Saturday, March 21, 2015

You Can’t Know It If You Don’t Read It

A coworker excitedly told me that she had come to know the Lord Jesus, was participating in a church, and was starting to read the Bible. Then she said, “There is a Christian bookstore around me and I’m going to go there and find some books that tell me what the Bible is about.”

I replied, “Well, the best way to learn what the Bible is about is to read the Bible. After you’ve read the Bible then you might want to read a book or two on the Bible, but the only way to learn what the Bible is about is to read the Bible; the only way to know the Bible is to read the Bible.”

Knowing that she is engaged to be married I said, “Suppose you hadn’t met Bill yet and I said to you, ‘I know a great guy named Bill, I think you two might hit it off.’ But then, instead of introducing you to Bill I simply talked about Bill. Then I said, ‘Hey, my friend Susan knows Bill too, let her tell you about him.’ And then I said, ‘My friend Mark has written a book about Bill, why don’t you read it?’ And so on and so forth and weeks and years go by but you never actually meet Bill.

“Well, that’s the way it is with many Christians. We go to church for years and we say we believe the Bible, but we never really get to know the Bible because we never read it. So the best way to learn what the Bible says, the best way to learn the Bible…is to read the Bible.”

Then we talked about some ways to read the Bible.

Folks say that the best way to learn a foreign language is immersion in that language; I think the best way to learn the Bible is immersion in the Bible – to read it to learn its scope, to read it to study it, to read it to meditate on it, to read it to pray it, and to read it to memorize passages of it.

When we know what the Bible says we have a grid and filter through which to read what other people say about the Bible and what other people say about Jesus; the best testimony about the Bible is the Bible; the best testimony about Jesus Christ is what Jesus Himself says about Himself, and what those who knew Him and who knew those who knew Him say about Him.

Legal systems through the ages have valued eyewitness testimony – the people who write fiction are not those who wrote the Bible, but rather those who in their presumption and arrogance think they know more (2,000 years and more removed from Biblical events) than those who were eyewitnesses and those who knew the eyewitnesses. Which group of witnesses would an unbiased court of law believe?

The public nature of the Gospel events was appealed to by Paul when he stood before Festus (Acts 26:26), “For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.”

Luke begins his Gospel with, “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which are most surely believed among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and minsters of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”

The only way to know the Bible is to read the Bible, and the testimony of eyewitnesses is far superior to the testimony of those far removed in both time and space from the Biblical events. 

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