Someone called Bill left a comment on my previous post. Bill asks a good question, namely this:
Is it worthwhile for us to spend significant amounts of time studying the Bible, the newest parts of which were written over 1,900 years ago?
Yes! In every way.
Why do I believe this?
- Having examined the internal and external evidence, using the same criteria that scholars use to establish whether any classical text is trustworthy, I find that the New Testament contains multiple independent reliable testimonies to the life, death and resurrection of a man called Jesus. Testimony from both eyewitnesses and those who knew them.
- Having found that testimony to be reliable concerning a miraculous event, namely the resurrection of Christ, it seems logical that I should pay attention to what else these witnesses claim about Christ and what He taught.
- Jesus claimed to be the one true God in human flesh, come into the world to save sinners like me and you through his self-sacrificial death on the cross. He thereby took in His body the punishment that is due to us and thus appeased the wrath of a holy and righteous God toward us.
- Jesus proved his claim to be God by raising himself from the dead, as attested by eyewitnesses.
- If Jesus is truly God, the creator of the universe, I should certainly listen to and believe what He says.
- Jesus quoted and believed the Old Testament scriptures, stating that they were the very word of God. Indeed, therefore, His own word.
- Furthermore, He promised His disciples that He would send the ‘Spirit of truth’ who would guide them into all the truth. Thus, it is logical that I take seriously the writings of the Apostles and those who knew them.
- All other religions would have us do something, experience something, or learn something to put us right with God, attain enlightenment, or whatever.
- The Bible alone teaches that all humankind is desperately wicked by nature and in a state of rebellion against God and His law. It alone tells us that we are dead in our sins – children of God’s wrath – unable to do anything to reconcile ourselves with a righteous and holy God.
- I find that the Bible’s claims concerning my nature ring true. I am unable to keep God’s law – even if I wanted to, which, though I am a Christian, I far too often do not. As someone not merely weak because of sin, but who was spiritually utterly dead in my sins, I realized that I was therefore unable to do anything myself to earn God’s favour.
- I therefore need the Saviour Jesus Christ presented in Scripture. A Saviour who will take away my sin and thus rescue me from God’s wrath. A Saviour who reconciles me with the Father through His own life and death of perfect obedience. A Saviour who will save me even though I have nothing to contribute to my salvation apart from my sin. And as someone who still sins every day in thought, word and deed, I continue to need that Saviour’s work of grace and forgiveness.
- Thus, I find myself believing what the Bible says concerning my sin and my need for salvation, and also what it says regarding the only one, Jesus, who came into the world to save sinners like me. I believe and trust in Christ’s work on the cross to wipe away my sin, and in His righteousness put to my account. This message ‘is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’. That I believe these things is in itself a miracle, and entirely the working and unmerited gift of God in my life.
- Scripture tells us that God’s law is given for our benefit. It is therefore directly to my benefit to study it and to seek to apply it appropriately to every area of my life. Furthermore, like the Apostle Paul, I find that ‘I delight in the law of God according to the inward man’. I want to obey God’s commands to me, and hate the fact that I continually fall short in so doing. I can only put this down to the new nature that God says He puts within all those who truly believe in Christ for the forgiveness of their sin.
- Jesus said that ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me’. The more that I study Scripture, the more convinced I become that it is truly the word of Christ speaking to His flock. I discover such insight and riches there that it is always profitable for me to study it deeply. Many times, I have found areas that seemed beyond reach, apparent contradictions that appeared impossible to reconcile, or things that I thought were too hard to understand. Yet, after much labour, these very points have often become the fertile ground in which a deeper and better understanding of God’s word springs-up. Will I ever understand everything? No. But the journey is most certainly enriching and rewarding.
Now, to answer Bill’s question directly.
I labour over what Paul said nearly 2,000 years ago because I believe in the one about whom Paul speaks, namely Jesus Christ. I believe that this same Jesus by His Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write what He did. This makes Paul’s New Testament writings the true word of God, given to the whole Church for its benefit and protection. I delight in all God’s word, and wish to understand it as well as I am able with the enabling of the Holy Spirit. I wish to strive to put into practice what it teaches.
To hold in my hands the very word of the creator God of the universe, to be able to read it and seek to understand it, that is my joy and privilege. In it, I find the words of Christ, words of eternal life. Why would I not want to use my time studying it diligently?
My message to Bill then, and indeed to all of us, is this: Repent of your sin of unbelief. Trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of all your sins!