My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Back in 1901 one of the publishing houses printed the King James Version with Jesus’ statements in red.  It was referred to as the “Red-Letter” edition.   It became a popular edition of the New Testament.  For reasons perhaps unknown, some began to claim that the only valid part of the New Testament, was the red-letter section.  What they meant was, “If Jesus said it, it is essential.  If Jesus didn’t say it, it wasn’t essential.”

It is true that Jesus used the expression “My words” ten times.  Two of those would be quoted to prove that Jesus’ words were all that was important.

For whosoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory” (Luke 9:26 NKJV) and “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:47).

Just because one recognizes the teaching of the apostles and prophets is essential, does not mean one is ashamed of what Jesus taught.  Neither does it mean that one has rejected the teachings of Jesus by approving of that which was done by the apostles and prophets.  If the first century Christians thought Jesus’ teaching was all that was essential, why did they continue stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42)?  Paul told Timothy that scripture (which was the Old Testament) was profitable for doctrine and referred to it as “instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)?

Let’s also look at the last part of that “Red-Letter” conclusion and test it.  “If Jesus didn’t say it, it isn’t essential.”  Does anyone really believe Jesus made that statement in the quotes?  If so, where?  Second, Jesus never said the following: “______________, you will be saved and spend eternity with me in heaven.”  Put your name in the blank space and then start looking in Matthew through John to see if Jesus made that statement!  He doesn’t, does he?  He also never stated, “Everyone who believes in me and lives in the twentieth and twenty-first century will be saved and go to heaven.”   If there is any validity to the statement, “If Jesus didn’t say it, it isn’t essential,” then no one living today in saved.  So, eat, drink, and be merry because you can’t go to heaven since Jesus never said you would!

Jesus never said a lot of things.  Does that mean we may engage in those activities that our Lord never verbally stated?  Jesus never condemned slavery.  Shouldn’t the person who believes only the Red-Letter Section freely submit himself to that bondage?  Jesus never said one could work at ______________.  Fill the blank with your specific profession.  Since he never said one could work in that specific profession, why would any believer want to engage in it?   If one believes we must follow only what Jesus specifically said or authorized, why practice our culture?

The purpose of Matthew through John was to prove Jesus was God’s Messiah, Anointed One, or Christ, who would be our sin sacrifice.  Jesus fulfilled all those prophecies.

Jesus warned that false Christ would arise.  We may show what Jesus actually said as well as what those who were inspired by the Spirit said and wrote.  Acts through Revelation shows who that was.  As long as we repeat what they taught, we are simply fulfilling Paul’s instruction to Timothy “These things command and teach” (1 Timothy 4:11); “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).  John also stated, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 1:9-11).  The teaching of Christ and the apostles’ doctrine or teaching are the same (John 14:26; 16:13).

If no one before 1901 had a Red-Letter edition of the Bible, no one before that date knew that only Jesus’ words were to be exclusively followed.  The Red-Letter view came after 1901, much too late to be a first century doctrine.