The Good Word  

 March 1995
A Necessity
"Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21)  Man does not begin talking with God.  Rather, God approaches man.  This has been so from the beginning of sin when man foolishly fled from God. (Genesis 3:8-10)  God wants to speak to us.  If communication is to be established, it is necessary for God to take the initiative because we have no natural inclination to seek him. (Romans 3:10-12)  (However, we have definite tendencies toward religion - witness the great variety of religions.)

The only religion that leads to God is the religion that comes from God.  The Bible, then, coming from God, is necessary for us to learn about God, ourselves and our relation to him.

The Authority
Jesus Christ, the creator of all things, is the highest authority in heaven or on earth. (Colossians 1:15-20)  It is no accident that both Jesus and the Bible are called "the word". (John 1:1; Hebrews 4:12)  Since Jesus has personally gone to represent us at the right of the Father, the Word of God, the Bible, remains as the highest visible authority of God on earth.  This does not detract from lesser authorities but shows that they themselves are subject to God and his Word. (See Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-15)

 Sometimes the idea is advanced that since men wrote the Bible (which is true) they also have control or authority over the Bible (which is not true).  No man could or did decide to write a portion of what is today called the Holy Bible.  But, having written a book under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, others (the spirit guided community) recognized and acknowledged that it was from God.  Their recognition did not make it God's Word any more than John the Baptist's recognition of Jesus, made him the Christ.  Each person may in turn open the Bible honestly and the same Spirit that inspired (in-Spirited) the writers will convince the reader that it is God's Word. (See John 15:26; 16:13,4; Romans 10:17)

It's Enough (Sufficiency)
"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.  And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." (Revelation 22:18,19)  This dire caution applies specifically to the book of Revelation, but its principle can be applied to the entire canon of scripture.  Jesus accepted the Old Testament scriptures as they were recognized in his day. (See Luke 24:27 and many others.)  We are safe to do the same.

But Jesus himself was the final message from God.  Therefore, when his eyewitnesses (the Apostles) completed their record and interpretation (the gospels and epistles) God's scriptural revelation to man was complete. (2 Peter 1:16; Galatians 1:6-12)  These considerations do not rule out God's continuing activity in the church through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Over the past 2000 years God has endowed many leaders in his church with special gifts and discernment.  But none of these may speak with the authority of God's word, the Bible.  We may accept their guidance and leading, but only as they direct us to the Holy Bible and thereby to the higher word, Jesus Christ.

It's Understandable (Clarity)
Some say the Bible is like an old fiddle that can play any tune.  This may very well be.  You yourself have probably had your words twisted to mean something you did not intend.  But that doesn't prove that you didn't have a specific message you were trying to give.  God's words are also twisted at times, but he is really quite clear.  "All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching; rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." (2Timothy 3:16)

This does not mean that there are no difficult parts in the Bible.  Even Peter found some of Paul's writings hard to understand. (2 Peter 3:16)  The angels themselves, as well as the prophets, must study. (1 Peter 1:10-12)  Having someone to help you by explaining passages is alright, (Acts 8:30,31) but you yourself must understand God's word for yourself.  The fact that someone represents himself as a teacher from God, a prophet, or even an angel, will not excuse you if you go astray.  God's word to YOU is plain. (1 Kings 13; Galatians 1:6-12)

Your friend, Herb Sorensen