One afternoon a boy was caught by his mother tearing pages out of one of his books. His mother reprimanded him and told him to stop immediately. "Oh, don't worry Mom," the boy replied, "this book isn't worth anything!"
This story illustrates a very important truth: Humans handle books according to how valuable or worthless they consider them to be. It is true that some books are more valuable than others--especially to certain individuals. For example, I'm not going to place a great value upon a book on basket weaving because I have no use for it. It is of no use to me or to any immediate member of my family. Thus, if you gave me a book on basket weaving, it would probably find its way into a box in the attic. Or, I might take it with me on our next family camping trip and use the book to help me get a fire going. I would not hesitate to rip pages out of the book and light them. But, perhaps some of you enjoy basket weaving. In that case, you would place a much higher value on the book than I would. You would perhaps display it on a shelf in your home. You might even read it, study it, and recommend it to your friends who also enjoy the hobby.
It is an undeniable truth that humans treat books according to how they value them. Our purpose in today's lesson is not to reflect upon the value of basket weaving books. We want to consider a book that, in my estimation, is infinitely more valuable--the Bible! How valuable is the Bible? Well, that depends upon whom you ask. Some today wouldn't hesitate to rip pages out the Bible for various reasons--whether it be to start a fire or to show their displeasure at the message itself (e.g., Jer. 36:23). I hope that you have more respect for the Bible than that! It is exceedingly important that a person understands the value of the Holy Scriptures. Comprehending the real worth of God's word will help ensure that we have a proper attitude toward it.
In general, there are two primary opinions that one may have regarding the Scriptures. Quite simply, either the Bible is inspired of God or it isn't. Much of the world rejects the claim that the Bible is the word of God. Consequently, they will manifest an improper attitude toward that Bible and not value it very highly. At this time, let us consider some specific...
IMPROPER ATTITUDES TOWARD THE BIBLE.
All of these improper attitudes are related to the fact that the individual does not believe the Scriptures to be inspired of God.
1. The Bible is only a book of "proof texts".
Some believe that a person can prove anything he wants to from the Bible. In other words, they affirm that the Bible is full of contradictions. Surprisingly, those with this attitude may actually study the Bible. But, their purpose in so doing is often to attempt to find justification for their illicit actions in life. Tragically, this disposition has caused many people to take things out of their proper context Biblically and twist them to their own destruction (II Pet. 3:16).
2. The Bible is a "wonder" book.
Although this may be a foreign concept to some, there are people in our world today who view the Bible as a magic charm or amulet that will provide great wonders by its physical presence in a time of crisis. From time to time we hear charlatans on the radio or see them on TV promoting special anointed Bibles with supposed healing powers. The modern fad of exorcism often pictures the alleged exorcist waving a Bible or a cross to ward off the devil. Yes, many think they are in God's favor because they own a Bible and proudly display it on their coffee table! May it be understood that the Bible will only work "wonders" if it is obeyed and implanted in the heart! James 1:21,22 teaches - "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." To view the Bible as a charm or some other power within the realm of superstition is wrong.
3. The Bible is full of myths.
This modern attitude views the historical accounts of the global flood of Noah's day, Jonah's incident with the large fish, the virgin birth of Jesus, and the resurrection of Christ as being on par with Alice in Wonderland or some other work of fiction or fairy tale. Many deny that these biblical events ever took place. They think of them as myths that need to be explained away by some natural cause. This attitude clearly views the Bible as uninspired of God.
4. The Bible is just a good piece of literature.
This view judges the Bible to be on par with the works of Plato, Shakespeare, and other outstanding writers of antiquity. People with this attitude consider the Bible to be a literary masterpiece, though not inspired of God. Of course, I would certainly agree that the Bible is a masterpiece of literature, but it is far more than that! It is God's word. It is divine truth. It contains the very words of life. To approach the Bible as just a good piece of literature is to ensure that you will fail to understand and apply its message.
5. The Bible is just a law book or book of moral platitudes.
This attitude sees the Bible as just a collection of do's and don'ts. It is true, of course, that there are many positive and negative commands in the Scriptures, but there is much more to the Bible than this. It reveals God's love and will for His creation, the purpose of man's existence, the way of salvation, the hope of heaven, etc. The Bible is a book from God Himself and this is why we must study it frequently, prayerfully, and with a proper attitude.
6. The Bible is just designed to scare people.
This attitude sometimes comes from a misunderstanding of the symbolic language in books like Revelation or Ezekiel. At other times it comes from those reading the very graphic details of what the Bible says about judgment and everlasting punishment in hell. These things are recorded in the Bible to motivate people to obedience so that they will be saved, not just to scare them. Those who hold this view don't believe that the Bible is inspired of God. They believe the Bible was written to manipulate them through fear into living life a certain way.
We've talked briefly about some of the improper ideas regarding God's word, now let's consider...
THE PROPER ATTITUDE TOWARD THE BIBLE.
In a nutshell, the proper attitude toward the Bible is built upon the belief that it is inspired. But, what exactly does that mean? Let us explain by first expounding upon what it does not mean.
The Bible was not inspired in the way that other great works of literature are. The Bible was not composed by men with amazing insight, ability, and creativity. The Bible was written by common men who were guided by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is not an independent accomplishment of man--every word comes from the very mind of God. It should also be noted, contrary to the claims of some, that the Bible was not inspired by the early church and no one today is inspired.
Let us now explain the positive aspects of a proper attitude toward the Bible by elaborating upon the fundamental points of inspiration. These are truths that will be affirmed by those with a proper view of the Scriptures.
1. The Bible is "God-breathed".
This is the root idea of inspiration. II Timothy 3:16 declares - "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God..." In other words, all Scriptures is breathed by God Himself. Although man was involved in the inspiration process, the Scriptures were given by God. II Peter 1:20,21 teaches - "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private origin, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." Holy men of God spoke and wrote (cf. I Cor. 2:10-13) as the Holy Spirit moved them. How were they moved? I don't know. The Bible doesn't really explain how God inspired these men to accurately reveal His will. It just says that He did, and that's good enough for me.
2. The Bible was written for man.
Paul wrote in Romans 10:17 - "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." God gave us the Bible so we could develop faith in Him. Without the Scriptures we would be lost as to a true understanding of our Creator and Savior. Now, don't overlook an important implication concerning this point. Since the Bible was given to us for our own benefit, then certainly...
3. The Bible is understandable.
God wouldn't give us a book that we couldn't understand, would He? Those who believe and teach that we cannot all understand the Bible alike are implying some terrible things about God and His intelligence. They evidently don't believe that God is smart enough to give us a book that we can diligently study and understand correctly. The Bible is definitely a lamp to our feet and a light to our pathway (Psa. 119:105), but the problem is that many are not willing to study it with a good and honest heart! Many have hearts that have grown dull, ears that are hard of hearing, and eyes that are closed to the truth (cf. Matt. 13:15). May it never be so with you and I! May we always strive to "be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Cor. 1:10). In order to accomplish this we must realize that...
4. The Bible is infallible.
To affirm that the Bible is infallible is to assert that it doesn't contain any errors! Educational books are always being modified, updated, and released as newer versions. There is a need for this since there are always mistakes to be corrected and other improvements to be implemented. However, the Bible is not like this! It doesn't need to be corrected or improved. It is perfect as it is (and has been since it was finished being written)! "The law of the Lord is perfect..." (Psa. 19:7). It has never been proven to be wrong in any way! No other book that claims a divine origin can prove its infallibility like the Bible can. The Bible is truth (John 17:17).
5. The Bible is sufficient.
God's word is able to make us "complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Tim. 3:17).. The Bible doesn't just partially equip us; it provides us with "all things that pertain to life and godliness..." (II Pet. 1:3). Isn't it nice to know that God's word contains everything we need to know about godly living? This is an important aspect of inspiration we must understand.
6. The Bible is authoritative.
This means that the Scriptures are the true standard of authority. It's not what I say or what some scholar says or what some denominational preacher says or even what you say that is important. Our word is not the final authority--the Bible is! And we must take to heart the teaching of Galatians 1;9 - "If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." We must never alter the gospel message from the form in which it was given through the Holy Spirit to the apostles. To change it and teach false doctrine is to condemn oneself to hell! God's word is the authority, not the opinions and wisdom of men!
7. The Bible's purpose is to present Jesus Christ.
This is another important part of inspiration--the realization of why God gave us the Bible. Galatians 3:24 states that the Old Testament was given so that men could be brought to Christ and John 20:30,31 informs us that the accounts of the gospel were written so that men would believe in Jesus. Truly, the Bible is intended to direct us to Christ! The message of the Old Testament is that He is coming. The message of the New Testament is that He has come and will come again. Of course, let it never be forgotten that when He does come again it will be for judgment! And that brings us to our final point regarding inspiration...
8. The Bible is the ultimate standard of judgment.
This follows logically from what has already been stated. After all, if the Bible is the ultimate standard of authority, then it should not surprise us that we will one day be judged according to it. John 12:48 teaches - "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day."
Belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures is the proper attitude to have toward the Bible. This belief in the inspiration of the Bible is essential to a proper interpretation of God's word. When a person opens the Bible he must fully believe he has the very words of God before him. Any other attitude simply will not do.
Dear listeners, what is your attitude toward the Bible? Is it valuable or precious in your eyes? Or, is it just another book among millions in our world? Is it a book that collects dust on your coffee table or do you read and study it regularly as the book inspired of God? I hope you believe it to be the latter. And, if so, you will eagerly obey the divine message--if your attitude is right! If we love God and His word, we will obey, period!
Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.