Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book Review: God-Breathed

God-Breathed: The Undeniable Power and Reliability of Scripture. Josh McDowell. 2015. (April 2015). Barbour. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

God-Breathed is divided into two sections. The first section is "The Power of Scripture." The second section is "The Reliability of Scripture." Both sections share a common goal: McDowell is seeking to persuade readers--believers and/or skeptics--that "we can experience the power of God's Word as revealed in the Bible, because it's reliable."

He writes, "To truly sense the power of Scripture is to be captivated by its Author and to develop a true love for him and a longing to know the deep meaning of the words he has recorded for you."

The first section focuses on how the Bible is a living book, on the Bible's true purpose and its continuing relevance. It also discusses Bible interpretation. How to do it right, and how to avoid doing it wrong.

The second section focuses on the reliability of Scripture and how it passes three tests:

  • the bibliographical test: determining whether the text of the historical record has been transmitted accurately
  • the external evidence test: determining whether the historical record has been verified or affirmed by data outside itself
  • the internal evidence test: determining how the historical record stands up to the test of internal validity

Five chapters focus on the Bible's reliability. The fourteenth chapter tackles the question: "Are Writings From Other Religions Considered Scripture?" The final chapter is perhaps my favorite. It is "How the Bible Can Come Alive In Your Life."

The book is good. Its partly about the power of Scripture and why it's so important for believers to read and understand the Bible. Its partly about proving the Bible is reliable and passes all the tests.

I'm very much interested in books about the Bible, how to read it, how to interpret it, why it's important and unique. I'm not as interested in the apologetics side of it.

The question of what Scripture "means to me" or "means to you" is a major point of focus among a lot of people today. Yet it is based on a serious but common error in our approach to interpreting Scripture. Rather than looking to the biblical text to understand God's intended meaning of the truth, too many people look for their own meaning of the truth. Consequently, they misinterpret passage after passage of Scripture. There are two basic mistakes people often make when they try to interpret the meaning of the Bible:
1. They inject their own views or emotions into Scripture
2. They take a verse, word, or passage out of context
It is very important to understand that each book of the Bible has an intended meaning. God wants us to discover that meaning. He wants to reveal himself and his truth within the text so that we might experience him--know and love him, live in his ways, and love those around us as he loves us. Essentially, our task is to interpret the words in order to understand their intended meaning. 
Lay aside any preconceived ideas of God based on your past relationships with others, and allow Scripture to define the accepting Jesus. He loves every one of us in spite of our sin--including you. He has mercifully provided atonement for our sin at great cost to himself. He separates who we are from what we have done and loves us for who we are. Then he accepts--receives with welcoming arms--each of us at the point of our failure. 
If the God-breathed words of Scripture are to come alive in our lives, we must see Jesus for who he is--the God who loves and accepts us without condition based on what Christ did on the cross. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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