Depending on the translation you are reading, The phrase “It is written. . .” appears nearly 100 times in Scripture, almost 30 of which are in the Old Testament and the remainder in the New Testament.
It was spoken by prophets in the OT to remind God’s people of what was written in the Law of Moses, and served as a reminder of God’s complete sovereignty over His creation.
In the NT we find it used again as a reminder of what had been written in the Law, but even more to demonstrate that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah.
It was used by Jewish leaders a few times to try and trap Christ, and by Satan to to tempt the Lord to sin, thereby ruining God’s perfect plan of redemption..
Jesus used the phrase close to 20 times, to emphasize that He fulfilled messianic prophesy, as well as to turn the tables on the Jewish religious leaders who tried to use the Law to trap Him! Additionally, the Son of God, who had power over Satan in His divinity, replied to Satan three times with ‘”it is written” when tempted in the desert, demonstrating the greatest weapon we mortals have against the enemy of our souls!
The importance of that which has been written, revealed to us by God Himself through divinely inspired writers, cannot be overstated. “It is written”, when used in scripture, equates to “thus saith the Lord’ and should be responded to with the same attitude and respect that would be afforded God Himself if he appeared and spoke face to face, and nothing less.
Then we have the Apostle Paul cautioning believers in Corinth not to exceed what is written:
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” – 1 Cor 4:6
The specific context concerns ‘personality cults’ that had developed in the young Corinthian church, but anyone paying minimal attention to today’s evangelical landscape can see a striking resemblance to current events.
Revelation, the last Book of the Bible begins with a blessing pronounced on those who read and heed the ‘words of the prophecy’ (Rev 1:3), and ends with stark warnings to those who would add to it or take anything away from it in the very last chapter. It has been debated whether the warning pertains to just the Revelation of John or the entire Bible. Nevertheless, for the wise Christian, the warning should apply to both contexts – to all that has been “written” to us.
What has already been written trumps every teaching or doctrine of mere men. If you want to find out if the preaching and teaching you are receiving is right and true, lay it alongside what has been written and you will soon find out, and no teacher or preacher should feel insulted if you do.
You can trace nearly every unorthodox teaching, ‘interesting’ but not quite right doctrine, ‘out there’ Christian cult, apostasy, or downright heresy in the entire history of the church, to the misuse of, adding to, or taking away, from ‘what is written’.
Food for thought. . .