(This is the second article in a series of ten reasons why I believe Jesus was NOT a "liberal")
Did Jesus take the Bible literally, and believe it to be authoritative? Yes, He certainly did! The trouble with liberal theology is that it regards the Bible as simply a “good Book” filled with spiritual principles—but not to be taken literally. Liberals view the Bible as filled with myths, and filled with errors. Conservative Christians take the Bible literally and believe it is the inspired Word of God, and therefore to be regarded as authoritative in all matters of life and practice.
We believe the account of Noah and the Ark was a true historical event, not just a “story”. We believe the account of Jonah being swallowed by a whale was an actual event, not a myth. We believe the first chapter of Genesis is to be taken literally—that God created the world and everything in it in seven days. We believe the biblical account of the virgin birth of Jesus, even though miraculous in nature, was a true event. As a matter of fact, conservative Christians accept all the miracles recorded in the Bible at face value because we believe that God is a God of miracles. Our secular universities are filled with liberal faculty members who openly scoff at the Bible and those who believe the Bible. Now, it’s one thing for them to say the Bible is not true, they certainly have a right to their opinion. But it is intellectually dishonest for them to suggest that Jesus was as liberal as they are in regards to one’s view of Scripture. Here is the truth:
•Jesus believed in creation, precisely according to the record of Moses in the book of Genesis.
•Jesus believed in the literal historical person of Noah, as seen in Matthew 24:37.
•Jesus believed in the actual literal account of Jonah being swallowed by a great fish, as seen in Matt. 12:40.
• Jesus believed in the literal destruction of Sodom as a divine judgment of God, as seen in Matt. 10:15.
In short, Jesus believed the Scriptures—the entire Old Testament as it was written in His day. He was no liberal who thought the stories of the Old Testament could be interpreted any way one pleased to do so. He did not follow the liberal line that Scripture should be approached by asking: “what does it mean to me”? Rather, He viewed the Scriptures literally—that what it says it exactly what it means. How do we know this? Consider the following three texts:
• In John 10:35 Jesus is quoting from Psa. 82:6, as He asserts His deity to the unbelieving Jews. “If He called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” Yes, Jesus believed the Scriptures, and believed they were without error—they “cannot be broken”.
• In Luke 24 we have an account of the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The risen Lord gently rebukes them for not making the connection between the Old Testament prophecies and Himself—as the fulfillment of those prophecies (verses 25-27). Later that evening, in the upper room, He appears again to the disciples and says: “These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Me” (vs. 44). The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) was divided into three main sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (Psalms and historical books). Basically, Jesus is putting a stamp of approval on the entire Bible here, saying the whole Old Testament points to Him!
• In Luke 11:50-51, Jesus pronounces judgment on all those who were guilty of killing the prophets, and shedding their innocent blood. “That the blood of all the prophets which was slain from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Verily I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation.” Why were the murders of all these prophets held to the account of the Pharisees of Christ’s day? Because they were getting ready to do the same thing to Him. Notice here that Jesus lists the prophets from A to Z (Abel to Zechariah) who was a priest murdered in front of the altar (see II Chron. 24:20-21). Once again, Jesus is putting His stamp of approval on the entire Old Testament. Abel is mentioned as a martyr at the very start of the book of Genesis, and Zechariah is mentioned at the very end of the Old Testament, since the book of II Chronicles is actually the last book in the order of the books of the Hebrew Bible.
Christ believed the Bible, all of it. He accepted the accounts written in the Old Testament as “Scriptures” from God, and He took them literally as historical facts.
Listen carefully! The Word of God will endure long after the critics and skeptics have come and gone. Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words shall not pass away (Matt. 24:35). So, the next time some liberal theologian tells you the Bible is not to be taken at face value, and is not really the standard of truth, remember the words of Jesus. God’s Word will remain long after those who deny it are gone.