Once our deacon was preaching about the Bible and to prove a point he set the Bible upright on alter and said, “ok, now everyone kneel down on your knees and lets worship the Bible.” Amazingly, or really maybe not so amazingly, several people got down on their knees to worship the Bible. He immediately started shouting at them to get up, proclaiming we do not worship the Bible!
What’s sad is that this sort of sermon is even needed. Nowhere in the New Testament does the Bible ever claim to have supreme authority, yet so many Christians act as though it does. If you ever try to even talk about it with them they will accuse you of blasphemy! That is usually a clear sign that something is wrong.
The Bible is an anthology of books written over the years by different men for different reasons. As Christians we believe the texts to be inspired by God. The word inspire seems to be confused a little. It literally means to breathe into. That’s a beautiful metaphor, but I want something more concrete, and perhaps the best way to put it is to say what inspire does not mean. It does not mean automatic writing. Automatic writing is something that was popular with spiritualist in the early 20th century, where a spirit would take control of the writer’s hand and write a message. The Bible was absolutely not written this way. God did not write the Bible using the hand of a man.
The Bible is a work of revelation. God revealed Himself to the writers in one form or another and they wrote their experiences down. The men who wrote this were men, and like all men were flawed. They had their own points of view, their own bias’s, and culture. Thus the texts that they wrote are better comprehended if we understand the writers a little better. We also have to understand that they made mistakes. Yes, I said it, the Bible has mistakes. It does contradict itself in places. The more we refute this the more stupid we appear.
The Bible was not written as a history book. It does contain history, but that was not its primary purpose. It was definitely not a science book, as science as we know it was still a long way off when it was written. The Bible is not a theology textbook either, though I think most of us would prefer it to be. It’s not a self-help book or any other the other things people want it to be. It is a collection of stories and poems that tell the story of ordinary men and women meeting God. It is the story of God’s relationship with man.
The Bible is a tremendous gift from God. It shows us the pattern of salvation over and over again. It should be read and meditated upon. It should be learned from, but it should not be worshiped. It should not be made to be the last word in everything. I hear so many people call it the Word of God, but Jesus is the Word.
There is a Jewish story I will quickly paraphrase. A fugitive came into town one day. The people of the town hid him from the authorities. After searching for him all over the leader of the soldiers told the towns people that if they did not hand over the fugitive at sun rise the next day, they would burn the town. They went to the rabbi to ask him what they should do. He went to his scriptures and studied all night. Just before the dawn he came to the verse that says it is better that one man should die than the whole people. Elated, he thanked God for what he believed was the answer he had been looking for. He told the people what he had found and they handed over the man to the soldiers and saved the city. They had a great celebration, but the rabbi was upset. He went home and found an angel waiting for him. “Did you not know that the man you handed over was the messiah?” The angel asked. “How was I to know he was the messiah?” Replied the rabbi. “Had you gone to meet him and looked into his eyes you would have known.”
The moral is that we should study our scriptures, but that we shouldn’t stop there. We have to go out into the world and find God in all the other places He is. Remember the Bible itself teaches us that God makes His abode in the hearts of those who love Him.