September 29, 2011

The Bible — God’s Word to Humanity

To my left on my study wall is a framed and illuminated page from 1 Peter. It was printed on the first printing press in the world, the Gütenberg press, located in Germany and still being used. There, we also saw one of a few remaining copies of the Gütenberg Bible, the first book ever printed on this press, way back in 1450-1455.

In that same museum were dozens of Bibles that had been faithfully copied from earlier texts. Words and letters were counted to make sure no errors crept in. It took many people years of work to preserve God’s Word. They did so because they knew that the Bible is an amazing book. It has been called “The Book of Books.” Today, it is printed in more than 600 languages, and portions are printed in more than 1,000 tongues and dialects. The Bible has long been the world’s best seller.

I “cut my teeth” on the King James version. Other versions have been translated from ancient copies and paraphrases have been made from those versions. Even with the many variations available, the version used is not nearly so important as what we do with it and how we respond to it.

My mother’s example started me reading the Bible every day. I’ve done this since I was about 13 years old. Now I can say along with the psalmist at least the first part of these verses. . . .

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. (Psalm 119:97–99)
This book is God’s love letter. In it, He discloses Himself and clearly spells out His plan for our redemption and restored fellowship. He offers us the final authority for all matters of faith, morals, and practice. This inspired book is God’s way of giving us understanding and guidance in our Christian walk as it prepares us for our heavenly destination.

I cannot fully comprehend all of the teaching of Scripture because my sinful mind is finite and flawed, but God makes clear the essential truths for redemption and to live like Christ. This book is alive and shapes my life. For me, it is the same as Paul said to Timothy. . . .

. . . . and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the (person) of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15–17)
The words do not work all by themselves. The Holy Spirit uses them in a mystical way, making them come alive in my mind and life. Because of this, my sin is exposed so I can confess it and be forgiven.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
As God deals with my sin, He also uses His Word to help me live as He wants me to live. When I do that, I have His assurance that my prayers will be answered. 
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
This book has been trashed, ignored, called “irrelevant” and mocked, but it remains on book store shelves, is available to e-readers, and dozens of versions can be read and searched on computers and the Internet. Some households have many copies, some well-read and well-worn.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
Hard to read? Yes, for those who do not believe it — and I know this. I read it many years without comprehension, yet when the Lord walked into my life, His Book becomes accessible and life-changing.

Paul explains the need for preaching the Word, for hearing it spoken, for reading it. He says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

This is key for those who do not have faith but wish they did. Read the Bible. Try starting with the New Testament Gospel of John and read it five times. Then read Romans a couple of times, then the entire New Testament. Faith comes from hearing, so reading it aloud might even be a good idea.

God is faithful. He preserved His word for thousands of years. He has used it to change thousands, even millions of lives. Some of those set out to prove it wrong and were transformed as they read it. This is a living book. It can bring life, eternal life, because it is the Words of God, spoken to us through faithful men who recorded it for that very purpose.

God, each day You speak to me through Your Word. I am sometimes convicted of sin, sometimes rebuked and instructed, but You always speak blessing, truth and assurance to my heart. Thank You for this reliable and incredible Book. Thank You for its power to change lives. May You give all of us a great and growing hunger to read it and let it do what it alone can do to transform us and fit us for eternity.

(Image source)

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