Christians are often called ‘people of the Book’, meaning they take the Bible as the authoritative guide for their lives. Many Christians live out their daily walk relying on the Bible to be the Book they can go to for answers. Many believe that the Bible contains guidelines for every possible situation they may encounter. A closer look at this issue would show us this is not quite the case. Let us set aside what we may have been taught, or what we may have heard at some time in our lives, and see what the Bible actually teaches on this subject.
Jesus himself alluded to certain limitations of the Scriptures [the Old Testament in Jesus’ time] when He said that salvation could not be found by simply studying the Scriptures while, at the same time, ignoring Him. The Scriptures pointed to the source of salvation, Jesus Himself: "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me..." (John 5:39 NASB) The Scriptures point to the Savior, but they are not the Savior.
God’s guidance is predicated on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Salvation is relational. God is a person, not a human person, but a person nonetheless, and He wants to have a personal relationship with His creatures. How much more personal can you get than to send your only Son to die for your creatures who have turned their backs on you? The Bible is the guidebook for our relationship with God. However, God does not want us to merely read about Him. He wants us to know Him personally and have a relationship with Him. This personal relationship includes God revealing His will for our lives. In his book, In Search of Guidance,Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, Dallas Willard writes, “The Bible is one of the results of God speaking. It is the unique written Word of God and, in conjunction with it, God himself presently speaks to the devout heart ever anew. (Willard, p. 148) [italics in original] The Bible is God’s Word in written form that reveals God’s plan of redemption and instructs us in how we may become part of that plan. It is not the only way God speaks to us though.
Now, the importance of the Bible should not be minimized, and its impact on humankind is difficult to overemphasize. It is a communication from the Creator and Sustainer of the universe to you and me. It was written and preserved in order that we would always have a point of reference when it came to seeking to know God, and His will for our lives. In Second Peter, we read, “…for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (II Peter 1:21 NASB) God used men to write His words containing His thoughts concerning the subjects that it addresses.
Stressing the importance of the Bible, Dallas Willard writes, “It is inerrant in its original form and infallible in all of its forms for the purpose of guiding us into a saving relationship with God in his Kingdom. It is infallible in this way precisely because God never leaves it alone…The Bible has its own special and irreplaceable role in the history of redemption. We can refer any person to it with the assurance that if they will approach it openly, honestly, intelligently, and persistently, God will meet them through its pages and speak peace to their souls.” (Willard, p. 148-149)
However, Christians must not replace the rightful worship of God with anything, not even the Bible. If we make the Bible the focus of our spiritual life, we have made it an idol which will keep us from loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). The Bible is God’s Word in written form that reveals God’s plan of redemption and instructs us in how we may become a part of that plan.
To be continued…
In Search of Guidance,Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, Dallas Willard, IVP, 1999
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