Have you ever read a piece of literature that was so outdated it didn’t make sense? Maybe it was the flow of the words, or the context of the story, or even the style of the lettering it is written in, but a lot of times when we read older books we have a tendency to get lost and/or bored.
A growing argument against the validity of Christianity in recent years has been the age of the Bible. For many secularists, the Bible is an outdated, out of context, misinformed piece of history, and nothing more.
However, as Christians we hold the Bible to a much higher standard than a simple document. As Christians, we revere Scripture to be the “inerrant Word of God,” but what exactly does that mean?
In the words of Paul in one his letters to Timothy,
“16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Scripture, and the words therein, are inspired by God, or as the literal Greek says, “Breathed out by God.” This means that the words throughout the Bible are intricately placed with a Divine purpose.
God may have used humans to write the words, and have used human rhetoric to make the words flow, but the message of the words is literally breathed out by God.
So what does this mean for us today? How are we supposed to hold onto this Divinely inspired message of God within our modern contexts?
There are some people who would say that the ideas of Scripture may be timeless and inspired by God, but not all of the Bible is Divine. Jesus pretty much nipped this notion in the bud, however, during part of His teaching on the Sermon on the Mound.
“‘Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished.’” (Matthew 5:17-18)
Obviously, according to Jesus Himself, the words of Scripture are just as important as the ideas, since none of these words are to “pass away.”
This could create a problem for modern contexts in things such as tattoos and beard trimming, where in Leviticus it says,
“27 You are not to cut off the hair at the sides of your head or mar the edge of your beard. 28 You are not to make gashes on your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves; I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:27-28)
What are modern Christians supposed to do with words such as this? If the whole of Scripture is breathed out by God, and not a single mark of the letters are meant to pass away, doesn’t this mean all Christians should have long-flowing beards?
The truth is, the Bible contains the teachings, directives, instructions, and, most importantly, characteristics of God. When it comes to the characteristics of God though, it isn’t really possible for humanity to measure up. Take a look how Jesus concluded His excurses over the Law and Prophets,
“‘19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.’”
Jesus is pretty clear when He says how righteous we are to be if want to obey all the teachings and instructions found within Scripture, and quite frankly He would have known just how impossible it is for us to hold onto it all.
Therefore, it is true that not a single piece of Scripture will ever pass away since it is the Word of God, but it is also true that the written Word of God can’t bring us salvation. Only Jesus can do that.
It is important that Christians today arduously study Scripture since it is directly from God, but it is also imperative that we couple our study over Scripture with a deep-seated faith in the Son of God. It is through Him that the words of Scripture are fulfilled and we find salvation, but we will come to know Him better through the words of God in Scripture.
Questions for Reflection
1. What would we say to someone who claimed to us that Scripture is “out of touch” with reality? How would we defend the Word of God?
2. If the Word of God was inspired by God, but written by Man, how can we know that it is inerrant? What makes Scripture a bridge between humanity and Divinity?
3. Is the Bible as we have it today still reliable? How do we know it is the same today as it originally was?