A few years ago, I mortified the owner of a Christian book store by asking, “If people were more consistent in reading the Bible, do you think you would go out of business?”
While I enjoy Christian books, the Holy Spirit speaks most often from His Word. He connects truth from Scripture in ways particularly designed to bless my heart. For instance, this morning I read these two passages . . .
“I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.” (Psalm 119:58)“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
The second one is a promise and the first is a prayer that the promise will be fulfilled. That is, God promises to use Scripture to instruct and mature me, and I can pray that He will graciously keep that promise.
The Bible is more than the teaching of facts and sound doctrine. It is God’s revelation of Himself so I will more deeply know Him and be delivered from the power of sin. He does it through rebuke, through correcting my errors, and through training me. He speaks to give me what I need to live the Christian life in godliness and hope.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:21–26)
God promises to save me and set me free from sin, and His Book reminds me of those promises. While reading them over and over is not insurance against failure (Jesus is my surety), reading and pondering His Word is my weapon against the liar who tells me such stuff as ‘God doesn’t really care about you’ or ‘you will never measure up’ as well as his other blarney.
God gave me His Word as a weapon for today’s battles, but also to give hope for the future . . .
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4).
His ‘textbook’ also develops steadfast patience in combination with the trials of life . . .
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2–4)
While the authors of books about the Bible can be helpful, the Word of God is the only book that can make this claim . . .
“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. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12–13)
The Bible is “breathed out by God” and when I read it, God speaks to me, to my heart and my needs. He uses His Word to differentiate the workings of soul and spirit. He discerns my thoughts, my motivations; nothing is hidden from Him.
To even come close to this, a human author must include Scripture, but also “rightly handle the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), AND rely entirely on the Holy Spirit to convey that truth. Sometimes the author’s personal stories, perspectives, emotions, and biases are mixed in and can enhance or confuse what is written. For that reason, it may not pack a punch anywhere close to the pages of Scripture.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:7-11)
Jesus, You have given me Scripture that I might know You intimately and gift my heart with faith in all You have done and can do. Out of that faith, you also give hope so I can look forward to all that You have promised. Your Word is my anchor and holds me in Your love.