Initial Concerns

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If the Bible is truly the revelation of God to mankind then it is a book that must not be taken lightly but must treated with care, with the realization that God is speaking through its pages to all who come to it. The internal testimony of the Bible supports that it is the revelation of God to mankind:

In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying, “Take a scroll of a book, and write in it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I intend to do to them; that they may each return from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all Yahweh’s words, which he had spoken to him, on a scroll of a book. Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, “I am restricted. I can’t go into Yahweh’s house. Therefore you go, and read from the scroll which you have written from my mouth, Yahweh’s words, in the ears of the people in Yahweh’s house on the fast day. Also you shall read them in the ears of all Judah who come out of their cities. It may be they will present their supplication before Yahweh, and will each return from his evil way; for Yahweh has pronounced great anger and wrath against this people.” Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading in the book Yahweh’s words in Yahweh’s house.

Jeremiah 36:1-8

When they didn’t agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had spoken one word, “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah, the prophet, to our fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people, and say, in hearing, you will hear, but will in no way understand. In seeing, you will see, but will in no way perceive. For this people’s heart has grown callous. Their ears are dull of hearing. Their eyes they have closed. Lest they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and would turn again, and I would heal them.’

Acts 28:25-27 (quoting Isaiah 6:9-10)

At no point does the Bible take any stand other than that it is "given by inspiration of God." Its internal consistency is without peer in any written work of man and continually reveals the hand of God. It is also consistent with the world in which we live. As we read the creation story we learn a story of origins more believable than any theory put forth by man. We can almost understand the anxiety of Paul and his shipmates as they are tossed about in a furious storm. We feel the fear that Adam and Eve felt when God confronted them in their sin. The story of Jonah swallowed by the fish amazes us but does not strain credulity. The Bible speaks of the world that we inhabit with an attention to detail that is beyond the ability of any novel. We can rest assured that the Bible is like no other book that has been or will ever be printed. It has a source that is beyond humanity. If we were to approach the text of the Bible as being no more than a work of great literary beauty, as though it were the mere equivalent of Homer, Shakespeare or Milton, we would do an injustice to the book which, alone among all other books, contains the revelation of God in the words of God. Yet all too often, in part because many of us have grown up with its teaching and feel that it has become stale or cliché, we tend not to be impressed by the words that we are reading. No matter how familiar we become to some of its contents we must continually remember that it is through the prayerful study of the Bible that we can better come to know our God and better live as His people in this life.

Some will say that we need only to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us and that the Bible is supplementary. This seems as though it should be true but we must also realize that God has given us minds, that these minds are intended to be used and that they are also capable of being deceived. We need to learn and remember that the Bible is trustworthy, that it too is the product of God and that through its proper use we can evaluate what we believe and what we are being taught - either by the Holy Spirit or by human teachers - and so learn to discern truth, be able to accept the teaching of God's good ministers and also refute the lies of our enemy as we lay hold of the truth of our God. As was the Ethiopian eunuch we are convicted of the truth of the Bible by the Holy Spirit if we remain willing to be taught.

But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a desert.” He arose and went; and behold, there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.” Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He said, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” He begged Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. As a lamb before his shearer is silent, so he doesn’t open his mouth. In his humiliation, his judgment was taken away. Who will declare His generation? For his life is taken from the earth.” The eunuch answered Philip, “Who is the prophet talking about? About himself, or about someone else?” Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached to him about Jesus. As they went on the way, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Behold, here is water. What is keeping me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stand still, and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, and the eunuch didn’t see him any more, for he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:26-39

We must also keep in mind that the Bible is not a difficult book to understand. Yes, there are sections that are more difficult to understand than others, but overall the Bible is a book that can be understood by anyone. The Bible itself is written from the point of view that it can be understood and that there is only one way to understand it. Since the Bible is God's written revelation of Himself to mankind it is not unreasonable to say that He has intended for us to understand what He is telling us of Himself through it. Just as we can apprehend the existence, glory and justice of God through creation so we can apprehend characteristics of God and His involvement with humanity through the Bible.

God does not change. God who spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden is the same God who spoke to John on the island of Patmos. Every word God said, from before the beginning of creation to the other side of its end, consistently reveals both the unchanging character of God and the unchanging nature of His plan for our redemption made before the world was. Each book of the Bible teaches a single cohesive message that is supported and built upon by every other book. John's visions in Revelation do not change the visions of Ezekiel of Daniel but add more detail to their existing structure. We have a tendency agree to disagree when we differ with others on points of Biblical interpretation, but this is something that those who wrote the Bible could never countenance. Even a simple reading of the letters of Paul, James, Peter and John as they appear in the New Testament will reveal that these men understood that there is only one proper interpretation of the Bible and that those interpretations that disagree with this interpretation are to be examined and corrected.

The study of the Bible will take careful thought, hence this document, but it is not beyond our ability to grasp its teaching. There is infinitely more to God than human wisdom can conceive but what He tells us of Himself is not beyond our reason or understanding. Study the Bible like someone digging for treasure: There may be significant effort but the reward is worthy of the task.