The unchanging relevance of the Bible
“Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) – Jesus Christ
By: John Robert Lee
Reminding the Israelites of God’s commandments, Moses said, “man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The Lord Jesus Christ used the same text of Scripture in responding to Satan’s temptations.
For the person who acknowledges God’s existence and presence, it makes total sense that what God says to man His creature is more important than anything else. Man’s problem is that he will not admit and accept his appointed place before God. His sinful nature has led him, not only to rebel against the Creator, but to deny God’s existence and God’s authority over him. So men (male and female), under the control of their sinful natures, desirous of acting as they please, want nothing to do with the Bible, the inspired record of God’s communications to mankind. They deny that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16). A Babel of religious opinions increases the confusion.
Christians proclaim that the Bible is God’s message to mankind concerning salvation, which includes redemption, propitiation (satisfying God’s standards of justice) and reconciliation. Man does not face the fact that he needs to be reconciled with God his Creator.
God’s promises of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, revealed in the New Testament as God’s Son from heaven – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1-3).
The Apostles were unflinching in their affirmation of Jesus as the only Saviour available to sinful mankind: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
Someone has said that “the basis of faith in the Bible is the witness the Bible itself bears to the fact that it is God’s word, and our faith that it is infallible must rest upon no other basis than the witness the Bible bears to this fact.”
In the Old Testament, King David says, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.” Psalm 19:7-11 summarises the quality and power of the word spoken to David by the Holy Spirit.
In his “High-priestly” prayer, Jesus asks the Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17).
The Apostle Paul revealed that the gospel he preached had come directly to him from God: “the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11, 12.) Writing to the Thessalonians, he says, “we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Not only do the lives of serious, committed believers reflect the power of the word of God to convert the sinner, but the Scriptures speak everywhere of the effectiveness of God’s word: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..”(Romans 1:16). God who exists does change lives for good through the Gospel faithfully and correctly preached, taught and lived.
Believers are born again, through the work of the Holy Spirit, by the power of the word preached, “not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever…the word of the LORD endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:23).
Many do not expose themselves to Scripture because they realize that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).
History can prove that where the Bible and a serious practice of the Christian faith have an important place in citizens’ lives, the society benefits. A writer says, “The old Gospel…is the only means of renewal and recreation to every one who believes in every generation…when the gospel prospers…the whole quality of social life is changed as more and more people apply the Word of God to their own life in the community.”
Saint Lucia, like the rest of the Caribbean and the wider world, is everywhere in crisis. Families and communities, social services and law enforcement agencies, are overwhelmed by the decline in morals, ethics and general behaviour. Alarming reports from schools and communities are on the increase, with little hope that the tide of indiscipline will turn. The crime rate escalates and few real solutions offered.
Social media exposes, constantly, the underbelly of our societies where violence and corruption of all kinds, run rampant.
While skeptics and unbelievers mock, the Bible has already described the times in which we live. Paul wrote to Timothy that “in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…”(2 Timothy 3:1-5).
The Bible, the Revealed Word of God, offers mankind the only realistic hope. The Judgement Day of God is a reality that all men must face. God “has appointed a Day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31).
The Bible, God’s word to us, is the only revelation of our reality, our condition and our hope. Those who take its teachings seriously will escape the horrors coming to the world. Those who reject, ignore or are indifferent (including many church-going people) will suffer consequences beyond imagination. Including those who misuse Christianity for financial, political and other ends.
We must understand that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” God, through His Bible word and revelation calls us to make spiritual preparation to meet unexpected disasters and to get ourselves ready for the new world beyond death and tragedy. For those who believe, there is in our future a “new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells.”
John Robert Lee is an Elder with Calvary Baptist Church, Massade, Gros Islet. He is well known as a Christian writer.