Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy
I grew up in
a household where the Bible was not read. I can't recall having
seen a Bible in my home. My father never referred to it. My mother
admired the literary qualities of the King James version, and sometimes
quoted a phrase from it as one would quote from Shakespeare or Emerson,
but that was all. My own love of, and respect for, Scripture has
come to me late in life.
My father considered
himself an atheist. By that he meant that he tried to deal only
with what he regarded as facts - things that could be measured or
demonstrated scientifically, or dollars and cents business and economic
data. For him, anything else either did not exist; or he couldn't
handle it, and so he ignored it as much as he could. In Paul's terminology,
he considered only "what is seen" and denied the existence
of anything unseen (see 2 Corinthians 4:18). (All Scripture quotations
are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted; any
emphasis is mine unless otherwise noted.)
In the early
1940s I came to Washington, D.C. as a New Deal lawyer. I believed
in man's capacity to solve any problem by the correct application
of enough intellect, energy and money. I have since learned better.
We became active in the Unitarian Church, which, as I experienced
it, believed in man's ability to perfect himself by his own efforts.
I remember a time when someone, for some reason, wanted to consult
the Bible and there was none to be found in the church building.
Later my wife and I became members of a New Age organization in
Virginia Beach, based on the psychic "readings" of Edgar
Cayce. They encouraged people to read the Bible, but always through
the lens of the Cayce materials.
At age 66 I
decided that the Cayce materials and the Bible were inconsistent
with each other, and I decided to trust the Bible and to take it
at face value. Since then, under various pastors and professors
(I have a Master's Degree in Biblical Studies), I have read and
studied the Bible quite a bit. I find that the more I read it, the
more amazed I am at how it all fits together. I am also amazed at
how I can keep coming back to the same passages and find new material
and new insight into them.
When, in 1983,
I decided to put my faith in the Bible, and in the God it reveals,
I felt that these words of Psalm 40:2-3 had a special meaning for
me: "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and
mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."
Scripture is the "rock", the "firm place" on
which I can stand. When everything around me seems like quicksand,
it stands solid and secure. For me, Scripture has become the touchstone
of truth, by which I evaluate everything else.
only become such a rock, such a touchstone, if we accept its authority
as the word of God. In this paper I want to indicate why I believe
we should accept it as authoritative. I shall also talk about the
power it can have over our lives if we allow it to, and the joy
it can give us. I also touch briefly on a few basic principles of
interpreting Scripture. I hope that in so doing I may help some
to discover what can be a major source of both security and joy
in their lives, as it has been in mine.
Much has been
written about Scripture and its authority. I have drawn on some
of this literature. But perhaps what I can best contribute is some
personal sense of what the Bible has come to mean to me. I respect
the work of professional scholars. But I shall try to write in simple,
nontechnical terms, partly in the hope of being understood, and
partly out of a sense that if I can't express my ideas in simple
lay language then I may not understand them very well myself.
Bible is the Revealed Word of God
the Bible is a collection of 66 books, written by some 42 different
human authors over a period of about 1500 years. But actually it
has a single author. The entire Bible is the word of God. It declares
this many times over. This is an amazing assertion, but I believe
it is true. I think we cannot get much benefit from the Bible unless
we are willing to accept it as the word of God.
Bible has two basic divisions which we call the Old Testament and
the New Testament. I believe they are a seamless web. The Old Testament
points to the New; the New Testament fulfills the Old. Both are
inspired by the same author, who does not change. Everything I say
in this paper applies to both.
Scripture is Inspired by God
is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16, King James
Version). The Greek word, theopneustos, literally means "God-breathed"
or "God-spirited". (From theos, "God"
and pneuma, "breath" or "spirit"). Everything
in Scripture is breathed, or inspired, by God. Romans 3:2 says that
the Jews, to whom the Old Testament Scriptures were given, had been
entrusted with "the very words of God."
past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times
and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us
by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom
he made the universe" (Hebrews 1:1-2). What an amazing statement!
God speaks to men and women. The Bible is our record of the words
he has spoken.
the people of Thessalonica because, "when you received the
word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the
word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God" (1 Thessalonians
2:13; see also Galatians 1:11-12).
We find many
specific examples that confirm these general statements.
Much of what
we find in the Old Testament prophetic books is the direct words
of God, spoken in the first person. For example, God said to Jeremiah
"Now, I have put my words in your mouth." "Stand
up and say to them whatever I command you" (Jeremiah 1:10,
17). Isaiah declares, "So this is what the Sovereign Lord says",
"This is what God the Lord says" (Isaiah 28:16, 42:5).
Amos says much the same (Amos 1:3, 6, 11,13, 2: 1, 4, 6). So do
the other prophets. Much of Exodus and Deuteronomy consists of the
direct words of God which were spoken to Moses and which Moses delivered
to the people. I could give a great many further examples. Summarizing
all this, Peter wrote, "prophecy never had its origin in the
will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by
the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). (I shall discuss the whole
question of prophecy more fully later in this paper.)
God also told
his prophets to write down the words he spoke to them. He told Jeremiah,
"Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken
concerning Israel, and all the other nations" (Jeremiah 36:2).
When the King burned that scroll God told him to write another (Jeremiah
36:28). Moses wrote "in a book the words of this law from beginning
to end" (Deuteronomy 31:24). "This law" refers, I
believe, to all the words God spoke to Moses.
God told Joshua
to meditate day and night on "this Book of the Law" (Joshua
by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, referring to one of the
Psalms, said, "David, speaking by the Spirit" (Matthew
22:43). Peter referred to "the Scripture... which the Holy
Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David" (Acts 1:16).
Peter and John said that God "spoke by the Holy Spirit through
the mouth of your servant, our father David" (Acts 4:25).
3:7-8; 7:10-15, and 24:2-13 record the very words of God. Throughout
Samuel's life "the Lord revealed himself to Samuel through
his word" (1 Samuel 3:21). 1 Samuel 8:7-9, 22 records the words
of God spoken to Samuel. Chapters 38-41 of Job record the words
of God spoken to Job. 2 Chronicles 7:12-22 records the very words
which God spoke to Solomon one night, words of promise and warning
to the nation of Israel. 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 gives a prophecy,
"This is what the Lord says to you", by the prophet Jahaziel,
giving hope, encouragement and a battle strategy to the kingdom
of Judah. Genesis records many direct words of God, spoken to Adam,
Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There are many other such examples.
that the words he spoke (which are recorded in Scripture) were the
very words of God. "What I have heard from him [God] I tell
the world" (John 8:26). "For I did not speak of my own
accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and
how to say it... Whatever I say is just what the Father told me
to say" (John 12:49-50). "I gave them the words you [God]
gave me" (John 17:8).
Should we then
say that these particular examples, and the many similar examples
that could be given, are the words of God while the rest of Scripture
is not? No. The basic principle is that "all scripture is God-breathed".
Some parts are the direct words of God. In other parts the precise
wording may be by its human author, but all of it is inspired by
that those who take the Bible as literature, or as human teachings
or human historical accounts, are not taking it according to its
own terms. It is inspired by God, breathed out by God, and we need
to accept it on that basis. The difference is vitally important.
If the Bible is just a human book, then we are free to take what
we like out of it and reject the rest. But if it is the word of
God, then we must accept it all. If it is a human work, we can judge
it. If it is the work of God, it judges us.
God Speak to People?
Some may ask,
does God really speak to people, give them his exact words, as many
of the passages cited above say? How can this be?
arises because most people have not heard God speak in this way.
He does not do so to everybody. But Scripture records many cases
in which God has spoken directly to certain individuals, and even
carried on fairly extended conversations with them. Following are
a few examples of such conversations. Adam (Genesis 3:8-19); Noah
(Genesis 6:13-7:4; 9:1-17); Abraham (Genesis 15:1-9; chapter 18);
Moses (Exodus 3:1-4:17); Isaiah (chapter 6); Paul (Acts 9:4-6);
Peter (Acts 10:13-15).
of Scripture is very clear that God does talk to people. "God
spoke", he "has spoken" (Hebrews 1:1-2), and men
have recorded his words. He has done so many times. To those who
would still say, "But he can't do this", I simply reply
that Scripture tells us that "nothing is impossible with God"
(Luke 1:37). (I discuss what that means more fully later in this
On the evidence
of Scripture, I think we must conclude that much of Scripture records
the direct words of God and all of Scripture is inspired by God.
All of it is God's book, given in the words God wanted, to achieve
and the Apostles Treated
Scripture as Authoritative
The Old Testament
Scriptures are quoted or referred to over 1,000 times in the New
Testament. Always they are treated as authoritative.
of his life on earth as the fulfillment of Scripture. He said that
he had come "to fulfill" the Law and the Prophets - that
is, the Old Testament Scriptures (Matthew 5:17). At the beginning
of his ministry he said, "The time has come" (Mark 1:15).
He read in the synagogue from Isaiah 61:1-2 and then said, "Today
this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21). He
several times spoke of events in his life as the fulfillment of
Scripture (see Mark 14:49; John 13:18, 17:12). "The Scriptures
must be fulfilled" (Mark 14:49). He said of his parables, "In
them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah" (Matthew 13:14).
He said that the Scriptures "testify about me" (John 5:39).
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter drew
his sword and struck the High Priest's servant; Jesus said, "Do
you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at
my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would
the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"
(Matthew 26:53-54). Jesus was so convinced that the Scriptures must
be fulfilled that he went to an agonizing death without resistance.
After his resurrection, while walking with two disciples on the
road to Emmaus, Jesus "explained to them what was said in all
the Scriptures concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). Later he said
to the disciples, "This is what I told you when I was still
with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me
in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" (Luke 24:44).
the devil's temptation by quoting Scripture, saying , "it is
written" (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). He told some Sadducees, "You
are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power
of God" (Matthew 22:29). He often referred to Scripture in
his discussions and teachings, declaring "it is written"
(for example, Matthew 26:31). He said, "Haven't you read this
Scripture?" (Mark 12:10; Matthew 19:4, 21:16, 42). And always
it is with the assumption that Scripture is true and authoritative.
similarly treated Scripture as authoritative. Peter quoted Psalms
to show that it was necessary to choose one to take Judas' place
among the twelve disciples (Acts 1:20-22). On the Day of Pentecost
he said, "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel"
(Acts 2:16). Repeatedly he quoted from Scripture (see, for example,
Acts 2:25-28, 34-35, 4:11, 25-26). The gospel writers repeatedly
point out how events in Jesus' life are the fulfillment of prophecies
in Scripture. The epistles repeatedly quote Scripture as authoritative.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3 Paul summarizes the gospel he has taught:
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according
to the Scriptures..."
If Jesus and
the apostles treated Scripture as authoritative, should not we?
Areas in Which Some Find Problems
Before I go
any further I want to deal with two areas which make it difficult
for some to accept the Bible as true.
and the Supernatural
The Bible is
full of miracles and supernatural events. There are miraculous healings
by Jesus, his disciples, Paul, Elijah and Elisha. People are raised
from the dead. There is multiplication of food, calming of a storm,
walking on water, and much else. There are crossings, dry shod,
of the Red Sea and the Jordan River. Three young men were thrown
into a very hot furnace and not burned; Daniel was thrown into a
den of lions and not harmed. At Elijah's command there was no rain
or dew in Israel for three and one half years. At Moses' command
many plagues came upon Egypt. At Joshua's command the sun stood
still for a day.
There are miraculous
victories in battle: the walls of Jericho falling, Gideon's army
of 300 defeating many thousands, Jehoshaphat defeating a much larger
army without even having to fight, an angel striking 185,000 Assyrians
dead and saving Jerusalem from attack.
There are appearances
of angels, and casting out of demons.
There are even
more amazing things than these. At God's command the physical universe
was created. There was a flood that destroyed the whole world. Jesus
was fully God and fully man. Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
Jesus, Elijah and Enoch were taken up bodily into heaven.
How can anyone
believe that such things actually occurred? And if they did not
occur, why should anyone believe the Bible? How can it be said to
have been inspired of God if it tells of things that are simply
To our western,
scientific/materialist minds the question may seem unanswerable.
But I have no problem with it. I have no problem with accepting
all of these supernatural things as having actually happened.
If God is God
then he is all-powerful. That's what it means to be God. It's part
of his nature.
And if he is
all-powerful, then he can do anything. This is exactly what Scripture
tells us. "Nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).
"With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). God
"can do all things" (Job 42:2). "Is anything too
hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14).
that God is above everything. God said, "I am God and there
is no other. I am God and there is none like me" (Isaiah 46:8).
Jesus Christ (who is God, John 1:1) is "far above all rule
and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given,
not only in the present age but also in the one to come" (Ephesians
1:21). God is not limited by the "laws of nature" or anything
else. His power and authority have no limits.
This may be
hard for our modern Western minds to accept. But it is what God's
word tells us over and over. If we can once really accept it, then
there should be no difficulty accepting the Bible at face value
when it tells of supernatural events.
Some will say,
"does this mean that God can violate the laws of nature?"
I think the question has a faulty premise. What we call "the
laws of nature" are not laws at all. They are the best efforts
of scientists to describe what God has created and to predict how
it will function. Scientists have done a very good job of this,
and their descriptions and predictions usually work. But their descriptions
and predictions are necessarily incomplete because they have no
tools with which to describe God or to predict how he will act.
God is not limited by the descriptions men have formulated. He is
not limited by man-made "laws". Much as we may admire
science, the human scientists have no power or authority to tell
God what he can or cannot do.
fact that "the laws of nature" change from time to time.
It used to be said that matter cannot be destroyed. Now it is said
that matter can be converted into energy and vice versa. It used
to be said that one chemical element could not change into another.
With the discovery of radioactivity, we know they can. It used to
be said that everything operated by a principle of continuity. Now
many scientists believe there was a discontinuous creative event,
a "big bang", that got everything started. Etc. Does this
mean that the "laws of nature" have changed? Does "nature"
operate differently than it used to? Of course not. It merely means
that scientific descriptions have become more nearly accurate.
When God does
a miracle he is not acting outside of, or contrary to, the "laws"
of the universe. He is merely acting outside the comprehension,
and sphere of activity, of scientists.
been some who, in an effort to make the Bible more acceptable to
our Western scientific mindset, have sought to remove the miracles,
the supernatural events, from the Bible. Sometimes they try to explain
them in naturalistic terms - which are often harder to accept than
the Biblical, supernatural, explanations. Sometimes they deny that
these passages are authentic. The effort is bound to fail. God,
by definition, is supernatural. To take the supernatural out of
the Bible is to take God out of the Bible. Then it is no longer
the Bible. It is no longer the record of God's words and actions
but is just an ordinary book of human wisdom.
of the Old Testament are referred to as prophetic books. Prophecy
is simply God speaking through a human. "This is what the Lord
says" (Amos 1:3). Often these words of God are saying how God
sees what is going on in the world. Sometimes they include predictions
of future events.
the Bible is not limited to these 17 books. Moses is said to have
been the greatest prophet (Deuteronomy 34:10) and the book of Deuteronomy
begins with these words, "Moses proclaimed to the Israelites
all that the Lord had commanded him concerning them" (Deuteronomy
1:3). There are many other prophecies in the Old Testament. There
are a number of predictive prophecies in the New Testament. Jesus,
who referred to himself as a "prophet" (Matthew 13:57),
gave a tremendous end-time prophecy (a prophecy of what would occur
at his Second Coming) recorded in Matthew chapter 24. Jesus gave
a number of other predictive prophecies. Both Paul and Peter gave
predictive prophecies (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians
4:13-5:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-2:12; Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-9;
2 Peter 3:10-13) . Revelation is a "prophecy" (Revelation
1:3, 22:18), a vision of "what must take place after this"
As I have already
noted, both Jesus and the gospel writers repeatedly spoke of aspects
of Jesus' life as the fulfillment of prophecy.
Some have trouble
with these passages of Scripture because they do not believe future
events can be predicted. My answer is, very simply, if all things
are possible with God, why cannot God give his chosen prophets advance
knowledge of things that are going to happen? This is exactly what
he says he does. "I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times what is still to come" (Isaiah 46:10). "I
foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and
I made them known; then suddenly I acted and they came to pass"
(Isaiah 48:3). Jesus warned his disciples of what would happen in
the end times, and said, "See, I have told you ahead of time"
(Matthew 24:25). Scripture says,"Surely the Sovereign Lord
does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets"
(Amos 3:7). Why should we not believe him?
a great many prophecies that have been fulfilled. I shall mention
only a few.
a group of people were taken from Jerusalem to Babylon, the prophet
Jeremiah prophesied that the captivity in Babylon would last 70
years (Jeremiah 29:10). When the 70 years were up, Daniel, who
was one of the captives, prayed intensely for his people (Daniel
9:1-19). The result was that "in order to fulfill the word
of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus
king of Persia" to allow the Israelites to return to Jerusalem
and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1). (By this time Persia had conquered
Psalm 22 (written
about 1000 B.C.) and Isaiah chapter 53 (written about 700 B.C.)
give remarkably vivid descriptions of the crucifixion of Jesus,
which occurred about 30 A.D. It's almost as if the prophets were
actually seeing it happen.
before his crucifixion, predicted that the great temple in Jerusalem
would be destroyed and "not one stone here will be left on
another" (Matthew 24:2). Some 40 years later, in 70 A.D.
the temple was utterly destroyed by the Romans; not one stone
was left standing.
who cannot accept the idea of prophecy have assumed that these writings
must have been written after the date of the event prophesied. For
example, they ascribe quite late dates for the second half of Isaiah
and for Daniel. There are two major problems with this. (1) It is
contrary to the fact that the words are given as prophecies of future
events. In effect these critics are saying that Scripture, in this
respect, is false. They are saying that the authors of these books
are liars and deceivers. (2) It fails to deal with many other predictions
by the same prophets of events which have not yet occurred. For
example, Isaiah gave many prophecies of the coming of Jesus. We
know they were given before the event occurred because one of the
Dead Sea scrolls, dated a century or more B.C., is a manuscript
of the book of Isaiah. Again, both Isaiah and Daniel prophesied
events which have not yet occurred. The logic of these critics'
position would seem to require us to conclude that the books of
Isaiah and Daniel have not yet been written! In this area, as in
all others, I think the wisest course is to take the Bible on its
Power of God's Word
Bible is the word of God it has a power that no other book has.
It can change people's lives. It works in them, if they will allow
Here are some
of the things Scripture says about the power it has and the ways
in which it can affect our lives. I have seen them confirmed over
and over in my own life and that of many others. There are probably
many more things that could be said about this. What follows are
just the things that impressed themselves on my mind as I was writing
this. Hopefully they will suggest how much the Bible has meant to
many and how much it can mean to anyone who approaches it with the
Word is Alive and Powerful
word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged
sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of
joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents
of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12, New King James Version). Much
could be said about this remarkable passage, but for the present
I wish to emphasize simply that it says that God's word, in Scripture,
is alive and powerful; it cuts sharply; and it discloses and discerns
our inner thoughts and intentions. There are many, including myself,
who can confirm this by their own experience. As we read and reflect
on Scripture, there are passages which have a way of jumping out
at us. They may bring a new revelation of who God is and what his
ways are, or a new understanding of one's self. They may say to
us forcefully, "This is something you need to deal with, now."
The process is not always enjoyable, but the end result is always
good. Perhaps one reason some do not like to read Scripture is that
they do not wish to have the thoughts and intents of their heart
Jeremiah, writing some 600 years earlier, said something quite similar.
"'Is not my word like fire,' declares the Lord, 'and like a
hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'" (Jeremiah 23:29).
created the physical universe. "And God said" (Genesis
1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, 26). "He spoke, and it came to be; he
commanded and it stood firm" (Psalm 33:9). "He commanded
and they were created" (Psalm 148:5). "By faith we understand
that the universe was formed at God's command" (Hebrews 11:3;
see also Romans 4:17). If God's word had the power to create the
physical universe out of nothing it should not surprise us that
his word has power over our lives.
Paul has told
us, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans
12:2). The transformation he is calling for is a radical one. We
are to become like God in character, to "put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness"
(Ephesians 4:24), to have "the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians
2:16), and to be "transformed into [God's] likeness with ever-increasing
glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18). (See my paper "Be Transformed").
It is Scripture, more than anything else, that is the agent for
this transformation. It is through reading Scripture, studying Scripture,
making Scripture a part of us, that we come to know God's ways,
his heart and his character, and can begin to bring ourselves into
conformity with them.
God is at work
in those who believe in him and his son Jesus Christ. "He who
began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" (Philippians
1:6). "It is God who works in you to will and to act according
to his good purposes" (Philippians 2:13). "In all things
God works for the good of those who love him..." (Romans 8:28).
God is "able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians
3:20). Paul said, "I labor, struggling with all his energy,
which so powerfully works within me" (Colossians 1:29). One
of the principal ways God works in us is through his Scripture.
Paul wrote that the gospel he preached is "the word of God,
which is at work in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
life should be a life of spiritual growth. We are to grow "in
the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10). We are to "become
mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ"
and "grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ"
(Ephesians 4:13, 15). We are to "add" various qualities
to our faith (2 Peter 1:5). Much of this growth is achieved through
reading and study of the Bible. It by Scripture that "the man
of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy
of transformation does not come quickly. It continues throughout
our life. Near the end of his life Paul wrote that he had not yet
"attained" (Philippians 3:12, KJV). But, he wrote, "I
press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of
me" (Philippians 3:12, NIV) Nor does the transformation come
easily. The "old self" does not give up without a struggle.
When Paul said we must go through "much tribulation" to
enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22, KJV), he was speaking of physical
things, but I think the statement applies also to the inner conflicts
we often have to work through. Thanks be to God, we can prevail.
"We are more than conquerors through him who loved us"
(Romans 8:37). Jesus never said it would be easy, but he said it
would be worth the effort.
Part of this
transformation is a cleansing. Scripture tells us to "throw
off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles"
(Hebrews 12:2). Scripture enables us to do this. The Psalmist wrote,
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against
you" (Psalm 119:11). He says that we can keep our way pure
"by living according to your word" (Psalm 119:9). Jesus
prayed, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth"
(John 17:17). Peter said, "It is written: 'Be holy, because
I am holy'" (1 Peter 1:16).
was tempted in the desert, he resisted the temptation by standing
on Scripture. Three times he said, "it is written", and
then the devil left him. (Matthew 4:1-11).
Is Able to Save Us
of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly
accept the word planted in you, which can save you" (James
1:21). (The King James Version calls it "the engrafted word.")
We need to have the word of God "engrafted" in us so that
it is a very part of us. Paul speaks of "the holy Scriptures
which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ
Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15).
Is Our Source of Truth
"Your [God's] word is truth" (John 17:17). He told his
disciples, "If you hold to my teachings... you will know the
truth" (John 8:31-32). Jesus told the Sadducees, "You
are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power
of God" (Matthew 22:29). The gospel is "the word of truth"
(Ephesians 1:13). "All your words are true" (Psalm 119:160).
Scripture commends the Bereans because, after Paul had taught them,
they "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul
said was true" (Acts 17:11).
It is against
Scripture that we measure our own thoughts and what we hear from
others. Scripture is the touchstone by which we know what is true.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path"
(Psalm 119:105). "Direct my footsteps according to your word"
(Psalm 119:133). "The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple" (Psalm 119:130). "Give
me understanding according to your word" (Psalm 119:169).
us to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ"
(2 Corinthians 10:5). One of the best ways to do this is to compare
our thoughts with Scripture. We identify every thought that is not
Scriptural and replace it with the truth of Scripture.
Is Our Spiritual Food
Deuteronomy 8:3, said, "It is written: 'Man does not live on
bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'"
(Matthew 4:4). In Deuteronomy 8, God's word is compared to the manna
which was given daily as physical food. The implication is that
we need the spiritual food of God's word daily. (The same comparison
is suggested in John 6:47-51). I believe that when Jesus prayed
"give us today our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11) he was
speaking, not only of physical nourishment, but also of spiritual
nourishment from the word of God.
says, "you need someone to teach you the elementary truths
of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food"
(see also 1 Corinthians 3:2). Again we see the comparison between
God's word and physical food. God's word is our spiritual food that
we need daily.
Teaches, Encourages, and Strengthes Us
is "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training
in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16). "Everything that
was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through
endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have
hope" (Romans 15:4).
Enables Us To Succeed
God told Joshua,
just before he began the conquest of Canaan, "Do not let this
Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night,
so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then
you will be prosperous and successful" (Joshua 1:8). David,
Israel's greatest king, wrote of the man whose "delight is
in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night";
he said that that man "is like a tree planted by streams of
water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not
wither. Whatever he does prospers" (Psalm 1:2-3). Jesus taught
that "everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them
into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat
against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation
on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does
not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house
on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew
and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash"
In his explanation
of the parable of the sower Jesus said that when "the word
of God" is sown, it can fall on different kinds of soil. It
can be stolen, or wither away, or be choked out. "But the seed
on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear
the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" (Luke
8:11-15). It is those who receive the word of God, retain it and
persevere who bear good fruit, "a crop, a hundred times more
than was sown" (Luke 8:8).
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life
and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his
own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great
and precious promises, so that by them you may participate in the
divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil
desires" (2 Peter 1:3-4). It is primarily through Scripture
that we gain our knowledge of God, and it is in Scripture that God's
"very great and precious promises" are recorded.
like to compare Scripture to an owner's manual, in which the manufacturer
of a product tells us how his product is intended to operate and
how it needs to be cared for and maintained. If we don't follow
the owner's manual - if we don't change the oil and replace it with
the right kind of oil, or keep the tires properly inflated, etc.
- the product will not function as it should and may break down.
In the Bible, God, who created us, tells us how we are expected
to function. If we understand and follow his instructions we will
be successful. If we do not follow them we can expect to have a
lot of trouble.
To avoid misunderstanding
I need to point out that God's idea of succeeding and prospering
is usually different from ours. We tend to use material wealth as
the measure of success. These passages of Scripture are talking
about succeeding and prospering in the sense of doing what you set
out to do, accomplishing the task that God has given you. I am not
saying that reading the Bible will make you wealthy. I am saying
that if you allow the Bible to work in your life and change you,
you are much more apt to lead a life that is satisfying and fulfilling.
Word Lasts Forever
word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens" (Psalm
119:89). "The word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah
40:8). Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my
words will never pass away" (Matthew 24:35).
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