The Bible (What and Why?)
“All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work“. (2 Tim. 3: 16 – 17).
The penultimate post ended with the importance of reading the Bible and praying to Spiritual growth. The next few posts will specifically consider these two very essential ‘lifestyles’ of the believer. This post focuses on what the Bible is and why it is important to read, study and meditate on it.
I can remember having a new testament bible back in the days. It was blue and ‘cute’ – a pocket bible. It was freely given by Gideons International. Also etched in my memory are the words on one of the first pages of that Bible. I searched for the quote recently and it is reproduced below:
“This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here, heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents”.
The above quote describes beautifully what the Bible is, why and how it should be studied. Few of the points in this quote are emphasised in the following nuggets:
- The Bible is God-inspired, man-inscribed and Church-compiled (2. Tim. 3:16)
- The Bible is forever relevant (Ps. 119:89)
- The Scripture is one (John 10:35)
- The Bible (Scripture) points to Christ (John 5: 39 – 40)
- The Bible is the Christian’s reference point (Acts 17:11)
- The essence (life) of the Bible (word) is in the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6)
- The Bible is not of private interpretation (2 Peter 1: 20 – 21)
In a world of no-absolutes, where everything is deemed subject to time, vogue, and what man feels is right, the Bible provides us with an unmoving standard. The Bible presents us with the ‘lighthouse’ which guides the navigation of our life’s ship to shore. It is important to a sailor that the lighthouse is fixed! As stated in the Bible, the foundation of the Lord stands sure (2 Tim 2:19). Put in another way, every other thing is a variable, the word of God is the constant!
While the context for certain injunctions in the Bible might be different, and by reason of this difference some actions are no longer required, the underlying standard remains constant. Take for example the old testament’s requirement for the sacrifice of animals (e.g. see Lev. 4 for sin offering). While the ultimate meaning of such sacrifice was demonstrated by Jesus on the cross and we do not need to sacrifice animals any longer, the standard of sacrifice remains. Hence, Romans 12:2 tells us to “present our bodies a living sacrifice”.
There are different reasons why the Bible is crucial and studying it is vital. Five of such reasons are:
- Life is dependent on it (Prov. 4: 20 – 22; Matt. 4:4; Josh. 1: 8)
- To know the will of God and be wise (Ps. 119:105; 2 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 5:17)
- To be pure and preserved (Ps. 119: 9 – 16; Prov. 4:23)
- To escape deceit (Eph. 4:14; Luke 4)
- To be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17)
- Real change is only through the word (2 Cor. 3:18; James 1:25)
In the next blog, we will attempt to answer questions including: how do we study the Bible? How do we deal with seeming contradictions? Do we take the bible literally at all times? How do we deal with the question of the so-called extra-biblical texts?
It suffices to conclude, for now, that regardless the objections of critics and unbelievers, the Bible is real and true. The word of God in it is living, active, powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Its stories are true; proven historically and archaeologically. But, beyond this, its continued relevance despite millennia of existence, is a proof in itself to its divine origin. The story was told of the French philosopher, Voltaire, who said centuries ago that “in 100 years the Bible the Bible will be a forgotten book, only to be found in museums”. 100 years after his death, his house was purchased by the Geneva Bible Society for the printing and distribution of the Bible.
Like John Cummings said, “the empire of Caesar is gone, but the Word of God still survives, the legions of Rome are mouldering in the dust, but the Word of God still survives, the avalanches that Napoleon heaped upon Europe have melted away, but the Word of God still survives, the pride of the Pharaohs has fallen, but the Word of God still survives. Tradition has dug for it a grave. Many a Judas has betrayed it with a kiss. Many a Demas has forsaken it, but the Bible still survives!”
We cannot but agree with Ravi Zacharias who said: “the Word of God remains eternal. Those who have tried to bury it only find out that the Bible rises up to outlive its pallbearers.”
Friends, the word is constant. It is the only mountain that does not move. It does not ‘respond’ to you; you ‘respond’ to it. And, there is always a response. If you kick against it, like one who kicks against the rock, you bear the pain! If you embrace it, like a mountain climber, you mount up! It might be difficult, some of its demands might seem like a tall order, but the word of God was never meant to be lived-out through man’s effort. Remember, by strength (effort) shall no man prevail (1 Sam. 2:9). The approach to the word must be with simplicity and humility. Only through this will we profit from the abundance of the word (Ps. 119:130). More will be said on this in the next post.