THE BIBLE CLAIMS to be God’s Word—His message to us. In its first chapter (Genesis 1) it says ten times: “and God said”.
Now this must be true or it must be just someone’s idea, or a group of people who cooked up these things for their own reasons in the dim and distant past. The Bible is either an elaborate fabrication, or it has been given to the human race by Someone real and all-powerful. That is what I believe: God has spoken, caused His words to be recorded, and then caused the message to be transmitted through the ages until our time.
Genesis is just the beginning. There are a total of 66 books within the one volume we call the Bible. They were written over a period of at least 1500 years by many different writers, in different countries and different social circumstances. We have history, biography, theology, poetry, prophecy, philosophy, adventure stories, travel and romance. Most of the writers had little contact with each other and yet when the writings are put together they all have the same message, agreeing in belief, teaching and prophecy. The Bible has been regarded as a complete volume for 2000 years and yet still it reaches through the ages to our own time. It contains an urgent message from the One who first spoke about 6000 years ago, and since that time has spoken in all manner of different human circumstances, appealing to men and women to listen to Him.
The Bible is a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12), “crying in the wilderness” of modern life (Matthew 3:3). We are surrounded by a plethora of media, all contending for our attention. Isn’t it all confusing?
Consider the internet—with its many different opportunities for communicating, sharing and accessing information. Some information is true, some is false; it’s often difficult to tell what is ‘fake news’. Some content is constructive, some is destructive, but it’s always presented in a way that’s very alluring. It is so easy to become ‘hooked’ on an artificial world, a universe of trivia and counterfeit knowledge. But in the midst of it there is just the possibility of finding something good and wholesome.
Good Apples—Bad Apples
Near where we live there are several old apple trees which grow wild in the hedgerows—at some point they were deliberately planted. No one bothers with them now, but there they are full of fruit every year in early autumn. There are also brambles in the hedgerows. Every autumn we collect the apples and blackberries and make what we call ‘forage pie’.
Most of the apples simply fall to the ground and are trampled, or eaten by insects, and the fruit eventually rots away. But think for a moment of three apples from one of these trees. One is good, one looks good but has a grub already laid inside, and one has definitely gone bad.
The good one, with some work on our part will be fit for the ‘forage pie’. We may be tempted to try and work with the second apple, although much has to be cut away. The bad apple—definitely no good and we probably kick it back under the hedgerow.
So what now? A Bible is like the good apple, there to be foraged and turned into something really useful which, in this case, will feed your heart and mind. Some would say that the internet is like the bad apple— not worth the effort. Perhaps it’s really like the second apple—there are good parts to it, but you need to avoid the rottenness.
Perhaps the best thing about the internet is the fact that it makes the Bible freely available. (Although as a matter of preference my wife and I keep to our paper Bibles. They make it easier to focus in that time of the day which we set aside to read and discuss God’s Word.)
May I suggest now that you reach for a Bible—either a paper copy, or find one online—and read the third chapter of Paul’s second letter to Timothy. I’m just going to quote from two verses.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Look at that first phrase: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
When we are thinking about God and inspiration, we are being told that all of the Scriptures (that is, the Bible) which we have in our hands to read today are as close to God as breathing is to us.
I guess, whilst reading this article you have not thought about breathing at all! Just do so now—nice deep breaths! We know that if we don’t breathe we will die. Breath is vital to us! God’s message is His personal message to us—and He always keeps His Word.
But now look what it is useful for:
- doctrine, the foundation mind-set of living
- reproof, the Greek word here means providing evidence
- correction, putting us back on the right track
- instruction in righteousness, showing us how we can have a life which will bring us close to God
- being complete, being whole people
- being thoroughly equipped for every good work
This last in the list deserves special attention. Imagine a sailing ship—newly finished ready for its maiden voyage. It won’t stand long at the dockside. It will be loaded by its crew and go adventuring on the high seas, and hopefully in the not too distant future will reach its desired haven.
We are here— we have to live our lives, it can’t be evaded. God has given us His personal Scriptures so that we can be thoroughly equipped for whatever storms of life there might be. We can ride them out and come at the last to His Kingdom which is to be established when Jesus returns.
Our world abounds with information— some of it is useful, much of it is not. Amidst all this information, God has given us His written Word. This raises a big question for each of us. If He spoke directly you really would be compelled to listen—wouldn’t you? Are you prepared to really consider His message to you?