This series is all about the attributes of Scripture, and we need the Bible to know God. It’s that simple.
True, we can catch glimpses of who God is without the Bible. For example, in Psalm 19:1-4, David says:
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
God’s glory, a displaying of who he is with an invitation to join, is found in all the things that he’s made. That’s why flowing rivers, oak trees and glaciers are beautiful. Paul writes further about this in Romans 1:20:
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
There is something of God’s character reflected in his creation. Indeed, enough of God is shown in creation for there to be no excuse to be an atheist.
And we shouldn’t neglect this. Whenever we come into contact with whatever stirs us most deeply, coffee or grime, the ocean or fire, we should channel this into gratitude to God. C.S. Lewis, in his Reflections on the Psalms helpfully says:
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.”
In what he’s made, God doesn’t talk to us about everything.
We need the Bible to know about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
We need the Bible to know the way by which we’re saved from hell, death, Satan and sin, and the way by which we enter eternal life in the New Creation.
We need the Bible to know the way by which we live lives pleasing to God post-conversion.
That is, in a nutshell, without Scripture, we can’t know God. DeYoung spells it out for us in his excellent Taking God at His Word:
“We need the revelation of God to know God, and the only sure, saving, final, perfect revelation of God is found in Scripture.”
Things get urgent for us when we read Romans 1:18 (italics mine):
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness…”
When we became Christians, we didn’t immediately stop suppressing all truth. It’s an ongoing process of having our minds renewed by the Holy Spirit, and he does this through the Bible and praying about what he says to us in it. Left to our own devices, if we’re not regularly reading Scripture, our minds will lead us into things that displease God. We need the Bible to show us how to live the life of a follower of Jesus.
Maybe we know that we need the Bible. But do we believe it? In his 12 Rules for Life, the controversial Jordan Peterson (not a Christian!) points out that:
“…it is your actions that most accurately reflect your deepest beliefs…”
He’s right. We will have heard, will hear, and have probably said, things that are unhelpful in this area:
“I’m not so much a Word person, I’m more into the Spirit.”
“I don’t really meet God in the Bible. I prefer worship.”
“The Bible is too hard to understand.”
The bottom line is that if we’re not regularly engaging with the Bible then we’re telling God that we know what he likes better than he does. We’ll spiral off into all sorts of religious habits, ways of speaking and actions that we think honour God and sound spiritual, but are based on our own fallible ideas. Indeed, it may never have occurred to us that these patterns of life don’t please him.
If we are devoted to reading Scripture daily, and it’s our light, we long for it, we weep when it’s not obeyed, and we love to be taught, then, amongst other wonders of the Word, we’ll find what Rigney says rings true:
“Scripture is the grammar textbook for the language of God, instructing us clearly in the patterns of meaning and the rules by which we are enabled to read everything else.”
I’m a sinner with a fallen mind, and I’m in need of God’s voice each day so that I might love the Father, Son and Holy Spirit better.
So are you.
Taking God at His Word, Kevin DeYoung; for those wanting to know more about how to handle the Bible.
Dig Deeper, Andrew Sach and Nigel Beynon; for those wanting to know more about how to handle the Bible.
Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem. “Part 1: The Doctrine of the Word of God”; for those wanting something meaty.
Words of Life, Timothy Ward; for those wanting something meaty.
The Things of Earth, Joe Rigney; for those wanting to enjoy all things to God’s glory.
https://tom00908.wixsite.com/readforrelationship ; for those wanting a general idea of what might be useful to read.