Christianity 101: The Importance of Your Bible (Part 6)

Key Text: Psalm 119:9-16

Why is the Bible so important

Psalm 119:9-16

Core to Christianity is the Bible. Without the Bible we would not know God in all the fullness that he has revealed himself through the Scriptures. God has ordained the Bible to be central in the Christian’s life not to replace a personal relationship with God but to enhance it.

What Is the Word of God All About?

Life is a journey that never stops. We are always moving forward, therefore we are always making decisions on which direction we are traveling. One wrong turn here or there can really get us lost. Where you go for answers and direction in life will make all the difference. Christians will always have to make the choice, will we seek worldly wisdom or biblical wisdom?

In the age of information and when there is academically trained professional for everything, we are pressured into listening to the “experts.” With all their scientific data, sophisticated arguments, and educational titles behind their names, we feel we must listen to the wisdom of the world if there is “evidence” to support their claims. Sometimes we even seek to validate the Bible with worldly evidence rather than to interpret the evidence of the experts through God’s wisdom in the Bible.

Faith in God means interpreting everything through his word, not interpreting his word through everything in the world. Worldly wisdom that contradicts God’s word will always lead us to severe consequences. The Bible does not condemn all forms of modern wisdom, but it certainly warns us not to believe all forms of wisdom just because it is modern (Ephesians 4:14).

The Bible is certainly like a guide book, an instructional manual, or even a text book. But these analogies are not good enough. The Bible is more than a book that tells you what to do. The Bible is primarily a book about a person you need to know. The word of God is like a text book in some ways, but in more ways it like a love letter written by God directly to humans.

What is this love letter about? The Bible gives us instructions about many specific things. It teaches how to live a godly life. It tells us what went wrong in the human story (sin) and what God did to save us for this glory (the gospel of Jesus Christ). But if you wanted to summarize the Bible in the simplest, most direct way possible, the Bible is primarily about Jesus Christ.

Certainly his name is not on every page. But in every story, every theme, every truth found in the Bible – Jesus is the key that unlocks it all for us. Without Jesus being the center of what you learn from the Bible, you are simply learning morality rather than Christianity.

When Jesus rose from the grave and was talking to two men traveling on the Emmaus Road, Luke 24:27 states, “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” In John 5:39-40, Jesus proclaimed to the legalist who were seeking salvation through works, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.”

The Old and New Testament in all their 66 books were written by over 40 different authors, on three different continents, in three different languages, and over a 1500 year span. And yet despite its variety in tone, genre, and style, its content is perfectly consistent. While at first glance this does not always seem apparent, the main message of the Bible becomes crystal clear once you realize the whole thing, OT and NT, is pointing to Jesus Christ.

Abraham taking his one and only son who is caring a stack of wood on his back going up the mountain to be sacrificed (just as God’s only Son carried the cross to his sacrificial death); one man’s (David) victory over the enemy (Goliath) brining freedom to all of God’s chosen people even though they did nothing to deserve it (just as Christ’s victory sets all Christians free); Elijah ascending but leaving his spirit to his disciple Elisha (just as the Holy Spirit came into Jesus followers once he ascended); Jonah being swallowed in the belly of a fish for three days and then raising from the fish to pronounce the truth to a rebellious nation who then repents (just as Jesus was three days in the grave and then rose); Joseph being persecuted by his brother which in the end was God’s plan to save the brothers and the Egyptians (just as the Jews crucified Jesus, but through his death he offers salvation to the Jews and Gentiles); Moses who represents the law not being the one who brings the people into the promise land but Joshua (whose name in Greek is “Jesus”) is then the one who brings the people into the promise land (just as we cannot enter heaven through the law but through Jesus)– all of it is pointing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The entire word of God is consistently about Jesus Christ because all of Scripture is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), which means it was all inspired by the Holy Spirit, written through the hands of men. Like Mary being a vessel for the body of Jesus who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, the authors of the Bible were vessels for the Holy Spirit. The truth in them was conceived by the Holy Spirit but written through their hands.

The Bible makes clear that the Holy Spirit’s primary action is to bear witness about Jesus Christ. When the Holy Spirit is present and manifesting, he is always lifting up the name of Jesus. It makes perfect and consistent sense, therefore, that if they Holy Spirit truly wrote the Holy Scriptures, then the Scriptures are going to be all about Jesus Christ.

No book written over such a long period of time by so many different authors using so many different genres has ever nor will ever be so consistent in its content. The Bible is clearly a divine book because it is truly a divine miracle that it is so perfectly consistent in its teaching and doctrine.

The Bible, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, is God’s primary and most efficient way of communicating truth to his people. Through the Bible, we learn about what is wrong, what is right, how to be saved, how to be transformed, how to live life for God, and most importantly, how Jesus Christ is the key to everything.

Why Is the Word of God Vital for Transformation?

If we don’t know what the truth is, how will we know when lies come against us? If we don’t have a fixed point as we travel, like the Northern Star, how will we know if we are traveling in the correct direction? As humans, we have a tendency to believe what we feel like in each moment. Our feelings change often, therefore our beliefs change often.

The Bible is so key for transformation because it teaches us what’s true regardless of our current feelings or circumstances. Not only does the word of God teach us the truth, it also teaches us how to apply that truth to our lives. Psalm 119:9-16 says:

How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. 10 I have tried hard to find you— don’t let me wander from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. 13 I have recited aloud all the regulations you have given us. 14 I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. 15 I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. 16 I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.

The Bible is of no value to us if we do not actually obey what it says. James 1:22-25 states:

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

In 1 Samuel 6 the ark of the Lord is in the possession of the ungodly Philistines (the ark was where the manifest presence of God used to dwell). God sends plagues on the Philistines, so they send the ark back to Israel on a cart (1 Samuel 6:7).

Years later when David wants to bring the ark back to Jerusalem, he too uses a cart to transport it. However, this was not what God commanded. God had specific instructions that the ark was to be transported by poles (1 Chronicles 15:15). When the ark began to fall off the cart, Uzzah tried to catch it with his hand, “The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:7, NIV).

God had specific instructions in his word on how to transport the ark. These instructions were for the people’s good because God knows how holy he is, so he knew that the people had to treat him a certain way or his holiness would breakout against them.

David was led astray by the worldly wisdom of the Philistines. Instead of judging what the Philistines did by comparing it to what God said in his word, David followed their example blindly, and it cost him and others dearly.

In the same way, God gives us instructions on how to live in the grace of Jesus Christ so his holiness will not breakout against us.If we hope to be blessed and live in right relationship with God, we must not anger his holiness by following the sinful practices of the world that contradict his word. All the knowledge of nonbelievers is not automatically wrong. God often uses modern wisdom (like modern medicine) for his glory. But we must interpret the wisdom of the world through God’s wisdom and not the other way around. When David repented of his errors he stated:

It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the LORD our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD.” (1 Chronicles 15:13-15, NIV)

The Bible was written through God’s Spirit, therefore if we want to live in the Spirit we must live by his word. We must bury God’s wisdom deep in our hearts so it will be a well of life flowing out into every decision we make. David’s problems arrived because his knowledge of God’s truth was lacking. God knew the king of Israel would have to make countless decisions, so he instructed every king to know the word of God:

When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees” (Deuteronomy 17:18-19, NIV).

May we too know God’s word so well, reading it “all the days of [our] life so that [we] may learn to revere the Lord.” We must not fall to the temptation to rely on the wisdom of modern man over the wisdom of God. The modern way is not always the wrong way, but it’s not always the right way either. God’s word is the only source of truth that stands the test of time and is always right. It was true from the beginning of time and it will be true forever (Matthew 24:35).

Let us not have to say again and again in life, “We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” When a decision must be made and the worldly wisdom contradicts the biblical wisdom, choose God’s way. God loves to instruct us through his word and by his Spirit, we just have to spend the time reading the Bible and listening the Spirit’s instruction to us.

How Can I Learn and Live the Word of God?

The Holy Spirit certainly speaks to us personally, but whenever he speaks it always correspond and never contradicts God’s written word. The Holy Spirit does not speak “new” revelations to Christians, but he does apply the Bible to our lives in new and personal ways all the time.

There are many techniques to study the Bible that we simply don’t have time to talk about here. The most important thing is that you read it yourself (or listen to is if you can’t read). We need to read it every day, memorize it as much as we can, and seek it’s truth in all our decisions. Let’s read Psalm 119:9-16 once again:

How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. 10 I have tried hard to find you— don’t let me wander from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. 13 I have recited aloud all the regulations you have given us. 14 I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. 15 I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. 16 I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.

Psalm 119:9 tells us what the most important thing is when it comes to the Bible – obey it! No amount of knowledge matters at all until we apply it to our lives. If we read the Bible daily but ignore what we read, we are wasting our time.

Psalm 119:9-11 gives us the motivation to read the Bible. If we don’t follow what God has said in his word, our lives will be impure, we will sin against God, and we will be miserable because of this. All blessings are by grace, but when we receive grace it empower us to obey the word of God which results in natural, good consequences. The more we know God’s word, the greater our opportunity of knowing God more personally, which is the greatest blessing of all.

Psalm 119:12-16 is our game plan going forward. Learning the word of God is not a onetime thing. There’s always more truth to know and God continues to help us see new things even in Bible verses we’ve read hundreds of times. Every day we must reflect on God’s ways, recite them aloud, and we must not forget the truths we have learned. As Psalm 119:10 explains, when we try hard to know God, he always rewards our efforts with a deeper relationship with himself.

There are endless pieces of advice on how you can learn the word of God better and better. But overall, you must be intentional. Without putting in the work, you won’t learn or live the word of God. Seek the help of others, listen to good preaching, read books about how to understand the Bible, but most importantly read it for yourself as much as possible in a translation you understand.

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(Based on Luke 18:1-8)