There is a story about a Sunday School teacher who was explaining a passage of scripture, and he said, “Now I know the Bible says this, but what Jesus really meant was . . .” A young girl in the class raised her hand and asked, “If Jesus did not mean what He said, then why didn’t He say what He meant?” That is a very good question for theologians and all students of the Bible. Why do we feel the need to re-interpret what God’s Word says? Why not let the Holy Spirit speak through the living word?
In Matthew 5:18, Jesus said that not one jot or tittle would pass away from the law. Those were the two smallest Hebrew letters and Jesus was saying that the scripture matters down to the letter.
The verbal inspiration of the Bible means that we believe God breathed the “Words” that are recorded. So words are not incidental, they are providential.
A couple of days ago I wrote about a Mosaic church. That is a church made up of the broken lives of people of all ethnic, economic, and social backgrounds. Much like what we find in the book of Acts describing the church at Antioch. Here is a church, if you read the passage carefully, that had leaders from many ethnic groups. If you read the passage in Acts 11, for example, there is evidence that God had prepared Paul for a ministry that crossed all ethnic lines. People from all over came together in that church. When you get to Acts 13 you discover that there are two leaders in the church who are African,there is Paul from Rome, Barnabus from Cyprus, others from the Mediteranean and Palestine. It is a multi-cultural blend.
So are these passages only descriptive, or are they also prescriptive for the church? Do we really think that Jesus’ prayer in John 17 meant make us one with others just like us, or did He not mean all of us? Here is my greater question: Is it any wonder that the text says in Acts 11, “they were called Christians first at Antioch?