I was at the mall a few weeks ago with my daughters. As we rounded a corner in the mall, there was a large group of girls. What caused this great girl frenzy? A member of One Direction was inside a music store signing autographs and all the girls were going crazy trying to get a picture of him. Fame seems to attract a crowd. Fame is a peculiar thing. Those most famous have biographies written about them, TV shows about them, videos posted on YouTube, and blogs and twitter accounts that keep you informed about their latest activities. The social media did not exist in Jesus’ day, but there were still large crowds and many stories written about Jesus’ time on earth. The question is how do we know we hold the authentic stories when we are holding our Bibles?
John in I John 1:3 says “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…” If you have time pick up your Bible and read I John 1:1-4 and see how much John wanted you and me to have an account of what he witnessed as he walked with Jesus for three years.
My last blog reviewed the five questions of canonicity (the standard by which writings are recognized as Biblical) related to the Old Testament. We also have five statements related to the canonicity of the New Testament. We will review those here.
1. Selecting procedure-This selecting procedure went on among the apostles themselves. Luke writes in Luke 1:1-4 that an orderly account was written and was based on eyewitnesses so that the truth would be known.
2. Reading Procedure-Books or letters that were written were commanded to be read to the churches. “Read to all the brethren.” (I Thessalonians 5:27).
3. Circulating Procedures-Writings were read as authoritative to the churches and were circulated among the churches. God told John to “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:11) Paul commanded the Colossians “When this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea.” (Colossians 4:16). This crucial passage indicates that authority of one epistle included a larger audience than just the one to which it was written. Not only was the book of Revelation to be read and circulated throughout the churches, so also were the other epistles to be exchanged.
4. Collecting Procedure-If there was a circulating procedure then there also must be a collecting procedure. Peter speaks of “all of Paul’s letters” as being on a level with “all other Scriptures.” (II Peter 3:15, 16)
5. Quotation Procedure-In I Timothy 5:18 the Apostle Paul placed a quotation from Luke 10:7 alongside a quote from Deuteronomy 25:4, and he named them both Scriptures. This gives us an indication that those books written by the Apostles were considered as highly as those books written by Moses. The books in our New Testament are just as much a part of the inspired canon of Scripture as the Old Testament books.
Again, the overarching test is whether the Books are inspired. “All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete lacking nothing.” (II Timothy 3:16, 17) Another overarching test in the New Testament was whether the book or letter had come from an apostle or whether it was backed by apostolic authority. An apostle is someone who was an eyewitness to Christ. They had seen Him. Once that was established then it must meet the above criteria of it being circulated, received, collected, preserved, and used among the churches. If the book was written by someone who had not seen Christ then the book was not considered to be a part of the canon.
“…No prophecy of Scriptures comes from someone’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1:20, 21)’
That young man in the mall who had all the girls clamoring over him will pass and fade and be a distant memory, but God and His Word remain a foundation for many lives. The Bible has not lost its authority though many have and many will continue to try to disprove it. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)