As Christians we believe that the Bible is important, but how important is it really? Is it enough that we read a passage every day during our family devotions, only to forget about it the rest of the day? Is it enough that we stick to the simpler parts of the text and avoid the difficult passages? If you ask the average Christian if the Bible is God’s word, he’ll probably say yes. Ask him if we should live according to this word, he’ll still probably say yes. Yet, one of the main problems in the evangelical world today, is not an acceptance of the importance of the Bible, but a misunderstanding of how important it really is, or the nature of its importance. This affects the way we approach the Bible and how we handle different passages.
Too many evangelicals today pick and choose what they like to read in the Bible because they find some passages either too difficult to understand, or too contradictory to other passages in the Bible that they are unable to resolve. Yet, that is the task of the Christian who understands what the Bible is. People have either forgotten or misunderstood what it means to be Bible-believing, or to use a more contemporary phrase, bible-centred. A bible kept as a showcase piece on the centre table in the living room is central in a way that is not the kind of Bible centrality we are talking about. Being bible-centred is not a superficial ideology that one agrees with, it is an objective reality that one experiences when they believe and apply all of Scripture for all of life.
I would like to direct your attention to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, as I try to use Paul’s directive here to give you 5 key points on what God’s word is, that helps me realize how important it is, and the way it affects our lives.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Believing in the veracity of the Bible is profitable to the man of God because it informs and equips him in every part of his life.
Breathed Out By GodIt may be true that Paul has the Old Testament in mind when he writes this, but it is plain to us through the nature of the New Testament texts and how they were cited and received during the apostolic era, that the same applies to all the New Testament as well. God’s word from Genesis to Revelation, in the 66 books of the Bible, though it was written by men, was divinely inspired by God.
Jesus in answering the Sadducees, when they questioned Him on the resurrection, used the tense of a verb in Exodus to make His case. That is how much our Lord trusted the veracity of His own word. As bible-believing Christians, this phrase “breathed out by God” is enough for us to believe that texts of Scripture in their original writing were inerrant, infallible, and sufficient.
What about the contradictions in the Bible? Well, there are none. Now, I could get into the details of arguing this case (and the arguments are solid and are plenty available) but doing so here would compromise the reasonable length for this article. However, I would like to point out that much of the technical inconsistencies you may find in numbers, or specific words or phrases in one translation as compared to another, is the result of scribal errors that happened over centuries of the different texts being copied down. However, given the volume of manuscripts that are available to us, the science of textual criticism makes it abundantly clear that we have with us the entirety of God’s word, intact and preserved, with absolutely no room for theological contradictions.
But ultimately, our confidence in God’s word does not arise from the science of textual criticism but from the confession of Scripture itself. If the Bible is breathed out by God, then God may be trusted to preserve it. If he used the natural means of men writing, to breathe out His word, then it must not surprise us when God uses the natural means of scribes copying the texts over centuries, and the natural study of manuscripts by textual scholars as the means of preserving His word.
Most importantly, every word of the Bible that you hold in your hands is God speaking to you.
It Is ProfitableDid you know that everything (and I mean everything) we know and believe about the Christian life (in faith and practice) comes from the Bible? That at the very foundation of the Christian faith, is the word of God? Apart from this word, we have no way of knowing the meaning, the purpose, the plan and the fulfilment of all that has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen in the world. It is God who gave us everything, and it is only He who can tell us what everything means. God’s word is not the product of the Christian life. The Christian life is the product of God’s word.
Believing in the veracity of the Bible is profitable to the man of God because it informs and equips him in every part of his life. The following points elaborate on that.
He who made the whole world by the word of His power, is the one who awakens our spirit from death to life by the word of Christ.
It Teaches And Trains Us In RighteousnessThe Christian life is full of what we call “cause and effect”. If you believe in Jesus (the cause), you have eternal life (the effect). Jesus said, “If you love me (cause), you will keep my commandments (effect)”. If we abide in Christ (cause), we will bear good fruit (effect). If we pray (cause), the peace that surpasses understanding will guard our hearts and mind each day (effect).
Therefore, if you believe that the Bible is God’s word (cause), you will base your entire life on his word (effect).
We don’t go to the Bible just to learn the Jesus story, nor to drown in debates on supralapsarianism, we go to be trained in righteousness. That’s not an empty academic approach, it’s a life-changing approach. What this book teaches and trains us affects the way we live our lives. The Bible is neither a storybook for the unhinged romantic or a textbook for the academic snob, it is God’s word to His beloved saints.
It Reproves And CorrectsThe Christian faith is the sole and direct product of God’s word. He who made the whole world by the word of His power, is the one who awakens our spirit from death to life by the word of Christ. And faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. Therefore, by virtue of teaching and training, God’s word ensures to reprove and correct. There is a confidence with which we can approach the Bible because as Hebrews 4:12 points out, it is both living and active, able to discern the thoughts and intentions of its reader. This is, after all, God’s word. His word keeps us.
It Completes And EquipsIt trains us, and makes us complete, equipped for every good work. I often exhort my congregation by reminding them that if someone wrote a book containing a list of all the good works and bad works in the world, it’ll still not cover all the possible works one could do. You could always add more. Yet, the claim of Scripture here is altogether lofty because God tells us that His word is sufficient to equip a man for every good work. Not some, not a few, but every good work.
Many Bible-believing, Bible-confessing Christians base very little of their daily lives on the Bible. When push comes to shove, many of them believe that the Bible is inadequate to help them. They default to thinking that the Bible may not be right about everything. After all, it is a very old book that has been copied down over many centuries. No beloved. Do not fall for such foolish thoughts. Turn to God’s word to inform you, to teach and train, to reprove and correct you, in all aspects of life whether it be parenting, education, politics, work, philosophy, science, sociology, economics, church, home, life,…. (and everything under the sun).