The New Testament documents claim that Jesus is the "Word of God," God's greatest and clearest message about himself to his human children (John 1:1-18; Hebrews 1:1-3). Christians — Jesus' disciples — trust and follow Jesus as both Messiah and Lord (Acts 2:33-41). They recognize that he was shown to be the Son of God in power through his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:3-4).
The apostle Paul emphasized that the good news about Jesus — our Messiah, Lord, and Son of God — was "promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures" (Romans 1:1-2). Paul wrote the following words to Timothy about the Scriptures (what many call the Old Testament):
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT).
Timothy had learned these Scriptures from childhood from his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 3:15). Paul called him to remain faithful to these Scriptures as he lived his life and shared his ministry (2 Timothy 3:15).
So, for the New Testament writers, Jesus is God's ultimate and fullest revelation of God. The Scriptures — the Old Testament — was inspired and given to us to help us come to faith in Jesus and live the kind of lives God wants us to live. These Scriptures are useful and helpful to us as we live our daily lives for God!
But, can we trust that we have reliably received the Scriptures?
How can we be certain that we have the written documents God wants us to have?
Is there any evidence that these Scriptures were accurately passed on to us?
James Nored addresses this question in today's video as he talks about the Dead Sea Scrolls and what they teach us about the accuracy of the Old Testament Scriptures:
We are blessed to know that the documents that we call the Old Testament are reliably preserved for us. This assurance enables us, as Luke describes it, to "be certain of the truth of everything you were taught" (Luke 1:4). The vast number of documents supporting the Scriptures is mind-boggling and should be reassuring. No other ancient writing can approach the volume of early documents or the accuracy and care with which they were preserved. To have the Dead Sea Scrolls sit for two thousand years and then found to be almost identical to those same documents we have from other resources is mind-boggling.
As James emphasized, we can know with certainty that the manuscripts have been carefully and accurately preserved for us. The bigger question, the faith question, has to do with what we will do with this understanding!
Look, again, at how Paul said:
"[T]he Holy Scriptures... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).
The Scriptures need Jesus, God's most complete and clearest message, to help each of us become "wise for salvation" and the Holy Spirit to help us fully understand what we are called to do and how to live (2 Corinthians 2:9-13). Most importantly, the Holy Spirit is our anointing we received when we became Jesus' disciples, and the Spirit teaches the truth about Jesus (1 John 2:20-27) so that as we focus on Jesus, we can be transformed to become like our Lord (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
We can trust the accuracy of the Scriptures as they have been preserved for us.
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Do we place our faith in the one the Scriptures lead us to meet as Lord, Jesus of Nazareth?
[Jesus said,] "You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, [Jesus from Nazareth, the Christ,] yet you refuse to come to me to have life" (John 5:39-40).
Will we use these Scriptures to guide us into truth and warn us away from unholiness?
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:4-6).