Is the New Testament a Pious Fraud?

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and  training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

“But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

“For prophecy never had its origin in the  will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1 :21).

Some who want to dismiss the claims that are made about Jesus in the gospels try to do so by dismissing the gospels themselves. They say that the stories about what Jesus said and did were inventions of the Christian community in the second and third centuries, and not based on historical fact.

This is an important question. The Christian message is the good news of eternal salvation. It is not merely a set of philosophical precepts, invented by human thinkers. It is a supernatural message communicated in a supernatural way. The truth-claims of the Christian message are bound up in the truthfulness of the New Testament.

From the writings of the Old Testament prophets who thundered “Thus says the Lord” to the epistles of the New Testament which claimed the same divine authority, the entire Bible claims to be the revealed word of God.

Thus it is the Christian belief that the Spirit of God inspired the writing of the Old and New Testaments. The Holy Spirit also controlled the preservation, selection, and collection of the books of the Bible. Jesus laid the foundation for this belief when he told his disciples, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:13-15).

These words may be taken to illustrate the point I am making.

The Spirit of truth is the One Jesus called the “counselor,” or “comforter,” or “helper.” In John 14:16 the Lord foretold the future coming of the Spirit upon the disciples. He said that the Spirit would remain in them and never leave. Jesus said that when the Spirit came to live in them, he would be the very Spirit of Christ: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:17-18).

The phrase “he will guide you” takes us back to John 15:26-27 where Jesus had said that he would send the Holy Spirit from the Father to “testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” Our Lord further told his apostles that as they bore witness, the Spirit would guide them into all truth. This refers to the special inspiration of the apostles which enabled the composition of the New Testament.

“All truth”  is the completed revelation of doctrine that had not yet been given. The Lord had explicitly told the disciples that there were truths that he had not revealed to them as yet because they were not ready to receive them (John 16:12). At this point the disciples did not fully understand the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection. But when the Holy Spirit enlightened them, they would be given the insight and wisdom to  write God’s revealed word in their epistles. This teaches us the sufficiency of holy scripture. We should expect no further revelation than that which has been given for our learning in the New Testament. This brings to completion the truth Jesus wanted his followers in every generation to believe.

“He will bring glory to me.” This is the Spirit’s purpose and mission in the world. It is not the Spirit’s purpose to call attention to himself. He proceeds from the Father in heaven to magnify the Son of God (John 15:26). He did this, in part, through the writing of the four gospels and their accounts of Jesus’ words, ministry, death, and resurrection. Since the words and works of Jesus were the words and works of God (John 16:15), the Spirit, through Christ, reveals God to us.

Finally, Jesus alludes to the unfolding of the future, the doctrine of last things. The phrase, “He will tell you what is yet to come,” is a reminder that the Holy Spirit also inspired the writing of the last book of the New Testament. It contains prophecies about future events surrounding the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the central theme of the book of Revelation. The message of the book was given to John the author as he was “in the  Spirit” (Revelation 1:9-10, 4:2).

I believe that it stretches credulity to ask us to believe that such a collection of writings as we have in the New Testament, the epistles, the gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the book of Revelation could have been composed and collected by liars and forgers, no matter how pious their intentions. The New Testament bears the marks of divine authority and authenticity. It must have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. It points us to Jesus as savior and calls us to believe in him.

Pastor Randy Faulkner