Why do we need our Bibles?
That may sound like an unusual question, given that we are Christians, but stop and think about the last time you gave that question some serious thought.
Why do we need our Bibles?
As we conclude this miniseries on Scripture, I want to direct our attention to a portion of God’s Word which directly answers the question of the necessity of Scripture – the fourth key characteristic of Scripture (read parts one and two for the previous three).
That passage is 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
In the passage, Paul lays out four reasons why we need our Bibles – so let us walk through his argument carefully and see what we can learn together.
A. We need the Bible for its teaching:
We can define the idea of Scripture’s teaching as what it has to say about the right way to believe and behave.
Pastor and Bible teacher Dr. John MacArthur gives the following definition:
“The divine instruction or doctrinal content of both the OT and the NT…the comprehensive and complete body of divine truth necessary for godliness.”
Scripture is necessary because it is God’s curriculum for faith and practice. In its pages we have the inside scoop on what God would have us know and do. As we noted in the first part of our series on Scripture, Scripture isn’t designed to answer every question on every issue. However, when it comes to what we must believe and how we must behave, God’s Word alone gives what we need.
B. We need the Bible for its rebuke:
If teaching is the right way to believe and behave, then rebuking can be understood as pointing out wrong belief and behaviour.
As the saying goes, “To err is human”, and that is no more true than when it comes to spiritual matters. If Scripture is true truth, to recall the idea coined by Francis Schaeffer, then it must correct us when our views of God, man, sin, salvation and reality itself are wrong.
C. We need the Bible for its correction:
At first glance, it would appear rebuke and correction are the same thing – however, there is a distinction to be made between the two.
The Greek word rendered ‘correction’ in most English translations is epanorthosis. As Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words points out, this word carries the idea of making straight once again.1
While rebuke points to wrong belief and behaviour, correction has to do with restoration to right belief and behavior.
As we would say in more colloquial terms, Scripture is what God uses to set us straight. It would be a bad parent who only pointed out what a child did wrong without pointing out the right way. In the same way, God’s Word doesn’t just point out where we get it wrong. It has the power, as the Spirit teaches us through its pages, to set us back on the right track in terms of what we believe and how we behave.
D. We need Scripture for training in righteousness:
Finally, we need our Bibles for training in righteousness – ongoing instruction in right belief and behaviour.
As believers, we are called to live as pilgrims on the way to glory while serving the Lord where He has placed us. Correspondingly, we will need ongoing direction – and Scripture provides us that instruction. As Cornelius Van Til so wisely expressed in his watershed work The Defense of the Faith:
The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything.
As Van Til himself goes on to note:
We do not mean that it speaks of football games, of atoms, etc., directly, but we do mean that it speaks of everything either directly or by implication.
This is a crucial point that cannot afford to be missed – sometimes Scripture’s instruction is pointed and direct (i.e. what it teaches about sexual ethics, about the sanctity of life or what it says about how the believer should conduct themselves in the workplace) and at times its instruction takes the form of principles which may differ in application depending on the situation.
Whatever the form that instruction takes, we are not left in the dark as to what God desires us to believe and to do.
And so I ask that question with which we began: why do we need our Bibles?
We need our Bibles for life – true, fulfilling, satisfying life!
That should make us confident the next time we pick up our Bibles. God has equipped us for the journey!
- http://studybible.info/vines/Correct,%20Correction,%20Corrector,%20Correcting [↩]