(Gospel e-Letter - December 2009)
The Bible is a collection of old writings by several authors over a span of many centuries, originally addressed to the Jews or the early Christians. Why should we put our confidence in this old book? Is it still relevant to us today?
The Lord Jesus gives us a good insight on the value of the Scriptures. During a debate with the Sadducees (who denied the resurrection), Jesus said, ‘But about the resurrection of the dead -- have you not read what God said to you, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” He is not the God of the dead but of the living’ (Matt 22:31, 32).
Let us focus on the very significant phrase, ‘Have you not read what God said to you?’
We learn, first of all, that Jesus regarded God as the author of the Bible. He knew of course that the book of Exodus, from which he quoted, was written by Moses. But Jesus looked beyond the human author. ‘Have you not read,’ he asked, ‘what God said to you?’
God is the ultimate author of the Bible, for as the apostle Peter explains, ‘prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:21).
So the Bible is not merely a human work – if it were so, we would be fools to hang our eternal destiny on its message. The Bible is ‘God-breathed’ – the words coming out of the mouth of God. Therefore we can trust the Scripture because God, its author, cannot err or deceive us.
We learn, moreover, that Jesus taught that the Bible was not written only to the original audience but to others as well. The book of Exodus was originally written to the Jews that came out of Egypt. Yet Jesus told the first century Jews that through that book, God was speaking to them also: ‘Have you not read what God said’ – not to your forefathers, but – ‘to you?’
Even though that scripture had been written fifteen centuries before, Jesus told the people of his generation that God was communicating with them in their day. Through the Bible, God speaks today. The Scripture is ever relevant and up-to-date. ‘The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever’ (1 Peter 1:24, 25).
Similarly, the apostle Paul, speaking to Christians about the events recorded in Scripture, wrote, ‘These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us’ (1 Cor 10:11); and again, ‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us’ (Rom 15:4). God had us in mind when he composed the Bible, and when we read it, God speaks to us!
This then is what Jesus taught. God is the author of the Bible, and he wrote it to all people in every generation. The Scriptures transcend culture and time. Through the written Word, God speaks; God speaks to us; God speaks to us today!
If we truly desire to correct our errors and to know God’s message, the Lord Jesus counsels, ‘Have you not read what God said to you?’