A person’s view of the Scriptures does affect the way he uses them. To learn this principle, one need study his Bible no further than the life of Jesus Christ, though there are also other ways to observe it. Jesus used the Old-Testament writings as He did because He believed them to be divine in origin, inerrant in nature, obligatory in authority, and historically true in account. If Jesus, God’s Son, held such a high view of the Scriptures, then His disciples must likewise have viewed them similarly. It is a denial of His authority over us and of our own discipleship for us to have a view that is inferior to His. It is also equally incumbent upon us to use the Scriptures as Jesus used them, understanding that proper use of the Bible is the natural and essential consequence of the correct view of it.
The call in recent decades for a new hermeneutic provides the occasion and impetus for such a study as this, and for the resulting examination of Jesus regarding His use of the Scriptures. Jesus is central in such a matter because those demanding a new approach to the Bible also insist that He, not the New-Testament Scriptures, must be our pattern in spiritual matters. They allege that early Christians did not have a pattern in Scripture because the New-Testament canon did not exist until a few centuries later.
It is necessary to point out that their insistence on Jesus, rather than Scriptures, separates Him from the Scriptures. If the New Testament is not a pattern, then Jesus, as a pattern, exists apart from the New Testament. We cannot learn Jesus from the New Testament, with the two being separate entities and the New Testament being less than a pattern. How could anyone ever hope to reach any definite conclusions about Jesus Christ without help from the Scriptures? The recent heretical assertions of the Jesus Seminar are evidence number one of the course that is inevitable when one rejects the validity of the New Testament in revealing Jesus in His entirety.
How did Jesus use the Scriptures available to Him? Matthew 19 provides an answer. In studying this, we also can learn some principles concerning marriage.
Jesus used the Scriptures to set forth divine law. Instances of Jesus' use in this area are too numerous to cite. Consider His teaching concerning marriage in Matthew 19:3-6. The Lord obviously taught that the marital relationship is between a male and female and is indissoluble. As indicated by His question, "Have you not read?" He based His teaching concerning marriage on what the Old-Testament Scriptures said. On this solid foundation of what God had said, He went on to state His will in the matter.
The Pharisees’ question, "Is it lawful?" possibly presumed some traditional or rabbinical law, but Jesus clearly and emphatically positioned Himself on the rock of what was written in the Scriptures. There is no other foundation for divine law, and we should seek no other. Only the citations of Scripture have the sound of authority and the obligation of law to disciples of Jesus Christ. Let men deride teaching that cites book, chapter, and verse, but we stress that in doing so they break ranks with God’s Son.
Jesus used the Scriptures to show us how to interpret the Scriptures. In Matthew 19, verses 4-6, Jesus cited a Biblical example and a direct Biblical statement and then stated the necessary inference. His example was that of the divine creation of man (verse 4), and His statement was a citation from Genesis 2:24.
From these two kinds (Biblical example and necessary inference) of divine evidence, Jesus then drew (in verse 6) the conclusion that necessarily follows. The conclusion shows that God designed marriage to be a permanent relationship; and it is expressed as a negative hortatory statement, "Let not man put asunder," which has the force of a command.
If Jesus is our pattern for anything, then He is our pattern for construing the sacred writings. We can do no better than He did! May we ever look to Him as our Teacher in this matter, as in all others? When modern religionists protest this approach as legalistic, let us remind them that they need to follow Jesus as the pattern or else cease claiming that He is our pattern.
Jesus used the Scriptures to apply God's will to all people. Jesus said that His teaching in Matthew 19 applies to every person, as indicated by the word "whosoever" in verse 9. He gave no indication in this passage or elsewhere that this teaching is restricted to those in covenant relation with God (the saved). How would one learn such a thing; what evidence is there? His reference to man’s creation shows that God's will for marriage is for all the human beings He created. Other passages, by their use of the word adultery, which always assumes a marital relationship and shows at least one married person involved in the adultery (1 Corinthians 6:9), also show that all human beings are subject to the Lord's marriage law.
If neither this passage, nor any other, shows that Christ's marriage law applies to alien sinners, then where in the Bible would we look to find Biblical justification for aliens to marry? What passage authorizes them to marry? Jesus' profound respect for God's Word caused Him to use the Scriptures carefully. His love for people caused Him to expound (hermeneuo) the Scriptures. If Jesus were present on earth today, He would carefully and lovingly explain God’s word to men and women. We must do the same.
Brother Graham did an excellent job of showing the universal application of God’s marriage law. When people begin to give new meaning to part of the Scriptures, it’s usually because they are seeking to prove a doctrine that is contrary to God’s law. Allow me to explain.
Several years ago, a preacher came into my office and tried to convince me that the gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—were not part of the New Testament. He believed they should be included with the Old Testament to clarify Moses’ Law. Since I had not previously heard that argument, I listened carefully. Later, he gave me one of his books that taught (according to him) the truth about marriage, divorce, and remarriage. I suddenly began to see the light. This preacher was endeavoring to get around what Matthew 19 teaches about marriage. He taught that it applied only to the Jews, and not the Gentiles. When I attempted to point out passages such as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19,20), and the Lord’s teaching on personal disagreements between brethren and His command to “tell it to the church,” (Matthew 18:15-18), he somehow had no answer to my questions about how that applied to the Jews only and not the Gentiles. He also had no explanation for the Lord’s statement, “But I say unto you,” which showed that His authority would be greater than Moses’ authority. Scriptures—Old or New-Testament--don’t contradict one another. Jesus taught us this while He was here using them, and it’s still true today! (KMG)