Finish this sentence: The Bible is _________
As I see it, most answers fall somewhere along this spectrum:
- “Full of lies.” The Bible is deceptive and harmful and just plain stupid. You should not read the Bible.
- “Made up fairy tales.” There are some good stories in the Bible, and we can even learn some general truths from them, but they definitely aren’t true. The Bible is like Aesop’s Fables or Greek Mythology – interesting, and maybe even insightful, but not true.
- “A book of wisdom.” Sure, not everything in the Bible is true, but there’s a lot of good insight and advice in there! Just don’t have to believe everything you read.
- “An instruction manual for life.” The Bible is God’s rule-book. He made us and knows how we should work, and the Bible is where God teaches us what we should do.
- “God’s Word and Truth.” The Bible is so much more than advice and rules, it’s God’s way of showing Himself to us so that we would know Him, know ourselves, and understand our role in this crazy world.
How do you view the Bible? Is it just a rule book or instruction manual to you? If it is, what happens when you break the rules? Is the Bible simply a collection of stories and myths that silly people believe?
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Here are a few questions to help you work through how you think about the Bible through the grid of this passage:
- All Scripture is God-breathed. Just like God breathing life into Adam (Gen. 2:7). Not just some of it or the parts of the Bible you like. The boring parts are important too… they might not be the most quotable or memorable, but they’re important and there for a reason. You can’t just get rid of verses because you don’t like them. When you read something and disagree with Scripture, how do you react – do you doubt yourself or the Bible (“The times have changed, it can’t really mean that anymore!”)?
- And is useful for teaching. Do you ever talk about the Bible with others? Do you think that it’s your responsibility to “figure out” how to talk about Jesus to people, as if the Bible itself wouldn’t be helpful to you? Do you actually look for opportunities to teach God’s Word (and take them when they come) – this can be something casual like a conversation with a friend or something more intentional like helping with VBS or speaking up in Sunday School. Who are you teaching? And remember… you can’t teach what you don’t know, so read your Bible!
- And is useful for… rebuking. To rebuke means you’re correcting someone’s behavior because they’re doing something stupid or harmful. When Christians see other Christians living in sin, it’s faithful and right for us to rebuke our brother/sister (with tons of humility, because they might need to rebuke us next week!). When you see other Christians doing something that is clearly and obviously sinful, how do you respond to that person?
- And is useful for… correcting. To correct means you’re helping someone to recognize something they have said or thought was wrong. While rebuking is over behavior (something they did), correcting is more connected to words and thoughts. When you hear someone say something that clearly doesn’t line up with what the Bible teaches, do you say something or do you keep quiet?
- And is useful for… training in righteousness. Do you want to grow in godliness? Do you want to be wise? Do you want to be the person God made you to be? Then read your Bible, study it, memorize portions of it, and obey it. If you look at your heart and what you set your mind on throughout the day, what would you be in training for?
- So that the man of God might be thoroughly equipped for every good work. God wants to equip you for the life of faith. No one would send someone into war with a squirt gun, God doesn’t want to see you walking around unequipped for what He’s called you to do. Do you see the Bible as God’s Word and Truth, where you draw your life and strength from in order that you could grow more like Jesus every day?
So what about you? If you were to look at your heart and look at your life, how would you really answer the question, “The Bible is ________.”