Dear Editor, how can I reply to people who insist the Old Testament is the Jewish Bible and the New Testament is the Christian Bible.
Thanks Vancouver: I think I will let a former minister’s words explain this. He is the late Reverend E.J. Springett, probably one of the greatest Bible scholar of the twentieth century. He once wrote as part of a longer article, “The statement that the Jews gave to the world the Bible is not true. The greater part of the Hebrew Scriptures were written before the Jewish Nation, as such, existed, and as a matter of fact, while they had the Sacred Scriptures available in our Lord’s day, as now, the Talmud had, to a very large extent, replaced the Torah. Indeed, one of Christ’s indictments of the Jews of His day was that they neglected the Law and the Prophets in favour of their own traditions, which He described as the doctrines of men. “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures,” and again,” Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.”
Neither time nor space will allow a full examination of the tribal descent of the Old Testament writers but enough examples can be given to show that the Book was not of Jewish origin. The first five Books are ascribed to Moses; the Modernists, of course, dispute his authorship, but cannot substantiate their criticism; and Moses was not a Jew, but of the tribe of Levi.
Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim, and therefore not a Jew. Samuel, the prophet, was-also of Ephraim. Of the major prophets, Ezekiel was a priest and of the tribe of Levi. Jeremiah of Anathoth is said to have been descended from Eli, and thus probably a Levite ; while of the minor prophets, Hosea belonged to the Northern Kingdom; while Zephaniah is said to have been a descendant of Hezekiah; and thus of the Royal House of David.
Turning to the New Testament, there is every reason for believing that none of its writers were Jews, as were none of the twelve Apostles. The twelve were drawn from Galilee and were, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, of the tribe of Benjamin. The Apostle Paul was also of the tribe of Benjamin, and a Jew only by education, training and religious belief. Luke the Evangelist was a disciple of Paul, a physician described by his contemporaries as a Gentile, and not a Jew. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews is unknown, although it is often ascribed to St. Paul.
Thus the claim that the Bible is a Jewish book cannot be substantiated. Preconceived ideas and mental misconceptions regarding the Bible are the source of much misunderstanding. Let these be removed, and the Bible will be found to be in very deed ” the most valuable thing that this world affords.”
I’m concerned with the growing belief that Jesus was not divine but simply a messenger. I’ve even heard my minister say this.
Thanks Michigan: The media is getting bolder every year and the growing denigration of the Lord Jesus has very obviously affected the minds of many Christians. A few years back I received a similar comment and I related a story to demonstrate Paul’s prophecy of the falling away, which sadly is part of the fulfillment of God’s Plan.
The United Church of Canada was, at one time, the largest Protestant Church in Canada and confessed Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to Scripture. In the 1990’s doctrinal change was beginning to seep into the church and some of its ministers were already then teaching that Jesus was not divine. I wrote to the Moderator of the Church in October, 1996 about one such minister and received a two page response. The following paragraph tipped me off that a change was coming, “The question of who is Jesus is a 2000 year old question: “Who do people say that I am?” Jesus asked his disciples. This is a question people both within and beyond the church are struggling with especially in the light of new scholarship and discovery of ancient documents. The Theology and Faith Committee of the General Council is currently working on a Christology document that should be ready for study and response from across the church in 1997, It will be six study sessions for use in local congregations. It deals with being Christian in a pluralistic world.” Sure enough, the very next moderator professed his disbelief in Christ’s Divinity and today, the teaching that Jesus Christ is not God seems to be becoming more widespread throughout that Church. Of course, it is even much more widespread and struggling to promote the truth is a great challenge for the true Christian. In my former article, I referred to somebody’s quote, “Such is the way of “the Devil’s Secret Weapon” of Modernism”.
From Washington State
Dear ACP, is it important to preach the saving Gospel of Christ?
Thanks Washington: I think it goes without saying but there are sometimes unseen impacts as well. Perhaps you will understand this more from a small National Message column of many years ago. It began, “Judge for yourself!” Then the writer used this example, “When William Wilberforce was twenty-five years old he made a trip to the Continent. With him went a cheerful clergyman, Isaac Milner. On the journey the two talked endlessly about the Christian Faith and read the New Testament in Greek.
Wilberforce was converted and soon entered Parliament to campaign against the slave trade. Many years later, after a long battle, in which he was sustained by his faith and the support of a small Christian body, his Bill of Abolition was passed. This provided for the purchase of the freedom of every slave in the British Empire – at the nation’s expense. Nor was it long before the British Navy was engaged in driving the slavers off the high seas.
Isaac Milner’s quiet witness to the Gospel was thus the means not only of bringing Wilberforce to Christ but also of directing the action and destiny of the nation and led, incidentally, to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.”
So, Washington, we really never know the impact our teaching can have on events, perhaps not as significant as Milner’s words, but we never know God’s purpose for an individual we counsel on his or her journey to Christ.