hugh’s news & Views
THE PURPOSE OF THE BIBLE
For my birthday, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a copy of George W. Bush’s Decision Points. I am thoroughly enjoying the book. I have long been a fan of both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. (I often distinguish between them by identifying them as "Big" George and "Little" George). My admiration of them however does not mean that they were right about everything or that I agree with them on everything, only that I respect them and appreciate their values.
On pages 30-31 of Decision Points, W. writes as follows: "I went to church at Andover [prep school] because it was mandatory. I never went at Yale [undergrad years]. I did go when I visited my parents, but my primary mission was to avoid irritating Mother. Laura and I were married at First United Methodist Church in Midland. We started going regularly after the girls were born, because we felt a responsibility to expose them to faith. I liked spending time with friends in the congregation. I enjoyed the opportunity for reflection. Once in a while, I heard a sermon that inspired me. I read the Bible occasionally and saw it as a kind of self-improvement course. I knew I could use some self-improvement."
George’s view of the Bible’s purpose is rather common—that it is "a kind of self-improvement course." But with all due respect, that view is perhaps the ultimate expression of "me-itis." It reflects the notion that the Bible’s primary purpose is to tell me how to find the right person to marry, how to be a good husband or wife, how to be a better parent, how to be a good neighbor, how to find the right job (or a better job), how to be financially successful, what I can do to make myself a happy and fulfilled and good person, etc., etc.
All of these are worthy objectives, and I am not saying that the Bible does not give us a lot of guiding principles where the above matters are concerned. BUT THAT IT IS NOT THE PURPOSE OF THE BIBLE! The purpose of the Bible is to reveal to us God’s eternal purpose to redeem us from sin through Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Bible is to show us how we can have salvation for our soul!
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and said: "But you continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:14-15, NKJV). In context, "the Holy Scriptures" in this passage refer to the Old Testament. But the New Testament Scriptures reveal the fruition of all that to which the Old Testament had been pointing—Christ and His atoning death for the sins of the world and the establishment of the church, the body of those redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Thus, the purpose of the Bible is to reveal Christ our Savior to us, and to show us how to be saved from sin and to acceptably serve God. Every book of the Bible—the thirty-nine of the Old Testament, the twenty-seven of the New Testament—all make their own unique contribution to this overarching purpose for which God gave us His holy word. We need to read and study every book of the Bible in the light of that grand purpose. Will we find truths, principles, and teaching that will help us to be better people? Most assuredly! But we need to read and study the Bible for its spiritual purpose, not for the earthly benefit we might get out of it for this life only.
February 8, 2011