“In the beginning, God” (Gen. 1:1). God what? The Bible describes in great detail the creation account. It was God, who is the existing one, who created the heavens and the earth. But the Bible makes a statement that may at times go overlooked…or read over quickly. “Then God said…” (Gen. 1:3).
We live in a time when writings are not trusted. History is believed by many to be nothing but a record of cultural prejudice, having been written by history’s victors. Writings are understood to have no meaning in and of themselves. The concept of original intent is meaningless. Any value in historical writings is found only in what those writings mean to the reader. It is the ultimate arrogance! Any truth claim, particularly one about ultimate reality, is offensive. The Bible makes claims for itself…claims about life…about right and wrong…about reality. It purports to be the very word of God. Paul says the word of God makes a difference in your life and how you live.
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:10-17)
The Bible is filled with certain content which brings the reader to a point of decision. There is specific propositional content to the Bible. Listen to the words of Jesus, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The Bible reveals that giving up our will for His will is a great challenge. The wise of the world have difficultly. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20). John Ortberg tells the story of three men who are in a plane: a pilot, a Boy Scout, and the world’s smartest man. The engine fails, the plane is going down, and there are only two parachutes. The smart man grabs one… “I’m sorry, but I’m the smartest man in the world; I have a responsibility to the planet.” And he jumps out of the plane. The pilot turns to the Boy Scout and begins explaining how he has had a long, full life, and how the Boy Scout still has is whole life ahead of him. He tells the Boy Scout to take the last parachute and live. “Relax, Captain,” the Boy Scout said. “The world’s smartest man just jumped out of the plane with my backpack.”
Our world is full of smart people jumping out of planes with backpacks. God has not made knowing him difficult. Yet it seems that at times the most educated among us chooses the folly of their own wisdom. And the folly of our own wisdom is that we think too highly of it. God has revealed himself in scripture. The Bible speaks to who God is. Leviticus 19 speaks of God’s holiness. God is holy, and He wants us to be holy. God gives us direction that we might be holy, in order that we might be like Him. The Bible is a light for our path and a mirror into our soul. The psalmist says in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” James says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:22-25).
God has spoken. He has preserved his word for us today. The Bible is, in truth, the very word of God. Paul very clearly explains this when he writes to the Christians in Thessalonica, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). But as I said before, we live in a time when writings are not trusted. History is believed by many to be nothing but a record of cultural prejudice, having been written by history’s victors. Writings are seen to have no meaning in themselves. The concept of original intent is meaningless. Any value in historical writings is found only in what they mean to the reader. It is the ultimate arrogance! Any truth claim, particularly one about ultimate reality, is offensive.
So how are we going to reach a society, a world, that seems to be unimpressed with the Bible’s claims? Even more, how are we to reach a culture that believes historical writings have no real original intent within, that writings have value only in what the reader is able to take away from them? It is certainly a challenge. It is a difficult place in which we find ourselves. On one hand, Christians believe the Bible to be the true, inspired word of God. On the other hand, Christians live in a world that is hostile toward the Bible and its claims. In order to reach the world, Christians must live humble, Christ-like lives. We must recognize that God has spoken and he calls us to holiness. God is holy, and his holiness calls us to live in holiness as well. When we humble ourselves, seeking to give him all praise and glory, others will take note. It may be subtle and slow, but the impact we can have, simply by living a Godly life, is incredible. God has spoken…let us listen.