The Bible has many writers, but one Divine Author.
The message of the Bible is directly from God: salvation from sin through the blood of Jesus unto the glory of God.
The Bible contains no errors; it is truth.
The Bible has withstood throughout the years every conceivable attack from unbelievers.
The Bible claims for itself Divine Authorship and its pages prove that it is the Word of God.
These statements express the faith of the believersconcerning the Bible. Our appeal to Scripture is a matter of faith.
NEED FOR FAITH
Since the Bible is God’s Word, it stands to reason that our attitude toward that Word will be the same as our attitude toward the God who revealed it. If we have a wrong view of God, we will have a wrong view of His Word; if we have a right view of God, we will have a right view of His Word.
This is crucial in the discussion that is taking place in Reformed circles concerning the Word of God. You may be somewhat familiar with this, especially the repeated reference to a battle for the Bible. In the deepest sense, such a battle is not simply for the Bible, rather it concerns the God of the Bible. If we really believe in Him, why should we question His Word? If we love God, should not this love manifest itself in our attitude toward His Word?
We can illustrate this from the home situation. Your parents often speak with you. They encourage you, warn you, comfort you, depending upon the need. Do their words mean anything to you? When they admonish you and sometimes threaten you with punishment if you should do wrong, do you know that they mean it and that therefore you had better obey? Similarly, if you are in trouble and are really mixed up and need direction and encouragement, and they talk with you, do you take their advice to heart, or is it simply their opinion and you will decide for yourself whether it is good or not? What I’m saying is this, your response to their words depends upon your respect for them as persons. If you really love them and know that they love you, you will gladly receive their advice and be thankful that they care enough to encourage you. If you .question their motives and think that they are only seeking themselves, you will be skeptical of anything they say.
Isn’t this same thing true about our relationship with God? If we are going to take His Word and believe it and follow it, we have to have faith in Him. The Bible says the same thing. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” Heb. 11:6. Such faith is described in the preceding verses: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Heb. 11:1. By such faith it is given unto us to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, Mark 4:11. Do you get the point? Faith in God means that we know that God has more knowledge than we do, hence we can certainly rely upon His Word. God knows far better than we do as to what is best for us, hence His instruction concerning life is worth following. God is the only source of truth. His Word is certainly trustworthy in this world of change and decay.
This is a matter of faith, not only in His Word, but in God, Himself.
It follows from this that our response to His Word is more than intellectual capitulation, more than a surrender of the will. It is a matter of loving obedience. Faith joins us to Jesus Christ Who is the way, truth, and the life. He is our living Lord! Out of Christ flows forth the love God has for us and enters into our hearts. That love takes control of our hearts. Did not the inspired Apostle John express it beautifully? “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” I John 4:10. This explains why we gladly receive His instruction, gladly believe all that God tells us about Himself, ourselves, and our need for salvation, as well as the way that God has brought it to pass, our life of gratitude, and our future glory. God loves us, and out of that love, we love Him. Hence by faith, a faith that is activated by that love from our heart, we respond to God and love His Word.
Moved by love for us, He gives us His Word for our good. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” II Tim. 3:16, 17. Hence our response to that Word is that we trust that Word, follow it, obey it, and rejoice in its truth.
We have faith in the God Who gave it to us.
SOURCE OF THAT FAITH
How then is such faith obtained?
Perhaps you have already wrestled with the profundity of this question. You may have discussed your faith with someone else that doesn’t believe the way you do. Maybe you even had the opportunity to talk with someone that follows strange gods, false leaders, and therefore is spiritually lost in sin. Then again you may have had contact with a person that was once within the sphere of the Christian church but fell away and no longer cares about spiritual things. No matter what the circumstances, there is the same pain that a person feels within His heart. What can be done to change such a person? How can he be led to believe in the true God and forsake his evil way?
We know the answer of course. God must give faith to that person. Faith is God’s gift. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast,” Eph. 2:8, 9.
A related point comes to mind, however: how does God give faith? Certainly faith doesn’t just drop down out of heaven and suddenly a person begins to love God whereas before he didn’t. No, God uses means, tools if you will, by which He puts faith in the hearts of all those for whom Christ died. On the basis of His own elective love, grounded in the perfect obedience of Christ on the cross, God bestows the gift of faith upon each one of His children. This He does by the preaching of the gospel. The well-known words of Paul apply here, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. 10:17. The preceding context shows to us that this “word of God” is the preaching of that word: “How shall they preach except they be sent?” This preaching is necessary for anyone to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved, verse 13. The example of the Samaritan woman confirms this as well. After she had called the men of the city to hear Jesus, they responded, “Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves, for we know that this is indeed the Christ the Savior of the world,” John 4:42.
In order for one to have faith in God, he must come under the preaching of the Word whereby God works faith by the Holy Spirit.
We add to this one more point. One does not simply wander into a church by chance, he is divinely guided. We may not respond to the fact that God gives faith by the preaching by saying that it is simply up to God to get them to church or to hear the preaching. God works in hearts before they come under the preaching. He works in them by making them seek, ask questions, wrestle with life’s problems. Here is our calling as believers. As they begin to search, we must show them the Bible, God’s Word. It contains direction, truth, hope, and salvation. As we witness to them about these things and pray with them, God works in them; and if they are truly children of God, they will also desire to learn more, especially through the preaching of the Word. It is not enough to hear believers speak about Christ; one must also hear Christ. Hence we must encourage them to come to church with us, learn more of God’s Word. By these means God works according to His good-pleasure.
From this we must conclude that at every opportunity, we have to show to others the Word of God and its truth. And we must do so in obedience to Christ. Then they too will ask us a reason of the hope that is within us.
EVIDENCE OF THAT FAITH
Every true believer reverences the Word of God. In fact, we can go so far as to say, it is a sure proof of faith. That doesn’t mean that children of God do not wrestle with questions, sometimes even doubts. But through all these struggles, they learn anew that God’s Word is their direction, a sure foundation for their faith.
Thus the children of God have expressed themselves throughout the ages of the history of the Christian church.
Did not the Psalmist declare, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my pathway”? Psalm 119:105.
You recall the heroic words of Martin Luther: “Since then your majesty and your lordship desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me.” And don’t forget that because of this position he literally endangered his own life. He appealed to Scripture.
Listen to the words of our Reformed forefathers.
“We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without doubt, all things contained in them, not so much because the church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Ghost witnesseth in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling,” Netherlands Confession of Faith, Article 7.
May you covenant young people be part of that great people of God who boldly confess that the Bible is the Word of God.
We live in times of spiritual testing.
There are many winds of doctrine.
There are prophets of doom.
There are blind leaders of the blind.
God has given us light in the midst of such darkness. That light is in His Holy Word.
Make it a large part of your life. Read it, pray over it, reflect upon it, believe all that is contained in it, and conform your life according to its direction.
Of such is our appeal to Scripture.
And the God of peace shall abide with you.