What’s the Bible?

The Bible is an old document. It’s the culmination of oral tradition, history, and legend, with multiple edits and rewrites over a period of 1500 years, authored by hundreds if not thousands of people (not the forty people you suppose). These are indisputable facts, as far as I’m willing to argue.

The other side of this coin is that I believe God chose, through these means, to assemble the very canon we have today. I’m a “protestant” by birth, but I believe there is a practical value to many of the books that didn’t make the final cut. The Jews have books beyond the Tanakh we don’t share in common, but when I want to know more about the life of Enoch or angels or some other thing, I’ll go to those sources. The Apocrypha doesn’t belong to all Christians everywhere, but that doesn’t make them any less “scriptural” in my book.

This is a stretch you might call “blind faith,” and fundamentalists will understandably just call me “blind.” Admittedly, there are some parts of your journey where you reach a precipice. You can either take a leap or turn around and find an alternate route to your destiny.  I’ve visited alternate routes, and I kept  coming to this precipice until I leaped.

Background on my perspective

I’m probably a little bit spiritually schizophrenic.

After more than two decades of professing my belief in the Bible, my weak faith cracked, and I spent the next decade seeking answers through other avenues, along the way, becoming a lawbreaker. I listened to others’ endorsements of humanism, atheism, Eastern mysticism, New Age philosophy, and self-help techniques. I trivialized God and exalted myself. Having chased the lies, I paid the consequences, and the result was a confused mind (Romans 1:21) and a darkened heart (Genesis 19:26)… or in layman’s terms, clinical depression and resentment.

There was a time that I could no longer rely on the authority of the Bible, because I couldn’t escape the circular logic: “The Bible is true because the Bible says so.” But once I tasted the pleasures of the world and experienced its resulting emptiness and inevitable pain, I recognized specific and loving warnings against such rebellion in Scripture, like a lamp shining in dark places (2 Peter 1:19) or smoke signals from God himself (2 Peter 1: 21; 1 John 5:9). Not to mention the countless Old Testament tales where God exalted the humble, obedient, and ruthlessly righteous, while the rest faired not so well. Truly, those who hunger for righteousness are filled (Matthew 5:6). Now I’m being sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit, and my faith in this “unbelievable” truth is my righteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

My past is a testimony of what naturally follows the blatant disobedience of God. The greatest and most alluring of lies was that there are more ways to heaven than through Jesus Christ. My feeble and finite brain whispers that there must be other ways. But God reveals to my soul by direct experience (my own deeply neurotic trails and errors) that all roads are cut off save one (Isaiah 8:20-22). Hence, again, the leap.

Why the Bible is usually necessary for salvation

Natural law is sufficient to give inexcusable proof of God’s goodness, wisdom, and power if one would only be still and contemplate the majesty of the universe (Psalm 19:1-3; Romans 1:19-21). But knowing God’s will and purpose for your specific life is still necessary for salvation from death (2 Timothy 3:15). This is where the Bible’s value lies.

So that he might give us a game plan for life (Proverbs 22:19-21) and comfort us when we realize the train wrecks some of us have made of our lives (Romans 15:4), he established the Way of the Promise, which is a doorway into his kingdom exclusively through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:19-20).

WHY? Is God some elitist, only allowing a certain kind of people into his country club in the sky? Sort of, but not in the way you might think.

The Son is the only way (for the Father’s glory)

God revealed his will to Abram and Moses and Solomon and Isaiah (Heb. 1:1), and he fulfilled it through the person of Jesus. He has always acted according to his own pleasure (Matthew 20:15), without discretion, so that his power is shown. For example, Jesus’ disciples asked the Master whether a man was born blind because of his own sin or the sin of his parents (John 9:2). The answer was neither. The man was born blind to display God’s glory (John 9:3).

In the same way, God doesn’t just bestow grace because someone is holier than someone else. In his infinite wisdom, God made a promise to Abraham (Genesis 17), whose faith, not his merit, was credited to him as sufficient strength and righteousness (Romans 4:3). Take Paul the Apostle. God glorified himself because of Paul’s unworthiness (1 Timothy 1:15). This divinely elected relationship between the God of the universe and a pitifully finite humanity, otherwise separated from Him because of sin (Isaiah 59:1-2), was offered to everyone when the temple veil was rent in two, a picture of Jesus’ sufficient sacrifice for our sins (Matthew 27:50-51). The gates of heaven now swing wide (Matthew 11:12), allowing anyone to enter the kingdom where God dwells, not in brick and mortar temples, but within human souls (Acts 17:24; Hebrews 8:13).

What is the Bible to me?

The Holy Bible is my final source for knowledge about ultimate reality. Its sixty-six books and their contents, often confounding, disturbing, and perplexing, answer the deepest philosophical questions I’ve ever asked. The Bible reveals God’s truth, exposes my rebellion, and offers the only way out of my predicament, paving a clear path to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. For these reasons, it’s my study companion for life (2 Timothy 3:16-17).