I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. (Psalm 138:2)
I recently took a volunteer position teaching Bible to third to sixth graders in a local Christian school. My first time meeting with these students was Friday, and rather than jump right into the curriculum, I determined to get to know the students and see what their level of understanding was of the Bible. As I expected, their knowledge about the Bible was pretty rudimentary, but still far and above children of the same age who know nothing about the Bible.
For that reason, I prepared a lesson so they might get a glimpse of what the Bible has to say about the Bible. Most Christians (I hope) know some basic facts about the Bible. These students did as well. The Bible is the Word of God. God is the ultimate Author of the Bible. It was written by men inspired by God, the Holy Spirit. It has 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. So, what does the Bible have to say about itself?
The Bible is Unfailing
In other words, what God had recorded in the Bible will come to pass without fail. In commissioning Jeremiah, God gave him a vision. Jeremiah records, “Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:11-12, emphasis mine). The Hebrew words translated “hasten” in the KJV are shâqad ‛al which literally means, “I will keep watch of, be wakeful over on account of My Word.” God will not allow any of His word to “fall through the cracks.”
To Isaiah, God said the same thing using different words. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11, emphasis mine). The people in Noah’s day laughed at his ark-building project because they had never seen it rain. Even though Noah preached God’s Word to them, they refused to listen choosing rather to rely on their own experience; but they were wrong and God’s Word proved right. “And [God] spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5, emphasis mine). God does not speak carelessly.
Jesus emphasized that the smallest detail of Scripture would remain forever without fail. “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18, emphasis mine). The “jot” is the smallest Hebrew letter “yod” (י) and the “tittle” is the smallest mark distinguishing one letter from another similar-looking letter as in the difference between the resh (ר) and the dalet (ד). Some today see things in the Bible and say those things no longer apply because that is not the way our culture functions now. For example, many churches today employ women as senior pastors of churches even though the Bible speaks against it. “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Timothy 2:11-12, emphasis mine). Many will argue about this point, but the plain reading of the text is clear enough. In the Church, a woman is not to have authority over a man, and that is exactly what a woman does when she is placed in the position of senior pastor. That alteration of Scripture goes beyond changing a jot or tittle!
Peter quotes Isaiah 40:6-8 when he says, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:24-25, emphasis mine). The Word of God, the Holy Bible, will never fail.
The Bible is Trustworthy
You can trust the Bible and apply its teachings to your life and know that what it says is true. The psalmist says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). The Hebrew word translated “perfect” is tâmı̂ym and it means “complete, whole, entire, sound.” The Hebrew word translated “sure” is ‘âman and it means “to be established, be faithful, be carried, make firm.” Look what it does. It “converts” the soul or causes the soul to “return” (by implication) to God. It gives wisdom to the foolish (who will heed what it says).
Before going to the cross, in His high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed to the Father for us saying, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17, emphasis mine). “Sanctify” means to “set apart” specifically for the service of God. I find it interesting that “the word” may have a dual meaning. At first sight, we understand that “thy word” refers to the Scriptures. However, at the beginning of John’s Gospel, we are introduced to “The Word” (John 1:1-3) and instructed that “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, emphasis mine). So, the spoken/written Word of God became the living Word of God in Jesus Christ in whom we who have placed our trust in Him, are “sanctified.”
Then, just as light makes our way sure in the dark and we trust the light to keep us from stumbling, so the Word of God is a light for us in an ever-darkening world. The psalmist said it this way, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105, emphasis mine). It will shine its light in a dark world!
God Values His Word
Scripture teaches us not to take the name of God lightly or speak His name carelessly. “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7, emphasis mine). “And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:12, emphasis mine). It appears that God takes His name very seriously, and He expects us to do the same. Even so, the psalmist records, “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2, emphasis mine). As highly as God regards His name, He regards His Word, the Bible, above His own name. What does that say to us? Should we not have the same regard for God’s Word?
The Bible Is Not Man’s Invention
Many critics of the Bible argue that it was the work of men throughout history, just like any other work of fiction or religious literature. Although at least 40 penned the words of Scripture, the Bible claims divine authorship for every word. In his final letter to his young protégé, Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16, emphasis mine). The phrase “inspiration of God” is one compound word in the Greek: theopneustos, meaning “God-breathed” or “breathed out by God.” So, the Bible is not a human concoction. Consider the miracle of the Bible. Written down by over 40 men, most of them separated by hundreds of years over almost 2000 years, and yet there is consistency and cohesion throughout the entire text – Old and New Testaments. One cannot say that about the Quran, which supposedly had only one author, or the Book of Mormon, which was supposedly given by the angel Moroni to a single man, John Smith. Reading these books can make one’s head spin, but not the Bible. It makes perfect sense through and through, and the more one reads it, the more sense it makes.
The Apostle Peter contradicted the notion that the Bible was of human origin. He argued from the point of his personal witness. He spent three years of his life in close contact with Jesus. He witnessed all of Jesus’ miracles firsthand. He saw Jesus walk on the stormy waters, and he himself walked on the water at Jesus’ bidding. Peter was on Mount Herman when Jesus was transfigured into His glorious divine nature as He spoke with Moses and Elijah. Peter witnessed all of that firsthand; he did not dream it up. Yet, with all of that Peter says, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy [i.e., Scripture]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:19-21, emphasis mine). Peter says that the written Word of God is more reliable than his own eyewitness account.
The Bible Prepares Us
Finally, God gives us His Word to prepare us for the conflicts that come into our lives and to give us the resource for witnessing about Him, not from our own opinions, but from His Word. The psalmist puts it this way. “Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word” (Psalm 119:41-42, emphasis mine). As Christians, we often suffer “reproach” from non-believers. Here the psalmist pleads for salvation “according to God’s Word” so that he may respond to those who find fault (reproach). Notice that he puts his trust in the Word of God, not his own resources. Likewise, when we are challenged about our faith, rather than answering from our own opinions, our response should be “according to God’s Word.” We can fail, but God’s Word never fails.
Again, Paul instructs Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, emphasis mine). “Study” does not mean “scan” the Bible looking for your favorite verses, nor does it mean to read it casually. The Greek word is spoudazō and it means “to exert one’s self, endeavor, give diligence.” All of this is for the purpose of being a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed.” Christian, you do realize that God has you here on earth to be a “workman” in His kingdom, don’t you? Included in that “study” involves the “rightly dividing the word of truth,” i.e., handling God’s Word correctly, not inserting your own interpretation, adding to the Word, or taking away from the Word. Remember what was said earlier, God “magnifies His Word above His own name”! We should handle it carefully and with reverence.
We need to always be prepared and ready to give a response. Peter says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15, emphasis mine). First of all, we begin by giving God His proper place in our hearts. That puts us in the right relationship with Him. When we do that, we should be ready always to give a response to anyone who asks us about the hope that we have. A lost and dying world should be able to look to the Christian and see hope there. And when they ask why we have peace when the world is falling down around us, we should have a ready answer with “meekness” and “fear” (i.e., reverence).
Reader, do you know the Author of this wonderful Book? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”