How We Should Think About the Bible by John Stapleton

Bible

YouTuber John Stapleton shares on How We Should Think About The Bible (John 5:39-46). Be sure to subscribe to John’s Weekly Bible Blog. This video is also available as an Apple podcast below.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40, ESV)

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? (John 5:45-47). 

1) What The Bible Is

So what is the Bible and why does it matter? Well, the Bible tells us that it is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Your life is taking place in the context of a spiritual war for your soul and the Bible is your offensive weapon along with other defensive parts of your spiritual armor. If you don’t know your only spiritual weapon, you are unarmed spiritually and evil people can deceive you because you don’t know what God said. That’s why reading, memorizing, studying, and applying the word of God is so important! How did this look in the Bible?

2) The Bible Testifies To Itself

Jesus constantly asked, “Have you not read?” It was his way of recalling Scripture to the minds of his listeners. Jesus also would constantly quote scripture: “It is written,” so we know he memorized Scripture. This phrase shows up 80 times in the Bible, 73 of which is in the New Testament. In other words, the Bible interprets itself. Every time this phrase is found, it is the Bible’s way of testifying to itself.

In the Old Testament, this phrase is usually accompanied by “the Book of the Law of Moses” (Joshua 8:31), or, “the law of Moses” (1 Kings 2:3), or the “book of the Covenant” (2 Kings 23:21), or “law of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 31:3).  The New Testament thinkers shortened it to “it is written” which implies we are talking about the law. It is interesting whenever this shows up in the gospels because Jesus used Scripture to fight Satan (Matthew 4:4-10), to fight oppression (Matthew 21:13) and to understand the trajectory of his life (Matthew 26:31). Whenever Jesus would correct someone with the Bible, he would always ask, “Have you not read?” (Matthew 12:3, 5; 19:4; 22:31; Mark 12:10, 26; Luke 6:3). This is Jesus’ way of holding people accountable to what they have read since they have heard it but misunderstood it. This is Jesus’ way of showing his confidence in the scriptures as authoritatively from God.

3) Why You Need To Know the Bible

It’s important to know the Bible because Satan often twists Scripture (Genesis 3:1-3). Religious people use it but don’t understand it (John 5:39-40). Ignorant people also twist it to co-opt the Bible for their own agendas (2 Peter 3:16), and the majority of people will only listen to people who soft-sell the gospel (2 Timothy 4:3). In other words, there’s coming a time when there will be a famine for truth because it is hard to find due to the prevalence of false teachers. I would argue that we are already  there today.

4) Authority: The Bible Or The Church?

An old debate, dating back to the church fathers, is whether church leadership has the sole authority to interpret the Bible for the church, or whether individual believers within the church should have their own opportunity to dig in the scriptures themselves to know and understand what it says. This was a big question when most people in society did not read; it all comes down to the layperson being too stupid to understand the Bible. Even though most passages of the Bible will not be understood after looking at it for the first time, we have the capacity to learn and keep growing in our knowledge and application of it.

Yes, the average person did not go to seminary, but we have this promise from Jesus that “when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). We not only have the Spirit, but each other. Imagine a Bible study where everyone was taught by the Holy Spirit in their own private study and then came together to have Bible study and share their insights that the Spirit has given them. I would definitely want to be part of that study!

5) How To Use The Bible

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) | All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Teaching means educating people about God and faith in him. Reproof means it confronts and exposes us. Correction means that once it exposes us, it then reteaches the truth to us so we can improve or even revive. Training in righteousness means the Word of God is our coach who disciplines us as we are formed to be more like Christ.

6) Why Use The Bible?

2 Timothy 3:17 (ESV) | that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

“Complete” and “equipped” are synonymous in meaning. Complete means that we are capable and proficient. It is almost like receiving a degree that attests to how much we’ve invested in our own educational development. Equipped means “fitted out,” almost like a worker putting on his tool belt or a soldier strapping on gear. Paul’s point is that with the Bible, the Christian has everything they need to do God’s work.

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