Jesus on the Trustworthiness of God's Words

Jesus’ exemplary attitude toward Scripture should encourage believers to lean all their confidence on the trustworthiness of God’s words in every circumstance, just like Jesus did.

Jesus’ Assumptions About God’s Old Testament Words

Jesus held a high view of God’s words in the OT. People who are not willing to take statements of the OT at face value (a normal hermeneutic)—things like prophecy, creation, miracles, etc.—have to explain why Jesus so clearly did.

The Historical Reliability of Scripture as God’s Words

Jesus made statements about an impressive list of OT events that show His assumption of there complete factuality.
Abel, Abraham, Adam & Eve, David, Daniel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaac, Isaiah, Jacob, Jonah, Lot, Moses, Naaman, Nineveh, Noah, the Queen of Sheba, Sodom & Gomorrah, Solomon, Zechariah, and the widow of Zarephath.
Creation, the flood, the burning bush, the miraculous manna, the serpent in the wilderness, and the great fish that swallowed Jonah.
“It’s almost as if Christ purposefully chose to validate many of the stories later deemed most objectionable to the scholarly mind.”
Argument against: Just because Jesus referenced certain stories or names, does not mean that He condoned their historicity. Just like someone might allude to Aslan, hobbits, or Marley’s ghost without implying that they believe these events or figures to be historical realities, so Jesus could have used fictional literary allusions for illustration purposes.
Context is always key!
Matthew 11:23–24 ESV
23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
What does Christ tell us will happen regarding the city of Capernaum and the city of Sodom one day? The population of both of these cities will appear at the final judgment one day.
What is the problem if Jesus is referring to Sodom as, not a literal city and a literal people, but a fictitious one for illustration purposes?
Matthew 12:39–41 ESV
39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
What is the problem with Jesus’ warning if the Jonah, the fish, and the men of the Nineveh are fictitious?
“The future Judge is speaking words of solemn warning to those who shall hereafter stand convicted at His bar … And yet we are to suppose Him to say that imaginary persons who at the imaginary preaching of an imaginary prophet repented in imagination, shall rise up in that day and condemn the actual impenitence of those His actual hearers, that the fictitious characters of a parable shall be arraigned at the same bar with the living men of that generation.” —T.T. Perowne
What is the point? If we compromise on the historicity of Jonah what happens to the credibility of Jesus? If the credibility of Jesus stands, and the story of Jonah actually happened, then what can we say about the other people and events that Jesus speaks about?
In order to validate his teaching Jesus cited things like the miraculous provision of manna.
John 6:49 ESV
49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
Elijah’s ministry to the widow of Zarephath.
Luke 4:25–26 ESV
25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
Elisha’s miraculous healing of Naaman’s leprosy.
Luke 4:27 ESV
27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
Noah’s ark and the flood.
Luke 17:25–26 ESV
25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.
The divine destruction of Sodom.
Luke 17:28–29 ESV
28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—
All of Jesus’ teaching in these passages would be meaningless if these events were fictional. Jesus regarded God’s OT words to be utterly reliable in their depiction of historical realities, and trustworthy enough to validate His soberest teachings and sternest warnings.

The Identification of Scripture as God’s Words

Another assumption that underlies Jesus’ use of the OT is the remarkable interchangeability of the terms “God” and “Scripture.”
Mark 7:10 ESV
10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
Whose words are these? Moses’ words.
Mark 7:11–13 ESV
11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
What does Jesus call the words Moses spoke here in v. 13? “Word of God”
Why does Jesus use the words of Moses and the word of God interchangeably?
What does that say about how trustworthy Jesus viewed the OT Scriptures?
Matthew 19:4–5 ESV
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
Who is Jesus attributing the words spoken to in v. 5? Direct quotation of God. God is speaking.
Genesis 2:24 ESV
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
If you look closely in Genesis you will discover that God is not directly speaking. There is no quotation, no ‘Then God said...’ The statement is simply a narrative remark inserted by Moses at the direction of the Spirit of God; so ultimately it is God’s speech.
“To Jesus, Scripture said equals Moses said equals God said.”

Jesus’ Teaching about God’s Old Testament Words

God Will Do Exactly Everything He Has Said (Matt. 5:18)

Matthew 5:18 HCSB
18 For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.
Famous “jot” or “tittle” passage- HSCB does a good job of explaining those terms in a way we can understand.
Jesus said this in such a specific and staggering way. He could have said “God will do all He has said” or “No statement will fail” or “No word will be left unperformed.” Any of those statements would be important claims.
Why does Jesus say it this way?
He is so convinced of the inviolable reliability of every word of God that He unhesitatingly hangs all His weight from the tip of the slenderest branch: not a letter or penstroke will be left dangling and unfulfilled.

God’s Words Are Irrefutable (John 10:35)

John 10:35 (ESV)
35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken
What does Jesus mean?
Scripture cannot be annulled, or set aside, or proved false. —Carson
Scripture cannot be emptied of its force by being shown to be erroneous —Morris
“It’s Jesus’ way of affirming that no word of Scripture can be falsified. No promise or threat can fall short of fulfillment. No statement can be found erroneous.” —DeYoung
“Whatever Scripture says is so. Period.” —Talbert
This is an offhand remark by Jesus.
Scripture cannot be broken was not Jesus’ main point! It was an offhand remark he used to argue for the validity of claiming to be the Son of God. He interjected it mater-of-factly as a passing comment.
“It is often in such passing comments that our real convictions come to the surface.” —Ferguson
2. It was an offhand remark about an obscure passage.
Jesus made this footnote affirmation about the inviolability of Scripture not from some major doctrinal or prophetic section, but from one of the most out-of-the-way texts He ever cited to prove anything—Psalm 82:6.
What’s the point? If even the most obscure passages qualify as reliable and certain, what does that say about the rest of Scripture?
3. It was an all-inclusive offhand remark about an obscure passage.
The statement Jesus cited from Ps 82:6 is unarguable not because it was spoken by David or a rabbi or any other revered authority, nor because its logic is inherently indisputable, but simply because it is THE SCRIPTURE.

Jesus’ Use of God’s Words

In Temptation

Jesus leaned on God’s words in combating temptation

Matthew 4:1–3 ESV
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
Matthew 4:4 (ESV)
4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Matthew 4:7 (ESV)
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
Matthew 4:10 (ESV)
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”
How did Jesus combat temptation? He quoted God’s words and leaned all His weight on them.
“There was no desperation in Christ’s quotation of Scripture; the strength to stand against temptation does not lie in feverish self-reminders amid the heat of battle.” What does he mean?
“Nor was He engaging the devil in argumentation. He was simply countering Satan’s suggestion of a possibility with an authoritative statement of reality, because reality is always defined by God’s words.”
“By hanging His response on a word from God in every case, Jesus modeled a settled commitment to God’s words as expressing reality, and therefore as the basis on which we must stake out our position in temptation. Often, our best defense in temptation is offense, defining our position positively in terms of God’s words, staking out our territory by siding with what God says about who He is and who we are, and about what He requires of us and promises to us.”
Colossians 3:1–3 ESV
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

In Teaching

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