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The Bible: Why Bother?

The Bible: Why Bother?

 

Today many individuals simply think that the Bible is just another old book we have from antiquity. Like all those other old books, it is full of strange rules and laws that seem no longer relevant to our modern age. Yet others make bold and confident claims that we are on the cusp of laying aside the Bible once and for all. And yet, no matter how many times this gets said the Bible remains. So, what about the Bible makes people still read it, study it, and live by it? Or to put in another way, why should we in 2020 still bother with the Bible?

It is Still Here

When you consider what the Bible has been through it is amazing that we even still have it. It has outlasted empires and world powers (e.g. Ottoman Empire or USSR) as well as many of its staunchest critics. There must be a good reason behind its survival, especially when you consider how many people tried to destroy it. Basically, from day one it has been under attack and yet it remains (1 Peter 1:23-25). And it does not remain in small fragments. It remains in its complete form. To me the answer for this comes from Jesus Himself in Matthew 24:35 when He says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

It is Still Impartial

Many groups, religions, nations, and empires have come into contact with the Bible and yet the Bible contains none of the biases of these groups.  For example, the Catholic church for centuries interacted with the Bible (and in many cases was the only access to the Bible in western Europe) and yet the text condemns many of the errors of Catholicism directly                 (1 Timothy 4:1-4; Ephesians 1:22-23; Matthew 23:9). As well as any other denomination.

It Still Produces an Honest Mind

The Bible produces the kind of minds that make scientific research and advancement possible. Consider the type of mind that God values in the Bible. A mind that is open to investigation. A mind that is honest. A mind that values truth. A mind that holds on to truth no matter what everyone around them may believe or say. Consider just a few verses that show the type of mind the Bible produces:

  • “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.
  • “Now these were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” Acts 17:11.

We take this kind of mind for granted or we just assume that it has always been there in every age. However, as we are seeing in our day and age, more and more reject the idea of objective truth and right and wrong; we see quickly how these qualities are not a given.

It Is Still the Basis of Our Laws and Rights

Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Notes on the State of Virginia, “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”[1] Jefferson, as well as the other founders, understood and appealed to the eternal principle stated in Genesis 1:27. That “In His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Therefore, each person is by the very nature of their being valuable. Now the founders were men and they fell very short of the fulfillment of that principle, but they recognized it and created a country in which successive generations could have the tools to work towards living up to that standard in the fullest measure.

This was not all they understood from the Bible. From the text they understood that justice (in a legal sense) needs to be rooted in truth and facts. Thus, a person is innocent until proven guilty. This is, I would argue, the same standard that the Bible puts forth in both the Old and New Testaments (Deut. 19:15-19; 1 Tim. 5:19). Our freedom to assemble, to speak without censorship, and to worship all come from the understanding that God has endowed us with inherent rights that should not be infringed upon.

Yet many who attack the Bible today are unaware that without the Bible many of the rights we deem precious we would not have. As someone noted, “The ritual last long after the reasons have been forgotten.”

It Can Still Hold a Person Together

God created us as complex beings which means we are complicated and hard to figure out. The Bible can figure us out and not only figure us out but hold us together. The Bible can cut through my own self-deception and tell me how it is.

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-4 tells me that if my heart, my motive, is not right then it does not matter how many good deeds I do. It profits me nothing.
  • It can also keep a marriage together when both parties determine to live by its principles (Ephesians 5:22ff). Thus, you avoid divorce or a 30-year silent war of resentment.
  • Hebrews 4:12 reminds me that the Bible can cut through and to such a level that I did not know I had. It can reach into my deepest part and reveal to me more self-delusions or desires I did not know I had.
  • It can build you up like nothing else in this world (Acts 20:32).

 

 

 

It Is Still Unbiased and Honest

What impressed me about the Bible when I first started to really read it was that it did not seek to hide anything about the people in it. Later in life as I began to study history in college I found that honesty in reporting is not a given and so it is refreshing to know that when I read the Bible I am getting the real deal.

  • It deals fairly with both men and women. The blame for the fall is placed both on Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12; 1 Timothy 2:12-15). Neither gender is pictured as being morally superior to the other. Both are given hard tasks. The Bible has both male and female heroes as well as villains. And if a married man is doing well in life, typically his wife is there at the top with him (Proverbs 31:23).
  • It puts all humans on the same footing. Sates plainly that there are no perfect saints (Romans 3:23). Israel may have been chosen of God to bring the Messiah into the world, but they are not given a free pass. When they were judged, they were judged harshly. Any reading of the Bible reveals that the human hands that penned it were not individuals who were afraid of offending people by revealing these things.

It Is Still the Truth

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Finally, why bother with the Bible? It is still the truth. It reminds us that we are all in the same game here and there is no opting out (2 Cor. 5:10). The stories are complex, and sometimes difficult. But that is because people are complex and difficult. It does not hide that from us.

It is psychologically true, historically true, and true in terms of people, places, events, geography, when it touches on science, and all of morality. It is true.

What is says works. Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”

 

[1] Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII. Accessed via. https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/quotations-jefferson-memorial

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