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The completeness of the Bible

12 June 2018

The completeness of the Bible

THEBIBLEThe Bible contains all the things a man needs to believe in order to be saved and all the things we believers need to know in order to please God with all our conduct, and all the predictions of future events that we need to know.

In order to be saved. First of all let’s take the writings of the New Testament. Paul says to the Romans what a man must do in order to be saved. Here are his words: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). And in the New Testament there are many references to the Lordship of Christ and to His resurrection from the dead. Therefore, if a sinner opens a New Testament and reads the story of Jesus of Nazareth (written either by Matthew or Luke or Mark or John) and accepts it as it is written, he will be immediately saved by God. Even if he reads just an epistle of Paul and confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God rose Jesus from the dead he will be immediately saved by God. And let us suppose that he has only the writings of the Old Testament, can he be saved through them? Well, we say that even in this case he can be saved, for the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets speak about Jesus of Nazareth. For instance, in the Psalms and in the Prophets there are many references to the sufferings that the Christ endured for our sins, and in the sixteenth Psalm David speaks about the resurrection of the Christ; therefore if anyone believes that those words were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, of whom he has heard, he will be saved from his sins. Remember that the Eunuch, when Philip heard him speaking, was reading a passage of the book of the prophet Isaiah, and that Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and preached Jesus to him and the eunuch was saved. Here is what Luke says in the Acts: “And the [an] angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:26-39). The writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (which speak about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, His death and His resurrection, and which affirm that the prophetic Scriptures were fulfilled in Him) at that time did not exist; however, Philip began with that passage of the Scripture and preached to that man the same Jesus we preach to men today, and that man was saved. The apostle Paul also, while he was in Rome, preached to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ reasoning with them from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and some were convinced by what he said and were saved. Here is what Luke says in the Acts: “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken… “ (Acts 28:23-24). This shows that we can preach to the Jews the death and the resurrection of Christ and convince them that Jesus is the Christ only through the Scriptures of the Old Testament (obviously, in order to do this you need to know very well the Scriptures of the Old Testament and of the New Testament). Therefore, some Jews can be convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, who died for our sins and rose from the dead for our justification, by hearing someone speak accurately about Jesus only with the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets. This does not surprise us because we know that the Gospel of God was promised before by God in the Scriptures of the Old Testament; this is what Paul says to the Romans: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:1-3). That is confirmed by the fact that when Jesus appeared to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27) and when afterward He appeared to His disciples He said to them: “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).

Now I must say something about the mystery of Christ – which was kept secret since the world began but was revealed and made known to the saints of the Lord in the fullness of the time – that is, the fact that the Gentiles are heirs together with the Jews, and members together of one body, because Christ on the cross put to death the enmity which existed between men and God, and the enmity which existed between the Jews and the Gentiles, as Paul says to the Ephesians: “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:14-16). For this mystery is strictly linked to the message of salvation, because through the revelation of this mystery God has shown that He “wants all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4 – NIV), that is, He wants to save not only the Jews but also the Gentiles. It is evident that this mystery was kept secret till Jesus died on the cross and the Holy Spirit revealed it to the holy apostles and prophets. Of course, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament there were many verses that predicted in various ways that one day the Gentiles would become part of the people of God, thus God would not be ashamed to call them His people, but those verses were covered with a veil, so they could not be understood. However, when the Lord opened the minds of His servants so that they might understand them, then things became clear in the eyes of the Jews and of the Gentiles: God had decided to call the Gentiles to become part of His people. And how was that prediction of God fulfilled? It was fulfilled through the death of Jesus Christ. For, as I said before, by His death on the cross He broke down the middle wall of partition, which consisted of the Law of Moses and which separated both the Jews and the Gentiles from God, and the Jews from the Gentiles. And God chose Paul of Tarsus to preach that mystery; Paul speaks about it in his epistles. Therefore his epistles are necessary in order to understand the glory of this mystery. So the plan of salvation which God had formed according to His good pleasure before the foundation of the world has been made known to all nations.

In order to please God. Paul says to Timothy: “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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore through the Scripture we can be made perfect. Let us consider the Writings of the New Testament; in them there are commandments for husbands and wives, for children and parents, for servants and masters, for those who rule over the sheep of the Lord and the faithful; in them there are various references to prayer, fasting, worship, alms and all the other good works, miracles and healings, revelations, and many other things; they are indeed able to make us perfect and wise unto salvation in Christ. And we can say the same things about the Writings of the Old Testament, because in them there are many good precepts for all of us – whatever position we have in the body of Christ, whether we are males or females, parents or only sons – and by keeping them we honour God; in them there are many stories that exhort us to have faith in God to receive revelations, healings, gifts, etc., and which exhort us to be patient in order to obtain the fulfilment of the promises of God. Paul says to the Romans that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Obviously, it must be said that as far as various precepts are concerned – such as the precepts about foods, days, circumcision, etc. – in order not to be enslaved by the law of Moses all over again we needed the teachings of the apostles, which explain that those things are just a shadow of the things that were to come and thus they must not be observed any longer. And God, knowing this very well, in his time provided us with the teaching which has completed the old teaching.

Knowledge of future events. With regard to the events which must take place before the coming of Christ, at His coming, and after His coming, the Bible contains so many references to them that we can say that we don’t need to know other things about the last events. We have come to this conclusion after we have read the words concerning the last events spoken by Jesus on the Mount of Olives before He was arrested, and on some other occasions; the words written by Paul, Peter and John, and the words spoken by the prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Zechariah, Malachi) centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if that’s how things are with regard to the Holy Writings, it is evident that there was a time when the Holy Writings were incomplete, for the Writings of the New Testament (which had to complete the Writings of the Old Testament) appeared only in the first century after Christ. Therefore, we can affirm that the Scriptures (I refer to the Scriptures of the Old Testament) needed the Scriptures concerning the coming of Christ in order to become complete. So, after Jesus Christ appeared and did the work of His Father, by speaking the words of His Father and by dying on the cross for our sins and rising again the third day (and His life and His teachings and His predictions were wrote down), and His apostles wrote down by the will of God other useful teachings and predictions, then the Scripture became complete. The Bible is the final revelation of God to men. It does not need to be completed, because it is already complete. Woe to those who add other writings to it; for Jesus Christ said to John on the Isle of Patmos: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18). Someone may say that these words apply only to the Book of Revelation, but that’s not true. For how could we affirm that it is lawful to add something to the Bible as a whole (that is to say, to the other books of the Bible), but not to the book of Revelation, just because those words of Jesus are written at the end of that particular book of the Bible? Is it not written: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it ….” (Deuteronomy 4:2)? Therefore, the commandment not to add anything, under pain of the punishment written in the book of Revelation, applies also to the Bible as a whole and not only to the book of Revelation. Furthermore, if anyone adds some words only to the Book of Revelation he will implicitly add them to the Bible because the book of Revelation is part of the Bible.

There is no other book on the face of the earth that can be regarded as Holy Scripture; all those who claim that they have some holy books (besides the Bible or in place of the Bible) and call them Holy Scriptures have been deceived by the old serpent and they deceive other people into believing a lie.

Some people (such as the Mormons) attack the completeness of the Bible by saying that in the past centuries many plain and precious parts were taken away from the Bible. But that’s not true, because the many copies of the Old Testament manuscripts which we now possess do vary in minor matters – such as the spelling of words, the omission of a phrase here and there – but there is no evidence whatsoever that any major sections of the Old Testament books have been lost. Therefore, we can say that nowadays we possess the same Old Testament books that were possessed by the Jews in the days of Jesus and the apostles, and that no major sections of them are missing. What I have just said is confirmed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls which took place in 1947. The manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, generally dated from about 200 to 50 before Christ, include portions of every Old Testament book except Esther, and studies have revealed that these documents (older by a thousand years than previously discovered Old Testament manuscripts) are substantially identical to the text of the Old Testament which had been previously handed down and that we possess in our Bibles. As for the New Testament manuscripts (the oldest of which go back to the second century after Christ), the situation is substantially the same. The variations that are found in these manuscripts – which are copies of the originals or of copies made from the originals – are of a relatively minor nature. Most of the manuscript variations concern matters of spelling, word order, tense, and the like; but there is no indication whatever that any large sections of material found in the originals have been lost. Furthermore, the fundamental doctrines of the Bible are not affected by these variations in any way.

What I have said in defence of the Old and New Testaments, as we possess them today, is confirmed by the Vulgate, the ancient Bible Version which dates back to the fourth century after Christ and which is the Bible translated into Latin by Jerome at Bethlehem (it is the Bible version that was adopted officially by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century after Christ and which was declared to be ‘authentical’ and the final authority in all theological disputes); it did not omit any portions of these manuscripts nor did it fail to reproduce any major sections of the Bible. It is true that in the Vulgate we find some passages which were mistranslated by Jerome, yet in it ‘no plain and precious things’ of the Bible are missing, so it cannot be considered a Bible without some major sections or a ‘mutilated’ Bible which doesn’t contain all the things men need to know in order to be saved.

Giacinto Butindaro

From: http://www.the-new-way.org/

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