But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God...have you not read what was said to you by God?” — Matthew 22:29, 31 ESV

In our day, there is a rising interest in a faith centered on Jesus but not on the Bible. Some would say they are putting “Christ” back in Christian. Jesus was all about love, and while the Bible contains great wisdom in parts, it also contains lots of things that simply can’t be reconciled with the perspective of our modern day. Parts of the Old Testament and the writings of Paul are opposed to our culture’s definition of love.

This movement has called itself “Red Letter Christianity” because there have been editions of the Bible that put Jesus’ words in red while the rest of the words are in black. I am sure it started with the noble goal of drawing attention to the sayings of Jesus. But the movement that has taken its name has gone even further seeking to take an eraser to everything except the four New Testament Gospels (and the few sayings of Jesus outside of them).

In the rise of modern biblical criticism, even many of the red words have been put up for debate.

What should we make of the “Jesus-only Christianity” and the “Red Letter Christian” movement?

While Jesus’ words deserve our reverence and attention, the Savior would express real concerns with the “Red Letter” movement. His concerns would not be with font colors, but with not paying close enough attention to His words.

If Jesus began a Bible publishing company today, His Red Letter edition Bible would be red from cover to cover. All of the Bible, the Old and New Testament, are the words of Jesus because Jesus didn’t simply come into the world and teach for 30 or so years. Jesus existed before time, He is God from the beginning, and He claimed to be the One who revealed Himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Prophets (see John 1:1, 8:58). Jesus believed the Old Testament was true, spoken by God (Matthew 22:31), and that He was its point and central theme (Luke 24:44-49).

Jesus also taught that He would continue to speak beyond His earthly ministry through His apostles (John 16:13-15). His apostles were chosen first-century disciples who saw the events they described, including the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)! These earthly apostles even affirmed the writings of the later apostle Paul to be among the words of sacred Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). Everything we know about Jesus in the Gospels is found in the writings of His apostles. Outside of the gospels, we wouldn’t have any 1st century record of Jesus’ teachings to love one another, or any other aspect of his life and ministry. There is no witness of Jesus without Jesus’ apostles.

The only way to have “Jesus-only Christianity” is to have apostolic Christianity. There is no other Christian faith. The church is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets, Old and New Testament, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). There is one faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Jesus warns against “picking and choosing” which parts of His words to believe and which ones to reject. Jesus invites us to be Red Letter Christians by being whole Bible Christians.

He invites us to be “Jesus-only Christians” by making all of His Word our ultimate authority.

May we seek to study God’s Word in order to obey “everything Jesus commanded” knowing that He will be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).

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