One Wednesday evening after speaking in a Summer Series in Durant, OK I was approached by a college student. He had sat in the auditorium while I presented a sermon on the topic of “God’s Holy Book.” After I had finished preaching and the service had ended, he eagerly walked to where I was standing and told me he needed to talk to me about something very important. I had never met this man before and thoughts started racing through my head about what was on his mind. My hope was that his heart had been pricked and he desired to become a Christian. I soon realized that his intentions were entirely different.
He began to unload on how much he despised the Bible, citing it as the reason for all the evil in the world. He had been spending time on atheistic websites that had filled his mind with a tremendous amount of animosity. He had printed off a list of 101 Bible Contradictions which we began going through together. I spoke with him for several hours that evening. The discussion did not result in his conversation to Christ but we both enjoyed it and we left on good terms. I emailed him later, but to no avail.
The conversation that we had got me thinking a lot. I thought about the importance of being prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in us. I also thought about God’s providence as my study for the sermon on “God’s Holy Book” prepared me for that interaction. (It also did not hurt that early that day I had finished reading the Warren-Flew debate and was rarin’ to go). However, the feeling that struck me the most was one of great pity. In no way was my pity derived from a feeling of superiority or pride, but from a feeling that where I had experienced great love this man had experienced great anger and animosity. That the book I had grown to love and appreciate from a young age could result in so much hate and anger in another was something I found profoundly depressing. I pitied him for how much he was missing.
I love the Scriptures. I enjoy studying the Bible. I am in full-time pulpit ministry, not because I love performing funerals and weddings. It’s not because I love visiting hospitals and I certainly don’t love wearing suits in the 100 degree heat. I am in ministry because I love the Word of God and the impact it can make in someone’s life. This is not to say that visitation and the honor of performing funerals/weddings are not important (I’m still doubting the importance of me being in a suit in the summer), but these things are not what I love about ministry. I love the Bible.
- I love the Bible because it is the foundation of so many of my best relationships. My relationship with my parents, best friends and spouse are all rooted in our mutual appreciation for Scripture. When I spend time with my parents the Bible is not only what guides our relationship, but it is also the main topic of many of our discussions. Most of my best friends are full time ministers, and all of my best friends are people whose lives have been shaped and molded by Scripture. My beautiful wife means the world to me. I can talk to her about anything. But our relationship is founded upon our common love for the Word of God. It is His Word that unites us and gives us a shared worldview. I could not imagine the turmoil each of these relationships would suffer if God were removed from the foundation.
- I love the Bible because I love the people in the Bible. From childhood many of my greatest heroes were men whose lives have been recorded in the Sacred Writings. Daniel, whose faith and dedication to God was so great that the threat of death would not hinder his prayer life. Jacob, who repeatedly overcame seemingly insurmountable hardships without losing faith. Paul, who radically changed his life when confronted with his error, and faithfully served Christ through times of persecution and hatred from every direction. I love to read the accounts of these men. I love to read about Esther, Noah, Peter, Samson, Amos, David, John, etc. Men and women who at times seemed so human while other times their faith soared high above expectation. Men and women who rose above conflict to do what was right. I love to read about these people.
- I love the Bible because it changes lives. The Bible has changed my life. I have seen the incredible power of God’s Word in action through the lives of sinners brought to Christ. I have personally experienced positive changes in my life as I have sought to conform to His will. I love teaching the Bible and seeing it “click” in people’s minds. I love to learn the Bible, and I love to help others learn the Bible. When people learn the Bible, they are learning truths that transcend this earth. The Bible does not change lives because it is so well written. The Bible does not change lives because it is so culturally influential. The Bible does not change lives because a preacher might be a great speaker. The Bible changes lives because it comes from God. That thought always blows my mind. The book that I am holding in my hand actually came from the mind of God. When reading Scripture, we are reading insights from the Mind that created and sustains the universe, the God of Israel. This almighty God has spoken. It is an indescribable honor to be able to listen. When we do listen, the Bible changes lives.
I suppose there is a lot more that could be said. For 3,400 years, since the Bible first began to be written and preserved, people have been talking about it. That is not going to stop either. It will continue to strengthen relationships. The lives of the heroes in Scripture will continue to inspire. God will continue to speak His message to generations as long as this earth exists. That excites me! “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass, the grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25). I love this book and will study and preach it as long as I am able.