Derek Prince - How Did Jesus Use Scripture
Now we need to consider the attitude of Jesus Himself toward the Bible. Because for us who are His disciples He is the pattern. How did He relate to the Bible? Well, we looked at a Scripture this morning but we’ll look at it again in John chapter 10. John chapter 10, verse 35. We don’t need to look at other verses, just that. John 10:35. Jesus said... And it’s in the context of a discussion with the Jewish leaders that we don’t need to go into. If He that is God called them gods to whom the Word of God came and the Scripture cannot be broken.
And I pointed out this morning but I’ll say it again, there Jesus gives to the Bible the two titles which His followers have used most ever since. the Word of God and the Scripture. When it says the Bible is the Word of God it means it proceeds from God. It didn’t proceed from man, it came from heaven, from God. And when it says the Scripture it means that which has been recorded in writing. God said many things which are not recorded in writing, but those that are recorded in the Scripture, in the Bible, are recorded for our special benefit. They contain all the things we need to know for our salvation.
So that was the attitude of Jesus summed up in that phrase, that we looked at this morning but it will be good to repeat it. The Scripture cannot be broken. Nothing can express the authority of Scripture more completely than that simple phrase: It cannot be broken. I would like to invite you to do again this evening what we did this morning. Repeat those words with me. The Scripture cannot be broken. Say it once more. The Scripture cannot be broken. And now remember, God holds you accountable for what you’ve said. Because He’ll expect you to accept the authority of Scripture in every area of your life.
Now let’s look at how Jesus Himself used Scripture. And here again He’s a pattern. We’ll turn to Matthew, the fourth chapter. and we’ll look at something that happened when Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. Matthew chapter 4, but we need to begin at the end of chapter 3. Chapter 3 at the end records how Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan. And when He came up from the water the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, descended like a dove upon Him and remained upon Him. Notice that, it’s important. The Holy Spirit remained on Him. The Holy Spirit has descended on some of us at various times but He hasn’t always remained on us, because we have said and done things that He couldn’t remain on. But Jesus never said or did anything that grieved the Holy Spirit or caused that dove to fly away. And then a voice came from heaven, the voice of God the Father: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
Now you might think, and I might think, Well, after that Jesus was going to have a really easy time. He had the endorsement of both the Father, and the Spirit, and the prophet John the Baptist. But that’s not so. The next thing that happened was: He found Himself in the wilderness fasting for forty days and being tempted by Satan. And so, please don’t imagine that God’s blessing will always make life easy for you. In fact, in a certain sense, it may make life more difficult. Because Satan much more strongly opposes those whom God has anointed.
And in Luke’s gospel, we won’t turn there, it says that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness but at the end of the forty days He came out in the power of the Holy Spirit. Those are two different things. One thing is to be led by the Spirit it’s another thing to move and operate in the power of the Spirit. And Jesus did not do that until He’d had His conflict with Satan and won. And in some degree or other, that will apply to each of us. We will have to overcome temptation and opposition in order to move in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now, when the tempter came to Him in Matthew 4, satan, the first thing he tempted Him to do was to doubt. And that’s nearly always the initial approach of satan. He will not immediately deny the Word of God, he’ll question it. He’ll cause you to doubt it. This has worked so many times in church history that he never has had to find another tactic because it always seems to work. But don’t let it work with you. So you notice, the first thing that satan said to Jesus in chapter 4 of Matthew, verse 3: Now when the tempter came to Him, he said: If you are the Son of God command that these stones be made bread.
Now, God had just spoken from heaven and said: This is my beloved Son. But Satan was challenging Him to doubt what He’d heard from God. If you are the Son of God then do something to prove it. Make these stones bread. But Jesus answered him: It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone. The book of Deuteronomy. And it’s interesting, too, that neither Jesus nor the devil ever questioned the authority of the book of Deuteronomy. So, why waste your time doing it? So that’s how Jesus dealt with temptation. Very, very important. He dealt with temptation by meeting it from the written Word of God. It is written. Don’t think that you are clever enough to argue with the devil, he’s much cleverer than you are. And he’s been in this business a long, long time. Don’t try to convince him with your arguments, meet him with the Scripture.
Each time Jesus was tempted this is what He said: It is written. It is written. It is written. And whenever Jesus said that, satan changed the subject. He knew he had no answer to the Scripture. So, don’t be tempted into trying to overcome satan with your philosophy or with your theology. Just answer him with the written word of God. You see Jesus didn’t make the mistake that Eve had made. If you go back to the beginning of human history, in Genesis chapter 3, the first few verses, it says: Now the serpent (who was satan in bodily form) was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord had made. And he said to the woman: Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
What did he tempt her to do first? To doubt, that’s right. And when you doubt the next step is disbelief, and the next step is disobedience. Remember that. Don’t entertain doubt. Well, Eve made the mistake of thinking that she could meet the devil on his level so she gave him an answer: Well, we may eat of every tree (she didn’t want to acknowledge that there were any restrictions) except the tree in the middle of the garden which is the tree of life. And concerning that she said: God has said, You shall not touch it nor eat of it, lest you die. And notice the devil’s answer: The serpent said to the woman You will not surely die. (That’s what he’s coming at). He begins by questioning but he goes on to deny.
And if you'd study church history for the last hundred years or more, you’ll find that wherever satan has persuaded theologians, or preachers or whoever they may be to question the Scripture, he has always brought them to the point where they actually deny it. Don't start on that slippery downward path. The Scripture is authoritative. It’s the word of God, accept it. Live by it. Answer the devil with it. He cannot answer the written Word of God. In Ephesians 6:17 Paul says: Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. And you probably know there are two Greek words for word. One is logos, the other is rhema. Logos is the total, eternal counsel of God, rhema is a spoken word of God.
And that’s the word that’s used in Ephesians 6:17: taking the sword of the Spirit, which is the rhema, the spoken Word of God. And when you have to meet the devil, you have to meet him by speaking the Word of God. The Bible will not protect you if it’s just in your bookshelf, or even if it’s just on your bedside table. It only works when you quote it. You have to take it in your mouth and say it for yourself. And then it becomes a sharp, pointed sword from which the devil backs off. He has no answer for it.
Now let’s look also at what Jesus says about the authority of the written Word of God. You remember what I said? The word Scripture means God’s Word in writing. And Jesus said in Matthew 5, verses 17 and 18: Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the prophets. And that was the Jewish way of speaking about what we call the Old Testament, the Law and the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill, for assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled.
Now, the words jot and tittle... Jot, in modern Hebrew yood, is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. And a tittle is just a little curve put on a letter in writing to distinguish it from a similar letter. So, those are the two smallest items in written Scripture’s text. And Jesus said not one of them will ever pass away. This clearly indicates that Jesus acknowledged the absolute authority of the written Word of God. He wasn’t talking about the spoken Word of God at that point, because the words jot and tittle only apply to that which is in writing. So Jesus absolutely endorsed the total authority of the written Word of God.
And then a little further on, or quite near the end of His ministry in Matthew chapter 22, He was dealing with the Sadducees, who were the liberals of that day, the people that did not accept the authority of all Scripture. In fact, they only accepted the authority of the first five books, the Pentateuch. And they were challenging the teaching that there will be a resurrection of the dead. And they came to Jesus with a smart question but this is how Jesus answered them, in Matthew 22 verses 31 and 32: But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Notice how Jesus applied that Scripture. Those words were written by Moses about fourteen centuries earlier. They were actually words spoken by the Lord direct to Moses. But Jesus didn’t speak about them as something that was said to Moses fourteen centuries ago. This is very powerful. He said: Have you not read what was spoken to you by God? You see? The Scripture is never out of date. It’s never just the record of human cleverness. It is God. And even if it was written three thousand years ago, it’s still God speaking to you today. That’s the authority of Scripture as Jesus understood it.
Now we need to consider also how the life of Jesus fulfilled the Scripture. If you go through the New Testament you’ll find that in eighteen different places it says something happened in the life of Jesus that the Scripture might be fulfilled. In other words, not merely did He believe the Scripture, not merely did He proclaim the Scripture, but He obeyed the Scripture. His whole life was the outworking of Scripture. You can take various aspects of His life but we’ll just take four. His birth, His human life, His death and His resurrection. Concerning all of those the Scripture says it took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Jesus could not in any way have more strongly endorsed the authority of Scripture than that.