Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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How Important is the Bible?


For many people raised in the Christian faith the bible is something they tried to read once and found it boring and difficult to understand. Much of it seems an historical account of the nation of Israel up until 2,000 years ago. Even the accounts of Jesus in the gospels can seem distant from us if not even disconnected. The idea that the bible could contain something useful for our everyday life seems at best unlikely and usually not worth studying because it seems so alien to our life today. It is often difficult for those outside of Christianity to see any value in the bible.

Most Christian traditions come to a point where doctrinal “bullet points” are extracted from the bible and presented to their members. This can be done to make the bible simple, remove the burden of study, or provide assurance that anything important has been taken care of by others. This approach, while common, fails to understand that the bible (God’s word) is more than a recipe, instruction manual, or historical record. It also has a supernatural aspect that is limited when so reduced.

God has a purpose in sending us his word (Is 55:10-11). It is useful (2Tim 3:16). It gives hope (Rom 15:4). It tells us about the failure of others who were supposed to follow God (1Cor 10:11) so that we could learn from their mistakes. Most of the bible is a record of what happened to the nation of Israel. They were given God’s law and discovered they could not keep it. Christians today are not required to try to keep the law (Gal 3:2). The advantage we have is the indwelling Spirit of God whose work in us (if we allow it) in conjunction with the bible can produce righteousness in us (Eph 5:9).

The bible itself gives us two examples of how to study the bible and neither one is similar to the classroom type instruction with which most of us are all too familiar. The first is the instruction that Jesus gave two disciples on the road to Emmaus shortly after his resurrection. The disciples remarked that their hearts “burned” within them as the scriptures were explained to them (Luke 24:32). This type of instruction is where a desire to understand is connected with the truth of the bible such that the pieces of what had been a puzzle come together in a picture of clarity.

The second method of bible study is more like an apprenticeship. Here the pieces of a puzzle fit together more slowly. As one grows in bible familiarity it can be used in a way that Paul wrote Timothy (2Tim 3:16). If one were to rebuke (call to notice) someone for doing something wrong, in order to “reprove” him one would have to have a standard of what was right to be the basis for correction. For example, if a Christian brother were to comment on an opportunity to make some money at the expense of another, he could be shown (1Tim 6:9, 1Cor 6:7).

The Christian life is less about having the right rules to follow than extracting principles from the bible that can apply to all of life. For example, selecting a wardrobe that flatters or impresses can make some envious or ashamed. Selecting a wardrobe that does not call attention to oneself may take the feelings of others more into consideration. We can find in the bible a statement that the selflessness of love (1Cor 13:4-7) is a fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:19).

The bible might be viewed as God’s pipeline to us. Through it we can receive knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. We can also grow in our ability to discern truth. All we have to do is immerse ourselves in it.



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