"How are we to understand the importance of
the Christian Bible?
Scripture is sufficient
to point all of us in the right direction if we will begin to
The Bible itself Declares
"Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the your God that I am giving you." - Deuteronomy 4:2
“So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them." - Deuteronomy 12:32
"Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark." - Isaiah 8:20
"That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth." - Acts 17:10-11
Dear brothers and sisters,I have used Apollos and myself to illustrate what I’ve been saying. If you pay attention to what I have quoted from the Scriptures,you won’t be proud of one of your leaders at the expense of another." - 1 Corinthians 4:6
"But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:14-17
For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name." - Hebrews 6:13
"Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’sown understanding,or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God." - 2 Peter 1:20-21
Can we trust the Word of God?
Thoughts from Heather Tomlinson
Many Christians just take it as a question of faith, or as a work of the Holy Spirit, who helps us to understand what God is saying. However valid this is, these responses aren’t very compelling to someone who has no Christian faith or no knowledge of the Holy Spirit. So what should we say to this question?
1. It's powerful
We’ve all heard stories of people coming to faith because they asked God to reveal himself, or asked him to help them to understand the Bible. For me it has become the Living Word of God, speaking to me very deeply – though it took some time in my relationship with God for this to happen. Even some who come to the Bible to try to discredit it find that they come to faith; David Wood being one example, who tried to prove Christianity wrong while in a prison cell, but left it as a believer. So just engaging with the Bible – reading it and asking questions - is a good place to start, as well as asking God for help.
2. Jesus stands out
I began my spiritual journey by reading lots of other scriptures, including the Koran and the Gnostic Gospels. I didn’t find anything compelling. What started my Christian journey was reading about Jesus in the biblical gospels, particularly Matthew. It was the teaching and behaviour of Jesus that struck me. I felt deeply that I wanted to live this life that Jesus outlined; to not be angry, to be compassionate to the suffering, to forgive enemies and not to respond with violence. (I found out later that I was incapable of doing so, and needed forgiveness and the Holy Spirit, but that’s another story).
Jesus leapt out from the pages, and still does; his personality, his life, and his love. So my first answer to the question 'Why is the Bible God’s word?' is to say; because it speaks of Jesus, it is our primary and most authentic record of what Jesus did and said, and that I find this man to be amazing. And I’d say, read it for yourself, and decide – do you want this Jesus, who is recorded in the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?
3. It's reliable
Some might say, well how do we know it’s the most accurate record? For me the difference between the biblical gospels and the later Gnostic gospels was obvious when I read them, even before I was a believer; and there are plenty of reasonable arguments for the case that the four gospels of the Bible are the most accurate historical accounts that we have of Jesus’ life. There are umpteen academics who believe this to be true. While it’s commonly thought that the 'Bible has been changed', check out some of the arguments that its meaning has been preserved.
4. Fulfilled prophecy
One of the most interesting things about the Bible is the predictions in the Old Testament and how they relate to the events of Jesus’ life in the New. For some of these, a hardened skeptic could argue that later scribes made up events to fit in with the Old Testament prophecies. However for the predictions in Isaiah 53 I think this is a difficult case to make, and given that it outlines the Christian message clearly, it’s worth exploring. The text says that the sins of the people will be born by an innocent man. We have copies of this that were written before Jesus’ birth, so we know the prophecy existed before his life and the meaning hasn’t been changed. It uncannily predicts what happened to Jesus, and clearly explains why he died – so that we could be declared righteous despite our sins and mistakes. Listen to some Jewish people engaging with this chapter for the first time.
There’s so much more to be said, from various different angles: the experience of the Bible coming alive, intellectual arguments, historical arguments and so on. It’s worth seeking them out.