The Word of God is a Dangerous Thing

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ReDiscovered Word

(Hebrews 4:12)

The Word of God is a dangerous thing. 

You and I open it up, hoping to understand God, or maybe to find a little bit of inspiration to make it through another day.

When we open those pages, though, something else happens.

God’s Word opens us instead.

Living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, the Scripture cuts us to the core. The cuts are deep and painful, but redemptive at the same time.

Read it often enough, and we discover something unsettling: we cannot predict or control what God will say to us. And the changes He makes will be deep and painful. But they will also be right.

Our values will be turned upside down. Our self-righteousness will be shattered. Our plans for the future will change.

When we approach God’s Word with open ears and submissive hearts, we will be changed. 

Perhaps that is why so many keep His Word at arm’s length. It’s safer when it’s consumed in small doses at manageable times. It’s less frightening when we simply use it to satisfy our curiosity, or to justify our preconceptions. If we don’t get too close, it won’t open us up.

And that’s a safer approach. But it’s not a better approach.

It’s tragic, in fact, to have access to the very Word of God and yet to never allow it to do its work. Because when we let it transform us, we find something deeply satisfying: His way is better than ours.

Our old values need to be discarded. Our self-righteousness needs to be shattered. Our plans need to change.

His ways are infinitely better, but we resist them anyway. Still, his Word waits for us. Living and active, perfectly good, and powerful enough to change us.

If only we will let it. The process is painful, but the outcome is always good.

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Why I Believe the Bible

A man recently asked me why I believe the Bible is true. He was trying to convince me of the veracity of a different belief system, and I told him that I couldn’t accept his beliefs because I didn’t trust the writings of his religion’s prophet.

“Why do you believe the Bible so readily but refuse to believe in our book?” he asked me. His question stayed with me for the next day or two. Why do I believe the Bible? I’ve read a number of apologetics books. I went to seminary and eventually received a degree based on studying the Bible. Each week I preach it and try to apply it. But why do I believe it?

My friend didn’t have time to stay and hear my answer to his question, but this is what I would have told him:

1. The Bible has stood the test of time. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s reliable, of course. On the other hand, the Bible has endured well through thousands of years of close scrutiny. People have gone out of their way to destroy it, discredit it, and undermine its authority. Yet nothing devastating really seems to stick to it. I realize there are challenges and things about the Bible we don’t fully understand, but it’s shown itself to be reliable for quite some time.

2. My spiritual ancestors believed in the Bible. I’m not afraid to acknowledge that my belief in the Bible is partly handed down to me from those who came before me. To be honest, we should worry about those who accept a source of authority that nobody else has ever accepted. When I think about great men and women of the faith who studied and preserved the Bible, I’m reminded that I’m not crazy to believe in it. The testimony of the Church over hundreds of years is a huge mark in favor of the Scripture. That legacy of faith was eventually passed along to my parents, who passed it along to me. Contrary to popular belief, the fact that faith is handed down isn’t a strike against it. It’s a major benefit.

3. The Bible offers multiple witnesses of the same events. The book my friend wanted me to believe was written by one man alone. On the other hand, the Bible has an almost embarrassing multiplicity of writers. For the life of Christ alone, we have four gospels. I’m not naive about the challenges posed by the Synoptic Gospels and the book of John. However, the degree to which the gospels agree on the events of Jesus’s life is remarkable. What’s truly remarkable is that all four of them affirm the Resurrection of Christ on the third day after His death. And it’s not only the Gospels, but the writings of Paul, Peter, James, and others. The abundance of witnesses encourages me that the testimony of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection doesn’t hinge on the accuracy of one person’s report.

4. The Bible doesn’t gloss over the weaknesses of God’s people. If the Bible were written to bolster the authority of Christianity’s founders, they should have left out some of the more embarrassing episodes. For example, we read repeatedly of the spiritual dullness of the disciples. We read about Peter denying Jesus three times. We read about Paul and Peter arguing with one another about whether to eat with Gentiles. Over and over again, the Bible points us past the people who led the Church and encourages us to look at Jesus alone as our source of hope.

5. The Bible’s prophecies have consistently proven true. I’ve been writing a short article about Micah 5:2, in which the prophet predicted the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem. Micah’s prediction was made more than 700 years before Jesus’s birth, yet it was perfectly accurate. That’s just one example. Over and over again, the prophecies of the Old Testament are found to be true in the person of Jesus Christ. For that reason, I believe that the Bible is correct in what it predicts for the future.

6. The Bible’s testimony about Jesus has the ring of truth. For me, what the Bible says about Jesus is of the utmost importance. The more I read about His death and resurrection, the more I’m convinced it’s true. The responses of His disciples, the reactions of the Pharisees, and the astonishment of the people all seem genuine. The places and customs and rulers it mentions were real people. The whole account has the feel of a true story, not of something make believe. That’s a subjective judgment, I know, but I’m certainly not alone in that assessment. The impact that Bible has made on generations of men and women around the world indicates that this is no ordinary book. It’s a book inspired by God, containing truth about Him and His Son.

That’s really an incomplete list, as I could go on for awhile. I’ll stop, though, and give you a chance to weigh in. If you believe the Bible, why? What convinces you it’s true? 

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