48. How Important Is God’s Word?

by Feb 19, 20242024

When I became a Christian at the age of nineteen, one of the greatest evidences of my conversion was a new-found craving for Scripture. Having been raised in a Baptist church, I was familiar with the Bible stories,and, because of countless “Bible Drills”, I knew the sixty-six books of the Bible by heart. But as a new believer, Scripture became like a feast for my famished soul; it seemed like I couldn’t get enough of it. Clearly, one of the most important personal benefits of Scripture is that by meditating and studying it, we are able to commune with the living God and experience His love.

The Nature of Scripture

But if we see Scripture primarily as a personal devotional guide, a divine “rule book”, or even a repository of doctrines; I believe we’re failing to “see the forest through the trees.” Scripture, from Genesis through Revelation, is an overarching “story” – a narrative of God’s involvement with humanity. The story of His “rescueplan” through Jesus Christ. In other words, His healing and renewal of all creation. In Ephesians, Paul writes, “(God) made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:9-10, NIV).

The biblical scholar, N.T. Wright, likens the scriptural narrative to a five-act plan that includes:

(1) Creation; (2) the Fall; (3) Israel’s election through whom God’s rescue plan would be launched; (4) JesusChrist, as the inauguration of “New Creation”; and, finally, (5) the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church in anticipation of God’s complete uniting of heaven and earth under His loving will.

Scripture presents us with far more than personal devotional materials (while it certainly does that!). Scriptureis also far more than our source for sound doctrines about God, the world, and ourselves (while it certainly is that as well). It is the “drama” of God’s rule over all of creation – a drama into which He himself enters. It’s the drama that reaches its apex through His Only Begotten Son. The drama then continues through the giving of the Holy Spirit to equip His Church to play our part through worship, prayer and intercession, works of love, and joyful anticipation of all things being made new.

The Authority of Scripture

So, how can a narrative – or a story – be authoritative? When we think of “authoritative” documents, we generally think of factual, verifiable statements or commands. Certainly, a strong case can certainly be made of the reliability of Israel’s Scriptures as well as the historicity of Jesus and His resurrection. One could also find strong arguments for the authority of the New Testament in the radical transformation of the early Christians and the eventual spread of the Faith. Defending each of these is well beyond the scope of this brief essay. Suffice it to say that there is abundant evidence to trust that the Old and New Testaments – fromGenesis to Revelation – provide a reliable narrative of God’s redemptive and restorative salvation.

When we speak biblically of the authority of Scripture, we are really saying, “the authority of God through Scripture”. In the New Testament we find this authority centered on Jesus, Who said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in thename of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV).

As participants in God’s drama and empowered by the Spirit, we are given the commission – the “vocation” – to represent and reflect God to a dark and broken world. For us, the Good News found in Scripture is both our “script” and our story-arc for God’s wonderful, Christ-centered and Holy Spirit filled drama.