FOUR TRUTHS THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT ITSELF
One unique feature about the Bible is that it teaches us about itself as we read it. The belief that the Bible is actually the very words of God does not come from human interpretation or opinion. That belief is actually spelled out for us in the Scriptures. And there are many other extraordinary claims that the Bible reveals to us about its qualities and purposes. Here are a few key passages from the Bible about itself:
Truth #1: The Bible is from God
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness… (2 Timothy 3:16)
In this passage, the Bible makes the assertion very clearly that God was the One who authored the verses that fill its pages. This is an audacious declaration unless it is true. Paul explains that every word of Scripture is God-breathed. He is letting us know that before the words were written—and even before the writers had the thoughts in their heads—the source of those thoughts originated in the mind of God.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
Peter picks up on this and gives us a little more detail on how the Scriptures were written. He explains that although the Lord used men to physically deliver the message, the way that He gave it to them was through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And though this passage is dealing with the prophecies of the Old Testament, Peter later references Paul’s letters and actually refers to them as Scripture. (2 Peter 3:16) It is the same Holy Spirit that spoke through the Old Testament prophets who also inspired the writings of the New Testament. This is the reason that Christians hold the Bible in such high esteem. While there are many great works of literature produced by Christians under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we do not treat any of them as actually written directly from God Himself.
Truth #2: The Bible is Alive
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
This passage brings to light one of the qualities of the Bible that makes it unlike any other written resource. Writing is a powerful tool, whether it is a How-To book to teach someone a skill they did not have before reading it or a powerful work of literature that can tug at one’s heartstrings and deeply move us emotionally. There are various genres of writing and each of them have qualities that make them unique and useful to the people who read them. However, there is no other book that actually has spiritual life contained in its pages.
This is not just a poetic expression the Bible is trying to convey. It is speaking about the nature of the words that God gave to us. To those who are not born again, this concept would be difficult to understand. But for those of us who have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, we know this from experience. How many times have we read through passages that we have read countless times before, but suddenly the words jump off the page and impact our hearts in a way that we could never have imagined? How many times have we been going through a specific circumstance, and we turn to the Bible and read the exact message that we needed to hear? The Scriptures—when illuminated to us with the Spirit who wrote them—bring spiritual life to those who read with hungry hearts.
Because of this, Hebrews explains that the words have the power to penetrate deep within us. God uses His Word to impart spiritual life to us so that we have what we need to mature and flourish in our faith.
Truth #3: The Bible is Eternal
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. (Isaiah 40:8)
Jesus: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Mark 13:31)
We live in a world that is in a constant state of decay due to sin. Our bodies are aging every day. Everything around us is slowly eroding. You can build a brand new house today and within a few decades, it will become outdated, in need of repair and eventually uninhabitable. This is the reality of living in a fallen world. Isaiah uses the grass and flowers as a visual illustration of this decaying process. However, in sharp contrast to natural things, he declares, “The word of our God endures forever.” Jesus echoes this thought, but takes it a step further and proclaims that all of heaven and earth are going to pass away, but His words never will.
What an amazing comfort in a dying world like ours to know that there is something so consistent and steadfast like the Word of God! What a remarkable reality to know that the truths of the Bible will never lose their power. His Word will never become obsolete. Culture will never make it irrelevant. Though some will scoff at the Bible and label it an antiquated work of literature, nothing could be further from the truth. God’s Word is—and will always be—dependable, true and revelatory.
Truth #4: The Bible is Effective
God: “…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
This passage has always been a source of encouragement for me in my walk of faith. I am certain that all of us as believers have had times when we have read the Bible and it just seems lifeless. There are seasons when it feels so mechanical and we are only forcing ourselves to read because we know that it is what we need. But this passage reveals to us that God has a specific purpose for every word He speaks. And He promises that it will accomplish the purposes that He intends.
This means that even in those times when we feel like nothing is happening, the Lord knows how to take those words and impact our hearts with them. Even when the revelation does not seem to be there, even when we read portions of Scripture that are confusing and seem to be above our understanding, God’s Word is effective and will do what He intends for it to do in our lives.
If these claims that we have examined in this article are false, than the Bible amounts to nothing more than folklore. One could make the case that it is a dangerously deceptive book. However, if these claims are true, the greatest danger would be to ignore it. If what the Bible teaches about itself is true, then it really is the very words of our Creator and should be exalted, obeyed, heeded, followed, studied, treasured and lived out. I suppose each of us has to come to our own conclusion on the divine attributes of the Bible. I made mine seventeen years ago, and I can testify that my life has never been the same.