Can we afford to neglect the Bible?

Many people are called ‘Christians,’ 1 ‘followers of the Way’ 2 or ‘saints.’ 3   They are all united by one book, the Bible, or the Holy Scriptures.

Some of those people might have had the same experience that I had when I was called by the Lord.  I joined a local church and they told me to read the Bible, have faith and pray.  Somehow no one seemed to realize that I knew absolutely nothing about the Bible.  They assumed that I would understand what I read.  It took me years of private study to build up my faith and get to know God through His Word.

That is why we want to follow Jude’s lead and say, ‘Dear friends, although we are very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, we felt we had to write and urge you to contend for the Holy Scriptures that was entrusted to the saints.’ 4

#  Is the Bible just another book?

We are very used to books.  Millions have been written in human history.  It still happens, though the electronic media has changed it a bit.  Yet, out of all the countless millions of books, one book stands apart.  It is that special book, the Bible.  Let’s look at some of its outstanding characteristics:

#  It is a once off edition.

It will never be updated.  It cannot be updated, because its 66 books/booklets were written over a period of about 1,400 years (from the first book, Genesis to the last book, Revelation).  If you use the same method and time frame to update it, who knows if the world will still exist, seeing the rate of biological decay that is the result of God’s curse on creation.

#  The Bible covers an immense time space.

It describes the origin of the universe, of life on earth, how humans came to be, et cetera.  Then it describes how this present order will end.  It explains that there will be a future new heaven and earth.  This present natural heaven and earth is just a prototype of the coming one.  The Bible urges us to prepare for the coming one.

#  It is a book that has divided humanity into two groups.

  • People are either for it, or against it.  They either embrace it or ignore and hate it.  There is no neutrality, no feigning of ignorance about the God it introduces.
  • Many volumes of books are commentaries on it.  Many other volumes denounce and persecute it.
  • We know that there are numerous tribes and nations who still do not have Scripture, but even they are divided.  Some have the laws of God written on their consciences, some not. 5

#  One person described in the Bible has divided history into two slots.

  • It is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  Time was always indicated by, Before Christ (B.C.) and After Christ (A.D.).  It has now been changed to Before Common Era, and Common Era.  Why?  Because the ruler of this age, the devil, does not like the name of his conqueror, Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
  • The Cross sharply divided the light of God and the darkness of the evil one.  There are no any illusions about the Cross: either one’s sins are forgiven, or they are not.  Either one pays the punishment for sin oneself, or one lets Jesus do it.
  • The tragedy of the post cross era is that the devil has firmly established his anti-Jesus propaganda.  That propaganda never stops to tell people how bad Jesus is. Despite it, the Kingdom of God grows.  Jesus’ dominion will never end.

#  The Bible reveals what science and clever thinking cannot discern. 

  • It reveals the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Who could imagine that there exists three Persons with one essence?  Definitely not science!
  • The Bible introduces the enemy of the Trinity who rules over the world.  It is the devil and he forms his own trinity with the Beast and the False Prophet.
  • He is hostile to the Bible, and everything connected to it.   There are very few people, especially in the Western World, who are not aware of the war against the Bible.
  • The Bible teaches about angels, God’s good, loyal ones and the devil’s rebellious, evil ones.

Conclusion

Scripture is one of a kind.  Psalm 138:2 says, ‘…You have exalted above all things your Name and your Word.’  The Bible, the 66 books that is the Word of God, is incomparable, and a book no one can afford to neglect.

References

  1. Acts 11:26
  2. Acts 22:4
  3. Ephesians 1:1
  4. Jude 3
  5. Romans 1:20; 2:15

How much of the Bible do we need to read? Part 2

The important question that every follower of Jesus must settle in his or her mind is: what is the value of the Old Testament?  Do we need to read and accept it as part of God’s Word?  (See How much of the Bible do we need to read? Part 1)

#  Let’s consult the Holy Spirit.

We do this because He is our Counsellor.  He also knows God intimately, ‘The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God….  In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God, except the Spirit of God.’  He tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16, ’All Scripture is God-breathed….’   The Holy Spirit inspired Old Testament is an important part of the Bible, for various reasons:

#  Scripture says so in the New Testament.

  • ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in many ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son whom He appointed as heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.’ 1
  • God spoke to the forefathers through the prophets, but what does that have to do with us?  He speaks to us through the Son in the New Testament.

#  The New Testament testifies to the need of the Old Testament.

  • It tells us ‘…everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.’ 2
  • Romans 15:13 says, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ 
  • So the Old Testament is very important to fill us with endurance, encouragement and hope, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

#  Don’t forget the heroes of faith.

The Old Testament is the source of the Faith Heroes in Hebrews 11.  They were ordinary men and women like us who did great feats and overcame great odds.  They are examples of endurance, encouragement, hope, perseverance and trust in the Lord.  We can be greatly encouraged if we read the detail of their lives in the Old Testament.

Conclusion

God uses the Old Testament writings to encourage us while we are subjected to the pressures of life with its concerns and cares.  We have to stand strong, like Abraham, while we wait for our new heavenly home, ‘For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.’ We need the Old Testament!

References

  1. Hebrews 1:1-2
  2. Romans 15:4
  3. Hebrews 11:10

How much of the Bible do we need to read? Part 1

A valid question for believers today is: do we really need to read the whole Bible with its 66 documents?  The Old Testament takes up almost 75%.  Can’t we discard or just neglect it, because it is the old covenant?  Isn’t the shorter gospel of the New Testament sufficient?

#  The ‘short’ Gospel 

Paul gives us the Gospel in a few words, ‘Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.’ 1  It is clear, simple, easy to understand and does not need hours of intensive Bible study.

#  A slightly ‘longer’ Gospel

However, as followers of Jesus, we realize the Four Gospels are important.  So we add them to Paul’s ‘short’ Gospel.  What about the Acts of the Holy Spirit and Paul’s letters?  What about the letters of Peter and John who were both disciples of Jesus?  So we add them, as well as the letters of James and Jude, the half-brothers of Jesus.  Finally, we cannot neglect Revelation because it teaches us about the end times.  It explains how God will destroy every vestige of Satan’s kingdom on earth and renew the heavens and earth into an eternal home for His children.  So we feel the New Testament is quite sufficient.  But…

#  What about the ‘long’ Gospel, Old & New Testament?

39 of the 66 books are in the Old Testament.  Does the Holy Spirit expect us to take the time to read them?  Will knowledge of a talking serpent, a universal flood and the calling of Abraham and his family with all their crises, help us get to heaven?  Is it necessary to know about poor Moses and his 40 year journey in the desert with the Israelites?  Do we have to know about the wars, disasters, disobedience to the Covenant, the exile, et cetera?  What about the old ideas, slavery, strange manners and habits, animal sacrifices with rituals for the priests and long winding genealogies?  Can’t we skip all the information in the Old Testament?

Conclusion

There is a reason the Holy Spirit gave us the Old Testament.  In the next blog we will discuss a few reasons why the Old Testament is important.

References

  1. 2 Timothy 2:8