difficult for the pagans who turn to God, we send them a letter telling them merely to abstain from anything polluted by idols, from fornication, and from the meat of strangled animals…” (Acts 15:13-20).
This directive immediately separated the Christian Church for all time from the rules and regulations of the Old Testament, and the body of believers who made this decree were so prestigious that no one could ever come later and overrule their decision.
While they kept intact the framework of the Law — all the prophecies and symbolism– the laws and traditions themselves were instantly erased. The freedom that resulted allowed the Church to build itself only in the directives of Christ.
While many of the commandments Jesus gave were pre-announced in the Old Testament through prophecy, they lay there among the myriad directions of a ritualistic Law, and so they remained undiscovered.
Because their eyes had been blinded by the elaborate rituals set up by the priests of Moses, no one knew what God really wanted in the way of worship.
The lords of the flock who had been chosen to lead the people of Israel to God, had led them away from the Ten Commandments — God’s own personal word — and toward solar pillars and animal sacrifices instead.
These leaders scoffed at the idea of loving enemies and fixed, instead, on a worldly morality which taught a harsh philosophy of revenge — an ‘eye for an eye’ and a ‘tooth for a tooth’ — in which forgiveness was seen as weakness, and the pursuit of money one of the highest virtues.
They taught a morality that ‘worked’ in this wicked world, and which therefore seemed right. But they were wrong. And so, according to Jesus, were parts of their sacred scrolls. These had been contaminated, said scripture, by ‘wormwood’.
Satan’s corruption, Jesus explained, had reached even into the Bible itself; bringing into it errors which He had to correct throughout His Gospel.
“You have learnt how it was said (in the Bible)to our ancestors : You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man hurls an insult at his brother, he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man says to his brother, ‘You Fool!’ he will answer for it in hell fire…” (Mt.5:21:22-48).
“It has been said (by the Torah of Moses) ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal.’ But I say this to you…”
“Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors (in the Book of the Law): ‘You must not break your oath…’ But I say this to you…”
“You have learnt how it was said (in the Bible): ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth’ But I say this to you…”
“You have learnt how it was said: ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say this to you…” (Mt.5:21:22-48).
Over and over again, Jesus altered the teachings of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Torah was not a book that could be taken literally. It was a book with flaws so serious that it thwarted all chance for eternal life.
Without the corrections and instruction of Jesus Christ, the bread offered in the name of Moses was useless as far as heavenly life was concerned. Of those who ate it, almost all died. (Jn.6:32-49).
Despite the fact that it had been built on divine inspiration, it only served to blind those who read it outside the instruction of the Gospel.
“Now I will give them wormwood for their food, and poisoned water to drink, since from the prophets of Jerusalem godlessness has spread throughout the land.” (Jer.23:15).
A bible with errors in it, though unthinkable to the scribes and priests of Jerusalem was foreseen by the prophets of ancient Israel. Jeremiah had predicted it over 2500 years ago: “How dare you say: ‘We are wise, and we possess the Law of God’ But look how it has been falsified by the lying pen of the scribes!” (Jer.8:8).
Because it is a blemished book, the Old Testament has no power of redemption. That is why the Book of Hebrews tells us that in the end, it will disappear entirely. (Heb.8:13).
The template of Moses has specified that redemption requires perfection. Since scripture assures us that God considered Jesus a perfect unblemished lamb, his words carry the same flawless nature.
His single purpose in coming to the earth was to give us God’s own words, infallible and pure from heaven.
If He came from the earth, his words would be blemished. “…Man cannot redeem himself or pay his ransom to God…it is beyond him.” (Ps.49:7-8).
But since He came down from heaven, His words carry heaven’s faultless perfection. “The word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).
We have already seen that salvation comes not from the Torah, but from Jesus Christ. Only the words which Jesus came down from heaven to say — the words revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in the Gospel — have the kind of power necessary to carry us alive through the fire into God’s heavenly kingdom.
This is why Jesus said that it is not the Bible that saves us, but only the words that He spoke. “You study the scriptures thinking that in them you have eternal life; now these same scriptures testify to me, and yet you refuse to come to me for life!” (Jn.5:39-40).
There is something in the Bible which is greater than the Bible.
“In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.” (Jn. 1:1).
Because God is word, the Gospel of Jesus — the truth of heaven — is an essential aspect of the Godhead itself and is therefore identical with God.
The opening words of John’s Gospel show that there is no way to separate the Gospel from the Godhead. It is synonymous with the Holy Spirit. This is verified by the fact that scripture reveals the Gospel and the Temple to be one and the same.
John saw in his vision that Jesus was himself both ‘Word’ and ‘Temple’. (Jn.1:1, Rv.21:22).
Correlating the design of God’s temple with the blueprint of the Gospel, Ezekiel said that the design of this temple was to be given to us, not just in words, but in writing as well — a writing that God expected us to put into practice:
“Son of man, describe this temple to the House of Israel to shame them out of their filthy practices. Let them draw up the plan, and, if they are ashamed of their behavior, show them the design and plan of the temple, its exits, and entrances, its shape, how all of it is arranged, the entire design and all its principles. ”
“Give them all this in writing so that they can see and take note of its design and the way it is all arranged and carry it out.” (Ez.43:10-12).
Ezekiel was not speaking on his own. Nor was he speaking about the Bible in general. The Spirit of God empowered Ezekiel to speak in the person of the ‘son of man’ — a designation signifying that he was previewing in Old Testament times, the coming of Jesus Christ.
In order to rebuild ourselves in Christ’s image — to rebuild the Temple — we must rebuild ourselves in the image of His word — we must remake ourselves according to the Gospel He preached.
The blueprint for rebuilding the ruins of Jerusalem, then, is the Word that Jesus taught. (Jn.12:47-50). The temple Ezekiel describes is God, and the blueprint for its design is the Gospel — the word in which all creation has its genesis.
A ‘Word’ that was written down just as Ezekiel foresaw.
“Now go and inscribe this on a tablet, write it in a book, that it may serve in the time to come as a witness forever.” (Is.30:8).
The voice we hear in this book is the voice of Jesus Christ. It is the same voice that spoke to Moses from the midst of the fire at Sinai. (Dt. 4:12). And it is the same voice that we can hear whenever we pick up the Gospel and read it’s words:
“The deaf that day will hear the words of a book and, after shadow and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.” (Is.29:18). The eyes of the blind see and the ears of the deaf hear because they can read, and in that reading hear the words of God’s voice.
“You heard the sound of words but saw no shape, there was only a voice. And God revealed his covenant to you and commanded you to observe it…” (Dt.4:12-13).
These words were obviously meant for us, because, just as Moses declared, we see no shape or form either. None of us know what He really looked like. But the voice is there so clear that we are able to walk the earth with Him and listen to Him preach whenever we open the book and read what He said.
The Gospel that the Holy Spirit has placed in our scriptures is Divinity itself, and we must build our lives according to its holy design.
When we do, we create in heaven a spiritual structure — a holy Jerusalem built, not with bricks and stones, but with repentance and conversion into the righteousness of God’s holy Word.
Because it is the very substance of our salvation, Satan has launched an all-out assault on the Gospel’s credibility. And he has spread the seeds of this spiritual doubt deep into the framework of the Church.
This attack is why it is essential that we understand clearly the divine nature of the Gospel Jesus preached. It was for this purpose that God wrapped His word in the symbolism of bread.
Divine food was a central theme in the sacrificial rituals of Hebrew worship. It was to promote the image of Christ as divine food that the earliest liturgy of the Christian Church revolved around the meal of communion. Jesus commanded this liturgy and demanded its perpetuation. He did this to sustain for all time the image of a spiritual food that imparted eternal life.
Some see God’s meal as the bread of communion. Others see it as the Bible.
Yet the Gospel Jesus preached is greater than both.
Neither the Eucharist nor the Bible can, of themselves, produce everlasting life. Only the Gospel, when internalized into action, can produce the eternal life Jesus offered to the world. “(John 8:51). It was to perpetuate this fact that Jesus initiated the communion meal. Symbolically, it united bread and word. The spiritual food of heaven is God’s word.
“My teaching is not from myself: it comes from the One who sent me; and if anyone is prepared to do his will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or whether my doctrine is my own.” (John 7:16-17).
“He who comes from heaven bears witness to the things he has seen and heard, even if his testimony is not accepted…since he whom God has sent speaks God’s own words…” (John 3:31-34). “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63).
“For what I have spoken does not come from myself; no, what I was to say, what I had to speak, was commanded by the Father who sent me, and I know that his commands mean eternal life.” (John 12:49-50).
Despite Christ’s forceful words to the contrary, many Christians today preach a faith independent of the Gospel’s commands.
Others claim that the church wrote the Gospel. They see an instrument formed by inspiration rather than a document containing God’s own commandments. It is in this line of thought that a spurious group called the ‘Jesus Seminar’ recently argued that Jesus actually spoke almost nothing the Gospel teaches.
These views only serve to denigrate the Gospel and to muddy the waters which Jesus made clear.
God could not depend on inspiration to get the job done correctly, so He eliminated the middlemen. Paul proved this when he said that even Christian inspiration could see into the world of God only dimly. Much of it, too, he predicted, would be proved wrong when Christ returns in his glory:
“If there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue forever; and knowledge — for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear.” (1 Cor.13:8-10).
Paul’s words prove that there is nothing in the Bible that is perfect except the words Jesus spoke. And that is the way it should be. Christ overpowers all things. All philosophies, all visions, all temples, all religions, and even all scripture.
In bringing to the world heaven’s perfect word, Jesus changed forever the way mankind worships God. Out went the inspirations of the past and in came the Testimony of God, sent from heaven and brought down to the earth by the One who was with God from the beginning.
Revealing that heavenly morality has little to do with the philosophies of men no matter how inspired or holy their words may appear to be, Jesus defined a new set of ground-rules for faith. One in which all ministers, all religions, all theologies, and even scripture itself, must take a back seat.
“Trust no more in man…” (Is. 2:22). “Do not put your trust in men in power, or in any mortal man — he cannot save, he yields his breath and goes back to the earth he came from…” (Ps.146:3-4).
“Alas for you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who are like whitewashed tombs tht look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of corruption. In the same way you appear to people from the outside like good honest men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Mat.23:27-28).
“The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach…everything they do is done to attract attention…long tassels and robes…taking the place of honor at banquets…the front seats in the synagogues…being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.” (Mat.23:1-7).
With declarations like this, scripture testified both to the fallibility of the ministers and to the perfection of Christ. “It was neither messenger nor angel but his Presence that saved them.” (Is.63:9).
Jesus was more than a mortal man. He was God on earth in person. (Jn.14:9).
This is why the words of Jesus are different. “The fact is brothers, and I want you to realize this, the Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learnt only through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal.1:11-12).
There are thousands of human philosophies on earth, many of which seem quite inspired, but all of these are just opinions that have come swirling up from the dust.
They have no power to create a world or end a world, or to impart life or to tell us the truth about heaven — because God gave only one man on earth that power — the One who came down from heaven specifically for that purpose.
“He who is born of the earth is earthly himself and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven bears witness to the things he has seen and heard, even if his testimony is not accepted…since he whom God has sent speaks God’s own words…” (Jn.3:31-34).
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.” (Jn.6:35).
The bread of Moses was not a bread of life. It did not come from heaven. “I tell you most solemnly, it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven, it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (Jn.6:26-27).
By referring to the Torah — the first five books of the Bible which Moses had authored — as bread, Jesus proved that in God’s eyes, religious teaching is spiritual food. Because it did not come from heaven, the food of Moses in scripture had no lasting value because it had no power over death.
“Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life, the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.” (Jn. 6:27).
Jesus defined the bread that lasts forever: “I have food to eat that you do not know about…my food is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to complete his work.” (Jn.4:32).
That same food will give us eternal life as well. “I tell you most solemnly, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” (Jn.8:51).