Does the Bible include made-up stories to help us learn lessons, or did they actually happen?
On bookshelves in homes across the world there are copies of history’s best-selling book. In the period between 1815 and 1975, 5 billion copies of this book were sold. For millennia, people have heard or read the contents of this book and have tried to apply its wisdom and truth to their daily lives. Of course, the book we’re referring to is the Bible. Our approach to this book will have a profound impact upon how we see God, the world, and our role in relation to both of those things.
But, one of the most important things we should consider is what the Bible is not. The Bible is not a rule book. The Bible is not a collection of dusty doctrines only for religious professionals. The Bible is not an outdated relic of an ancient culture. Though the Bible contains commandments, doctrines, and a record of events that happened in times past, what it truly is runs much deeper than that.
The Bible is a story. Not a story in the sense of a fable or fairy tale but a narrative account of God’s activity in the world. The Bible tells of God’s true redemptive mission as recorded by human beings. Human authors wrote these texts over several thousand years in many genres: narrative, prophecy, poetry, wisdom, epistles, gospels, and more. These authors used all kinds of literary methods to communicate truth and wisdom about God to those hearing and reading the sacred words.
While it’s true that humans wrote these words, the Bible teaches that they wrote them under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16–17). As Christians, we can confidently say that every word of Scripture is true. However, we must be careful to understand the intent of the author in what he is communicating. The Bible does include stories intended to teach us lessons (e.g., parables, proverbs), but it also includes accurate retellings of historical events. So the short answer to both of our questions is a confident “Yes!”
Most importantly, we can be confident of the life-changing truth that God is speaking through the Bible. And, through the Bible and by His Spirit, God is speaking to you! Every day you can hear the life-changing truth and wisdom from God that will light up the path of your life. Through the Bible, God is revealing to you His very true account of His rescue of creation throughHis son, Jesus Christ.
This month’s “Ask a Pastor” is written by Chad Sykes, Associate Campus Pastor at the Gateway Southlake Campus.
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