by Tad Lindley
Lots of Bibles advertise themselves as having “Words of Christ in Red”. In fact, my favorite King James version is one that my grandmother gave me on September 29, 1986. It is well worn and doesn’t usually leave the house anymore, but on the title page near the bottom, it says in all capitals, “WORDS OF CHRIST IN RED”. This is a great feature, because in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the print is in both black and red. It makes it easier to locate things when looking for them.
Red ink Christians
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “Red ink Christians”. This is a reference to a minimalist approach to serving God. Such people believe that only the red ink in the Bible is inspired by God and therefore we can ignore the black ink. So for instance, they can argue that we don’t need to be actively involved in a church, since the bible verse which tells us not to skip church (Hebrews 10:25) is not in red, it’s in black. In other words, if Jesus didn’t say it during his 33 years on earth living among us, it doesn’t count.
The Bible was written by men anyway, so…
This is a common argument as well, “The Bible was written by men, not by God.” If you agree with that, imagine this. I am driving my truck on the river, and since I don’t want to die early, I do not text while driving. So I tell you, who are sitting next to me, “Take my phone and text my wife. Tell her, ‘We’re just passing Napakiak and should be home in about 20 minutes.’” Let me ask you this, who is that text from? Obviously it is from me. Even though somebody helped you typed the letters into the screen, the words are clearly mine. I am the author of the text.
When God said, “Can you text them for me?”
This is really no different than in times past when holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21). That verse actually starts out with these words: For the prophecy [the word of God] came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Pretty clear that it was not men planning a story with a plot and a conclusion, but God spoke to men like Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, and so many others, some of whose names we do not even know that they might compile what are the 66 books of the Bible.
Back up: who is Christ anyway?
When the fulness of time had come, God sent forth his Son born of a woman… (Galatians 4:4) The old time Jewish prophets had foretold that God would come as the Messiah, or the Christ. These prophecies were fulfilled in about 3 or 4 BC when a teenage virgin named Mary was overshadowed by the Spirit of God and gave birth to the Messiah. Writing about 700 years earlier, the prophet, Isaiah, moved by God wrote, Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Immanuel means “God with us”).
Jesus Christ was literally God with us; not God Jr., not a second or third God in a committee, but God with us. Watch. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, but the world knew him not (John 1:10). How about this, All the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth in him bodily (Colossians 2:9). Or this, …great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory (I Timothy 3:16). Or this one (in red ink in my Bible), Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58) Jesus is not a separate God. He is God. And for a period of about 33 years, he dwelt among us as the Son of God (or, as he often referred to himself, the Son of Man).
Words of Christ in red, words of Jesus in black
If you are fortunate enough to have a Bible that has the words of Christ in red, do not discount the black ink. The red ink is a reflection of sermons, statements, and conversations that came out of the literal mouth of the Son of God from about 4 BC until he said, …and unto the uttermost part of the earth in Acts 1:8. The black ink is a record of what God said to men outside of that 33 year window. Same author different ink colors.
Thanks to my good friend Mack Lincoln for the thought behind this column!
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.