“”Jesus said…” (John 14:6)
The very small number of verses which “red letter” adherents are left to live by are found in portions of the four Gospels. From their vantage point, the rest of the Bible basically amounts to history and human opinions. In their minds, the black letter passages have little if any – divinely intended authority. As noted yesterday, the Apostle Paul said just the opposite!
Most importantly – the first major problem with the “red letter” position – is that there are no red verses which teach this view of Scripture. That means this teaching – by its own standard is uninspired! Secondly, as will be shown, the lack of confidence in the Bible’s “black letter passages” is not supported by Jesus! He said, “…’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4) He openly emphasized God’s “every word” and not just His own. This will be clearly demonstrated as we study.
The world’s multitude of spiritually unified Christian churches typically focus on different Biblical truths. Sometimes, mistakes occur when non-Biblical presuppositions are relied upon. As an example, one professing church group only accepts what Jesus personally said while He was here on earth! From that unique perspective – all that is now printed in “black letters” in our Bibles would not be divinely inspired! In stark contrast, the Apostle Paul states that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
This church group is left with an unavoidable question – can we trust in our own knowledge more than we trust in the knowledge of the Lord’s Apostle who personally saw Him – and subsequently healed the sick, wrote much of the New Testament, and willingly suffered and died as God’s missionary to the Gentiles?
Notice that the Lord’s spoken words were frequently direct quotes from the Psalms or the prophets. This of course – turned the Old Testament’s “black letters” into “red letters” in our New Testaments. Strangely, from this group’s perspective, these numerous portions of Scripture were not actually inspired until Jesus quoted them many centuries later!
In the Gospels, Jesus spoke from the Hebrew Torah – over fifty times, so His example vividly illustrates His trust in – “…every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4b)
Jesus’ widespread references quoted from the Old Testament demonstrated His confidence in its inspiration and authority. Remember His gentle rebuke, “…O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! …And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:25-27) Notice that He used the word “all” three times in His statements. This made His belief in the Torah’s inspiration abundantly clear!
Thoughtfully consider today’s timeless – explanation! Jesus boldly declared, “…the things I speak, I say just as the Father has told me.” (John 12:50) Now, – quietly reread this verse and think deeply about the profound significance of His words. They prove that all His other statements, including His many quotes from the prophets were spiritually guided by His – Father! This compelling truth assures us – that we can fully depend on everything that our Master said and personally relied on!
Having complete knowledge of the Scriptures, Jesus’ confidence in their inspiration became vividly evident. In John 12:50 and Luke 24:27, God the Father and the Son – jointly affirmed what all the prophets were inspired to write! This encompassed the history of creation, the 10 Commandants, and Yahweh’s progressive self-revelation, plus the many specific prophesies related to the Messiah’s promised arrival.
Pause to think for a moment – on the road to Emmaus was it not from quoting the Psalms and the Prophets that our risen Savior – described Himself (See Luke 24:13-27)? If our Master trusted in the Old Testament’s accuracy – can we not safely do the same?
When the Lord instructed His disciples about the Holy Spirit’s approaching ministry, He explained how future inspiration would take place. In His words, which are now in “red letters,” Jesus said, “He [The Holy Spirit] will teach you all things and remind you of everything I said to you.” (John 14:26) In the Lord’s statement – the words teach, remind, and everything are all highly important. Because of His amazing explanation, we can be certain that whatever the Father – wanted to be remembered concerning His Son’s life and teaching would – safely take place. This was how the Bible was written and faithfully passed down to us!
God’s word reveals His totally unique Holy Spirit enabled plan. Jesus personally presented the Father’s foreordained process for Biblical inspiration! His highly instructive explanation revealed the spiritual means by which the Gospels and the Epistles would become mankind’s authoritative record of God’s self-revelation and love!
As announced by our Lord – assisted memory and inspired teaching became the Holy Spirit’s personal ministry (See John 14:26). As a striking example of assisted memory, Peter wrote about Jesus having proclaimed the Gospel to the dead (1 Peter 3:18-19). This “black letter” spiritual account could have only been remembered from what the Savior had privately discussed with Peter or with all of His disciples after His resurrection (See 1 Peter 4:6).
If what Peter recalled and described in his two “black letter” epistles – had not been inspired, then everything else he recalled and passed down through John Mark would have been equally questionable. This would have become a major issue at that time! Expressed another way, if what Peter remembered and described had not been considered accurate by his fellow “eye witness” apostles, then his writings would have been rejected.
We must remember Paul’s inclusive statement – “all Scripture is inspired by God…” and Jesus’ all-encompassing teaching – “…every word that comes from the mouth of the God.” (2 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 4:4) The early church’s inspired handwritten manuscripts had no passages pinned with red ink. That process was not initiated until 1901.
The 12 Apostles, plus countless bystanders heard the Lord’s teaching and observed His many miracles (2 Peter 1:16). Later, in his “black letter” writings, Peter referred to John Mark as his spiritual son (1 Peter 5:13). It was out of their memorable times spent together that Mark penned what scholars widely believe to be the first of the four Gospels that were written. Therefore, because we both believe and have experienced what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit’s enabling ministry of – recall (see John 14:26) we can gratefully celebrate the reality – that both the events and the process which the Lord described have long been in progress!
Due to what Jesus specifically said about the Holy Spirit’s past and future ministry – today’s “red letter” church members cannot credibly believe as they do. If the Lord’s red letter verses both trusted in and clearly explained the Bible’s black letter verses, then – beyond question, all such inspired verses share the same Biblical authority!
By Billie Hanks Jr.