I. Introduction: The Beauty of the Bible
The Bible is unique in its production, preservation, proclamations, and product. In its production, it is a harmonious and unified message of redemption that has emerged out of diversity of authors, circumstances, and literary forms. In its preservation, it has miraculously withstood the ravages of time, persecution, and criticism, and continues to be the best selling book in the world. In its proclamations, it stands alone in its revelation of God’s plan from eternity to eternity and in its life-giving message. In its product, it has changed the course of history, reached more people, and transformed more lives than any other book.
The Doorway to a New Domain
Scripture tells us that there are really two realms: that which is seen and that which is unseen. The first is the realm of apparent reality, the world we know through our minds and our five senses. If it were not for divine revelation, we would be locked into this level without any way of breaking through to the second realm, the world of ultimate reality. Bound to the level of the finite, the relative, and the temporal, we would be unable to find the meaning and purpose we long for that can only come from the level of the infinite, the absolute, and the eternal. There would be no hope of finding answers to the basic questions of life: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? God gave us His Word to deliver us from the power of darkness and to translate us to the domain of light, “the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). The Bible reveals the full scope of the Lord’s creative and redemptive plan for His people. Only in its pages can we gain a perspective on our corporate past, present, and future and realize the overwhelming significance of our new identity as the recipients of “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). By drinking deeply and regularly from the well of God’s Word, our entire value system will be gradually transformed from the temporal to the eternal. The study of Scripture sets our minds on the things above (Col. 3:2), the source of all biological and spiritual life. It enables us to look not “at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). This is the heart of wisdom--plugging into the realm of ultimate reality and walking in the light, life, and love of the Lord. By pursuing the precepts and principles of the Bible, we gain the most important skill of all: the ability to live each area of life under the dominion of the King. The Bible does not tell us to live and learn; it exhorts us to learn and live.
The Pathway to a Better Life
There are several reasons for getting into the Word and letting the Word get into us.
Here are six:
1. Nourishment and Growth
The Bible was not merely written for our information, but for our transformation. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). While the Bible is an inspired revelation from the living God, it requires our response before it can have an impact upon our lives. Scripture is indeed “profitable for doctrine,” but its profit does not stop on the level of doctrine; it must move from the head to the heart to accomplish the purpose for which it was given. God loves us and desires nothing less than our highest good: conformity to the character of His Son. A dynamic relationship with the truth of His Word provides us with the spiritual nourishment we will need to grow into the maturity of Christlikeness.
Exercise: Study 2 Peter 1:2-8 to trace the progressive effect that the knowledge of God and His promises has upon the life of a believer.
2. New Priorities and Values
The study of Scripture can deliver us from the bondage of a temporal perspective and provide us with an eternal value system. By frequently renewing our minds with the Word (Rom. 12:2), our thinking and behavior come more into conformity with God’s view of significance, purpose, identity, and success. The pursuit of God’s value system leads to fulfillment and joy in contrast to the frustration and unhappiness that result from the pursuit of the world’s value system. See Psalm 5:11; 16:5-8; 105:3-4; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Matthew 6:33; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 1:10-12.
3. Overcoming Temptation
The study of Scripture provides us with both corrective and preventive medicine. It warns us in advance of the kinds of temptations we can expect (e.g., Prov. 4:10-27; 5:1-23; 1 John 2:15-16), tells us about the process of temptation (see Jas. 1:12-17), and shows us how to deal with temptation (1 Cor. 10:13; Eph. 6:10-18).
4. Guidance for Decision Making
The Scriptures reveal God’s moral will for practically every area of life. A working knowledge of the commands, prohibitions, and principles of the Bible will give us wisdom and guidance in the decisions that shape the course of our earthly existence (Ps. 119:105; Prov. 1:2-5), and a divine perspective that will enable us to respond in the right way to our circumstances and rise above them (Jas. 1:5).
5. Knowledge of God
The Bible is a progressive revelation of the person, plan, character, mind, love, and will of our Creator. We cannot hope to know Him and His ways apart from time spent in His revealed Word.
Exercise: All but three verses in Psalm 119 contain a reference to the Word of God (variously referred to as God’s laws, decrees, precepts, promises, testimonies, statutes, judgments, ordinances, commands, and words). Read this psalm and record your observations of the beneficial effects of the Scriptures in cultivating a relationship with God.
6. Knowledge of Ourselves
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). The Bible cuts below the facade of appearances and lays bare our secret motivations and plans (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7). As we read it, the Word becomes a mirror that exhibits our true character, exposes areas of self-delusion, and exhorts us to change (see Jas. 1:21-25).
Related Topics: Bibliology (The Written Word)