We (Christians) worship and serve a God who has spoken to us. He isn’t a god who lords over the earth, distant from mankind, keeping us guessing as to who he is, what he values, or how he reigns. Instead, we serve a personal God who has spoken to us in several ways; especially through the Bible.
The Bible is important to me (and us) for so many reasons. God’s word encourages us in our faiths and trials, convicts us in our sins, directs us in our questions, inclines us further to Christ, and (maybe most importantly) tells us the gospel: how salvation is found for sinners in Christ alone. The Bible tells us God’s character and how, in light of that, we should live as believers. The Bible is critical because the gospel is critical; it’s our hope and ultimate truth.
Practically, learning about God’s revelation to us through the Bible is helpful in several ways. It reinforces my need to be in the Bible each day. Each day I need to be reminded of the gospel, each day I need to be saved from my sins. As I learn more about the Bible (how to read it, what questions to ask, the main points to see), I find myself more equipped and also more encouraged in the time I spend reading it. The more I learn regarding how to read the Bible, the more captivating and relevant it becomes.
God wrote the Bible as one big story, not a series of fragmented, unrelated ones. When we read the Old Testament in light of the gospel; not only does the Old Testament make more sense, it also is all the more encouraging to see the ways God clearly pointed to Jesus thousands of years before Jesus walked the earth. Jesus himself explained that the Old Testament is actually about himself (Luke 24:17).
So through the lens of Jesus and the good news of his salvation, we can see the biblical storyline as a single 11 part story running from Genesis to Revelation:
Our identity (Genesis 1-2): Creation
Our problem (Genesis 3): The Fall
His solution promised (Genesis 4-50): Abraham
His solution pictured (Exodus): The Exodus
His solution pointed to (Exodus-Deuteronomy): Sinai/Law
His solution prefigured (Joshua-2 Chronicles): Kings, the Temple
His solution predicted (Ezra-Malachi): Exile and Prophecy
His solution personified (the gospels): The Coming of Jesus
His solution purchased (told in the gospels, explained in Romans-Revelation): The Cross
His hope proclaimed (told in the gospels and Acts): The Resurrection and Pentecost
His and our return (Revelation): Eternity in the New Heaven and Earth (*adapted from Porterbrook’s Bible in MIssional Perspective )
Finally, the Bible is final; God is not adding to it still. I’ve noticed a growing movement, especially in the realm of Christian women’s ministry, in which women claim God has spoken/is speaking to them. While this phrase can mean a ton of different things, it is helpful to remember that God has primarily spoken to us by his word (the Bible) and he doesn’t “speak” things to anyone that contradict the Bible. Additionally, we should always compare someone’s “revelation” to the Word of God because his word carries authority. The finality of God’s word was especially important to me years ago when I was exploring Mormonism, a religion that has added several documents in the past 200 years that they claim equal the Bible in importance, authority, accuracy, and divine authorship. To see the Bible warn against adding to God’s word helps us distinguish false religions in a very clear way.
In conclusion, the Bible is critical in the life of a believer and in the Church. We need it to know the heart of God and to know the gospel. Like we read in 2 Timothy, the Bible is literally God’s words and it is good “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Praise God that he loves us and would give us so great a gift.
ELLEN ZIMMERMANN/GUEST CONTRIBUTOR