The Bible’s Surprise
While reading from a book entitled Devotional Doctrine by Aaron Armstrong, from the Gospel Project, I read about something that brought me back to an experience in my life as a young boy. I wanted to give credit to Aaron Armstrong for returning me to the following experience.
When I received my first Bible as a young boy I was very excited, not because I wanted to read it, but I wanted people to know I had one. My assumptions when I first began to read it were probably like most people. I assumed it would be a list of commands and moral platitudes that probably didn’t have much relevance to my day to day activities, especially to a young 8 or 9 year-old boy who had recently been baptized. I will openly admit it was very hard to read, much less understand. I found it much easier to just not attempt to read it and therefore, I laid it down and never picked it up again.
Then when I reached maturity and began reading my Bible again, I found moral proverbs and commands that made sense to me. But to my surprise I found something else too. I found a story of the world that made sense, a story of hope for broken people living in a broken world. Not only that, but I found it in a book I could understand. This is a book that rang true unlike any other book I had read.
After years of pretending to be a Christian, I realized at the age of 37 that I was not a Christian at all. I had only been playing the game. When I was faced with the reality of my lostness, I had to make it right as quickly as I could. With that thought in mind, I reached out to my pastor to explain my situation and that I wanted Jesus in my heart. As a great pastor that he was we got on our knees and I prayed that Jesus would come into my heart. Much to my surprise again, the calmness of God’s Holy Spirit opened my heart to allow Jesus to come in and take up His residence.
I believe I’m not the first person to have this experience. I remember early in my ministry when I was green behind the ears and doing some door to door visitation and evangelism. One man I encountered just couldn’t seem to get past the idea that the Bible really was God’s Word. Thanks again to Aaron Armstrong for stating the situation so plainly and nearly describing exactly this man’s case:
- It was written by human beings. (True.)
- Human beings are imperfect. (True again.)
- Anything we’re involved with is going to be imperfect. (Yep.)
- Therefore, the Bible must contain errors, which means it can’t be God’s Word. (False.)
So, here’s the question that presents itself: Why does true plus true plus true equal false? And the answer is really quite simple. It fails to take into account one more very vital truth: God’s involvement in writing the Scriptures, or what we as Christians refer to call inerrancy.
It is my opinion then that because God inspired the writing of Scriptures, He protected it from error by the human writers He inspired to write them in the first place. From the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Article XII, it is important to point out that every word they wrote was free from error, without a shred of falsehood or deceit to be found in it in any way. It was God’s supernatural involvement in its writing that protected the Scriptures from error. Every word is true! What the Bible says about everything is true.
Suffice it to say, God wants us to understand His Word. Let me say it this way: the Bible can be understood with many of the same basic principles of interpretation we use when we read any other book. We intuitively pay attention to context clues, verb tenses, and the literary forms in the text we’re reading.
I will agree that some parts are still hard to understand. Even I continue to struggle with some passages. The problem is that we are simply trying to comprehend the infinite God with finite minds. But since God wants us to know His Word, He helps us understand it. Today, the Holy Spirit illuminates the Scriptures in our hearts and minds (John 14:15-18; 16:7-15).
The man I was witnessing to still couldn’t see how God gives us the desire to be transformed by the truth of His Word. Before the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, I really didn’t understand it either. Aaron so eloquently put it this way: “The idea that God’s Word, the Bible, is true is a struggle for many to believe. But if the Scriptures contain the good news we say it does, let’s never be afraid to call it what it is. God’s Word is true, not because any human being declared it to be so but because God is trustworthy. And because He is trustworthy, we can trust the Word He inspired and helps us to understand (see Matt. 5:18; John 10:35; Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18). And as we trust the Word and move forward in sharing the message God has given, we can have confidence that many will come to know and believe.”