Volume IX, Issue 19
Christ's Words Shall Never Pass Away (5)
The church of Jesus Christ confesses that the Holy
Scriptures are a wonder. Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus uttered these
famous words: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not
pass away" (Matt. 24:35), and His words have not passed away. You are a
witness to this marvel, the preservation of God’s Word, OT and NT.
This is all the more remarkable in that the Bible has
frequently and fiercely been attacked. In the fourth century,
Diocletian, a Roman emperor, ordered all Bibles to be handed over to the
civil authorities to be destroyed. The so-called Enlightenment of the
eighteenth century disparaged the Scriptures as a book written in a
"pre-rational" age for childish or adolescent man who had not yet
attained to maturity. Higher criticism of the Bible entered the
mainstream in the nineteenth century. Yet even then the nineteenth
century became the century of Bible Societies translating the Scriptures
into many languages and distributing them all around the world. Today
there are more translations and copies of the Bible than any other book.
After 2,000 years of desperate efforts, the unbelieving world has still
failed to prove one error in God’s Word.
We must thank God for the Bible and its preservation.
It is rightly said that verbal inspiration is only a significant
doctrine if verbal preservation is also true. Without the preservation
of the Bible, the church would be unable to fulfil the great commission.
How could we go into all the world to preach the (pure) gospel if the
Scriptures are hopelessly corrupted? Moreover, the preservation of the
Bible and the preservation of the church are closely tied together.
Without the Bible, there would be no church, for the Word—preached and
read—creates the church. On the other hand, without the church there
would be no one (humanly speaking) to preserve the Bible.
We can be sure
that our Bible (Authorised Version) is a trustworthy and faithful
translation of God’s inerrant and preserved Word—a Word breathed
out by the Spirit in Hebrew and Greek thousands of years ago. Christians
have nothing to fear from unbelieving textual critics or new discoveries
of ancient manuscripts. For Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass
away, but my words shall not pass away." Rev. Stewart
The Role of
from a study of the relevant NT texts (Matt. 26:28; I Cor. 11:25; Heb.
8:8-12; 10:16-17), we saw that "Israel" and "Judah," the new covenant
people in Jeremiah 31:31-34, are the NT catholic church consisting of
believing Jews and Gentiles. This is simply the way the blessed Holy
Spirit interprets the words which He breathed forth in Jeremiah 31.
Every time a Christian partakes of the wine at the
Lord’s Supper, he is confessing that he is one of the "many" for whom
Christ shed His blood, the "blood of the new testament [covenant]"
(Matt. 26:28) spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Thus, whether he is a Jew
or a Gentile, he is saying that he is a citizen of the "house of Israel"
and the "house of Judah" (Jer. 31:31, 33). Thus even a dispensationalist
Gentile, by partaking of the Lord’s table, confesses that he is a
member of the new covenant community in Christ. As a Gentile, he
must confess that he is an Israelite not physically but spiritually
(cf. Rom. 2:28-29). Moreover, as a member of the NT church he thereby
confesses that the NT church is prophesied in the OT in Jeremiah
31:31-34. Furthermore, the inspired interpretation of Jeremiah 31 in the
NT gives absolutely no indication that this prophecy will be fulfilled
in a later era (such as a purported earthly Jewish millennium). Just
read for yourself the accounts of the Lord’s Supper in Matthew, Mark and
Luke and I Corinthians 11, as well as II Corinthians 3 and Hebrews 8 and
But more can be said from Hebrews, the NT book with
most to say on the new covenant. Hebrews 1:2 describes the era of the
incarnation and work of Christ onwards as the "last days." The coming of
God’s Son (Heb. 1:2), including the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts
2:17-18), marks the beginning of the "last days." When God proceeds to
speak of the new covenant in Hebrews 8 and 10 it is in intimate
connection with the work of the Messiah who brought in the "last days."
Christ, "the priest forever after the order of Melchisedec" (7:21),
offered up Himself as the one great sacrifice for sins (7:27) and thus
became the "surety of a better testament [covenant]" (7:22), the "new
covenant"(8:8-12) prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Thus the "new
covenant" is a blessed reality for the NT church of believing Jews and
Gentiles—spiritual "Israel" and "Judah" (Jer. 31:31, 33)—in the last
days (Heb. 1:2).
The adjective "last" in the "last days" is
significant. The "last days" are literally the last
days which are to come before the eternal state of the new heavens and
the new earth for elect men and angels and the lake of fire for
reprobate men and angels. There simply are no more days to come after
the last days and before the eternal state, because the "last
days" are the last days. Since the new covenant is made with
believing Jews and Gentiles in the "last
days," there is no other era (such as the earthly Jewish millennium of
dispensationalism) prior to the eternal state in which the new covenant
is to be made with ethnic Israel. Next time (DV), we will consider the
implications of this for understanding the context of Jeremiah 31:31-34,
namely Jeremiah 30-33. Rev. Stewart
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