“Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:23-29 ESV)
It’s one of my favorite memories, one I’m sure I share with a lot of dads. My wife and I were at the neighborhood pool when our oldest daughter was just learning to swim. Being only about 2 years old, she was scared to jump in. I kept telling her I would catch her, but she was terrified to jump. She didn’t believe me. Finally, she closed her eyes and, with a shriek that made us slightly unpopular at the pool that day, jumped to my waiting arms. She’s been a swimmer ever since.
We are often like my daughter with God’s word. We know he is a good father, but we fail to trust his word. But, if you stop and think about it, perhaps the non-negotiable, core belief of Christianity is our trust in God’s word. After all, the chief difference between unbelievers and believers is that believers are, well, believers in God’s word
First, you can trust the Bible because it is God’s word. That may seem so obvious as to not even need mentioning. However, we can become familiar with the Bible to the point that we fail to grasp the fact that over 3500 times in the Old Testament alone, it tells us it is God’s word. “But,” someone might object, “Lots of other books claim to be God’s word. How do we know the Bible is God’s word?” The answer is disarmingly simple. We know the Bible is God’s word because no other supposed “holy book” can account for reality. An illustration may help to get at what I mean. As a new Christian, when I wrestled with this question, a wise friend recommended I actually read the other “holy books.” So I read portions of the Book of Mormon and the Qu’ran. Then I saw why my friend recommended that I do this, for these books are nothing like the Bible. They are full of contradictions and cannot stand up to rational scrutiny. But the Bible can and has. It is, as one old writer put it, the anvil that has worn out many hammers.
Second, you can trust the Bible because God has marvelously preserved it for us. We have over 5600 New Testament manuscripts, some dating within a few decades of when our Lord walked the earth. No other work of antiquity is anywhere close in terms of manuscripts preserved. For example, we have roughly seven manuscripts of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s work. And the earliest manuscript of Plato’s work dates about twelve hundred years after he lived. Yet, person after person cites Plato’s works confidently. Yet person after person continues to tell us the Bible is untrustworthy. Why? Because, despite the vast evidence for the Bible’s reliability, we would much rather believe what we want than what God says. Once again, sin is the issue. We fail to believe the Bible not because there is no evidence for its trustworthiness but because of what Paul tells us in 1 Cor 2:14: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are Spiritually discerned.” Until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, we will believe anything and everything but the Bible.
Third, you can trust the Bible because of what it tells us about God and ourselves. No other book is so honest about the failings of man and the grandeur of God. No other book presents us with a totally sovereign God who saves sinners by his sheer grace alone. Indeed, the two features that mark every false religion is that they either deny or add to the finished word of God and the finished work of Christ for sinners. No other book tells us that God loves us enough to do everything for our salvation, including killing his son in our place. In sum, the Bible gives us a unique view of God, a unique view of man, and a unique way of salvation, revealed in a unique collection of books. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the history of the human race.
This week, when you pull out your Bible or click on your Bible app on your phone or tablet, take a moment and be amazed. Amazed that, despite our sin, God loves us enough to let us in, as it were. He calls us friends (John 15:15). God is our friend—can you fathom that? And, like a good friend and good father, he tells us the truth. We need never fear that we cannot trust him, for, unlike us, he never lies, never fails, and never breaks a promise. Therefore, you can build your life on his word. You can trust everything he says, even when you can’t see how it can be. In the deepest, darkest times of our lives, his word will always shine brightly (Ps 119:105). When life doesn't make sense, his word speaks to us. When life is great, it directs our praise. Wherever we are, whoever we are, whatever we need, God’s word will be there with us. The old hymn sums it up perfectly: “How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent word! What more can he say, than to you he has said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”