“No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 2: 20-21, ESV
This post is not an attempt to ration the historical validity of Scripture. To reason such an argument would demand more than an exposition. Though I do indeed steadfastly believe in the reliability of Scripture for reasons outside of the Bible itself, this post is not dedicated to that argument. This post is intended to call those who proclaim Christ back to viewing the Bible as the final authority on all matters pertaining to life and godliness just as 2 Peter states.
All too often there are devout people I know who tiptoe around the notion of Scripture’s authority. For example, there are those who claim the Old Testament and its apparent contradiction with the New Testament is a cause to abandon that section of the Bible (let us pray Andy Stanley recents). Moreover, there are those who say the Bible truly is meaningful and from God, but it is tainted by the human hands that were used as scribes. Even this slight abandonment of the Bible carries the religion of Christianity into areas where it was never intended to tread.
Firstly, let us demonstrate what the Bible is not. The Bible is not a book or list of rules. In fact, all moral instruction is demonstrated to be an outflow of gratefulness upon faith in Christ, though we are constantly at war with our flesh. The Bible also is not comprised of to non-correlating sections titled the Old and New Testament. These two sections are historical, but that does not mean that they are part of separate narratives. Perhaps most controversially, the Bible is not solely purposed for our own convenience or self-betterment. It is not a divine self-help book, but an honest glimpse into the character and will of the Almighty God.
The Bible not a divine self-help book, but an honest glimpse into the character and will of the Almighty God.
Now, let us look at what the Bible indeed truly is. The primary purpose of the Bible is to know God. The intention is not solely to instruct and to guide but to also know the Creator who so graciously lavishes his love on us. It is a look into his will and purpose for his holy people, and this must be taken seriously. Furthermore, it must be approached reverentially. By this, I mean that we ought to stay true to what is found in the Bible.
Since the Scripture is not primarily based on humanity, but rather knowing God, we must not twist what it says in order to fashion a notion contrary to what each passage was originally intended to mean. Even if an idea we muster is not innately wicked, but the idea is contrary to the original context and meaning of the passage, then we have done an injustice to God. A solemn approach to the God of the universe must also extend to the word in which He inspired.
A solemn approach to the God of the universe must also extend to the word in which He inspired.
This idea has many clear applications, but they require effort from those reading the Bible. Firstly, we must always brush up on the context of what we are reading, especially when reading the epistles in the New Testament (due to the fact of them being occasional documents). This does not require an extensive research before walking into a time alone with God, but rather a charge to be humble enough to not intentionally extricate something clearly not there. Secondly, we must recognize that the Bible is canonized and finished. With the completion of the book of Revelation came not the conclusion of the Christian narrative, but the finality of what God has intended to be proclaimed as Scripture.
This does not require an extensive research before walking into a time alone with God, but rather a charge to be humble enough to not intentionally extricate something clearly not there.
With the precedent set by context and the conclusion of the Bible, we are provided with practical steps to rightly approach the Bible. Ergo, we are not called to meditate on the Bible while searching for a new revelation. This principle, called lectio divina, is a process wherein someone reading the Bible selects a word or phrase from passage to specifically meditate upon. Once this is finished, God is supposed to have revealed something divinely inspired that is new to the Christian meditating. Bluntly stated, this is someone creating a completely new meaning out of an established verse in Scripture. However, basic hermeneutics (interpretation and application of Scripture) asserts that a text cannot mean to us what it never meant in its original context. We must not suppose that we are able to create something the Bible was not intended to be, and to do so would be an act against the will of God.
Finally, we must realize that the Bible is not a mystical or ambiguous text, but the voice of God himself. When the Bible speaks, it is God speaking. This is perhaps an obvious statement but the ramifications are weighty. In the same way we are convicted when we misquote or disobey the word of our earthly father, how much more should we then be convicted by misquoting the maker of all things? The one who spoke and brought all beings into existence is the same person who breathed his life into the Scriptures.
In the same way we are convicted when we misquote or disobey the word of our earthly father, how much more should we then be convicted by misquoting the maker of all things?
To undermine the authority or be too lazy to honestly interpret the true meaning of the texts in the Bible would be a travesty. The man who endured the torment and wrath of our sins so that we may inherit eternal life also longs for us to know him through the Bible. If we only read the Bible for affirmation of our hearts desires or routinely take things out of context, that is not merely intellectually dishonest, but a dangerous willingness to take what God says and wills all too lightly.
If anything, let this post encourage us to be confident in what the Bible says. We are not confident in the Scriptures because of merely historical reasons, but because it is ordained by the God of the universe. From this, I suggest we treat it with a reverential awe, always being willing to submit our preconceived notions and desires aside in order to know God more.