The Bible was written in a span of 1600 years during different period of world history. It was written in different parts of the world (from Europe to Asia to Babylonia). It is not by accident that the Bible begins with Genesis and ends with Revelation. God brought the Bible into existence by the very breathe of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit authored the Bible, but He chose tens of different writers throughout that span of 1600 years to write it. Each writer had their own distinctive style and vocabulary, yet it was the Spirit of God that guided the very word that was writing down. The Spirit of God did not erase the natural characteristic of these writers who have written the word of God. In fact, God prepared the writers for these tasks before they were born. Jeremiah (in Jem 1:5) said, “Before I was born You prepared me for this.” And Peter tells us that we can trust the Bible as the word of God because it came from God (2 Peter 1:20-21). These writers chosen by the Holy Spirit all came from different backgrounds and professions (from kings to doctor to shepherd to writers to tax collectors), and yet, they all tell the same story. The 66 books of the Bible contains one subject, one theme – Jesus Christ, the Redeemer.
If you read into a little bit of history, then you will know that the Bible has been attacked and maligned like no other book; You will know that the Bible has been banned, buried and people have been forbidden from reading it like no other book. Many have attempted to discredit the Bible like no other book. It was said that when the Chinese communist shredded the Bible, the faithful believers took the shreds to read and treasured the word of God. Throughout history, people either loved the word of God or hated the word of God. Throughout history, either the Bible changed people’s lives or they try to change it. Throughout history, emperors, despots, and dictators have all sort to banish the Bible, and yet they are all dead, but the word of God lives forever.
But the truth is this, anyone who has read the word of God to really understand it will find that it is free from contradiction and human orchestration. They will find that its theme is consistent and that it tells the whole truth and never hides anything. If anyone dares to read the word of God or tries to understand the word of God without the power of God’s own Holy Spirit, they will end up either reading it intellectually and understanding it intellectually or twisting it to suit their purpose. No one should ever think that they are too brilliant, clever, or capable of reading the word of God to understand it without the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.
In the letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 2), the apostle tells Timothy (verse 7), “Reflect on the word of God, and the Holy Spirit will give you understanding in all things.” Paul also wanted to encourage Timothy to be hardworking, and so he writes (verse 6), “The hardworking farmers ought to be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labour.”
It is said that farmers are the hardest working people. Before mechanisation, farmers had to work hard whether they like it or not; whether the soil is good or bad, they had to work. No matter the weather, they had to work. They could not afford the luxury of saying, “Well, I don’t feel like harvesting this year; I’m just not led to plant this time around; I’m not up to tilling the soil this season.”
A.B Simpsons said, “God has hidden every precious thing in such a way that it is a reward for the diligent, a price for the earnest, but a disappointment to the slothful soul. The nut is hidden in its thorny case, the pearl is buried beneath the ocean waves, the gold is imprisoned in the rocky bosom of the mountains, the gem is found only after you crush the rock which encloses it; the very soil gives its harvest as a reward to the labouring farmer.”
In our Spiritual walk, it is hard work. That is why Paul is saying to Timothy (verse 15), “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God.” We are to be diligent not only in the reading of the word of God but in applying it in our day to day life. The word of God is clear, it is plain, and we must work very hard on keeping it plain. We may have to work very hard in order to ensure that it says plain and not twisted, manipulated or perverted. Someone said about the Bible that if you take a “text” out of its context, all you end up with is a “con”. The handling of the word of God has got to be in a straight line. It is like an arrow that is being shot in order to reach its intended target.
While education supposedly has accelerated in the past 100 years, knowledge of the word of God has been far less. I recently heard about someone who was bemoaning the state of biblical illiteracy, even among Christians. The person tells of a story about a church who had a new young pastor that got involved in a boy’s Sunday school class for the very first time. During the class, the young pastor asked, “Would anyone tell me please, who knocked down the wall of Jericho?” After a brief moment of silence with all the boys looking at each other suspiciously, one by one they all started to deny any involvement, and said to the young pastor, “I didn’t do it; I wasn’t anywhere near it; It wasn’t me…”
The young minister was absolutely appalled. He couldn’t believe the lack of biblical knowledge, and so, he called a parish council meeting and told of what happened during the Sunday School class. During the meeting, he said, “I went to this Sunday school class and asked who knocked down the wall of Jericho, and no one could tell.” The meeting went silent momentarily, then finally, a veteran of church dispute said to the young minister, “Listen, it appears that this matter is bothering you. But I have known these boys since they were born. If they say they do not know, they do not know, I believe them. Let’s just get some money out of the repair and maintenance fund and fix the wall and get on with it.”
In all seriousness, the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to man but, in the end, leads to death.” – Proverbs 14:12. Do you know how often Satan kept on and on in persistence particularly with Eve when he said to her, “Has God really said?” We don’t know exactly, but the Bible is very clear, it was a continuous bombardment. Just like we have today, everywhere we go there is a continuous bombardment of that same question Satan asked of Eve, “Has God really said?” Eve probably eventually got weary and gave in. Sadly, so many people in the church of Jesus Christ are becoming weary of the bombardment of the enemies’ attack that is coming to us through radio, television, media, academia, that they just want to give up.
In the book of Deuteronomy (chapter 8:3), Moses tells of what God has made known to him by saying to the Israelite that, “God provided you with manna so that you may understand that man does not live by bread alone, but the food of his soul is every word that is uttered from the mouth of God.” That is why Job (23:12) can say, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” Those word of God written in Deuteronomy chapter 8:3 is so significant that the Lord Jesus Christ when he was tempted in the wilderness quotes it to Satan. When Jesus said (in Matthew 4:4), “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.” He is saying that the word of God will:
- Feed your soul when you’re hungry
- Sustain you when you’re faint
- Lift you up when you’re down
- Give you power to say no to temptation
- Give you strength to stand alone if you must
- Carry you when no one else can
- Satisfy your deepest longing and desire
The word of God is not only food for our souls. Secondly, the Bible tells us that the word of God is power for living. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12. So what does it all mean that the word of God is alive and active? It means that they are not merely words on pages in a book but the words have God’s authority, power, strength and God’s own command. Being an active word, it produces fruit when it enters into your hearts and mind.
Paul boldly declares in his writing to the Romans (1:16), stating, “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes first for the Jews and then to Gentiles.” The Bible is the only book that will give us power over our lives, power over sin, power over Satan, power over temptation, power over our circumstances, power over our illnesses, and power to change people’s lives.
Thirdly, the Bible says the word of God is a mirror. The word of God is like an x-ray, it reveals everything about you. The word of God not only judges our thought but our hidden motives. Here is what James said, “Anyone who listens to the word of God and does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” – James 1:23–24
If the bible says the word of God is just a mirror and stops there, it would be the most frustrating thing in the world. Imagine being able to look in the mirror, and then you see all the mess that needs to be cleansed, and not being able to do anything about it. I thank God the word of God is not only a mirror but also a shower that cleanses us. Using a figure of speech, Paul said to the Ephesians (5:26) that the word of God is like water which washes away and cleanses us from all of our mess. The word of God not only shows us a problem, but it also shows us the solution to the problem. In other words, the apostle Peter is saying (in 1 Peter 22):
- If the mirror is going to show you resentment and bitterness in your life towards somebody, the shower is going to cleanse you by pouring in the love of Christ in your heart towards the very people you are bitter and angry about.
- If the mirror shows you deep-seated anger and hatred, then the shower is going to wash you all over with love for others, even the unlovable.
- If the mirror is going to reveal envy and jealousy and discontentment, the shower is going to cleanse you and is going to give you joy unspeakable.
- If the mirror reflects immorality of any kind, the shower is going to cleanse you into purity of motive in life.
You and I are experts in self-deception. You and I are experts in trying to project an image that is far from reality. We all try to hide the true self from the public self. But when everything is before God who sees all things and nothing is hidden from His eyes; When all hidden issues in my life are wide open; When things that I don’t want to deal with confront me head on; When my pride and self-satisfaction hit me in the face; When I am confronted by Him with his own standard and not the standard of somebody else; When doors that I have tried to keep locked begin to open wide; When I am been laid bare with His living words, to His eyes… Then I am often forced to conclude what the apostle Paul concluded too that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh (Romans 7:18). I am forced to conclude that the only good thing about myself is Christ alone.
Charles Spurgeon said about the Bible that, “The Book has wrestled with me. The Book has smitten me. The Book has comforted me. The book has smiled on me. The book has frowned on me. The Book has clasped my hand. The Book has warmed my heart. The Book weeps with me and sings with me, it whispers to me, and it preaches to me; it maps out my way, and it holds up my goings. It is a young’s man best companion and it is still my morning and evening Chaplin…”
Someone else said, “The Bible contains the mind of God, the Bible states the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of the believers. Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, practise it to be holy. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, and the soldier’s sword. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.”