You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39, 40, RSV).

The two most important questions which must be asked and answered about the Bible concern its origin and its purpose. Where has it come from, and what is it meant for? Until we know whether its origin is ultimately human or divine, we cannot determine what degree of confidence may be placed in it. Until we have clarified the purpose for which its divine Author or human authors brought it into being, we cannot put it to right and proper use.

Both questions gain an answer from the words of Jesus to certain Jews, recorded in chapter 5 of John’s Gospel, verses 39 and 40: “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (RSV). He was, of course, referring primarily to the Old Testament Scriptures. But if we concede that there is an organic unity in the Bible, and that God intended his saving acts to be recorded and interpreted under the New Covenant as much as under the Old, then these words may be applied to the New Testament also.

THE SCRIPTURES HAVE A DIVINE ORIGIN

The divine origin of the Scriptures is clearly implied in our Lord’s statement: “it is they that bear witness to me.” The scriptural witness to him is a divine witness. Jesus has been advancing some stupendous claims about his relation to the Father. The Father has committed to him the two tasks of judging and quickening (vv. 21, 22, 27, 28). But how are Christ’s claims to be confirmed? They are confirmed, ...

John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

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