What happens when you unhook the red and black letter words in the Bible?

Some Bibles have the words of Jesus in the Gospels in red.  So some claim that the ‘words in red’ are more important than the rest of the Bible.  The question is how do we handle the ‘red superior/black inferior’ doctrine?  

# Do Jesus’ words have more authority?

  • In Matthew 19:5 Jesus said, ‘…have you not read that He who made them….’   This is a ‘red letter’ important saying of Jesus.  Yet Jesus quoted a ‘black letter’ saying from Genesis 2:24, written by Moses.  So do we pronounce those specific words also ‘red letter?’ 
  • When Satan confronted Jesus after His forty day fast, all Jesus’ ‘red letter’ words were from Deuteronomy 6 and 8.  Should those black letters then also be red?  Do they carry higher authority? 
  • Jesus uttered another red letter saying in Matthew 9:13.  Yet He quoted Hosea 6:6, a black letter verse. 
  • The same happens when Jesus quotes Micah 7:6 in Matthew 10:36, and Malachi 3:1 in Matthew 11:10 

#  The significance of those examples

  • Jesus’ words were written down by the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Were they more inspired than those of, for instance, Moses, writer of Genesis? 
  • Remember all 66 books were inspired by the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit according to 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Peter 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13

#  Is there a scale of importance in the Bible writings?

  • Is, ‘This is what the Lord says’ (mainly Old Testament); Jesus’ personal words in the four Gospels; or the letters of Paul, Peter, John, James and others, equally important or not? 
  • If somebody claims that Jesus’ words have more authority, then he or she has to prove that the four Gospel writers were more inspired than either Moses, Paul or the others.  
  • We cannot do that, since it is clear from the examples that there is no inspirational difference between what Moses, or Matthew or Paul wrote.  There is no evidence at all that one writer was more inspired than the others.  One Holy Spirit was at work in all the writers.

Conclusion

Scripture comes from God.  There is no order of ‘importance.’  Do not be misled by those who claim that the ‘red letters’ are of more value than the ‘black letters.’

No Resurrection, no New Testament

It is Easter, the time of the year that we celebrate the greatest event of all time: the Redeemer, the King on the Cross that died and was resurrected on the third day.  It sounds a bit strange, but it is a demonstration of how God’s ways differ from the ways we think.

#  Did the Resurrection happen?

At this time of the year many defenders of the faith write about the Resurrection and how we can know it really happened.  They understand that without the Resurrection, we would have no New Testament.  The logic in Scripture tells us that Jesus rose from the dead.  Let us look at what the New Testament reveals:

#  Jesus’ appearances to Peter and Paul after His resurrection

  • Jesus talked to Peter after His Resurrection.1  Peter wrote the two letters, 1 & 2 Peter.
  • The Resurrected Lord Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus.  If Jesus was then still in the grave, He could not have appeared to Paul.  He did.  Which explains why we have Paul’s letters.  Without the Resurrection, Romans as well as the letters to the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, et cetera would not be in the Bible. 2
  • Paul’s companion, Luke, wrote both the Gospel of Luke and Acts.  There would have been no message to spread if Jesus did not rise from the dead.  Luke accompanied Paul on some of his journeys to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles.  Luke reports in Acts 22:21 that the resurrected Lord Jesus said to Paul, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’

#  Because of the Resurrection we have the four Gospels.

  • If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why would the disciples tell the world His story?  Jesus said to His disciples just before His ascension, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations….’ 3  So the four Gospels as well as the spread of the Gospel throughout the world testify to Jesus’ resurrection.

#  The beloved John wrote and saw the glorified Jesus.

  • Scholars accept that Jesus’ beloved disciple, John, wrote the 3 letters of John.  John writes about Jesus as if He is alive in His Father’s presence, ‘But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.’ 4  That is only possible because Jesus rose from the dead.
  • Likewise the resurrected Jesus gave the book of Revelation to John.  The glorified Lord Jesus said to John, ‘I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever….’ 5  

#  Jesus’ brothers believe in Him.

  • We read in John 7:3-9 that Jesus’ brothers did not have faith in Him.   Yet the letters of His brothers James and Jude are in the New Testament.  Their change from unbelief to belief must have happened after the Resurrection.

#  Jesus at His Father’s right hand in heaven

  • In the letter to the Hebrews God says to the Lord Jesus after His ascension, ‘You are my Son, today I have become your Father.’ 6  God also said to Jesus, ‘Sit at my right hand….’ 7  It happened after the Resurrection, because the Father was satisfied that Jesus paid the death penalty for sin.

Conclusion

If Jesus did not rise from the dead on the third day, there would be no New Testament.  We have the New Testament.  We glorify the Resurrected Jesus, our glorious, wonderful Saviour.

References

  1. John 21:1-22
  2. Acts 9:4-16; 22:7-10; 26:14-18
  3. Matthew 28:18
  4. 1 John 2:1
  5. Revelation 1:18
  6. Hebrews 1:5
  7. Hebrews 1:13

Know once and for all that the talking serpent in Genesis 3 was real.

There is a narrative in the Bible that people love to scoff at: ‘Whoever heard of a talking snake?  That stuff is fairy tales!’  They talk like that because they don’t understand what it is really about.  The example of the talking snake has been repeated through the ages up to the present.  We hear the question the serpent asked, ‘Did God really say?’1 almost every day.

#  How could an ordinary serpent talk to a woman?

  • Genesis 3:1-5 describes a very curious situation.  How did that specific serpent know that God gave Adam a command?  Why did the serpent concentrate only on the one tree and God’s command not to eat of it?  He could have talked about the lovely weather, the fantastic range of nutritious fruit, the privilege of being a couple, et cetera.
  • But, no, it questioned Eve as if it had a mind, almost as if it had a goal with the question.  Was it an ordinary serpent?  God did not create animals with minds, with a curiosity about the trees God gave man to enjoy, or about one specific tree that they were not allowed to eat of.   Fortunately other references in the Bible explain who the real serpent was (and is).

#  The book of Revelation identifies the serpent.

  • ‘And there was war in heaven.  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.  The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.  He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.’ 2
  • We also read about an angel who seized the devil and bound him for a thousand years in the Abyss, ‘He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.’ 3

#  We learn from the above verses that:

  • Both the devil and his followers (demons) are angels.
  • There are two groups of angels, those who fight on the side of Michael, God’s archangel, and those who fight on the side of the devil, or Satan, God’s adversary.
  • They are at war with each other.
  • The devil, the ancient serpent, is the one who leads the whole world astray.  He is a deceiver, and he showed his colours in the garden of Eden episode.

#  Further Biblical revelations about Satan

  • We can assume that the serpent was a real snake, but somebody else with intellect and intention spoke through him.
  • Revelation identifies that ancient serpent with a very specific person, the devil, or Satan, the accuser of men.
  • It was he who was in the garden of Eden.  Scripture reveals, ‘You were in Eden, the garden of God.’ 4  It also tells us that he was originally appointed as a guardian cherub.  ‘You [originally appointed as a guardian cherub 5] were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.’ 6
  • We can gauge his character from what the passage says about him, ‘Your heart became proud on account of your wisdom, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendour.’ 7
  • So we have the picture of a wise holy angel who became wicked and sinned because of his pride and arrogance.  He rebelled and for that was sentenced to be eternally punished in the lake of burning sulphur at the end of this age. 8
  • He hates God and he hates humans who can escape his judgment (eternal hell) through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.  His heart’s desire is to to deceive and lead people astray from the truth of the Gospel.

#  What was special about the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

God as Creator and Lord of the universe, has the prerogative to decide what is good and evil.  For men to decide it, is to intrude in God’s privilege.  That is what the devil wanted: ‘…you will be like God.’ 9  It is an intoxicating idea that a created mortal can be like God knowing and deciding for him- or herself what is good and what is evil.

#  We often hear that ‘sly serpent’ talk today.

He still questions, ’Did God really say?’  For example, 

  • Did God really create a male to be a male, and a female to be a female?  (Nonsense, choose your own gender.)
  • Is marriage only between a man and a woman? (You must be joking, same sex marriage is glorious and better than heterosexual marriage.)
  • Did God give man free will?  (Please understand, when it comes to choosing God or the Bible, there is no free will.  There it is an illusion.  For other things, like the choice of the food you eat, the work you do, or the products you buy, it is logical: there you have a free will.)
  • Is the Bible really the Word of God? ( Where do you live, in the Dark Ages?  It is just a product of man, not of God.)
  • Was there really a universal flood in Noah’s time?  (Hey, swimmer boy, the fossils were laid down over millions of years.)
  • Did God create in six ordinary days?  (Never heard of Darwin, or Dawkins?) Nature ‘created’ all through evolution over billions of years.
  • Is creation by God scientific?  (Unbelievable, it is just a metaphor.)

And on and on the list goes.

#  Conclusion

Many unbelievers scoff and ask the same question the serpent did.  Could it be that the devil uses them in the same way he used the serpent?  As Jesus said, ‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.’ 10  What better proof that Scripture is the powerful true Word of God?

References

  1. Genesis 3:1
  2. Revelation 12:7-9
  3. Revelation 20:2
  4. Ezekiel 28:13
  5. Ezekiel 28:14,16
  6. Ezekiel 28:15
  7. Ezekiel 28:17
  8. Matthew 25:41
  9. Genesis 3:5
  10. John 8:44