REVISITING: As It Is Written | Brad Klassen
I received a question regarding Brad Klassen’s talk at the 2017 Shepherds’ Conference (which I posted here). There was some confusion as to what he was arguing, and this topic is definitely worth taking another look, so I typed up a quick summary as I listened. I hope it helps.
First, Klassen’s bio (here) reads as such:
Brad Klassen serves as instructor of biblical exposition at The Master’s Seminary. Prior to joining the seminary faculty in 2013, Brad served with Grace Ministries International in Russia for twelve years. Brad holds degrees from Providence University College (B.Th.) and The Master’s Seminary (M.Div., Th.M.), where he is currently pursuing his Th.D.
His topic was Christological in one way but bibliological in another. That is, it was to look at the Person of Christ in relation to the New Testament Scripture. The key question here is whether Jesus knew that His disciples would write Holy Scripture; Klassen argues that Christ both knew and authorized the New Testament canon.
Understand that this isn’t a new question. Skeptics have tried to cast doubt on the Bible since its inception, the most popular attacks today finding momentum in the Enlightenment. Some will only accept an explicit statement by Jesus Christ stating that He expected the New Testament to be published, ignoring the ample evidence already existing.
Klassen lists three lines of evidence that Jesus anticipated and authorized the New Testament:
First, Jesus chooses and trains twelve apostles to spread His message.
Second, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide them “in all truth.”
Third, He prays that the church will be sanctified by the apostolic message.
He doesn’t get into issues of canonicity (which books belong in Scripture or how the church recognized them). He does highlight, though, that the church does not define what books are in Scripture; God does that. Only that which God inspired belongs in the Bible; the New Testament books are the oracles of God, ergo, they belong in the Bible. The two books he recommends on the topic of canonicity by Michael Kruger are:
- · The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
- · Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
He also confesses his presupposition that the New Testament is from God and authoritative. Every person has starting principles when coming to the Scripture (it’s true, it contains truth, it’s false); Klassen starts with a supernatural perspective of Scripture. He assumes its inerrancy. (It would take too much time to argue all of this before getting to the question at hand, so I'm glad he kept the discussion focused.)
First, Jesus prepared His apostles.
Klassen breaks his first point into three sub-points.
A. Jesus carefully selected this group of men He designated as apostles. He had a three-year mission in part to focus on these men. Apostles means “sent ones,” those who go out with the authority of the sender (in this case, Christ). They were selected to be with Him and to be sent by Him as His heralds—they had to know Him and had to get His message right.
B. Jesus directly imparted to them over a three year period a significant amount of teaching. If they were to be His heralds, they needed to receive the message from Him. Others received parables, but they received private explanations.
C. Jesus assigns them to their mission in the world. He sent them out on missions with specific parameters and a proclamation. They had His delegated authority, and those who didn’t receive them didn’t receive Christ. These missions paralleled their life mission.
Second, Jesus promised His Holy Spirit to guide His apostles in all truth.
Jesus’s Word has eternal effects, as He affirmed on the Olivet Discourse. He elevated His Word to the level of the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit is the means by which His eternal Word endures.
As the apostles are warned of the persecutions to come, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would give them the words to speak. The Spirit would be “another Helper,” of the same kind as Jesus, so the apostolic teaching would continue. This would happen through the “Spirit of Truth” (Jesus also came in grace and truth) Who would bring all things to their remembrance. The Holy Spirit will bear witness, so, too, the apostles would bear witness. The Spirit would bring them back to Christ.
The Spirit would bring new words of revelation as well. The Paraclete will teach them what they were not yet ready to bear, things that Jesus wanted to impart. So, the Spirit will give information that ultimately comes from Christ.
Third, Jesus prays that the church will be sanctified by the apostolic message.
John 17 contains a lengthy communication from the Son to the Father. He specifically prays here for sanctification by the truth of the Word. He said that His words were the words from the Father, so the referent is that disciples would be cleansed by Jesus’s words (not simply the Old Testament). He then looks past the apostles to the rest of the church and asks the same thing, that the apostolic message (Christ’s message) would have its work.
This is just a quick summary, but Klassen proved his case. Give it another listen and fill in some of the Scripture references for your edification and sanctification.