A Bible study blog series about the Fundamental Christian Doctrines based on the Southern Baptist Faith and Message. Topics to be covered during the course of this study are:
- the Scriptures (current location of the study)
- God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)
- God’s Purpose of Grace
- Baptism and Lord’s Supper
- Lord’s Day
- God’s Kingdom
- Last Things
- Evangelism and Missions
- Christians and Social Order
- Peace and War
- Religious Liberty
The third part of this study on foundational doctrine about the Scriptures (the Bible) stems from the statement from the Baptist Faith and Message that “all Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself focus of divine revelation.” We’ll look at what Jesus himself said about it, and also consider a brief overview of what the Old Testament says about the Messiah.
How Scripture Points to and Exalts Jesus
The next topic in this doctrinal study series will be about God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). In it I’ll be looking at particulars about Jesus as well, so this particular study will only focus primarily on how the Scriptures relate to Jesus. Jesus was very clear on his claims to be God’s son, the promised Messiah. He claimed full divinity (equality with God). In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus taught not only basic moral standards but clearly made the point that His word, like the laws of God, is to be obeyed and followed. In other words, His word is God’s word. For example, when talking about murder, he said (Matthew 5:21-22) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder’…, but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…” When he says “but I say” he is in effect claiming that his words supersede the commandment.
But in doing so he’s not throwing out the Scriptures. Rather, in Matthew 5:17-18 he clarifies: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Now, for the law to be “accomplished” means for it to be fully obeyed and that had not ever happened up to the time that Jesus spoke those words. It also means for all prophesy in the Scripture to be fulfilled, and that hasn’t happened yet either.
An understanding of the Scriptures is crucial to understanding Jesus. They go hand in hand. In Matthew 22:29 Jesus was being challenged by religious leaders of the day (the Sadducees). He answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Understanding the Scriptures and understanding who Jesus is are intricately tied together. In John 5:39, Jesus said, also speaking to the religious leaders, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” The claim that you are following Scripture but not acknowledging that they are fulfilled in Jesus is a false claim. You cannot have one without the other. Ultimately, Jesus is the focus of all of Scripture. In other words, all Scripture is His story.
One of my favorite stories comes from that Sunday that Jesus rose from the dead. He had been killed on the cross and was buried. His tomb was found to be empty Sunday morning and that same day two of his disciples (but not two of the twelve who were in his “inner circle”) were walking the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Here’s what Luke writes about it (Luke 24:13-35):
“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?’ And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ And he said to them, ‘What things?’ And they said to him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.’ And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’ And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.’”
What a sermon that must have been! Note how excited they were to see how Scripture shed such glorious light on such a tragic day. Their hearts “burned within” them. Luke continued the story by saying (vs. 36) that “as they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them….” Jesus verified his resurrection again to them and then said (vss. 44-46), “’These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, ….’”
So, for the rest of this study, I’d like to simply “open the [Old Testament] Scriptures” and look at what they say about how “the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead”. I credit W. A. Criswell’s grand sermon on “The Scarlet Thread through the Bible” for the outline of my Scripture references. I will not elaborate or narrate the texts much, so I encourage you to download the text of that sermon from https://www.gospelproject.com/wp-content/uploads/tgp2018/2018/04/The-Scarlet-Thread-Criswell.pdf and read it for yourself.
Ezekiel 28:12-19 – [regarding Satan, who was originally created as an angel but who rebelled against his Creator] – You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering,… and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.”
Genesis 3:15 – I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
Genesis 12:3 – I will bless those who bless you [Abraham and his offspring], and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Genesis 49:10 – [Jacob’s prophecy to his son Judah] The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Exodus 12:13 – The blood [of the passover lamb, covering the doorframes of the Israelites in Egypt] shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
Leviticus 16:30 – For on this day [the annual Day of Atonement] shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins.
Numbers 14:34-35 – [Upon Israel’s rejection of God’s plan] “According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.” I, the LORD, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.
Deuteronomy 18:15 – The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—
Joshua 2:18-21, 6:22-23 – [Rahab helped the Israel spies in Jericho, and they rewarded her] “Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window…. But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel.
Judges 21:25 – In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Ruth 2:20 – [Naomi speaking to Ruth regarding Boaz] May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead! … The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”
1 Samuel 8:6-7 – But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
1 Samuel 16:3-13 – [God’s instructions to Samuel regarding King Saul’s replacement] “Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” … And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” …And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers.
2 Samuel 7:12-14 – [God’s promise to David] When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
Isaiah 9:6-7 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Micah 5:2 – But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Isaiah 53:2-12 – [Regarding the Messiah] For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Job 19:25-26 – For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.
These Scriptures are only a taste of the story that is told in the Old Testament that points to the redemption of our lives that is provided by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I hope that reading these has placed a “burning” in your heart for Him and a yearning to learn more from His Word.
Next time we’ll move on to the next study in our look at Fundamental Christian Doctrines – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (done in 3 parts, of course!)