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by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, September 26, 2015

“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he [Jesus] answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:38-40).

Jesus said the prophet Jonah was swallowed by an ocean creature (the Hebrew word translated “whale” means “great fish”). Then Christ said what happened to Jonah was a picture of His own burial in the earth. That’s what the words mean. But a Baptist professor said the account of Jonah didn’t happen at all! He said the Bible wasn’t true. The teacher’s name was Dr. Wayne H. Peterson, at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, the Southern Baptist school north of San Francisco.

One student raised his hand. He asked, “What about what Jesus said in Matthew?” In our text, Jesus said that Jonah had been in the belly of the great fish. In the same way Jesus, the Son of man, would be buried in the earth. Was it true about Jesus? Was it true about Jonah?

The teacher gave two answers. He said that Jesus didn’t know what happened – or that He lied about it! That’s what the man said! Perhaps when the Son of God took on human flesh, He gave up His omniscience – that is, He didn’t know. So Jesus talked like any Jew of his time. He said there was a man named Jonah who was swallowed by a great fish. But today we’re supposed to be smart and know it never happened. Jesus didn’t know what we know. He didn’t say anything we could be sure of.

The second answer was worse. The teacher said that maybe Jesus did know Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a fish, but He lied about it. This “Jesus” spoke with a crooked tongue. He talked about the Book of Jonah, to people who believed it – but He knew it wasn’t true. This “Jesus” was a liar!

But our pastor, Dr. Hymers, was also in that classroom. He stood up and defended the Bible. He held up a copy of The Baptist Faith and Message, the doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Peterson had signed that statement, saying he believed the Bible. But now he said, “That’s the opinion of some people.”

Dr. Hymers rebuked him. The man ran out of the classroom and down the hall. He ran into his office and closed the door to hide. Dr. Hymers opened the door and pounded on the man’s desk. He said, “You are not going to teach that today!” Praise God for a man who stands up for the Bible!

Was that teacher a real Christian? Did he believe in a Christ who could save him? What Jesus did he believe in? If Jesus didn’t know about Jonah, how could He know about anything else? Was he right when He said He was the Son of God? Was He right when He said He would be crucified for man’s sin and then rise again? Was He right about anything He said? Maybe not. Maybe He didn’t know. Why believe anything He said? What kind of a Jesus is that? With that Jesus, we have no idea what to believe! We can’t trust Him at all! That’s not the Bible Jesus. That’s “another Jesus” (II Corinthians 11:4), which the Scripture warns about. I believe in the Christ of the Bible, not a weak and ignorant figure invented by liberals!

What Christ did this man believe in? If Jesus lied, He wasn’t just ignorant. He would be a sinner! The Bible says that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8). This Jesus would be a sinner going to Hell! He couldn’t pay for your sins on the Cross! He couldn’t save you. Why believe in that Jesus, a sinner? That’s “another Jesus,” not the real Jesus. Thank God the Bible says that Christ was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). That’s the real Jesus!

It isn’t just that one teacher who was wrong. There are professors like him in colleges and seminaries all over our country. You hear people talk like him in your secular college. It may seem like no one believes the Bible – but Jesus Christ did!

Most of you here tonight would say, “That professor was wrong. I don’t believe in the Christ he taught. Jesus knew what He was saying, and He told the truth.” You’re right! And that brings us to the subject of this message.

What did Jesus Christ believe about the Bible? What was His attitude toward the Scriptures? Why, He believed them! As one scholar said, “Christ’s attitude toward the Old Testament was one of total trust; nowhere, in no particular, and on no subject did he place Scripture under criticism” (John Warwick Montgomery, Ph.D., Th.D., Christianity Today, March 3, 1967, p. 48). Jesus said,

“Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).

What’s a jot? What’s a tittle? They’re the smallest marks in Hebrew writing, like the crossbar of the letter “t” or the dot on the letter “i.” Jesus said that not one of the smallest marks in the Bible would go away. They would last longer than the heaven and the earth. Christ said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). Again, Jesus said, “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

Christ had “total trust” in the Scriptures. When He was in the wilderness the Devil tempted Him three times. Each time Jesus answered Satan from the Bible, “It is written...It is written is written” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). When the Pharisees asked Him a question Christ answered, “Have ye not read” (Matthew 19:4). He appealed to the Scriptures in complete trust.

The Pharisees believed the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus never rebuked them for that. He rebuked them for covetousness and pride, but never for believing the Bible. They copied its words faithfully. That’s why we have the correct text of the Hebrew Scriptures today. The Apostle Paul said, “unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). They believed the Scriptures and copied them faithfully – and they were right to do that!

There was no deception when Jesus talked to the Pharisees. He believed the Bible, and so did they. If they’d been wrong to do that, Christ would have corrected them. He rebuked them on other things, didn’t He? But they were right on that point. They, like Jesus, believed in the truth of everything in the Bible. They believed in its spiritual truth. They believed it was historically accurate. They believed every person in the Bible really lived. They believed every miracle in the Bible happened as it was written.

When Jesus told the Pharisees about Jonah in the belly of the fish, nobody had any problem. They believed the Bible account. So did Christ. That’s why Jesus talked plainly about what happened to Jonah. They all believed it. No modern seminary professors there!

Jesus believed in all the historical events and all the miracles of the Bible. Liberal teachers say those things didn’t happen, that they were myths, just stories that people made up. But that’s not what the Son of God believed! “[Jesus] constantly [treated] the historical narratives as straightforward records of fact” (John Wenham, Christ and the Bible, Baker Book House, 1984 reprint, p. 12).

Jesus Christ was a creationist! He didn’t believe in evolution. He believed that God made the first man and the first woman. As the eternal Son of God, He was there! And Christ said,

“Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4).

Again, He said,

“From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6).

Christ was a creationist. He believed in the existence of Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman. He believed they had children. One of their children was named Abel, who was murdered by his brother Cain. Christ spoke of “the blood of Abel” (Luke 11:51). Jesus believed this Bible history really happened.

Liberals and evolutionists don’t believe there was a worldwide Flood. They don’t believe there was a man named Noah who built a boat called the Ark. But Christ wasn’t a modern liberal. He believed in Noah and the Ark. Listen to what He said,

“As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

Today many people don’t believe that God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in fire for their sin. They don’t believe there was a man named Lot who escaped with his wife and daughters – and that his wife turned back and was buried in ashes, and became a pillar of salt. But Jesus believed it! Listen to what He said,

“As it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed... Remember Lot's wife” (Luke 17:28-30, 32).

Jesus believed what the Bible said!

Liberals don’t believe there was a man called Abraham who lived two thousand years before Christ and became the father of the Jewish people. But the Jews believed it – and so did Jesus. He said to them, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). Jesus believed in Abraham. He was the eternal Son of God, and He had seen Abraham!

Liberals don’t think there was a man called Moses who led the Hebrews out of Egypt and who received the Law from God. But the Jews believed in Moses, and so did Jesus. He said to them,

“Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me” (John 5:45-46).

There was common ground. It made sense for Christ to say this. Jesus and the Jews believed in Moses. Jesus told them that Moses wrote about Him as the Messiah.

Christ believed the Bible. He believed in the creation, in Adam and Eve, in Abel, in Noah and the Flood, in the destruction of Sodom, in Abraham and Moses. He believed Jonah was swallowed by a great fish! Jesus believed in all the people and events that modern liberals reject. He talked about them as literally real. “Curiously enough, the narratives that are the least acceptable to the so-called ‘modern mind’ are the very ones that he seemed most fond of choosing for his illustrations” (Wenham, Christ and the Bible, p. 13).

Is that a coincidence? No! Jesus was the Son of God. He knew that “there shall come in the last days scoffers” (II Peter 3:3) who would deny the Scriptures. He defended, ahead of time, everything that He knew people would reject. I’m glad He did. We can trust the Bible!

Most of you tonight would say, “I’m not like those liberals. Jesus knew what He was talking about. He never lied. I believe what Jesus said.” Good for you. But do you really believe what Jesus said? If you do, will you act on what He said? Christ said,

“Except ye be shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Jesus said you have to be converted, or you can’t go to Heaven. Do you believe what He said? Will you seek your conversion, or will you sit and do nothing? Will you listen carefully to the sermons you hear and read their manuscripts during the week? Will you pray to God to convict you of sin and draw you to Christ for pardon in His Blood?

Christ said, “The Son of man give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He died on the Cross as a ransom – a payment – for your sin. He shed His Blood to wash away your sin. Do you believe Him? Will you trust Him? Or will you look for a feeling instead of trusting Christ?

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Didn’t Christ speak the truth? Since He did, will you trust Him and receive eternal life? I pray that you will trust Jesus soon. Amen.

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