The Bible: God's Only Published Work
- Friday, February 09, 2007
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Convinced Christians regard the Bible not as an ordinary book and are teachable before it. They approach it not with thoughts about whether they are in contact with God's Word (that issue has already been settled) but only with questions about how God's message relates to their present situation and how they may best translate that message into their daily lives.
In the days when I was a pastor and a counsellor, whenever anyone would come to me complaining that the Bible was a difficult book to get into, I would begin not by attempting to lay out for them a reading plan or strategy but I would try to help them understand the nature of the book itself.
I would start off by saying something like this: nearly every brand of religion is based on a book. From the Book of Mormon to the Koran of Islam there are many illustrations of this fact. That is supremely true of the Christian faith also. It, too, is based on a book, a Holy Book called the Bible. Whilst all well-meaning Christians would speak with profound respect of the sacred writings of other faiths and would not deny the value of their ethical and moral principles, the Bible is in a category all of its own.
As Dr W E Sangster put it:
Whatever degree of divine inspiration may attach to other Christian writings (The Imitation of Christ, The Pilgrim's Progress and so on) the Bible is unique in that it contains the only record of God's incarnate life, the spiritual pilgrimage of the race among whom He was born, and the birth of the Christian Church. Scripture is not the first of a group; it is in a classification alone. It is not the leader of equals; it is a book apart.
Listen to what the Bible has to say about itself:
…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).
It says this also:
All 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 Tim 3:16).
…we also thank God continually 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, which is at work in you who believe (1 Thess 2:13).
Just as in the mystery of the Incarnation God linked Himself to humanity, so in the mystery of the inspiration of Holy Scripture God made use of human channels, yet without surrendering His divine authority or permitting the book to become the word of man rather than the Word of God. Both men and message were inspired.
If, when reading the Bible, we are in contact with God's eternal Word, how can Christians not help then but study it daily, store their memories with precious fragments of it, learn its highways and its byways, and make its reverent reading a prime part of every day? Not to do so almost borders on unbelief.
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One great Welsh preacher, John Morgan, said: "The point at which all Christians know they are growing is when they desire to have the mind of Christ in their mind." This being so, to imagine one can know the mind of Christ without soaking in the book where alone it is disclosed is folly of the first order.
One of the great passions of my life has been to encourage people to get into the Scriptures on a daily basis. In 1965 I began to encourage people to get into the Bible by writing a series of daily Bible notes entitled Every Day with Jesus. This year (AD 2000) I celebrate the 35th anniversary of that publication which began with distribution amongst a handful of people and is now read in 150 countries of the world by nearly half a million people every day.
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