The Christian and the Bible, Part 2: The source

Author’s Note: If you are just joining us I encourage you to read Part 1 of this series.

Having established the Scriptures are inspired by God, inerrant, supremely authoritative, and sufficient for everything pertaining to our faith and practice, in this post I wish to explore some ways in which God uses His word in the everyday lives of His people (those who have come to Jesus by grace alone through faith alone).

The Bible is the source of truth.

In a post-postmodern age in which truth isn’t merely relative any longer, but feelings have been elevated so that they are equal or above perceived truth, the Christian takes comfort and gains confidence in the words of Christ: “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Jesus spoke those words to His Father in Gethsemane, mere minutes (or at the most hours) before He was arrested, tried, and crucified. In a moment which could fairly be described as His deepest human crisis, He was praying for His disciples in the world that they would hold fast to that which God had revealed.

The Lord knew full well the value He wanted His people to place upon Scripture, because throughout His earthly ministry His disciples had seen Him value Scripture. Matthew and Luke both record the wilderness temptations of the devil himself, to which Jesus responded each time with biblical texts, notably from Deuteronomy. The one which screams to us as it pertains to this topic is, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4; c.f. Deut 8:3; Luke 4:4).

The God of the word, in the flesh, relied on, obeyed, and trusted in the word of God. The One who is the way, and the truth, and the life pointed to what God has revealed (Scripture) as the truth which sanctifies, or makes us holy.

Practically speaking, we do not reconcile the Scripture to the world (rather it be history, science, or any other discipline), but we start with the word of God and reconcile everything else to it. And time and time again, the Scriptures have been proven to be exactly what Jesus said they were: the truth.

The Bible is the source of blessing.

“While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.’ But He said, ‘On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.'” – Luke 11:27–28This year Protestants celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Out of the Reformation came a renewed understanding of true blessing (i.e., salvation), justification by faith alone.

But where did that understanding come from? Luther didn’t just conjure up that essential doctrine. It came from the word of God; specifically, from his studies in Romans and Galatians, not to mention the rest of the Bible.

It’s fitting, then, that the woman in Luke 11 says what she has, essentially exalting Mary, and Jesus says, “On the contrary,” or in other words, “No, you are wrong. The ones really blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

For a long time Roman Catholics has venerated Mary. She is a co-mediatrix to them. Catholics pray to her. They believe her to be without original sin. They believe her to have been assumed bodily into heaven. Many believe she serves as a sort of co-redemptix alongside her Son.

But where do they get these ideas? Not from Scripture. Not from the word of God.

On the contrary, pun intended, Jesus flat out contradicts future Roman Catholic theology by essentially saying, “It’s all about the word of God. Stick to the word of God. Obey the word of God. Do that and you will be blessed.”

We don’t know doctrine apart from Scripture. We don’t know how to obey God apart from Scripture. Oh, sure we have our consciences, but our consciences are fallible, subject to sinful proclivities and corruption just like anything else that isn’t the God-breathed word. That’s why Jesus didn’t say, “Go with your gut” or “Follow your heart” and you’ll be blessed. He said, “Hear the word of God and observe it.

The Bible leads to faithful obedience. Faithful obedience leads to blessing.

The Bible is the source of victory.

The use of military or warfare imagery isn’t hard to find in either Old or New Testaments, but perhaps its most familiar usage in the New is in Ephesians 6:10–17, in which Paul exhorts believers to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph 6:11).Put aside for a moment we find truth and righteousness and salvation and peace in the Scriptures. In verse 17 Paul is explicit, “And take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The picture is of a Roman soldier, and the sword is the only weapon Paul mentions in his description. And whereas the belt and helmet and breastplate are means of protection when it comes to the armor, the sword is the only weapon, and it’s used for both offense and defense.Defensively, the word of God is used to help guard us from false teaching, doctrinal error, wrong practice. The word of God is to be used by the believer to thwart incoming temptations and all manner of ways evil and sin try to creep into our lives.

Offensively, the word of God is used to give us  a full understanding of God as Creator, Law-Giver, Judge, Deliverer, Redeemer, Lord, Judge, King, and Savior — just to name a few. We don’t see Jesus face to face right now, but as Peter put it in 2 Pet 1:19–20, we have the prophetic word made more sure. In other words, we have something better than even his eyewitness experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. It is our lamp, our light, shining in the darkness under the morning star (Jesus) arises in our hearts (comes again).

In that way, the Bible is the source God Himself uses to provide us every day victory over sin, just as the Word made fles gives us eternal victory over sin and death.

The Bible is the source of growth.

When my son was born he weighed 7 lbs., 10 oz. and was 21 inches long. My three girls were 6 lbs., 9 oz., 6 lbs. 3 oz., and 6 lbs., 12 oz. in order. They are significantly bigger now, but if they had stayed that size, guess what? Something would have been seriously wrong. If they had stayed the same size they were when born and never grown, it would be clear they weren’t healthy.So it is when he or she who professes faith in Jesus Christ.

“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Pet 2:2–3).

The apostle Peter was writing to Christians there, those “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” (1 Pet 1:1–2).  So to follow his identification of those he is writing to in the first two verses of the letter to what he said in chapter two, it’s abundantly clear that Christians are those who “long” for the word of God.  And why?

Well in that great golden chain of redemption passage of Paul’s in Romans 8:28–30, he tells us one of the purposes of salvation is that we be conformed to the image of His Son. Of course, this will be perfected, complete, when we see Christ, when we are saved from even the presence of sin. But God doesn’t wait until that day to change us. From the moment of our regeneration, from that time when we place our faith in Jesus, the Spirit goes to work in us.

The primary means, then, by which the Spirit works in us is the Spirit-inspired word of God — what we call the Bible. Through the Bible we learn about God, we learn about Jesus, we learn about us, we learn about how far short we fall of the glory of God, we learn that if nothing changes in us we will be rightly damned for all eternity in the lake of fire, and of course, we learn the one and only solution is Jesus Himself.

Jesus saves us wherever we are, but He never leaves someone He saves where they are. He says, “Follow Me,” and the means by which we do that, already mentioned above, is by hearing the words of God and obeying them. That’s how we are blessed, and that’s the means by which we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, both now and to the day of eternity” (2 Pet 3:18).

Quite simply, it is impossible — I repeat, impossible — to truly grow in respect to salvation if you aren’t longing for the pure milk of the word. Many satisfy themselves on things which have the appearance of pure milk, but in the end they are just giving temporary satisfaction to their spiritual taste buds. The word of God, though, provides the true spiritual nourishment we need to truly know God and make Him known.

To that end, if you don’t long for the word of God, the corollary is that you aren’t truly longing for Christ, and at that point you should ask whether you’ve truly tasted the kindness of the Lord? The Bible is the believer’s source for growth.

The Bible is the source of power.

Paul famously wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16). When God saves us He makes us alive, grants to us the grace and faith to believe, forgives us our sins, seals us by His Holy Spirit for eternity, and sanctifies us.

And yet, how do we know any of that? By His word. Christianity is, by God’s design, a faith which emphasizing that which has been written. God has ordained that we read to know and believe, and if salvation is known through His word, if God’s promises to us to are revealed through that which has been written, then we can rightly say the Bible is the source of power for those who believe.

Of course, conversely it can be said the Scriptures are God’s power unto judgment. “‘Is not My word like fire?’ declares YHWH, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?'” (Jer 23:29). God’s condemnation came upon false prophets, those who played fast and loose with the idea God is a God who speaks. So this is a solemn reminder God’s word — the Scriptures — are the source of power, but we must be mindful, with fear and trembling, how we use that power.

The Bible is the source of guidance.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). That isn’t just a song to be sung by youth groups in the ’80s and ’90s, it’s fundamental truth for daily living. How do we know what to do? How do we know how to live? By the word of God.

But what about those decisions in life to which God’s word does not speak? Of course, the Bible doesn’t tell someone which college to go to, or who to marry, or what career path to take. But at the same time, yes it does. “Trust in YHWH. And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov 3:5–6). God grants us wisdom, the wisdom to depend on Him, the wisdom to lean not on our own understanding. The implied corollary is that we depend on our understanding of Him. We make informed decisions as best we can based upon what we know about God, what we know about us, and what we know about His desires for us.

If the fear of YHWH is the beginning of knowledge (Prov 1:7), this His word must necessary be the first place we turn, and ultimate authoritative source for each step we take. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and though we don’t get a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, or a still small voice, even in the worst times He is always present in the person of the Holy Spirit and His enduring word.

Concluding thoughts

These ways in the Bible is our source for living are but the tip of the iceberg. We grow in holiness only through the word. We are comforted through the word. We are admonished through the word. And on and on and on. The bottom line is that if you are a Christian, cutting yourself off from being in the Scriptures is akin to the human body being cut off from food and water. Sooner or later malnutrition sets in and leads to a host of problems. Thus, be encouraged to press on in your pursuit of knowing God through His word, and if you are neglecting this, be admonished. You’re either a Christian trying to watch television without it being plugged in, or you’re deceiving yourself and are not of the faith of Jesus at all.

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