Foundations: The Bible is Inspired
It matters what you build on. This truth is essential when building any structure. Most contractors will tell you a home is only as good as the foundation it is built on.
A good foundation enables a house to be stable, sturdy, and long-lasting. It can withstand all the shifting and changes that occur around it. On the other hand, a home built on a failing foundation is often a source of frustration, worry, and expensive repairs. It doesn't matter how grand and beautiful the home may look above ground if the foundation is giving away below.
Jesus uses this analogy at the close of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7. He lovingly asks us to examine the truths we are building our lives upon. Do they come from the mouth of God or from a fallen world system? It is easy to find ourselves basing our priorities and decisions on culture, societal pressures, and past failures or successes. Our identities can become defined by something other than our relationship with Christ. One thing rolls into another and we find the trajectory of our lives being dictated by things outside of the Word of God. Jesus warns us that building our lives on shallow and fragile foundations puts us on the pathway to destruction and heartache. When the storms of life come we will not be able to handle what they bring with them. But there is an alternative.
The Word of God provides truths that give strength, guidance, and hope to anyone who is willing to build their lives on it. The storms of life will still come, but they will not destroy. The storms now serve to strengthen and refine our faith. When the Bible serves as the foundation of your life, your existence becomes about something more significant than self--it becomes about God's glory. As we unpack each truth in this series, please take time to examine your heart to see what you are building your life on.
To call the Bible inspired does not mean that it floated down from heaven and into churches all over the world. The Bible itself calls attention to its many human authors. When the Bible is called inspired it means that human authors did not merely write their own opinions, but that God was ultimately the source for what they wrote. 2 Timothy 3:16 describes the Bible as "God-breathed." Just as we expel breath from our mouths, God breathed out the Bible using human authors and their different personalities and life experiences. So, although Scripture came to us from the pens of human authors, it is ultimately God speaking. 2 Peter 1:21 describes the human authors as being "carried along by the Holy Spirit" as they wrote. Think of how a boat is carried along after its sail catches wind. God provided the "wind" to carry along the human authors as they wrote.
What is the Bible?
The Bible is God speaking his truth to us in human words. It was written in three languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) spanning over fifteen hundred years by more than forty authors on three continents. The Bible actually contains sixty-six separate books, but show a divine unity that enables them to be read and viewed as one Book! All the books tell one story--the story of Jesus!
The Bible is made up of two testaments--the Old and the New. The Old Testament is a record of God speaking and working in history from when he created the universe up until 450 BC. There were roughly four hundred years of waiting between the testaments in which people anticipated the coming of their Messiah, Jesus. The New Testament begins with the recording of the life, death, burial, resurrection, and return to heaven of Jesus. It goes on to instruct Christians and Christian churches how to function, behave, and live in light of what Christ has done. Much of this done by letters written to various churches who were gathering to live out their faith in the first century.
There are incredible truth claims that the Bible makes about itself. The Scriptures are: given by God's inspiration, the very words of God, all we need to know God, pure, true, trustworthy, perfect, effective, powerful, not to be taken from or added to, for everyone, the standard for all teaching, and to be obeyed. The Bible also mentions that it is: a lamp to guide our life, a fire that purifies, a hammer that breaks us, a sword, a seed for salvation, milk that nourishes us, food for our soul, and sweet like honey.
How You View the Bible
The Bible is a holy book, the very words of God, and how we view it is extremely important. In a day where many seemingly teach we can live Christian lives apart from the Scriptures, it is crucial that we understand what is at stake concerning how we view the Word of God.
Knowing God. Christians do not worship the Bible, but it does inform us about the God we worship and how to properly do so. Scripture reveals God's character, nature, and feelings. Without the Bible, most of what we know about God and how to worship him would be determined by guesswork. Humans do not look upward and speculate about who God is, but rather God looks down and reveals himself to us. This is exactly what God is doing in the Bible.
Hearing the voice of God. If you are committed to regular Bible reading, God is never silent. Every time we read the Bible, we hear God speaking. When we approach the Bible with this truth in mind we are more likely to be encouraged and put the text we are reading into practice in our daily lives.
Having God at the center of your life. A spiritually healthy person truly has God at the center of all they do. If anyone claims that God is at the center of their life, without having the Bible at the center of their life, they are deceiving themselves. Think about a close human relationship you may have. Imagine if you disregarded and ignored everything that person said. That relationship would become strained and broken. The same thing happens when we claim to have God at the center of our lives but pay little attention to his Word.
The pathway to abundant life. The Bible is not merely informational--it is also transformational. It reveals and explains how God set life up to work. When we obey the Word of God we are led to peace, joy, contentment, and a transformed life. The Bible never changes, fails, or is wrong! When we trust the Word of God and humbly live in they way it instructs, we will never be disappointed with what God provides.
Something that lasts forever. So many people build their lives around pursuits that will be forgotten about in one hundred years. It will not matter how many sitcoms you watched, trophies you won, or material you had. It will all fade away. The only thing that lasts forever will be the Word of God that was deposited in your soul, acted upon, and shared with others. When we give attention to the Bible it is never a waste of time.
Wrong Views of the Bible
It is fallible. This is to say that the Bible is the not the standard for all conduct throughout all time for all people. Some hold the view that the Bible contains errors, was written for a primitive, regressed culture and does not presently apply to our lives, and that man was the chief source of inspiration behind the Scriptures.
It contains only promises. While it is certainly true that the Word of God makes many promises to those that obey it, there are also many warnings found throughout the pages. God is a loving Father who warns his children of the consequences of disobedience, idolatry, and other harmful practices. When we read only the promises in the Bible and spend no time with the warnings, we are not treating and viewing the Word of God the way its Author intended.
It is always easy to understand. The Bible does address most everything we will walk through on this earth. But there are some issues that the Bible does not give specifics on. These matters can sometimes be messy and confusing. They require time, prayer, and reflection to fully understand what Scripture is instructing and the wisdom it is giving. The Bible also contains a number of different literary styles such as: narrative, poetry, letters, wisdom sayings, and prophetic writings. It is helpful to understand the style a particular text is written in when seeking to interpret it. When we try to interpret a text written in the poetic literary form literally, like we would a narrative or historical story, we can arrive at some pretty confusing conclusions. For example, Mormons have read poetic texts that talk about "God's right arm" and believe that God the Father has a physical body. That directly contradicts other texts and can easily be avoided by understanding the literary type the verse is written in. Because the Bible can sometimes be tough to interpret and understand, we need to realize the Bible was meant to be read, interpreted, and studied in community. By ourselves we are not capable of interpreting the Word of God--we need others. Other believers can offer insights and views that paint a much fuller and accurate picture of the truth God is intending to convey.
If you find yourself struggling with believing the Bible is inspired and the very words of God, do not give up or feel a sense of shame. If you will humbly look at the evidence, explore what God's people have offered the world to answer this doubt, and make it a matter of prayer, you will be taking steps which please God.