Most people recognize the New Testament as a good story about a man named Jesus, or as a "love letter" from God. In 2 John 9-11 however, we get a much different sense as to the purpose of the New Testament Scriptures. "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds." In light of what this passage says we would do well to consider where the New Testament came from, what it says or reveals, and whether or not we are supposed to do anything because of it. An honest study of the New Testament will show that, without a doubt, the New Testament is God's revelation and that it contains the law that His people must adhere to today.
The Development of the New Testament
God Hebrews 1:1-2: "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds." This is where it all comes from. All that has been revealed about spiritual things has been given by God. Peter confirmed this truth in 1 Peter 1:20-21 where he wrote, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Before His Son came to the earth God spoke through the prophets of old. The purpose of that revelation was so that God's people could read it and obey it. But in these "last days" (from the days of Jesus to today) the word of God is revealed by Christ Jesus. Just as the Jews were expected to obey the prophets in the Old Testament, we must also obey the Son of God today who speaks to us from heaven. "See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven" (Hebrews 12:25).
Jesus Hebrews 1:1-2: In Matthew 17:5 Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain where He was transfigured before their eyes. With Jesus also stood Moses and Elijah. The significance of this transfiguration is that God shows three of His greatest prophets all standing together. Moses, who mediated the first covenant. Elijah who was taken up in a chariot of fire, and Jesus. In the midst of the three disciples God spoke aloud saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" (Matthew 17:5). Notice, God did not tell us to hear Moses or Elijah, because Jesus alone is our lawgiver today. He is the one whom we must hear; He is the one to whom God gave all authority (Matthew 28:19). God Himself commanded that all men listen to Jesus for He is His Son. As Lord and Christ, Jesus has been given all authority. Therefore everything He says is truth and every command He gives is part of the law that we must obey (John 12:48). Jesus is the great prophet whom Moses and the Old Testament prophets promised would turn away the iniquity of man! (Acts 3:19-26).
The Holy Spirit John 14:26: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." Jesus, who was given all authority by God promised to send a helper to teach and bring to remembrance all that He had taught. Whatever the Holy Spirit revealed was from Jesus, which in turn was from God (John 16:14-15). Therefore what the Holy Spirit revealed is the word of God. In John 15:26 Jesus again promised that the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth which would come from the Father, and He will testify of Jesus, who is the Son of God. In John 16:13 Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide men unto all the truth, and that nothing would be left out. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." The truth that He revealed was given by the authority of God; everything that He revealed came directly from Jesus. For this reason Paul was able to boldly proclaim that the revelation give by the Holy spirit was the mind of Christ. "For 'who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16).
The Apostles Ephesians 3:3-5: "…how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets." In 1 Corinthians 2:10 Paul affirmed that the "The deep things of God" were revealed to the apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 3:3-5 we learn that the apostles wrote down that revelation. For that reason Peter was able refer to Paul's writings as "scripture" in 1 Peter 3:1-2. Through this act the final link in the chain of authority for the New Testament is complete. For the writings of the apostles and prophets are known to us today as the New Testament scriptures.
The New Testament Scriptures: By this act the writings in the New Testament became the written word of God: The command of the Lord. "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37). We must understand that as the commands of the Lord every person is commanded to obey the things that are revealed. "And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed" (2 Thessalonians 3:14). The "epistles" in epistle are the "written messages" (Strong's) of the apostles and prophets to the New Testament Christians. Notice that if we do not obey what is written, we are to be ashamed. Why? Because what is written is the "command of God" and therefore must be followed as the word of God. As such, when we read the New Testament scriptures then is no different than hearing God speak these words directly to us. This is the authority God places upon the New Testament Scriptures.
What Does the New Testament Reveal?
In Hebrews 12:22-24 we learn that it reveals the new covenant between God and Man. "You have come…to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant…" In Hebrews 8:6-8, 12 we learn that this covenant says that those who come to Jesus, who become His disciples (Christians), will have their lawless deeds forgotten, they will be forgiven. In 1 Timothy 6:11-12 we learn that those who "pursue righteousness" and live by faith in God and in His power can have eternal life.
We also learn that the New Testament is the "whole truth" which Jesus promised would come from the Holy Spirit. For this reason, to take way from it, to add to it, or to do anything above and beyond what it was would be to disobey the will of God. God is speaking when we read the New Testament Scriptures. We will not hear His voice outside this final revelation to mankind. The New Testament Scriptures, including the epistles, are the words of Jesus Christ. To reject what the apostles taught is to reject Christ (Matt. 10:40; John 13:20). "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me" (Matthew 10:40). "Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 4:8).
We cannot place the teaching in the gospels over the teaching in the Epistles or visa verse. John 14:26 includes the gospels for the Spirit "brought to remembrance" (the gospels), "He will teach you all things" (the Epistles). Therefore every part of the New Testament is equal in value and authority as every other part.
Anything that does not agree with the New Testament is not truth. Since "all truth" is found in the New Testament any other books that claims to be inspired is not truth (Book of Mormon, Koran, Catholic catechisms, etc.). The truth that was taught in one congregation was the same truth that was taught in another (1 Corinthians 4:17; 7:17). The Epistles addressed to one congregation or another applied to all who read them (Colossians 4:16). Christians who refused to submit to the teaching of the apostles were marked as unfaithful (2 Thessalonians 3:14). Any deviation from the New Testament teaching receives condemnation (Galatians 1:6-8; 1 Timothy 6:3; 2 John 9-11).
What Must I do?
When Jesus died on the cross He not only established a New Law, but He also established a New Covenant. The New Testament is that covenant which we must also obey if we want to have the life that Jesus offers. In light of this covenant the Jews asked the question, "What shall we do" (Acts 2:37)? In Acts 2:38 Peter told them exactly what they must do. "Repent every one of you and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins." According to God's New Testament (covenant) those who obey this good news of salvation are freed from their sins and joined to God as His children (Galatians 3:26-27; 1 John 3:1). Our part of that covenant, once we have entered into it, is to "walk worthy of the calling with which we have been saved" (Ephesians 4:1-3). To help us in this endeavor we have the New Testament scriptures to guide us according to which we are able to walk as Jesus waked and to know God (1 John 2:3-6). Fro this reason all men are commanded by Jesus to repent of their sins and turn to Him on obedience. If you love Jesus then you will obey His commandments are they are delivered to us in the New Testament (John 14:15).