The Consistency of Scripture

“Have faith in God,” Jesus said. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 

Those two paragraphs are a compilation of scripture verses from the New Testament. But notice how it all flows together in to a central theme, faith, even though the passages were lifted from six different New Testament books. Granted, four of the passages are from letters written by the Apostle Paul (and perhaps five since it’s possible that Paul may have also written Hebrews), and there is a consistent content in all his letters, but still, you cannot do this with any other body of literature that I’m aware of. You cannot lift a paragraph from a chapter of a book written by Hemingway or Shakespeare and stitch it into another chapter of the same book and have it make any sense. It would be noticeable that something is out of place.

In his Forward to the most recent reprint of W.A. Criswell’s book, The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible, The Gospel Project’s managing editor Trevin Wax wrote, “The Bible is not simply a collection of interesting stories about morality but one overarching story about salvation found only in Jesus Christ.” This is not to say you can do this with every single passage or verse in the Bible. But because the Bible is the revelation of God to humanity from Genesis to Revelation, it is possible to select certain passages and group them with other passages and verses in a way that still flows together in a meaningful way as if what you’re reading was originally written that way to begin with.

These are the passages that were compiled to create the opening paragraphs:

“Have faith in God,” Jesus said. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:22-23)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)

 The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:6-7)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

Here’s another example, picking up where that last verse from Romans 5 leaves off:

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. And now these three remain, faith, hope, love. But the greatest of these is love. Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

That was a blend of Psalms and New Testament passages.

To be clear,  I’m not attempting to reorder the word of God. In the last chapter of the book of Revelation, we’re warned about taking away from or adding to God’s word. The scarlet thread that Criswell used to illustrate the consistency of the message of salvation in scripture is a thread that is unbroken. A piece of thread can be balled up in the hand, coiled, or tied in a knot, but it is still an unbroken thread. And so it is with scripture. You can take certain select passages of scripture and arrange them with other verses and passages and the message being conveyed remains unbroken. No, I’m not trying to rearrange the word of God or take anything out of context. I’m simply pointing out the beauty that is God’s word. I’m highlighting the consistency of the message of salvation. Even when you take parts of passages and group them with others parts of scripture, the message is still unmistakable and undeniable.

Only God could write have written a book like that!

 
http://storage.cloversites.com/firstchurchofchrist1/documents/The%20Scarlet%20Thread.pdf

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