When Jesus came along, setting off the first century AD, people were supposed to expect His coming. People should expect gravity. People get that. But why should they expect the coming of Jesus Christ? When God speaks, it is as good as or even greater than, a natural law. All laws came into being by His spoken Word. His Word is pure knowledge. Every time God said something would happen, it happened, and, therefore, happens. Someone might say there was no evidence to believe Jesus would come except what God said. His coming could be denied without "evidence," because they had only scripture.
Our justification by faith occurs through God's Word. I'm saying that faith comes by the Word of God, but also God declares someone righteous, or as Paul wrote in Romans 4:17, "[God] calleth those things which be not as though they were." Something is sinful. God calls it righteous. It is now righteous. It's like a contract that says, "This is your house." If the words are authoritative, it is in fact your house. Except that any human contract isn't as sure as the Word of God. As Hebrews says, God can't swear by anything greater than Himself. It's why at the inauguration, someone puts His hand on the Bible. The symbolism is still there, even if people do not believe that they are swearing by something greater, when they are putting their hand on the Bible.
If the Bible says it, then it is so. It qualifies as knowledge above other labeled knowledge. Faith is supreme epistemology. If we obtain the knowledge by faith, which comes from the Word of God, that is an incorruptible source, or as Peter wrote, "incorruptible seed" (1 Pet 1:23).
In this series on faith the only reliable epistemology, I arrived at the place of application of this truth. I, like the Bible itself and historical Christian doctrine, apply this epistemology to the preservation of scripture. It also applies to canonicity. Preservation and canonicity are actually the same argument from scripture. Consider with me John 14:24-26:
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Jesus presents His adherents, His apprentices, with comforting realities and calming truths, one of which is continued Divine Words after His departure. He takes them through the future process, which was akin to what the prophets also had experienced, who wrote the Old Testament. I will enumerate the steps (look above at the verses while I do):
- the Father's word to Jesus, Who sent Him (v. 24)
- Jesus' sayings (words), the things He spoke to His apprentices when He was present with them (vv. 24-25)
- the Father sending the Holy Spirit, Who will both bring to remembrance what Jesus said and also teach them all things, even more than what Jesus said (vv. 25-26)
Jesus said that the above process or steps were true. They were to occur. How do we know they would or that they did? We believe it, because He said it. This is knowing by faith. We can say we know we have 66 books of scripture? How do we know? We know by faith. We know we have all the words of God available to live. How do we know? We know by faith.
Some might say, "That's circular reasoning," or some type of "fideism." Justin Martyr wrote:
The word of truth is free, and carries its own authority, disdaining to fall under any skilful argument, or to endure the logical scrutiny of its hearers. But it would be believed for its own nobility, and for the confidence due to Him who sends it. Now the word of truth is sent from God; wherefore the freedom claimed by the truth is not arrogant. For being sent with authority, it were not fit that it should be required to produce proof of what is said; since neither is there any proof beyond itself, which is God. For every proof is more powerful and trustworthy than that which it proves; since what is disbelieved, until proof is produced, gets credit when such proof is produced, and is recognised as being what it was stated to be...But the utterances of truth we judge by no separate test, giving full credit to itself. And God, the Father of the universe, who is the perfect intelligence, is the truth. And the Word, being His Son, came to us, having put on flesh, revealing both Himself and the Father, giving to us in Himself resurrection from the dead, and eternal life afterwards. And this is Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. He, therefore, is Himself both the faith and the proof of Himself and of all things. Wherefore those who follow Him, and know Him, having faith in Him as their proof, shall rest in Him.