In our culture today that question probably sounds like nonsense. We place ourselves as the final authority in life on all matters, however, this isn’t very logical because all we have to do is look back on the last 6-months of our lives to see that our “final authority” isn’t very reliable.
This is why Scripture is so important.
I know there are some objections and concerns so let me respond quickly:
1. But, the Bible was written by human beings? Consider this: When you see the phrase, “All Scripture is inspired by God” in 2 Timothy 3:16 it is talking about one book from Genesis to Revelation that is in 66 parts. There are 39 parts in the Old Testament, 27 parts in the New Testament with 40 different authors, with a variety of backgrounds. Some were rich, some poor, some young, old, educated, uneducated, single, married, people of position and power, and common people on the street. It is a cross-section of life stages as God works through people to communicate His words.
This isn’t one person having a dream and telling everyone, “This is what God said.” It is completely different and rich with people through a variety of times, places, and backgrounds over a period of 1500 years.
2. But, what about all the errors? Yes, there are errors. The English version we read isn’t the original. There are copies of copies of the original and as you can imagine there have been errors that have crept in over the centuries of copying. The key is to identify types of errors. There are spelling errors that are easily corrected. There are minor errors that are easily identified. There are errors that use different words, but don’t change the meaning. And there are errors that use different words and could change the meaning.
The only error that really carries any weight is that last one and those types of errors account for less than 1% of all variants and typically involve a single word or phrase. The biggest of these types of errors is the ending of the Gospel of Mark.
3. But, the Bible was written so long ago? I could tell you about the amount of work that went into making these copies. I could tell you about the special people, special pens, special prepared skin, special ink, and if 3 mistakes were made then the manuscript would be destroyed. But, more importantly you need to know the number of copies we have that come from a variety of different contexts. We have over 24K ancient copies of NT writings. Although every day we get further and further away from the original writings we continue to discover more and more ancient writings that are consistent with what we are reading today. This doesn’t make Scripture less reliable, but more reliable.
4. But, we have so many translations? I think this one hurts us the most. We have so many copies today and so many translations that it hasn’t increased our value of Scripture, but diminished our value of Scripture. But, you need to know it hasn’t always been this way. There have been men and women who have given their lives so you and I can hold Scripture in our hands so freely. Early on most people were illiterate so people would take truths of Scripture and put them into paintings and stained glass window so the average person could commune and hear from God.
Can you imagine? Your relationship and understanding of God was shaped by some pictures in a window! And today we throw our bibles in the back seat with Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey!
5. But, the bible seems so irrelevant? Scripture isn’t meant to be read like a historical book so we can gather information. It exists to point our hearts and minds to a greater relationship with God. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself as you are reading Scripture:
What is the truth of the passage? If studying Scripture is new then you need to take some time to learn how to study Scripture, but this is something we can all do where we can be confident on the truth in the passage.
Where / how do I fail? For example, I might read 2 Timothy 3:16 and see that it is pointing toward the truth of Scripture. As I look at my life I will see places in my life where I don’t trust Scripture, I don’t listen to Scripture, I don’t submit to Scripture and instead of obeying Scripture I place myself above Scripture, and I do what I want to do in life. For some of you that seems like an appropriate way to live life. Scripture calls that sin because we are placing ourselves as the primary authority in life.
Therefore, we want to read Scripture, identify the truth, and allow it to expose our sin. It isn’t “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” It isn’t just written to give you an encouraging word for the day. It is written for us to repent of our sin and draw us closer to God.
How do these truths point me to Jesus? Once you get to that second part it would be easy to feel beat up by Scripture. Some times we close Scripture too quickly. This is why we don’t read Scripture many times. We don’t want to see our sin. But, we have to make sure our time in Scripture is pointing us to Jesus.
This means when I see my sin like, ignoring Scripture, disobeying Scripture and doing what I want, I need to take some time to point my heart and mind to Jesus. I want to remember Jesus was perfect. I want to remember Jesus did obey and follow Scripture to the fullest measure so that my first response, now listen carefully, my first response to these truths in Scripture isn’t to try to willfully live these truths out in my own power. I can’t live them out, but Jesus has and does, so my first response is to turn to Him and trust Him, so that my response toward Scripture is to push me toward Jesus.
How would you define your relationship with Scripture?