Scoffers mock it; the conceited dismiss it; skeptics despise it, attacking it inside and out; the uninformed ignore it; and even some who profess to believe it butcher it to consume the morsels they prefer and toss out the more undesirable portions.
It is frequently held in derision and disregard, even by those who claim to be believers. But the Bible — God’s revelation to mankind (Gal. 1.11-12; 2 Tim. 3.16-17; 2 Pt. 1.20-21) — is nonetheless crucial to our soul’s salvation, and worthy of our deepest admiration.
The Bible’s chief purpose is two-pronged:
(1) to inform mankind of God’s plan of salvation;
(2) to save mankind through their belief in its message.
Consider these two facets of the Biblical narrative respectively.
Redemption In Revelation
Redemption (i.e., salvation) is the prevailing theme in the Bible. The term itself translates a Greek word which literally means, a loosing or a release, specifically by paying a ransom price.
The Bible uses the term to describe the release of a poor Jewish man from slavery, when his family members purchased him back from that condition (Lev. 25.47-51).
In similar vein, the good Book reveals God’s plan to free our race from the slavery of sin. The records of historical events which the Bible documents, from the creation of the world to the growth of the church of Christ in the first century, are published not for the sake of history per se, but to unveil, for our learning, the entire scheme of mankind’s redemption.
Indeed, it seeks to inform us of these two realities:
First, we are in spiritual jeopardy. Humanity needs loosing because humanity is in bondage. Yet, that has not always been the case.
The Biblical record informs us that man came into existence under auspicious circumstances — a creature made with infinite promise by a God of infinite worth. But he squandered his privileges, choosing instead to rebel against the Almighty (Gen. 3.1ff).
Accordingly, from Moses’ Genesis to John’s Revelation, the portrait of man is bleak at best. Sin, which is the transgression of God’s law (1 Jn. 3.4), has stained our souls and separated us from our creator (Isa. 59.1-2), “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rm. 3.23). And the Bible informs us that when we engage in sin, we place ourselves in bondage to it:
“Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (Jn. 8.34).
It is through the word of God that we learn of the blackness of our soul’s wretched condition (Rm. 3.20; 7.13ff); and it is through it alone that we learn how God frees us from this spiritual quagmire.
Conversely, when people ignore its message, they assess themselves as better off than they really are (cf. Rev. 3.17; 2 Cor. 4.1-6). When people study it, however, they learn just how much they need the Lord’s training in their lives.
Second, God has not only promised redemption from this bondage, but has operated in ages past so as to bring that promise to fruition. The Bible informs us of this reality more than any other.
After Satan brought sin into the world through Adam and Eve, God determined to crush that slithering serpent using the seed of woman — a promise kept when the virgin Mary conceived and gave birth to the Redeemer (cf. Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4.4).
Looking retrospectively, we recognize that this was the first real and solemn promise that humanity could be delivered from the bondage of sin, and to the fulfillment of this promise, everything else was dedicated.
In due course, however, the human population grew increasingly nefarious (Gen. 6:5). God, being pure, just, and intolerant of sin, resolved to destroy the world with a flood, which he nearly accomplished wholesale.
Nevertheless, there was a man who found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8). And that grace, extended to Noah and his burgeoning family thousands of years ago, kept heaven’s promise of redemption for mankind alive, even if only by the smallest of margins.
Next, mankind’s redemption is further developed in the sacred promises conveyed to Abraham and his children (cf. Gen. 12ff). The chapters involving the family of that ancient patriarch reveal that God would not only bless him and his seed for their faith, making them a great and mighty people, but that “all families of the earth” would “be blessed” through him (Gen. 12.1-3). For, first of all, Jesus Christ — the Messiah and Savior of the world — was born of Abraham’s lineage (Gal. 3.16; Mt. 1.1); and, secondly, through Abraham and his offspring, the world has been given a treasure-trove of spiritual insight and examples, informing us as to how God expects mankind to live, and how God intervenes on their behalf.
Consequently, we may learn from their mistakes and be encouraged by their successes (cf. 1 Cor. 10.6-11; Heb. 11.1-40).
So, from Genesis to Malachi, the entire Old Testament points forward to the coming Christ; Matthew through John points at Christ; while Acts through Revelation point back to Christ, who has come.
In this way, the history of the Bible, from Adam and Eve, to the events involving Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; from the sojourn of the children of Israel in Egypt to the giving of the law at Sinai and their subsequent entrance into Canaan’s land; from the various Israelite captivities and restorations to the advent of Jesus the Nazarene; from the establishment of the church to its world-wide expansion; every Biblical narrative in every Biblical book was written “for our learning” (Rm. 15.4), teaching us that (1) man needs God, and that (2) God has provided a way for us to be redeemed from sin’s unbearable curse.
Redemption Through Revelation
But the Bible is more than an informational pamphlet. It is an instruction manual. To follow its directives is to live “in hope of enteral life” (Tit. 1.2). In short, it is the means of our redemption.
The Bible is not merely a wise old book with scattered tidbits of wisdom to be embraced at our leisure. Rather, it is “the gospel of [our] salvation” (Eph. 1.13), “the word of life” (Phil. 2.16), and “the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5.19). Without the Bible, our hope for redemption from sin is completely dashed, for it alone “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes; for the Jew first, and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16; cf. Jn. 20.30-31).
The Bible marks the dividing line between those who shall be saved and those who shall be condemned (cf. Mk. 16.16). To those with stiffened hearts, it hinders them from receiving the heavenly prize due to their unbelief (cf. 1 Cor. 1.23f; 1 Pt. 2.8); but to those with open minds, it is a grand passageway leading to the pearly gates of heaven (cf. Deut. 28.15ff; Mt. 7.21-27; 2 Cor. 2.14-17; Jms. 1.21; etc.).
Since that is so, we must “give attendance to reading” it daily (1 Tim. 4.13), accepting it “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2.13). We must lovingly “hold fast” to “every word” it teaches (2 Tim. 1.13; Mt. 4.4), and it must become the basis of all of our endeavors (Col. 3.17; Tit. 2.10).
Never must its “perfect” message be changed (cf. Jms. 1.25),
“for 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.” (Heb. 4:12).
The Bible has never, nor will it ever, diminish in efficacy (cf. 1 Pt. 1.23-25; Isa. 55.11). It is as powerful today as it was when its words came fresh from the pens of the apostles and prophets who inscribed it. Show me a man who thinks he needs to change the word of God, and I’ll show you a man who needs the word of God to change him (cf. Gal. 1.6-9)!
What use shall we make of the Bible, in light of all of its teachings and in view of all of its evidences? Simply this. Believe its declarations and obey its commands, for this is the only sensible thing left to do (cf. Heb. 5.8-9). Only those who “walk in it” “will find rest for their souls” (Jer. 6.16).
May we give all diligence, and all our time and talents, to heeding this admonition.