From Jesus to Scripture: How Christ Instituted the Bible

I. What Distinguishes the Bible among Christian Traditions?
The Bible's character and work is historically bound to its relationship with ...
Catholics: ... the Church (so Holy Tradition).
Lutherans: ... the Law and (especially) the Gospel (so biblical criticism).
Calvinists: ... the Holy Spirit (so authority, covenant, and internal witness).
Liberals and fundamentalists: the truth (so theological, historical, scientific [un]reliability).
Telf (and others): ... Jesus Christ (so 'institution': inheritance, fulfillment, and authorization).
II. Israel's Scripture: The Word of the Father
Israel came to confirm the writings of the Old Testament:
Torah: the 'gospel' of Israel's creation and freedom and its rules for enjoying them.
Prophets: the tragic story of Israel leaving God, along with warnings of the consequences and assurances that God would restore Israel nevertheless.
Writings: Israel's worship and contemplation of the God it was coming to know in this life, death, and bright distant future.
As Jesus' heritage, Israel's holy scriptures make him intelligible.
As Jesus' formation, they make him Jewish.
As Jesus' horizon, they define his mission as Israel's Messiah.
As Jesus' canon (rule), obedience to them is obedience to the Father (Matt 5:18).
III. Jesus' Scripture: The Word of the Son
Jesus never criticized nor set Israel's scriptures aside, but taught, confirmed, and fulfilled them:
His life, death, and resurrection were their content and goal
(Ps 2, Deut 8, Ps 22, Deut 32, Ps 110, Isa 53, ad nauseam).
His coming transforms Israel's scriptures into what the Church calls "Old Testament."
As Jesus' instrument, obedience to them is obedience to him.
Jesus' new words and deeds, not just his repeated ones, are also the Word of God (1 Cor 7:25).
His historically decisive ministry authorizes 'new testament'.
In sum, Jesus 'institutes' scripture as an outward sign of his grace:
Scripture points to Jesus as Lord and Messiah.
IV. The Church's Scripture: The Word of the Spirit
Jesus' power: Scripture is the Spirit at work in Jesus (Isa 61:1 in Luke 4:18).
Jesus' rule: Obedience to God's Word, written on our hearts, is obedience to the Spirit inspiring and writing them (2 Tim 3:16).
Jesus' community: In the Spirit, disciples speak Jesus' words for the Church (John 16:12-15, John 20:22-23, Matt 10:19-20, Matt 18:18-20).
Jesus' tradition: Jesus Spirit-authorizes witnesses to spread the good news of his Kingdom, life, and traditions (Acts 1:8). His followers generate:
Gospels: Four biographies of our Jesus that center on his life, death, and resurrection, each with its own flavor and insight.
Acts and 'prophets': Luke keeps telling Jesus' story through the activities of his Spirit's Church. Revelation tells the story of the church's continuing struggles to stay faithful under pressure, and God's determination to see it through its trials in our world.
'Writings': Church
correspondence, from letters of Paul and other leaders to a sermon (Hebrews), is 'inside information' on our community.
Jesus' confession: Christians use Scripture to worship and serve Jesus as Lord (Acts 2:14-39, Phil 2:5-11).
V. The "Living and Active" Word of God
So scripture reflects the Father's character and will,
shares in the Son's ministry and truth, and
works in the Holy Spirit's power,
through Israel's and the Church's voices.
In these ways, the churches' claims listed above are appropriate:
The Bible is true as God is true, in ways that make us holy.
The Bible's canonicity honors that it norms all traditions (including itself).

Self-Test