I’ll let you into a little bit of a secret. Last I heard, threads is something that’s part of the Evangelical Alliance. That means, kind of by definition, there’s a bit of a thrust led towards the Bible as an authoritative text. Yet I struggle with a lot of what I read. I have been so blessed and influenced by many of the posts and authors on this site and think it can be an invaluable resource, but I’ve also been fed up at times. I feel like we can just have ‘blessed thoughts’ on topics and issues.
In slightly blunter terms, I don’t think we live up to the evangelical name as a collective and a generation. The Bible isn’t sexy to us. It sounds a bit archaic. To our friends who don’t hold to the faith we do, it seems a bit pointless. And that’s rubbed off on us.
And so to try and speak into this situation, I’d like to take you through my personal journey with the Bible. And I’ll try to avoid throwing out 2 Timothy 3.16-17 as my proof text – the ‘all Scripture is breathed out by God’ passage).
I was born and raised in a Christian home. Bible stories were bedtime stories. Sunday school was all about characters in the Bible and Jesus. The Bible was always a thing in my life, and I was taught that it was authoritative. As I got older, I graduated from the legendary ‘The Beginner’s Bible’, to slightly more wordy ones. Despite my mum buying me many, many different versions and study notes, I was never great at doing the whole ‘daily reading’ thing that we’re encouraged to do/feel like we ought.
Eventually, I ended up being called by God to do a theology degree and I learnt a lot about fascinating, AKA dull, topics like the formation of canon, archaeology and the Bible, contextual evidence, textual criticism etc. It wasn’t always plain sailing, but through it all, God taught me.
The plain and simple lesson God taught me was this: the Bible is our highest possible authority, and it is absolutely crucial that we know it.
I’m a wholeheartedly convinced and convicted charismatic Christian. By that I mean that I believe in the full expression of the spiritual gifts as seen in the New Testament, and the Spirit is the one who empowers us. I believe in the gifts of prophecy, words of knowledge and tongues as ways that God speaks to His people, yet I would always take the Bible over a prophecy any day of the week.
Why? Well, because it’s through knowing the Bible that we know what’s truly spiritual and what’s truly not. It’s through the Bible that we understand the nature and character of God, through the God we see in its pages. Both Old and New Testaments. And because ultimately, it’s through the Bible that we can even begin to weigh and test those charismata given to us.
It’s through the Bible that we see how Church ought to be functioning, and it’s through the Bible that we see profound insights into society, culture, politics, and the hearts of men and women.
And here’s where it gets to me most; I’m aware of how flimsy I can be, how easily swept up and caught in moods and fads. I know how easy it is for culture to influence me by what I see in the media, read online or in books, or listen to on Spotify. I know that at one minute I can feel like I’m soaring, closer to Jesus than ever before, and then ever so quickly wallow in feelings of despair and inadequacy.
Because of how I am, I want to be ruthlessly committed to following the constant that is God’s word. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when it says something different to my friends.
It’s God’s word that makes me want to stand up for justice, speak out against oppression, but also it’s God’s word that challenges a sinful world, and a sinful Nick, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s God’s word that is the primary way in which I see the depths of my own wretchedness, but also the heights of God’s love and acceptance for me.
We cannot know it well enough.
This is both a massive challenge and huge encouragement to me, and so I want to commit to reading it as frequently as I can, studying the depths of its history, culture and characters.
Ultimately though, I take the Bible seriously because I take Jesus seriously. And if he takes the Bible seriously, then I probably better too. If he uses Deuteronomy to rebuke Satan in the wilderness, that probably means I can mange to open it up during a reading plan. If he unravels and reveals the scriptures to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, then I can probably learn something of who he is in the chapters of Isaiah.
If Jesus took the Bible seriously while he was on earth, I think we ought to too.
Oh, and did I mention it’s breathed out by God?