What should be my attitude toward the Bible?
Topic(s): Bible Authority
Members of the churches of Christ have long been known as a people who believe not only in the inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), but in their all-sufficiency (2 Timothy 3:17; 2 Peter 1:3). This means we believe the Bible came from God and meets man's every spiritual need. Therefore, we reject any man-made doctrine, creed, confession, or articles of faith. Our respect for the Bible has caused us to be derided as "Bible-thumpers" and "Bibliolators" (worshipers of the Bible, though we do NOT worship the Bible). If this is the price to be paid for respecting God's Holy Word, then so be it.
Benjamin Franklin (a 19th century preacher, not the Revolution-era statesman/inventor) said it this way:
‘Any creed containing more than the Bible is objectionable, because it does contain more than the Bible. Any creed containing less than the Bible is objectionable, because it does contain less than the Bible. Any creed differing from the Bible is objectionable, but it does differ from the Bible. Any creed precisely like the Bible is useless, because we have the Bible. This covers the whole ground.'
As a people, we have long strived to "speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent." Anything else is cowardly or presumptuous. Additionally, we have considered the Bible as an unchanging document, perfectly suited for all men at all times. But some will say, "This is exactly what we believe! We only go by the Bible." However, it is one thing to make a claim, but another altogether to prove it.
Consider for a moment, how many religious bodies have a church manual, book of discipline, article of faith, or catechism? Most all of them. What purpose do these books serve? They serve only as additions to scripture and as a means to divide men religiously. In truth, men often revere their creed books more than the Bible, for when it comes time to enumerate or defend some doctrine or practice, they turn to their creed books. These creed books are subject to review and change as men see fit. Therefore, they are not comprised of objective truth. And even if they were not subject to review or change, the Bible reserves for itself the designation of objective truth in matters of spirituality (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17).
Of the other religious bodies that do not have a creed book, most do not view the Bible as the sole authority in matters of faith and practice. Instead, they rely on their feelings, "leadings," or claims of direct revelation. Phrases such as "the Lord appeared to me" or "the Lord spoke to me" speak volumes about one's attitude toward the Bible. I am not suggesting for a moment that everyone who says such is dishonest (though many are), but consider the ramifications of such. Jesus promised His apostles that they would be guided "into all truth<" (John 16:13). Any claim to receive a new or different teaching from that which appears in Scripture is an indictment against Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Either the Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all truth or He didn't. If He didn't, then Jesus lied to them. If He did, then modern-day revelations are to be rejected out of hand. Also, first-century revelation was proven Divine with miracles and accompanying signs (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4). Modern-day revelators lack the power to prove their claims.
Finally, some "Bible believers" are heard to say, "I wouldn't trade this feeling in my heart for all the Bibles in the world. 1 John 5:13 teaches we can know we are saved because of the things that are written, not anything we "feel." "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Jeremiah wrote, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (17:9).
Friends, we must show the Bible its due reverence in every facet of our daily living and religious practice, lest we find ourselves rejected under the same condemnation. The only was to guard against this is to be diligent in our daily study and practice (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15).