A Call to Hope: the Bible
If you are going to follow Jesus through the narrow gate, you will need the Word of God like you need water, food and oxygen. What Jesus said is true:
“Man cannot live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
God’s Word feeds us, directs us, equips us, convicts us, humbles us, comforts us, encourages us, refreshes us, strengthens us, and steadies us. It is our daily bread, heavenly manna for hungry hearts. The Bible is God’s direct revelation of Himself to us. It is the primary, most powerful way we come to know God and be transformed by God.
Therefore, we can hope in it with all our hearts.
What is the Bible to you?
Aside from accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the most important decision you can make as a Christian is deciding what God’s Word is to you. Is it the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative word of God? Or is it a compilation of genres and good advice from which to pick and choose? Is it a tool of many tools, or is it the sharpened sword of the Spirit with power to separate and slay a soul’s wicked ways?
If we don’t have a high view of Scripture, our standards for living will be low.
You could contest that statement and point to many an orthodox Muslim, Buddhist, Jew or even atheist who strives for social justice and contributes to making the world a better place. But by God's standards, “our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” No meritorious work of man can hold a candle to His holiness (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10).
God and His Word are the standard by which we should measure our lives.
In His goodness, God has given us countless reasons to hope in Him, including the Bible. He didn’t have to provide us with passages filled with promise after promise after promise, but He did. Thousands of them, of which not a single one has ever been broken (2 Corinthians 1:20).
God didn’t have to share intimate relational details between He and His followers, but He did. Hundreds of testimonies, all of whom were saved by grace through faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). Not a single person who confessed Jesus as Lord and believed that God raised Him from the dead was ever rejected by God (Romans 10:9).
What great hope we can have in God’s history - in His story to us.
God included these details in His Word because He wants to be known by us. He is holy, loving, powerful, merciful, faithful, just, gracious, kind and compassionate. He is not hiding His will or way or character from us. He has clearly revealed it in the written Word.
God’s Word is meant to guide us, shape us and bless us for all time, in every situation - contextually and culturally. It is revelation that “God has entrusted once for all time to His holy people” (Jude 3:3). Additions or deductions need not and must not be made to this sacred text. Its relevance transcends time.
“The word of the Lord endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8, I Peter 1:25).
But the Bible can’t do what it was intended to do if you don’t view all of it as inspired by God. Jesus says that we live by every word of God, not by some select words that suit our predetermined beliefs, assumptions and preferences.
By this I mean, do you love the Gospel of Luke but loathe Leviticus?
Do you believe in the resurrection of Christ from a garden tomb in Jerusalem but not in the Fall of man in the literal Garden of Eden?
Do you believe Proverbs to be the same kind of generic wisdom as Plato?
Do you believe Jesus to have been a radical civil rights leader like Gandhi? Or do you believe He is the Christ seated at the right hand of God in the heavens, interceding for the saints and awaiting the perfect time to return and redeem His people (Matthew 22:44, Romans 8:34)?
God doesn't waste words. Every one of them has significance and surpassing value. Even those hair-pulling passages that seem elusive and confusing, boring or bigoted. His Word is worth more than gold. Before we can hope in it, we should treasure it.
“The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb” (Psalm 19:9-10).
Deciding how you view the Bible will dictate how you view God.
Because “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Jesus is the personification of the written and spoken words of God. He cannot be separated from the laws and commandments of the Bible. Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, is the Word who became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:14).
If we are to follow Jesus and abide in Him, we must also abide in His Word.
This is why Jesus told His disciples, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).
His perfect Word reveals His perfect way.
We must decide what kind of book the Bible is to us before we can confidently hope in any of its promises.
In agreement with the saints of the past two millennia, I believe Scripture to be supernatural in both source and substance. I believe it to be the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative word of God. I believe I can hope in all of it. Every word.
*This article is the second of a six-part series on why we can hope in the Bible as God’s truth*