Every thing in the Bible is decided; its statements of fact, its revelations of truth, its condemnation of error, its declarations respecting God and man, respecting our present and our future. Its characters are decided men—Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Paul. It speaks always with authority, as expecting to be implicitly credited. It reckons on our receiving its teaching, not doubtfully but certainly; and it leaves us only the alternative of denying its whole authenticity, or of accepting its revelations, without a qualification and without a subterfuge. To excuse ourselves for doubt and indecision, and oscillation of faith, by pointing to differences of creed, is to suggest either that Scripture is not infallible, or that it is not intelligible.
The Bible is God's direct revelation to each man into whose hands it comes; and, for the reception of all that it contains, each man is responsible, though all his fellows should reject it. The Judgment Day will decide who is right; meanwhile it is to God and not to man that we are to listen. For the understanding of God's revelation, each one is accountable.
Meanwhile we are responsible for decision—decision, in thought and action, on every point which the Holy Spirit has written; and it is not likely that the Spirit of wisdom and love, in writing a Book for us, would write so darkly as to be unintelligible, or should give such an uncertain sound that no man could be sure as to which, out of a score of meanings suggested by man, was the genuine.
Man's usual thought is that the want of explicitness in the Bible is the cause of diversity of opinion, and that a little more fullness of statement and clearness of language would have prevented all sects and confusions. The answer to this is twofold: (1) That greater fullness would have only opened new points of divergence and variance, so that, instead of a hundred opinions, we should, in that case, have a thousand; (2) That the real cause of all the divergence and unsettlement is to be found in man's moral state; that there is not a veil upon the Bible, but scales on human eyes; and that, were that spiritual imperfection entirely removed, the difficulty would be, not how to believe, but how not to believe; and the wonder would be how it was possible for us to attach more than one meaning to words so significant and simple.
Love goes to the law to learn the divine will, and love delights in the law, as the exponent of that will; and he who says that a believing man has nothing more to do with law, save to shun it as an old enemy, might as well say that he has nothing to do with the will of God. If the objection is to the use of the word "law" or "commandment," as implying bondage, I answer, obedience to law is true liberty; perfect obedience to perfect commandments is perfect liberty. The 19th and 119th Psalms must be very uncomfortable reading to those who think that a saint has nothing to do with the law. Will it be said that such legal Psalms were only for Old Testament saints? Should any one say that it is not to service, but to bondage, they object, I answer, no one contends for bondage. It is in the spirit of adoption and filial love that we obey the law, even as the Son of God obeyed it.
Let the whole soul be fed by the study of the whole Bible, that so there may be no irregularity nor inequality in the growth of its parts and powers. Let us beware of "itching" ears and eyes. True, we must not be "babes," unable to relish strong meat, and "unskillful in the Word of righteousness" (Heb 5:13). But we need to beware of the soarings of an ill-balanced theology and an ill-knit creed. True Christianity is healthy and robust, not soft, nor sickly, nor sentimental; yet, on the other hand, not hard, nor lean, nor ill-favored, nor ungenial.
An Old Testament and a New Testament saint rest on the same rock, are washed in the same blood, eat the same spiritual meat, and drink the same spiritual drink (1 Cor 10:3,4), have put on the same Christ, are doers of the same law, are members of the same body, are heirs of the same crown (Matt 8:11; 21:43; Luke 13:28; Rom 11:18; Heb 11:40; Rev 7:9-15).
The Word must be studied in all its fullness. Over its whole length and breadth we must spread ourselves. Above all theologies, creeds, catechisms, books and hymns, the Word must be meditated on, that we may grow in the knowledge of all its parts, and in assimilation to its models. Our souls must be steeped in it, not in certain favorite parts of it, but in the whole. We must know it, not from the report of others, but from our own experience and vision, else will our life be but an imitation, our religion second-hand, and therefore second-rate. Another cannot breathe the air for us, nor eat for us, nor drink for us. We must do these for ourselves. So no one can do our religion for us, nor infuse into us the life of truth which he may possess.
He that would be holy must steep himself in the Word, must bask in the sunshine with radiates from each page of revelation. It is through the truth that we are sanctified (John 17:17). Exposing our souls constantly to this light, we become more thoroughly "children of the light."
So let the Bible be to us the book of all books, for wounding, healing, quickening, strengthening, comforting, and purifying.From God's Way of Peace:
God has written a volume for the purpose of making himself known; and it is in this revelation of his character that the sinner is to find the rest that he is seeking. God himself is the fountainhead of our peace; his revealed truth is the channel through which this peace finds its way into us; and his Holy Spirit is the great interpreter of that truth.
Christ's person is a revelation of God. Christ's work is a revelation of God. Christ's words are a revelation of God. His words and works are the words and works of the Father. In the manger he showed us God. In the synagogue of Nazareth he showed us God. At Jacob's well he showed us God. At the tomb of Lazarus he showed us God. On Olivet, as he wept over Jerusalem, he showed us God. On the cross he showed us God. In the tomb he showed us God. In his resurrection he showed us God. If we say with Philip, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" he answers, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." This God whom Christ reveals as the God of righteous grace and gracious righteousness, is the God with whom we have to do.
Read again and again the wondrous words which I have quoted at length from His own book. The Bible is a living book, not a dead one; a divine one, not a human one; a perfect one, not an imperfect one. Search it, study it, dig into it. "My son," says God, our Father, "receive my words; hide my commandments with thee; incline thine ear unto wisdom; take fast hold of instruction; attend unto my wisdom and bow thine ear to my understanding; keep my words and lay up my commandments with thee."
Honor the words of God; and honor him who wrote them, by trusting him for interpretation and light. Do not disparage them by calling them a dead letter. They are not dead. If you will use the figure of death in this case, use it rightly. They are the savor of death unto death in them that perish; but this only shows their awful vitality. As the blood of Christ either cleanses or condemns, so the words of the Spirit either kill or make alive. The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life.
It is through belief of the truth that God hath from the beginning chosen us to salvation. It is with the word of Truth that he begat us: and all this is in perfect harmony with the great truth of man's total helplessness and his need of the Almighty Spirit. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." "Hear, and your soul shall live."
Do we not often, too, read the Bible as if it were a book of law, and not the revelation of grace? In so doing, we draw a cloud over it, and read it as a volume written by a hard master. So that a harsh tone is imparted in its words, and the legal element is made to obscure the evangelical. We are slow to read it as the expansion of the first graceious promise to man; as a revelation of the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; as the book of grace, specially written for us by the Spirit of grace. The law is in it, yet the Bible is not law, but gospel.
Do we not often read it as the proclamation of a command to do, instead of a declaration of what the love of God has done?
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible