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Can I Trust the Bible?

One of my favorite scenes from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is near the end where Aslan returns to Cair Paravel and begins to bring to life those creatures whom the White Witch had turned to stone.  He does it in a most interesting way, by breathing onto them.  What the author is doing is borrowing from the Bible where God’s breath brings life.

I used to live in Baltimore, MD near the top research hospital in the world, Johns Hopkins.  Occasionally you’d get a report from someone as to the latest development in medical technology.  Before I left I can remember talking to a researcher who was telling me about microscopic robots they were developing that could be injected into a patient to help make repairs to the body.  It truly is remarkable how advanced the medical field is today, and yet there’s one thing that they cannot achieve, and that is bringing someone back from the dead.  Sure, you can take those paddles and shock someone’s heart back into beating, but that’s merely maintaining life when it actually does work.  I’m talking about creating life.  It cannot be done through medical technology.  There is no Frankensteinesque technology that can create life in dead creatures.

Going back to Scripture we read that, “the LORD God formed the man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature (Genesis 2:7).”  God creates life by breathing life into his greatest creation.  This is the only way that previously dead objects can be brought to life, is if God breathes life into them.  In Ezekiel 37, God brings the prophet Ezekiel into a valley of dead, dry bones and God asks him, “Can these dry bones live again?”.  The answer is telling.  God commands Ezekiel to preach to these bones and, “Behold, I (God) will cause breath to enter you and you shall live.  And I will lay sinews upon you and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you and you shall life, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”  It’s God’s breath, and only his breath, that gives life.

When we come to the New Testament we see in 2 Timothy 3:16 that, “all Scripture is God breathed”.  God’s Word, the Bible, therefore is a living word.  It’s alive, in that it gives life to dead and broken human beings like you and me.  So, the Bible is true because God breathes life into it and therefore is true because God says it is true.  If you search it’s pages, you’ll find that it bears the marks of life.  So, what are they?

1. The Bible teaches us about Jesus. The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) teach us about Jesus life, death, and resurrection.  They record for us Jesus teaching about life and about how to have greater life.  You can find this nowhere else.

2. Jesus teaches us about the Bible. On the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, Jesus sits his disciples down, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Jesus is the central character in Scripture.  It’s all about him.  This has always been God’s plan; that we would have Jesus and in him have eternal life.  It only comes from Jesus.

3. Scripture grates on us. Whenever my child gets a cut I always run to the medicine cabinet and get that big plastic bottle of rubbing alcohol.  They usually cry and plead with me not to put it on their cut because they know how much it burns.  But this is the way that you stave off infection and therefore preserve life.  In similar fashion, the Scriptures serve as a similar burning preservative of spiritual life.  There are parts of the Bible that we’re not all that comfortable with, and there are those passages that we flat out don’t like because of what they tell us about ourselves.  I think that it’s these sorts of passages that actually prove the reliability of the Scriptures.  Have you ever had a friend who was always affirming of everything you did, good or bad?  They’re not a friend at all if they’re affirming things that are bad or harmful to you.  Some kick against the reliability of Scripture because of what all the things they don’t want to hear, but, these are probably the things that we need to hear…the things that sting.

 

The Bible is true because God says it is true, and we can trust it because of that.  It is he that gives it life and so we trust it because of that too.  But more than all of that, it tells us about who Jesus is, and once we start to grasp that then we can begin a relationship with him, and as our trust in him grows so does our trust in God’s word, the Bible.

Why Should I Believe in God?

I’ve been very blessed to have ministered now in two different countries: the United States of America and Northern Ireland.  Both countries could hardly be described as “unchurched”.  Both could probably be best described as “Christ-haunted landscapes”, to steal a term from Flannery O’Connor.  So, to travel around either of these countries you will see church buildings nearly everywhere you go.  Furthermore, to talk to your average American or Irishman, you quickly learn that they are staunchly ‘theistic’ in their outlook.  That is to say, there is some belief in God embedded somewhere in their psyche.  So when you look at both of these societies and the backsliding and moral failing that typifies them, you begin to realize that the reason for this is not that they lack evidence for God’s existence.  So the question that most Americans and Irish seem to be asking is not, “Is there a god?”, but rather, “Why should I believe in God?”.  These are two radically different questions.  For most, then, it is a matter of why.  Let us try and answer this question, “Why should I believe in God?”.

First, a person should believe in God because he is the source of all knowledge and understanding.  My seven-year-old son helped me make pancakes over the weekend.  Per usual, the questions began to fly.  “What ingredients do we use?”.  “Why do you use baking powder?”. “What does it do?”.  Once the standard questions were asked (and barely answered), then the more challenging questions arose… “Where does baking powder come from?”.  “Where do you get eggs from?”.  “How is flour made?”.  These were much more difficult for me to ask.  Finally, the existential questions came… “Where did chickens come from?”.  “How does heat change the dough from liquid to a solid?”.  All these final set of questions stumped their imaginative dad.  Like children, humans are curious beings.  We want to know; we must know things.  We must know because it helps us to make sense of the world we are living in.  Now, most of us are okay not having answers to the bigger questions of the existence of pancakes, but when it comes to things like love, life, contentment, and meaning, well then it becomes less okay to have fuzzy answers.

Belief, not just in God, but the God of the Bible gives us the source of all life and knowledge and therefore provides us with deeper knowledge about the deeper things of life, like love.  1 John 4:8 tells us that, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  God’s greatest act of love is the giving of his Son, Jesus Christ to be an atonement for our sin.  Nobody can do what Jesus did in giving his life in this way, but even by looking at this act we can see that love is an act of giving, not of taking.  This is fundamentally different from what is being taught and what is being modeled in our world today.  Imagine if your society today put this into practice, that we are to give freely of ourselves to love our fellow man?  The world would be a much better place.  So, God is the source of all true knowledge and understanding.

Second, belief in the God of the Bible gives us a proper scope for how we are to view ourselves and how we are to view our world.  It’s a matter of perspective.  Belief in God puts man in his rightful place.  We are not all powerful, we are not all knowing, and we are not ultimately in control.  Now that does not mean that we are to throw all caution to the wind and live carelessly; quite the opposite in fact.  Knowing that I am not all-powerful should humble me.  It should take away all my pride and make me humble.  And when we are humble, we tend to get out of our own way and generally good things start to happen.  I’m saying the word “should” a lot because it’s the constant struggle we all must face daily, that God is in control and not me.  This is the scope of the Christian’s life, and it makes things a lot clearer when we live humbly before God’s all-powerful existence.

Finally, belief in the God of the Bible gives us a sense of direction.  Most of us really hate it when someone tells us what we MUST do with our lives.  As a young teenager I really resented that, and to be honest, as a 38-year-old I still sometimes resent that today.  But if God is the source of all knowledge and understanding, and if he gives our lives the proper scope, then we are obligated to follow what he has said about how we live our lives.  We need to be thankful and willing to follow him.  And here’s the thing, when we do allow God to give our lives a sense of direction, we do become better.  The book of Hebrews describes God as our father and calls us his sons (and daughters).  “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciples the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives (Hebrews 12:4-6).”  So, we can say that God not only is love, but that he loves.  He loves us.  He loves you.  Therefore, the direction that he takes you and leads you is always right.  You can trust him because he loves you.  And because he loves you, you can and will love him back.  It’s a lifetime process learning to love God, but it gets better and sweeter with time.  Look to God, learn to trust him, and live your life for him.