News and Views
The Bible: Its Importance
In his book, “The Faith,” Charles Colson makes the statement, “All true Christians affirm that God has spoken; that the Bible is the Word of God.” (p. 50) It is through God's Word, the Bible, that we get the message of the Gospel; of the bad news of our own inherent separation from God because of human rebellion against Him; of the Good News that Jesus Christ lived, died in our place, and rose again so that we may be forgiven and reconciled to God; of our marching orders as to the kind of living that images God in us in ways that bring both honour to Him and the best quality of life to us; of the promise of Christ's return and our eternal life with Him. Of course, other people may bring much of this information to us through either spoken or written words, but unless we know the Bible for ourselves, we do not have an objective base for discernment of who accurately reflects God's message, and who is distorting, misusing, or changing it to suit their own ungodly purposes. Certainly, the broader culture communicates only misinformation and distortions regarding Christianity.
Knowing the Bible clarifies God's priorities for us. For example, these days much is made of the fact that God is love. Great. However, it is deceptive to emphasize God's love sentimentally without recognizing that God's justice is part of His love. When we consider Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, dying on the cross in our place so that we may be reconciled to God and have eternal life, we see in action both God's love for all humanity and God's justice that condemns all the rebellion, sin and evil that harm us and separate us from Him. It is because the cross displays both God's love and justice that Jesus could say, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)
Again, much is made of loving others, and rightly so, but how often are we reminded of Jesus' answer when He was asked which was the greatest commandment? He said, “The most important one is this, 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NIV) Obviously, Jesus is saying that God must be the most important love in our lives, which agrees with the first three of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Indeed, it is only as we are reconciled to God through Jesus and love Him most, that we are free to let His love flow through us to our neighbour. The key is that if God doesn't have first place in the Christian's life, something else is first, and that something else is actually a false idol that is worshipped instead of God.
Another aspect of Jesus' teaching that is seldom mentioned is His emphasis on equality. Putting God in first place, we are to love our neighbour as ourselves, not more, not less, but equally. In contrast to the self-exaltation of leaders, Jesus said, “But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.” (Matthew 23:8 NIV) He went on to declare His pattern of servant leadership and humility. In God's sight, we are all equal, so we need to see each other as equals created in God's image and loved by God.
These are some of the areas where knowing the Bible is essential to balanced understanding and to recognizing which writers and speakers are true to God's Word. In the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says, ”All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV) The Bible is the source of the knowledge necessary for obeying Jesus' command to make disciples and teach them to obey Him.
The Bible as God's true and authoritative Word is also important because it is the consistent, objective source of information about God against which we can measure and judge the truth and validity of subjective experiences. The Bible is the plumb line for truth.
Our spiritual life, our eternal life, depends upon our recognition of the Bible as the Word of God. It is only when we acknowledge that the Bible is the true and authoritative Word of God that we accept its message, accept its plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, are reconciled to God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and enter into loving relationship with Him through this life and all eternity.
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