The Word is a Gift
The Word of God is a great gift. Think about it—where would we go to learn who God is if we didn’t have His Word? While creation does testify of God, we can’t fully know Him simply by studying the starry sky or a nearby bush. We can look within, but our own hearts are deceitful and our minds are darkened (Jer. 17:9, Rom. 1:21). We can’t hope to know Him unless He first shows Himself to us. The Bible is that revelation, God’s gift to us—Himself. Scripture is the source of all knowledge of God.
If Scripture is so central to our understanding of God, how do we value it practically? How do we allow it to have its full effect on us?
Again, Scripture is the only way we can truly know God. So we must be students of the Word. We must read much and read often. Of course, proper reading includes much more than sliding our eyes across as many pages as possible. We read to understand—both with our minds and with our hearts.
Understanding with our minds requires effort. As we read, we must consider what each verse and chapter is saying, why it is important, and how it fits within the whole of God’s Word. We should ask questions of the text, consider possible solutions, and diligently search for answers.
Of course, we cannot expect to love God if we only know more about Him. Thus, we read with our hearts engaged, looking not only for how we can learn more about God intellectually, but also so we can learn to love Him as He ought to be loved. We can understand the facts of the gospel in detail with our minds, yet it’s only when those facts penetrate our hearts that we develop love for the God of the gospel.
The opposite is also true. If we think we love God, but have yet to understand who He truly is, our love is probably misguided and vain. Our love must be grounded in right knowledge; otherwise it may not be love at all. Romans 10 talks about Jews who had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. They had well-intentioned hearts, but they misunderstood God’s gospel and missed Him entirely.
Both mind and heart change are dependent on the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work (2 Cor. 3:14-18). He enlivens our minds so we can rightly understand God’s true nature, and He warms our hearts so we can accept His love for us and love Him in turn.
Along with understanding Scripture personally, we should actively declare the truth of Scripture. This includes a broad spectrum—preaching, teaching, discipling, and evangelizing. Though the particulars will look different for each of us, we must all proclaim scriptural truths as we have opportunity.
Within the local church, that means the preaching must be Scripture-centric. Whether we prefer topical preaching or a verse-by-verse approach, we must ensure that the Bible—not personal opinion—is preached. Exposition (preaching that exposes the truth of Scripture) describes this. Since we can only know God through His Word, we are wasting our time if anything other than the Word is preached.
Our interaction with other believers must also be shaped by Scripture. We are created to grow together. We should disciple others and be discipled ourselves. This involves more than formal discipling or mentorship, it also includes life-on-life interaction as we live and breathe together in Christian community. And in this, again, we must subject our opinions and our beliefs to the authority of Scripture. Our ideas and beliefs must always bow to the Word. And how do we know what the Bible teaches? We must read it. Read the Word, then proclaim it.
Another way we value Scripture is by obeying it. Right knowledge is worthless if it doesn’t change how we live. Over and over, the New Testament connects faith to obedience (see especially John 15, Romans 6, Hebrews 2-4, and James 2). Jesus, Paul, James, and other New Testament writers make it abundantly clear that true faith will produce obedient works. Thus, if we aren’t pursuing obedience, our very salvation may be in question. If we belong to Christ, we will live like Christ.
As touching Scripture, we should be careful to not only understand it, but also obey it. Every piece of the Bible has been given to us by God, and thus we submit ourselves to God by submitting ourselves to His Word. Obedience to God’s Word and obedience to God Himself are one and the same. We cannot—and we dare not—separate those.
How do we value Scripture? First, we read it ourselves, seeking mental understanding and heart transformation. Then we proclaim it to others, sharing what we’ve been taught. And finally, we obey it, honoring God by faithful obedience to His Word.
How then should we, as faithful Christians, value the Word of God? What has shaped your understanding of Scripture? Feel free to enter the discussion below.
|Julian Stoltzfus currently resides in Elnora, IN with his lovely wife, Ruthie. He has had the privilege of attending several semesters at Elnora Bible Institute since 2014, has a Christian Ministries certificate from the same, and is currently part of a pastoral apprenticeship program under Truth and Grace Mennonite Church. When not working, he enjoys tinkering around his house, diving into a good read, 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.|