Journey with me to the dawn of time. All that exists is darkness. Stillness.
Suddenly, a voice thunders. Words teeming with energy and life cut through the silence. Light explodes into the blackness, its brilliance piercing the empty expanse. The Creator breathes and planets form. Stars converge out of nothing; creatures of unimaginable complexity and beauty spring into existence. All of creation vibrates with life, brought forth by the word of God.
This same God, whose very words brought all things seen and unseen into existence, has given us his perfect written Word, the Bible, recorded by the pens of Spirit-filled men. This Word is God’s gift to mankind and is our porthole into the hidden things of his will and purpose. Without it, we could only grope in the darkness hoping for a passing shadow of truth, but God’s Word gives us something concrete, a solid foundation on which we can build our faith.
As we continue our tour of the 1963 Mennonite Confession of Faith, we come to Article 2 – Divine Revelation. As Troy already mentioned in last month’s post, this confession was written in 1963 as a reaffirmation of early Anabaptist beliefs. Though it is not inerrant, its authors proved its reliability by saturating it with scriptural support. As they affirmed, the Bible can and must be the only foundation for our faith.
(The remainder of this post will draw from Article 2 of the Mennonite Confession of 19631. Click here to read the entire confession.)
It’s About Glory
Let’s begin by examining the first sentence of this article. “We believe that the God of creation and redemption has revealed Himself and His will for men in the Holy Scriptures, and supremely and finally in His incarnate Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Bible gives us opportunity to see God’s character and purpose. It doesn’t stop with that, however; its ultimate purpose is to showcase the glory of Christ, the God-man, the One who left his splendor to become one of us. He is the fulfillment of everything Scripture is meant to be. Jesus, the Word who was with God and was God, “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory” (John 1:14, ESV2).
He came as a man, taking on flesh to redeem unto himself a chosen people. Not simply to redeem us for our own sake, however, but to give us the privilege of reveling in his glory. “God’s purpose in this revelation is the salvation of all men.” Through that salvation we are brought into right relationship with him and can both enjoy his glory and share it with others by declaring what he has done in our lives.
The Precious Word
Next we see the necessity of the written words of Scripture. “Although God’s power and deity are revealed in His creation, so that the nations are without excuse, this knowledge of Him cannot save men, for it cannot make Christ known.” God’s power and divine nature are so clearly evident in his creation that all men are without excuse (Romans 1:20). This revelation is not sufficient, however; we cannot be saved by the knowledge of God as he is revealed in nature.
Creation, with its wonders and complexities, is only sufficient to condemn mankind. We must have the written Word, for we can only come to a saving knowledge of Christ through an encounter with the Word. The Bible, God’s tangible, concrete revelation to man, is the most precious commodity a Christian can own; it is the singular object which enables us to know and serve God.
The Inspired Word
“We believe that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, that men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. We accept the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God…”
The Holy Spirit worked in the original penning of the Bible and still works through the Word to convict, justify, and sanctify his people. Without the Holy Spirit, the Bible would be just another collection of man’s opinions and observations, but his power endows Scripture with a supernatural authority. The Bible was breathed out – literally “expired” – through man by God’s Spirit (2 Tim. 3.16). It flowed directly from God and bears exactly the same authority as the audible words of God.
The Consistent Word
The second paragraph of Article 2 articulates the consistency of God’s Word. The Old Testament shows our need for a Savior and promises One who will come to save us from our own brokenness. The New Testament tells of his life, death, and resurrection, as well as the beginnings of his people, the church. The New completes the Old, and both are equally important.
Many of us have made the mistake of dividing the Bible into seemingly incongruent halves: the Old Testament shows God’s holiness and wrath, and the New Testament his love and grace. All of Scripture, however, tells one consistent message of both God’s holiness and his grace toward mankind.
“The message of the Bible points to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is to Him that the Scriptures of the Old Testament bear witness, and He is the One whom the Scriptures of the New Testament proclaim. He is the key to the proper understanding of the entire Bible.”
The Bible is ultimately about Christ. Though it tells of many other men, its singular purpose is to show our need for Christ himself and to reveal him through written words. It tells the story of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice to restore sinful man’s relationship with God. The Bible tells of Christ on every page and gives us the promise of knowing and reveling in Christ’s glory eternally.
We often forget our need for Scripture; without it we can only desperately flounder for Truth. But this Treasure, the Bible, gives us concrete, immovable Truth in which we can stake our confidence. It leads us to God, shows us Christ, and teaches us how to live faithful lives. May we never underestimate the power of this precious gift!
|Julian Stoltzfus currently resides in Elnora, IN and is taking part in a pastoral apprenticeship program under Truth and Grace Mennonite Church. He had the privilege of attending several semesters at Elnora Bible Institute since 2014. When not working at K&K Industries, he enjoys diving into a good read, exploring the diverse beauties of music, or fortifying relationships with family and friends. The 5th of 6, he has greatly benefited from the wisdom and influence of his parents and siblings. He longs to see authentic Christianity thrive as God transforms hearts through the Gospel.
1. Mennonite Confession of Faith, 1963. GAMEO. Web. 1 August 2016.
2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2011. Print.