A Prayer
of Jesus 
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

6. What is your view of the inspiration of the scriptures?

What do you think about the other New Testament letters from Peter, Jude, John, James and Luke?

This is the critical question!

As a foolish, willing victim of the Baptists I gobbled up, whole-hog, the conviction of biblical inerrancy.  I now understand that doctrine to be the devil's chief means of deception, for in its bonds one is not able to acknowledge obvious contradictions or to see the Truth clearly because of the intrusion of so many uninspired ideas with biblical roots. One must divorce one's brain to remain faithful to this view!

I believe that the only "Word of God" in the Bible or anywhere else consists of the utterances of Jesus and those portions of the Old Testament that he validated.  He gave the source of his words:


[15] No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
This is one of numerous examples in the gospels where Jesus refers to his own words and to their source.  I believe him with my whole heart because his teaching alone makes sense of my life in this world.

My view of the Old Testament is that of Jesus, who said of it:


    [39] You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me;
    [40] yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
You see?  They are witnesses, that's all.  His servants today are also his witnesses.  But to find the Truth that gives eternal life, one goes only to Jesus and to Jesus only.  That is what he means when he says:


[6] Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
My view of the New Testament documents other than the gospels is similarly framed. Jesus said to his disciples;


    [48] You are witnesses of these things.
Therefore, those who received this commission (Paul excluded), like the OT writers, are his witnesses and to the extent that they are responsible for the NT documents, the NT, like the OT, bears witness to him.  We do not know with certainty who wrote the NT documents, but I believe both James and Jude were penned by the sibling brothers of Jesus and, of all the NT documents, they are my favorites because they contain very  little objectionable material.  The only examples (of objectionable material) I find in James are these two:


    [1] Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.
But Jesus permits no one other than himself to be a teacher.  James was close in saying "not many" but not close enough, and this claim to teacher status by supposed servants of the Lord has been responsible for most false doctrine.  The idea of Jesus being our one and only teacher is hard at first to grasp, but it is essential.  He said,


[8] But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren.
The other objection in James is this:


    [8] You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  
James was victim to the mistake that all of the early disciples seem to have made, by being so sure that the return of the Lord was at hand.

But James redeems himself wonderfully, and in his frank honesty he provides us with a key that should guide us whenever we read the any of the epistles:


      [2] For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.

    Would they all had been so honest in acknowledging mistakes in what they said (or wrote). Jesus is the only perfect man.

    Jude explained the situation in regard to the epistles when he wrote:


    [3] Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
    The "once for all" that Jude had in mind points specifically to Jesus and his teaching.  It was once, not continuing with Paul and others; it was for all -- for all peoples and times.

    I believe the Petrine epistles to have been written by Peter but, if so, they likely contain interpolations, for it is very unlikely that Peter would have stressed, so strongly, obedience to the emperor; or taught that Jesus "bore our sins;" or considered Jesus to be a "chief shepherd" rather than the only shepherd; or would have acknowledged Paul as our beloved brother
    .  Of course, Peter also fell into the common error of teaching that "The end of all things is at hand." (I Peter 4:7)

    The Johannine epistles may have been written by the apostle, or they may not.  They carry the same kind of baggage as do the Petrine ones.  For example:


    [4] No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth.
No one, speaking in the Spirit with true testimony, would refer to other disciples as "my children." Such would know that Jesus had strictly instructed contrary to this, saying;


    [9] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
It follows, or course, that all His children are His children only, and anyone who claims another for his child is thereby claiming to be a father in disobedience to Jesus.

But there are many precious gems in all these epistles, and most of them contain within themselves the honest acknowledgment of their limitations.  We have this:


    [9] If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has borne witness to his Son.
    10] He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son.
    11] And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
    12] He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.
I take it to mean that the testimony of men includes that of the apostles and what we find in the epistles, but the testimony of God is that given through his Son, which is greater -- yes, much greater.  It is our only absolute authority and source of Truth.

I love these epistles; I am thankful that the Holy Spirit has preserved them for us because they contain many precious insights into the faith but they are not the inerrant Word of God, as they themselves testify. Jesus of Nazareth is our only authority and source of Truth and we must test every other word by his before accepting it as true.  It is precisely as he said;


[21] And then if any one says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!' or `Look, there he is!' do not believe it.
22] False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.
23] But take heed; I have told you all things beforehand.

Do you see it?  I have told you all things beforehand.

Revelation is a special case that, in general, deserves to be classified along with the Pauline epistles as the work of a false prophet.  Jesus has, as he said, told us all things beforehand.  We do not need others to tell us more.  I have prepared a paper on Revelation that you can read to learn my views on that document.

I would not have one think that I believe everything in Paul or Revelation to be false; there is Truth even there provided we are careful to sort it out and prove it according to the utterances of Jesus.
 The power of a false prophet is the expression of truth now and then. A prophet who spoke only lies would have little effect, wouldn't he?  It was through the study of Revelation that I first came to realize the time of the coming of the kingdom to earth.  But then I learned exactly the same thing from Jesus, so had I listened to him more carefully, I would not have needed Revelation.  Indeed, I did not need it!

Luke's Acts is primarily history.  It is a very important and precious testament of events among the early disciples but is not, nor does it claim to be, the inerrant  Word of God.  But we can profit much from it nevertheless.  Peter's vision of the sheet let down from heaven was very inspiring and helpful to me during the time when I was struggling with racial discrimination among the Baptists.  I feel a special affinity for Luke, and his gospel preserves many important utterances of the Lord that the others omitted.  LIke me, he was first taken in by Paul, who was for many years his mentor and instructor.  I believe that, through the writing of his gospel, he put himself under great tension  It is not possible that one carefully instructed by Paul would not have serious problems when he was later exposed to Jesus through the faithful testimony of "those who were from the beginning eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word."(Luke 1:2)  I can easily see Luke as stressed by the same tension I felt after becoming knowledgeable of the utterances of Jesus.  The solution for Luke?  Write some more -- The Acts -- seeking to reconcile Paul with Jesus and the apostles by writing the history of their early actions and words. But this must have ended in failure, as it did for me, and he may finally have acknowledged the falsity of the doctrines of Paul. This is speculation, but I believe it to be the most likely explanation for the lack of a proper ending for this document.  He simply lost  interest in recording the last days of Paul once he finally acknowledged Paul's limitations.

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