Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thankful for the Bible

I'm thankful for the Bible.

There are two ways that God has made Himself accessible to humanity.

One is through the person of Jesus Christ, who in an unfathomable miracle joined the divine essence of God into a flesh and blood human body.  The Almighty Creator and Sovereign Lord of the Universe somehow inexplicably made Himself human.  He came to experience life on a fallen, broken, sinful world, to know what it is to be mortal and to suffer the effects of sin.  He came to bring hope.  He healed, comforted and taught people about the Kingdom of God, even though hardly anyone could understand what He was saying.  Ultimately, He died for our sins, paying the devil's price, in blood, the ransom for our redemption.

The other way God makes Himself accessible is through the Bible, where the story of His plan for all of history is recorded in amazing synchronization, through the collected writings of 40 or more different writers over a span of 1500-2000 years. There is no other world religion that has a resource anything like this.

Amazingly, both Jesus and the Bible are known as "The Word of God" (see John 1).  Jesus is the center of everything, so if the Bible is named after Him, it is very significant indeed.

Back to the Bible:  whenever I am tempted to doubt any of the truth about Jesus Christ, I can ponder on the origin of  the Bible.

Except for the miraculous provision of God, there is simply no way that a collection of discrete writings compiled over such a span of time could fit together to explain our origin and our problem, and then point in astonishing harmony to God's solution: Messiah, Jesus Christ.

I believe that even the "mistakes" in the Bible attest to its truth.  Yes, the writer of 1 and 2 Chronicles puffs battle numbers compared to the writer of 1 and 2 Kings.  Yes, the four writers of the gospels each have slightly different versions of what the sign over Jesus' head on the cross said.  These details must not be particularly important to God as details.  The point is that the Israelites were able to defeat their enemies against great odds when God was fighting for them.  The point is that Jesus was crucified as King of the Jews.  The differences show that real, fallible men were keeping these records.  More than that, the fact that the differences remain after centuries during which the manuscripts were being copied and recopied by scribes, long before photography or computers were a part of the publishing world, attests to the validity of the documents.  If this were a construct, humanly crafted, somebody would have fixed the inconsistencies long ago.  However, those who worked on these pages understood them to be the Holy Word of God, so that even when an inconsistency would crop up, they had too much respect for the identity of the Bible to change it in any way.  The Bible is not like dentures, pure white plastic formed into rows of perfectly shaped, perfectly straight teeth.  The Bible is real teeth.  Real pearl.  Real diamond.  Everyone knows that real things are essentially different from their "perfect" imitations.

I love the way the Bible tells the story of a merciful God who created a beautiful world, and then set out to save it when it turned against Him.  I love how the Bible shows God calling a special people, the nation of Israel, to be the ancestors of His only begotten Son, Messiah, who would come to pay the price to redeem the world.  I love the way the Bible admits the shortcomings of Jesus' ancestors over and over, even the people who were most pleasing to God, such as King David, the "man after God's own heart," who committed adultery and murder.  This is not to excuse or condone sin, but to demonstrate that the very best among us are still in desperate need of a Savior.  I love how forshadowings of Christ exist in every book of the Old Testament, regardless of when it was written or who wrote it.

I love the way God gave us not one, but four stories of the life of Jesus, to round out our view and open our eyes to multifaceted perspectives on one single truth: Christ fulfilled all the prophesies and brought the hope of redemption to this miserable sin-stained world.  I love the promises in Revelation (and a number of the epistles), that at the fullness of time Jesus will return to deliver us into a perfect new heaven and earth, unbroken, unmarred.  Until then, we soldier on, those of us who believe, shouldering our responsiblity to help in the task of bringing God's children into right relationship with Him while there is still time for them to hear and respond.

I am amazed by the Bible, its beautiful, intricate treatment of God's plan for us, revealed for our salvation.  There is no other book like it.

I am thankful for the Bible.

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