I am currently working through Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem with one of my students. Yesterday, we discussed the chapter on the authority and inerrancy of the Bible. In this chapter, one of Grudem’s evidences for the ultimate authority of the Bible is that it claims to be God’s Word. One way the Bible testifies to this is with the many times we see the introductory phrase, “Thus says the Lord…” repeated in Scripture. Grudem explains the importance of these words when he says, “This phrase would have been have been recognized as identical in form to the phrase, ‘Thus says King…’, which was used to preface the edict of a king to his subjects, an edict that could not be challenged or questioned, but that simply had to be obeyed” (p. 33).
My point in bringing this up is that I think we often forget our place when reading or studying the Bible. We read it like it’s a book of helpful tips for life instead of the royal edict of the King of Kings. We forget that to disobey the Bible is to disobey God Himself because the Bible is His Word. When it comes to what the Bible says, we cannot respond with a “take it or leave it” attitude, we must obey it with humility, reverence, and joy because we are not our ultimate authority… God is, and He has spoken! This also applies to the games we play with the Bible when we try to get it to say what we want or explain away certain verses because they sound too harsh. This happens with certain texts in the book of 1 John when he writes things like, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (2:15). We say to ourselves, “Certainly, he doesn’t mean that I can’t love the world and God at the same time… there must be some middle ground there that I can’t see right now.” Church, we make things too complicated when it comes to obeying the Bible. We use excuses, loopholes, and rationales to trim it down until it looks like another self-help book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble when we should just trust it and obey it. The Bible is God’s true, error-less Word and God is King over all the universe, so we must stand under the Bible in humble submission instead of standing over it in self-centered judgment!