One of the ways in which Satan attacks the Truth of God's Word is through skepticism of the veracity and trustworthiness of the Bible. In fact, when Satan first appears in Scripture in Genesis 3 in the person of the serpent, his first words are "Indeed, has God said . . . ?" So the first effort that Satan made to incite humanity to rebel against God was an attack on God's Word. There is much confusion that comes from poor interpretation of the words of the Bible, but I want to write a bit today about another charge against the Bible originating from the enemy: that the Bible we have today does not contain the text of the biblical books as they were originally written. A note: there are indeed many Bible versions, but I am referring to the original languages in which the Bible was written, namely Hebrew, Greek, and a bit of Aramaic. Today's Bible versions that are truly translations and not paraphrases are based upon the original languages.
The particular attempted indictment on the authenticity of the Bible comes from many camps, some claiming to be withinthe realm of Christian believers, and some who declare themselves to be unbelievers. The problem for their cause is that there is overwhelming objective evidence that we have the Bible as it was originally written. This information is easily accessed with internet search tools. The manuscript evidence for the Bible far surpasses that for any other comparable ancient document. There are thousands of biblical manuscripts from the ancient world that survive--making the issue simple. We can compare the Bible of today with the ancient manuscripts. Even though we have no original manuscript copies, the gap between the original manuscripts and the earliest surviving copies is so small that the accuracy is virtually certain. The result by any objective unbiased measure is that we have the biblical books as they were originally written.
What I want to consider in this blog entry are implications of Jude 3, which reads in the New American Standard (updated ed.), "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." Jude makes a claim here that cannot be ignored. His clear claim is that the faith revealed in the ministry of the Lord Jesus and explained in the ministry of His Apostles has been delivered "once for all." The Bible is a testimony to this faith from two perspectives in time: the Old Testament looks forward and prophecies about the objective accomplishment of the foundation of this faith in the person and work of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus; the New Testament records and explains the person and work of the Lord Jesus after the events of His life. The very center of all of this is the perfect righteousness and the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus as the substitute for sinners, both in taking the due penalty for sin and living on behalf of His people a perfect life of obedience (see Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Jeremiah 23:6; Mark 10:45; Romans 3:21-26; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jude 3 announces that the Christian faith, that is, it's doctrinal content regarding the objective accomplishment of the Lord Jesus, has been given once for all. In other words, there is no more revelation regarding true Christian faith yet to come. God is no longer giving us new information, rather He guides us according to the Truth that has already been revealed.
A historical example of this is the religious reform brought about during the reign of King Josiah in Judah in ca. 640-609 B.C. This is recorded in 2 Chronicles 34. The reason for the return to God from idolatry was that the Word of God was rediscovered in the Temple, after having fallen into disuse. The people of Judah had ceased the reading of God's Word and fallen into evil practices. The reason for the revival was a rediscovery of the Truth of God's Word (during renovations at the temple, a scroll was found; possibly they found a portion or the whole of the book of Deuteronomy). They read it and began to obey it again. While this is not a perfect example because the fullness of the gospel had not yet been revealed at that point in history, it is the correct model for us regarding how we can be right with God: Hear and heed God's Word, the Bible.
A clear implication from Jude 3 is that there is no more revelation to be given. So, in order to be right with God, we need to seek to understand what has already been revealed. We do not need further revelation. What God has to say to us regarding salvation has already been revealed.
Another implication from Jude 3 when coupled with the theological truth of God's omnipotence (He is all-powerful) is that He is able to preserve His Word. When we consider that we still have the Bible, and that the clear objective evidence is that we have the biblical books as they were originally written, we should then rejoice that we have the revelation that God has always intended for us to have. Rather than looking for additional revelation, we should focus on understanding the Bible, the only sufficient written Word of God!
So, anyone who wants to be right with God can with confidence look to the 66 books which make up the Bible. There is no more revelation needed. God has spoken. He has revealed "the faith once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 3). The question is . . . Do you believe God?