The question about God is the most important question in human life. But no human ability can help us know God. We lack the capacity of thought, emotion or will to connect with Him. ”Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel”, admitted the Old Testament prophet (Isa. 45:15).
Still, it is possible for us to learn to know our God and Savior. This possibility is available because God has revealed Himself and shown His love towards us. We can learn to know Him because He has shown Himself and His will in His miraculous deeds, His sovereignty over the earth, His holy word and, first and foremost, His son Jesus Christ. Jesus’ life as a human being, His cross and resurrection are the unfailing foundation of our faith and salvation.
The Bible is God’s word
The Bible is a document of God’s special revelation. According to Christian faith, He is a living God who acts through human history to save people. God chose the history of the people of Israel as the setting of His work of salvation. He sent prophets to teach the people of Israel and gave them His law and promises. The ultimate promises were fulfilled in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus’ work in the world continues as the work of the Holy Spirit in His congregation (Christian Doctrine 1948,44), and at the end of this time Christ will return in His glory.
Jesus Christ is the key to the message of the Bible. The scriptures tell us about Him, first as a promise in the Old Testament, then as fulfilment in the New Testament. The Christian Doctrine of our church concludes accordantly: ”The main content of the Holy Bible is the message of Jesus Christ and the salvation that He has prepared for us (Christian Doctrine 1948, 7).
The Bible is the sacred book of Christians, the paramount Book among all others. Its origin and content are God’s word, although the texts have been written by people (2 Tim. 3:16). The human writers recorded the message they received through the Holy Spirit. The Christian Doctrine of our church says: ”The Holy Bible is God’s word recorded by holy people of God through the influence of the Holy Spirit.” (Christian Doctrine 1948, 5)
Status and authority of the Bible
For a Christian, the ultimate criterion for evaluating questions of faith is the holy word of God. The scriptures have been written as instruction (Rom. 15:4) and admonition (1 Cor. 10:11) for us. The Bible, the holy revelation of God, is the yardstick that should be used to evaluate all preaching and instruction.
These words of instruction date back to the Reformation: ”The prophetic and apostolic scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the only precept and guideline by which all doctrines and teachers should be tested and evaluated.” (Instruction for Unanimity).
The Bible is the decisive authority through which we should read and evaluate everything else. Only the Bible has the absolute supremacy that, according to Jesus, cannot be refuted (John 10:35). The holy scriptures are the security and the solid foundation of God’s congregation.
The Bible in the believer’s life
In both the Old and the New Testament those who endeavoured in faith were supported by a confident hope for the future. While Jerusalem was being besieged by King Nebuchadnezzar, the prophet Jeremiah bought a field in Anathoth. He understood that nothing is impossible for God, who can shape the destiny of His people. His promise was this: ”For I know the plans I have for you, – – plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 32, 29:11)
When the apostle Paul was brought before Felix to answer for his faith and actions, he relied on the holy scriptures and was confident in his faith and hope for resurrection. So also we, dear brothers and sisters, will have God’s word as a lamp for our feet and a light on our path (Ps. 119:105). The lamp does not always light a long stretch of the road ahead, but it will give enough light. It is good and safe to travel in this light on all days of our life.
Text: Olavi Voittonen
Source: Päivämies 4/2015
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä kieliliitteessä 24.11.2015.
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