While the Bible tells us some parts were actually “written” by “the finger of God” (Ex. 31:18; 32:16; 34:1), it also says it was “Godbreathed” throughout (2 Tim. 3:16). This imprint by God is what produces interest and understanding in readers today, just as it did to a few of Jesus’ disciples who put it this way: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road (to Emmaus) and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Lk. 24:32 NIV). Hearing God’s Word About 75% of the people in southern Sudan, where I served as a missionary, are functionally illiterate. For them traditional African story-telling around an evening campfire will be where they hear and learn God’s Word. They are not readers, but the words “hearts burning within” can still apply to them. In fact, these hearers of the Word are actually closer to the “road to Emmaus” event (Lk. 24:13-32) than readers are.
Sometimes we forget that the Bible was not translated into the everyday language of common people until 1384 AD by John Wycliffe, and not printed and distributed for reading until 1526-1535 by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale. That’s about 1400 years of Christianity with very little printed Word!
Today in southern Sudan, while you are reading this, many MP3 players are “speaking” tribal dialects of God’s Word to goat-herders sitting in the shade of mahogany trees. Hearing the Word remains an important aspect of world missions, and perhaps one we need to use more in societies crammed with people who can read, but don’t. Whether we hear the Word or read it, its truth is only discovered by our getting into it so it can get into us.
In England we have a saying: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” It means that we won’t know how good it is until we consume it. In other words, “The proof of the Bible is in the Bible!” It gives us many pictures of how God’s Word impacts the reader’s life. Here are some of them.
Seeing God’s Word As …
… Spiritual Food: “Man does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Dt. 8:3; Mt. 4:4; Lk. 4:4). Nourishing our spirits is at least as important as feeding our bodies. We should read the Word as regularly as we eat.
… Refined Silver: “The words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace” (Ps. 12:6). I live in a hard rock tin mining region. Rewards only come to miners by hard work. Knowing the end result makes their effort worthwhile. We should dig into the Word and let it reward us with its riches.
… A Guiding Light: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Ps. 119:105). God’s Word guides us, giving secure footing and a sure path to follow His way. We must keep looking where we are going by applying the Word to everyday life.
… Rain And Snow: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven … watering the earth … so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word … It will … achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:10-11). Like rain and snow, God’s Word causes us to bring forth fruit that brings new life to others.
… Fire And A Hammer: “‘Is not My word like a fire,’ declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’” (Jer. 23:29). God’s Word is like a fire that breaks through barriers, and a powerful hammer that shatters the hardest heart. From hard hearts to life’s toughest trials, let God work. Don’t block Him out.
… A Solid Foundation: “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock … It did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock” (Mt. 7:24-25). God’s Word is the only sure foundation to build our life on, as it will withstand even the most adverse circumstances.
… Cleansing Water: “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word” (Eph. 5:25-26). God’s Word is cleansing water that refreshes us spiritually. Just as we wash daily to cleanse our bodies, so we should develop the habit of daily reading or listening to God’s Word. Its cleansing power will keep the world from soiling our lives.
… A Sword: “The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any doubleedged sword, it penetrates … it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17). Here God’s Word is presented as a razorsharp penetrating judge of how life is and how it ought to be. Newspapers, radio and TV present items from the world’s view. The Bible presents everything from God’s view.
… A Growing Plant: “Get rid of all moral filth and evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the Word planted in you, which can save you” (Jas. 1:21). Developing the right conditions will always help a plant produce its best flowers or fruit. We should cultivate an environment for the Bible so it can do its best work in our lives.
… A Mirror: “Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he really looks like” (Jas. 1:23-24). The Bible is a mirror that shows us what reality looks like. Be ready for a shock! A good mirror does not lie; it challenges our misperceptions of self. God diagnoses our ills and prescribes how they can be fixed. God aims to make us more like Jesus.
… Lifegiving Seed: “You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God … the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Pet. 1:23-25). The most enduring life-giving asset we have is God’s Word. Planting, nurturing, harvesting and preserving its fruits all bring rewards that outlast our short life on earth.
These pictures that the Bible gives us of itself confirm that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible is a book that makes us good in God’s sight, not just a book that makes us look good in man’s eyes.
Godly wisdom from the Bible is far more useful than the information in any textbook or encyclopedia. In reading God’s autobiography we see His purpose and plan for the world and for humans. This helps us fit into our intended place.
Applying God’s Word
Why is all this important? Because it helps us grow as followers of Jesus in a world that generally goes a different way. The Bible can make us “wise for salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15). It can lead us to know Christ as our Savior from sin. Then it can teach us about life in God’s kingdom (Mt. 13). As disciples, placing Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, we let Him teach us (Mk. 4:33-34). It is in applying God’s truth to our lives that we discover ourselves ever more set apart for God’s purposes (Jn. 17:14-19).
We should always be sharing God’s Word with those around us. The Church grows as her members share the Word (Acts 4:31; 6:7; 8:4,25; 11:1; 12:24; 13:49; 14:25; 15:35; 16:32; 17:13; 18:11; 19:10,20). Throughout God’s written word is His incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. It says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn. 1:1-2,14). We need to meet Him as we read, then share Him with others.
By Colin Salter
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org