The Bible: Why Bother
The Bible: Why Bother?
For some people the Bible is simply a very old book, filled with odd or strange regulations that are no longer relevant in the modern world. Voltaire said, “The Bible. That is what fools have written, what imbeciles commend, what rogues teach and young children are made to learn by heart”. Yet, is such even a true or accurate description of this book?
It is Still Here
It has outlasted empires, kingdoms and cultures and it will be around long after we are all long gone. There must be a good reason behind its survival, especially when we realize how many people have tried to destroy it over the centuries. It has been under almost constant attack and yet it remains (1 Peter 1:23-25), and what remains is not merely a remnant of the original text, but rather, the entire whole remains intact. What Jesus said about the text of Scripture and His own words remains true to this day: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
Many people or groups of people have come into contact with the Bible and yet the Bible does not contain any of the biases of those individuals or groups. For example, the Catholic church for centuries has interacted with the Bible and yet the biblical text condemns the errors of Catholicism (1 Timothy 4:1-4; Ephesians 1:22-23; Matthew 23:9), as well as any other denomination.
What the Bible Has Produced
The Bible produced the kind of mind that makes scientific research and advancement possible. A mind that is open to investigation. A mind that is honest. A mind that values truth. A mind that does not cower to the crowd. A mind that holds on to truth even when surrounded by many people, even powerful people who say otherwise.
- “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to what 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).
It is easy to take such honesty for granted or just “assume” that such a mentality always exists in all cultures, yet such is not true. In fact, in the West we are moving from a truth centered way of thinking to a post-truth way of viewing reality, in which feelings and personal experiences are viewed as carrying more weight than actual facts.
The Basis of Our Laws and Rights
When Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, he was appealing to a principle laid down own long ago in Scripture, that all men and women are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Thus, every single individual has immense value and needs to be respected and treated as such by the law of the land. Not only this, but the foundation of our legal system is based on the principle of facts and truth. Thus people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. We also have the right to assemble for worship, to speak the truth, and are protected from unlawful searches. Yet many people today who attack the Bible are unaware that without the Bible such rights would not exist in our society. Someone noted, “The ritual lasts long after the reasons have been forgotten”. That is, people today know about freedom of speech, but they do not know why such exists. They might know that murder, rape or adultery are morally wrong, but they struggle when pressed for an absolute why. Jefferson also wrote, in his notes on the state of Virginia: "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation bethought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?"
A Conscientious and Diligent Population
In any reading of the Bible one can tell that such virtues would arise if a population of people applied its teachings. The Bible often exhorts us to be diligent and work hard (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Timothy 5:8). It also produces people with a tender conscious who attempt to avoid doing harm to others (Matthew 7:12), and who do the right thing even when no one is looking and there is no immediate reward (Colossians 3:22). Now you might say, “So what?” Well consider this: Benjamin Franklin penned, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety”. Franklin, like others realized that a democracy or republic only works when the people in it are moral, but when they become corrupt then the whole thing collapses, and history is filled with such failed democracies.
It Holds What Is Essential Together/With It Everything Snaps Into Place
- The Bible can hold you together. Each one of us is a very complicated individual, and we need it to figure out why we do what we do and to make sure that we are doing the right things for the right reasons: Hebrews 4:12; 1 Corinthians 13:1-4.
- It can hold a marriage together when both parties determine to live by its principles (Ephesians 5:22ff; 1 Peter 3:7). So you can avoid either divorce or the silent 30 year war.
- It can keep you from yielding to your worse impulses. Thus, it keeps evil in check.
- It can build you up like nothing else (Acts 20:32).
It is Unbiased and Honest
- It is honest about the shortcomings and strengthens of both men and women. The blame for the fall is placed on both Adam (Romans 5:12) and Eve (1 Timothy 2:12-15). In the Bible neither gender is pictured as being morally superior to the other. Both are given hard tasks. The Bible has male and female villains and male and female heroes. 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 human beings on an equal plane (Romans 3:23). Israel may have been the nation through whom the Messiah arrived, but they are not given a free pass. When they sinned, God judged them, and judged them harshly. Any reading of the Old or New Testament will reveal that the human authors were not men who were afraid of offending people.
Jesus and Satan
- Christ in the Bible is the best that man can be.
- Satan in the Bible is the worst man can be.
It Avoids False Extremes
- It does not confuse God with nature.
- It does not confuse grace with a license of sin, or freedom with a freedom to wallow in the mire.
- It does not confuse love with lust or instant gratification.
- It does not claim that the suffering in the world is an illusion.
- It does not claim that God’s ability to know the future results in the loss of human freewill.
- In the Bible man is neither the measure of all things or a parasite upon the planet.
- It gives a perfect balance between what only God can do for us and what we must do for ourselves.
It Answers all the Pressing Questions/So Remains Relevant
When does life begin? Where did I come from? Why am I here? What makes a person valuable? Gender? Marriage? Male and Female roles? How to overcome alcohol, lust, and greed? What will make you happy?
Thy Word is Truth: John 17:17
- It reminds us – you are in the game and you cannot opt out: 2 Corinthians 5:10
- The stories are very dense. Real people with real problems, complex characters.
- Psychologically true.
- Historically true.
- True in terms of people, places, events, cities, geography.
- Morally true.
- Scientifically true: Genesis 1:1; 2:1
- Finally, what it says works: Romans 1:16
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017