The Bible as the Word of God
Recognizing the Bible as the Word of God, correct in every detail, without mistake or error is perhaps crucial to understanding Jesus. After all, virtually everything we know about Jesus comes from the Bible- there really are no secondary sources, certainly none with as much information as the Bible. When there are disagreements among faiths, they usually revolve around the accuracy and reliability of the Bible. Indeed, most major alternative faiths: Mormon, Jehovah Witnesses, and Islam have their own book which they use instead of, or in addition to, the Bible. Other faiths continue to use the Bible but claim that it is fallible, incorrect, or limited.
First, lets examine the logic behind a partial faith in the Bible. Suppose you think the Bible is partially correct. Some parts are probably true, others were misinterpreted (Did God really say that?), others were mistranslated (it is a translation of a translation, after all), and some were just flat-out made up by its writers (who were just men trying to convince us of their beliefs). If thats the case, then which parts are true? The parts you believe? The parts that make sense? The parts you like? And what if you believe a particular statement is true, but your neighbor doesnt? Then what? The Bible becomes relative, and furthermore, it becomes relative to men, and not from a Higher Power. We are left to decide what is true and what is not. If thats the case, then we might as well base our lifes actions on a volume of Shakespeare or the latest best-selling novel or the latest Academy Award winning movie, because they all meet the "qualifications" of the Bible. There is most certainly some truth in all of them, some non-truths, some parts we like, and some parts we dont like. Basically, in a partial belief in the Bible, its up to us to decide what is true or not.
Now, I dont know about you, but this seems like mighty shaky ground on which to base my faith. It essentially says, "truth is relative". My truth is not your truth, and your truth is not my truth, and furthermore its up to each of us to decide what exactly is our "truth". It seems to me that "relative truth" is an oxymoron. Truth should be a standard- something that never changes, never moves, and is always the same. It shouldnt be something that I decide on, especially if I hope to be led by a higher power than myself. At this point, I could go on a long discussion about relative truth versus absolute truth, but others (C.S. Lewis in "Mere Christianity", Josh McDowell in "The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, and Lee Strobel in "The Case for Christ" just to name a few) have done that far better than Ill ever be able to do. Lets just cut the to the crux of the matter: you really cant prove the Bible by using logic. If you could, you could convince people to believe and people who are led by convincing arguments can be fooled. For every argument, theres an equally convincing opposing argument. Instead, the Bible is "proved" by the Holy Spirit alone. If you read the Bible in a believing manner, rather than a non-believing manner, God will reveal his truths to you. Sometimes all at once, sometimes very slowly, whatever He deems best for you.
Arguments and discussions and proofs and evidence can certainly push you in one direction or the other, but ultimately, it is your choice: Do you believe or not? I see so many wanting to believe but approaching it from the wrong direction by saying "Show me that this is true, and then I will believe". This is a negative approach, and it is not faith. If I tell you that I have a dollar bill in my pocket, you can choose to believe or not. But if I show you the dollar bill, then you no longer need to believe me. No belief, no faith, no choice- you're a puppet! The positive approach is this: "I believe this is true, help me to understand". This says "I really want to believe that you spoke the truth about that dollar bill. Help me to do so". I will not show you the dollar bill directly, because that would destroy your faith, but I may do something else that bolsters your faith in me, thus helping you believe that I do, indeed, have a dollar in my pocket. In the same way, God will not reveal Himself directly to you, but will, instead, reveal Himself in another way to a believing and seeking spirit.
My bottom line suggestion is to simply read the Bible as if it were true and trust in God to open it up for you. In "Favorite Scriptures", Ill show you some of the scriptures that were pinned to my heart when I read with a believing spirit.
Lastly, Ill tell you about a little conversation that God had with me a few years ago. I was driving around the ranch wrestling with evolution and creation in my mind, trying to reconcile evolutionary theory with what the Bible says. To do this, we typically tweak the Bible rather than the evolutionary evidence. After all, to tweak the evolutionary evidence would require a new theory and that would require a bunch of rethinking, not to mention trying to sell your idea to the scientific community. Much easier to play with the "days" in the Bible. Anyway, Im thinking along, working on this possibility and that possibility, when, clear as a bell, this other voice pops into my mind, "Why cant you just believe what the Bible says?". I answer back "Well, because the fossil record shows this and carbon 14 dating shows this and .". And the question comes back "And who told you those things?". To which I reply "Men. Distinguished scholarly, well-educated men!". And then the devastating reply, "And you believe them over me?". Hmmm .now that stopped me dead in my tracks. And, of course, He was right. I believed men over Him. I believed what others said about Him, rather than what He said (see The First Sin). I believed evidence of things seen over hope of things not seen (this is the definition of "faith" by the way). I was trying to make the Bible fit my ideas and, basically, reading it in disbelief instead of belief. I prayed right then and there for forgiveness and for help with my disbelief, tossed my man-made ideas out the window, and started reading the Bible in belief. And thats when it started really opening up for me.
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