Is saying it enough?
The Bible is the very words of God.
While some of the people who read this blog may not agree with the above statement, I feel the majority of my readership does. As a matter of fact, if I had to guess, I think the majority of my readership would be adamant in their proclamation of those words.
After all, the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture is one of our distinctives as evangelicals. We stand on those words as a symbol of what it means to be evangelical. The total truthfulness of God’s word is proclaimed from our pulpits, in our literature, and on our t-shirts.
Heck, we Southern Baptists fought a battle over it.
If you look at the Baptist Faith and Message, the doctrinal statement for our denomination, the very first point is about the nature of Scripture. Evidently, we like to say we believe the Bible is God’s words.
But, do we really?
Do we really believe the Bible is the very words of God, written on paper and passed down through the centuries for us? I am afraid many more of us say we believe this than actually do. I was confronted with this reality over the weekend.
During a monthly discipleship program with my church, we had a discussion about the inerrancy of scripture. However, it was not the typical pep rally where all simply affirmed the truthfulness of Scripture. Instead, it was a group of people who are settled on the issue talking through what it actually means to believe that the Bible is God’s words.
In our talks, we moved past the question of whether or not the Bible was actually from God to the question of how that should affect our lives. Then the conviction began.
Truth be told, if the Bible really is the words of the all-powerful creator of the universe, then that means something big. Real big.
As part of our discussion, we interacted with an article written by John Piper. I would strongly encourage you to check out his article, and read it out loud. In the article Piper details a specific morning where he spent time in the Bible. The thing that makes his story so extraordinary is the fact that it is, according to him, completely ordinary.
Piper details the rich time of close communication where God is speaking to Him. It is like a two way conversation where the God of the universe is sitting with him in the living room having a chat. Furthermore, Piper made the claim that this was his average experience.
Toward the end of his article, Piper gets to the purpose of his writing and discusses the comments of an unnamed seminary professor. This professor had written an article in a national Christian periodical about an experience where God told the professor to give away proceeds from his next book. Making the claim, “For years I’ve taught that God still speaks, but I couldn’t testify to it personally. I can only do so now anonymously, for reasons I hope will be clear,” the professor spoke of how this special word from God had given him evidence that God still speaks to people.
Without denying the ability for God to speak in an extrabiblical fashion, Piper spoke out against this approach to hearing God’s voice. He was saddened by this guy’s words.
And we should be too.
Truth be told, many of us feel the same way as that professor. After all, how many times have we wanted some special word from God about direction for our lives? Yet, a closer look at his statement reveals an unsettling truth. Perhaps we do not believe the Bible is the words of God.
In practice, this professor was making the claim that this extra revelation from God was somehow superior to the written words of the Bible. Unfortunately, if we are honest, we may believe the same thing. We say with our lips that the Bible is God’s word, and then we want something more. When we do this, we act as though the words of Scripture are not sufficient. In essence, God’s written word is no longer good enough. It is this attitude that reveals to us our true belief about the nature of Scripture.
And what of those moments where the Bible does not agree with us? How do we respond in those moments? Certainly, it is easy to stand with Bible raised, claiming it to be the very words of God, when it is saying the same thing we do. But how do we act when the Bible disagrees with something that we are doing? Do we still proudly stand behind its words as an authority, or do we quickly silence it and continue on?
How can we as a Christian subculture honestly say we believe the Bible to be the actual words of God to man when our divorce rate is at 50% inside of the church? The Bible speaks loudly on this issue, and with our lives we act as though it is silent.
Truth be told, the true sign of our belief in the inerrancy of the Bible is not whether or not we say it is. The true sign of our belief is how we treat the Bible.
The person who truly believes the Bible is the actual words of the almighty creator of the universe, written down for them, is enamored by the fact that God really communicates to us through this text. They are so moved by this great gift and so humbled by its teaching that it changes their life. Therefore, they live in. They cannot put it down. And most importantly, they listen to what it says.
May we see the Bible as the precious gift it is, and may we not argue with its teaching by the way we live our lives.