My father-in-law loves the Bible. He loves reading, discussing, and sharing the words of God. Whenever I have some crazy, far-out-there, seemingly unanswerable theological question, I go to him. His eyes light up as soon as I pose my query and he immediatly reaches for his Bible.
He pats the couch spot next to him, inviting me to come sit, so that we can read and discover together what the Lord has to say. I cherish these moments.
My father-in-law is also known to ask his hundreds (yes, hundreds) of disciples that if all of the Bibles in the world were burned up tomorrow–in one massive, heaping bonfire–how much, if any, of the scriptures would we be able to recite and remember?
Okay, so now that you’re all convicted and squirmy, allow me continue…
I’m pretty terrible at memorizing scripture, but don’t worry, this isn’t a post about how to build your scripture memorization muscle in 10 easy steps. Um, no.
Because, while the question my father-in-law poses should (and I mean, it does) inspire me to memorize more verses, what it really does it has me asking myself another question altogether:
Can you be a follower of Jesus Christ without the Bible?
Let’s imagine (in horror) for a moment that all of the Bibles on the planet really were burned. No more. Gone. Poof.
Would we, as the church, still be able to proclaim, preach, and preserve the Gospel of Jesus Christ? You know, Bible-less…?
My husband and I have talked about this idea quite a few times because, so often, we see believers exalt the Bible to that of an idol. They worship at the altar of the New Testament or the New American Standard. They says things like “If ____ isn’t in the Bible, then forget it,” or they begin everything with “Well, God’s word tells us…”
A while back, I wrote a post that asked the question: What is the Most Important Type of Church? Is it the church that focuses on Jesus, or the Bible, or the Spirit? The answers were varying, but it did cause many people to comment and state that they believe we cannot actually be followers of Jesus without the Bible itself (when reposted elsewhere, to be clear).
But, I ask, how can that be? If the Acts church only had portions of the Old Testament as we know it, and none of the New Testament, how is it then that they were able to add thousands to their numbers while preaching one thing only: Jesus Christ.
They had no book of Ephesians or 1 Corinthians. No letter of exhortation from Paul or practical admonishment from James. It was just them, gathering in the name of Christ, loving God and one another, breaking bread, selling their possessions, living in unity.
More than that, the early church couldn’t have known that generations later there would be a new “Bible” as it were. They weren’t necessarily counting on a New Testament to be the message delivered to those yet to come.
No, there was only one plan for spreading the Good News of Jesus: His Church. The very people of God. Within the church, God gave man one primary vehicle to convert, train, and multiply those within the church, and that means is through discipleship.
Oh, and let us not forget that the Holy Spirit alone–God coming to take residence in us–also marked the beginning of the church. When I consider these three things–the church as a whole, discipleship, and the Spirit–I can say with total confidence that we do not need the Bible in order to chase after Christ.
Of course, that is not to say that I am not thankful for scripture, because I am. My life has been transformed by the words of God, but not only by the words of God. Scripture, while active and living, has not been the only way I receive revelation or grow in the faith. We love a multi-faceted, infinite God. He can certainly teach us and guide us through various means, scripture being merely one of them.
70 thoughts on “The Bible-less Christian”
There are countless stories of Jesus appearing to people throughout history, and these people had no knowledge of the Bible. However, in His revelation to them, He spoke Scripture. After these experiences, these people were compelled to seek out further understanding and, in doing so, gleaned confirmation through the Bible that their experiences were indeed of the true, the only, God.
I believe that churches/individuals who idolize the Bible without countenancing the Spirit not only do themselves harm, but also risk restricting their disciples from discovering the fullness of the Gospel. The Gospel isn’t just the Bible, it’s the Word of God–Jesus–who reveals Himself to us continually, even now, through the Holy Spirit. And we know Him, we learn about Him, we receive confirmation and instruction from His early followers, through the Scriptures, but their words have far less gravity if they just act as a textbook.
To truly be the Church, we must live out the supernatural power that is displayed from Genesis to Revelation, and this is only done through spirit-filled relationship with Jesus.
Francis Chan is right when he reminds us of the forgotten God, the Holy Spirit, who uses the Bible to bring conviction, correction, instruction, encouragement, empowerment. Without the Holy Spirit, the Bible is just a history book, examining kings, and prophets, and radical evangelists, and fiery apostles. But it isn’t merely a history book filled with feisty people. We know that their stories are powerful not simply because they knew God’s word; their stories will never die because they knew God and did His will, according to the Holy Spirit within them.
Imagine if we followed in their leading.
I love everything you wrote and you said it so well. And this: “To truly be the Church, we must live out the supernatural power that is displayed from Genesis to Revelation, and this is only done through spirit-filled relationship with Jesus.”
That is the crux and the truth of it. Jesus did not say, it was better for Him to leave so that we might have the Bible. He said it would be better so that the Helper could come and live inside of us, empowering us to do the work of the Kingdom.
Bam: yes. Empowerment. I think a few too many sermons I’ve heard share a lot of Scripture to point out the problem and universalities of the human/spiritual condition, but in these instances I’ve left church feeling guilty and powerless. When the Spirit comes alongside the Word, it’s emboldening, empowering, life-giving. We sin less.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Jesus was the Bible!
Renee, I love what you’ve said and agree whole-heartedly.
the Lord knows his own Bibles are precious but not vital-the church depends on Jesus for salvation-not on the Bible. The Holy Spirit can teach us, even without the Bible.
I know a lot of Christians who live that way already.
As for your thoughts, you’re right to a point…they did preach Jesus Christ but they also preached the lessons that He taught during His time here. It was more than just salvation through Him. He gave them lessons, practical examples and even radical thoughts that guided them. So if we followed what Jesus actually said, we would have a firm basis like those folks did who didn’t have “the Bible”.
Jason, when you said “I know a lot of Christians who live that way already” what did you mean? Do they actually make attempts at following Jesus and be Christ-like or are you referring to the Sunday morning crowd that likes the idea of being a Christian, but don’t actually make any effort to follow Jesus? Just curious. As for the other stuff, it is true that Jesus taught them stories, but they were only to underscore what He modeled for them. He gave lots of commands, but they all boil down to really 4. Love God, love others, be my witness and make disciples. Without “the bible”, conceivably, we could still be obedient to those.
And, to reference the bible, Paul said, “I preach Christ and Him crucified.” That’s it. The stories are surely beneficial, but I’m pretty sure there’s to come a day (during the end times) when possession of a bible will be punishable. There are a lot of countries where that is the already the case, and many of the churches have either very few or portions and are still able to make disciples of Jesus that love Him. For what it’s worth, there’s my ¥2 (I’m stationed in Japan, so that’s actually Yen and waaaaaaay less than 2 cents.). Nicole, great question & post.
Great points and clarification. Love the reference to 1 Corinthians 2:2. Stripped down to only that which is necessary, this should be the response on every believer’s lips.
Blessings and thanks for adding to the conversation!
So what you’re saying is, if we actually practice what has been preached we would have enough of a foundation in Christ? Agreed!
Great post, I have thought of this many times over the years. I have questioned commitment to so many of our Christian idols, doctrines, buildings, worship, denominations and even the bible for some. I do believe that we could (and many are now) able to do more than survive without the written word, (we could flourish) as long as we do know the Living Word. There are many in recent history who have lived in oppressive countries, who are not allowed to possess a bible, who are following Christ daily. They gather together to worship Him, and share Him corporately. Many share from memory portions of scripture that they have memorized.
In some ways, I envy these dear saints, who have been stripped of everything except Christ. I am not saying I would want to trade places with them, I just can’t help but thinking in a lot of ways they may be closer to Him, simply because they don’t have all these avenues of distraction the we travel on.
Wow, you just painted such a simplistic and yet beautiful portrait for me of those who gather in Jesus name, where it is perhaps not safe to gather. Who praise the One and Only Name, who worship in truth and in spirit, unencumbered by the laws of man, and set free by the God of freedom.
My heart sings at this and I know the Lord’s does, as well. The Living Word, as you said, is all we really need.
Interpreting the scripture alone as the Word of God has led to the dysfunctional condition we see today in what is called ‘church’ today. You can read into the Bible just about any position you want. You can tag Jesus’ name onto your position, and ‘poof’ you have the making of a following. My 17 years in a cult taught me several lessons, chief among them was you and I can ‘read’ into the scripture some downright crazy stuff.
Just how do we have such division within what is to be one…His Body, His Bride, His Home.
Please understand that I’m not in any way against the Bible, it is very helpful, yet the Word of God is a Living Person in Jesus Christ. He ever faithful and true. His unchallenged, and unequaled ability to give us eyes to see, and ears to hear. This as I understand is the very crux of the matter.
You cannot be born from above by the written word, yet the Living Word is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
I treasure my Bible, I cling to my Savior, He is indeed everything.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Amen and amen! What truth and wisdom you shared here. And this: “You cannot be born from above by the written word, yet the Living Word is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I treasure my Bible, I cling to my Savior, He is indeed everything.” Well-said, friend. Thank you for sharing!
Nicole, I think you are dead on with this. Anything that becomes the only means of relating to God will become God to us. Whether it is a pope, preacher, evangelist, doctrine or the scriptures, they cannot become our only conduit to God. We are called to know God, these other things are merely ways of learning about God. Thank you for having the courage to write this!
both “yes” and “no”, absolutely, and with no dichotomy.
Your question presents an unknown requisite, since the Scriptures have been both memorized and (more often) written — though not in mere phonetics — to the hearts of men & women. Burn every transcribed copy and you have still not removed the Bible from the earth!
The Scriptures, what we have of them, are a gift/grace to us, though not as much the greater gift of The Word (which is Christ, living). Can I live without the love letters I hold? Do I want to? Even if the house burns down with everything in it, I will carry these letters in my heart.
With all the erroneous ideas being thrown around in the name of Christ these days, I believe we should simply be thankful that we have the Bible. Following the example of the Bereans and searching the scriptures “to find whether these things are true” is never a bad idea. Paul’s letters to Timothy indicate that the early church had more than a few portions of scripture and all of the letters show that the apostles were well versed in OT teaching. Having spent a lot of time talking with Jewish people I have learned to use the OT books to show Jesus without needing to resort to the New Testament.
With the current anti-Chritian, politically correct trends it isn’t paranoia to foresee a time when the Bible might well become a forbidden book. Of course we have the Holy Spirit to guide us but those scriptures committed to memory would also remain a check on whether what we’re hearing is true.
Considering how many unbiblical fences and boundaries we like to put up, not having the Bible to tear some of those fences down would make Christianity a crippling religion.
At the same time, there are many who use their own interpretation of the scriptures, not the scriptures themselves, as a means to put up fences and boundaries, and thus use the Bible to make Christianity a crippling religion. Not suggesting that we throw out the Bible by any means, but the lack of the Bible and the improper use of it can both be very crippling.
The “Bible” was not canonized until the end of the fourth century, and that wasn’t even an ecumenical decision, it was a Council held in Carthage that St Augustine headed. The Eastern Churches didn’t even accept the decision of that council.
Before the printing press, most people didn’t have copies of all of the books that collectively came to be known as the Bible. Plus, you could only bind so many sheets of papyrus, so for several hundred years the books weren’t all together.
While the Bible is crucial to our understanding God, I agree that Protestant Christians tend to idolize scripture. Jesus established the Church, he didn’t establish a Bible. A lot of people probably won’t like this, but the Bible is a product of Church Tradition, the Church is not a product of the Bible.
That’s EXACTLY how I feel too!
Good to have you back Nicole :-). For real. Couple thoughts…
* I think it’s fair to point out that we wouldn’t know or have much of the conclusions we have about the early church and God without the very writings we speak of. In other words, the reason we know the early church grew and lived in unity because of the Holy Spirit IS because of scriptures. (i.e we know of ACTS because of ACTS).
How do we know (like you concluded) that scripture is not the only way God speaks to us? Through scriptures right?
* Also think its important to note that we know some of the writers (Peter in particular) did allude to knowing they were writing inspired words. Not saying they knew the bible would be the bible like we know it. But Peter didn’t just know Paul’s writing was inspired but he actually compared it to the OT sacred scriptures which is HUGE in my opinion (2 Peter 3:15-16)
* I guess I’m also having a hard time seeing how an embrace of the bible would limit us in pursuit of God in any way because it seems to me that the more I engage the bible, the more compelled and convicted I am to do the very things you speak of. Be the church. Disciple and rely on the Holy Spirit.
If the bible doesn’t push us towards the things God pushed the early church to then I’d contend the problem is probably not that we have too much scripture but too much us.
Maybe I’m missing the point but to me it seems like the bible is the fountain that leads me to all these joys and freedoms you speak of.
All that to say, why can’t I have my cake and eat it too? :-)
Hope this makes some sense. Good thoughts Nicole.
I love this and it follows my train of thought. Could we live as Christians without the Bible and share Christ? Absolutely. Should we? Not when it is available. Jesus quoted scriptures and said that he came “not to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” There have been hundreds of martyrs throughout time who died. We know that Jesus is a living Messiah who fulfilled prophecy and rose from the dead as a result of the Bible. I don’t “worship my Bible” and heck, I wouldn’t even claim to understand it even a little bit without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but I also don’t want it going anywhere :).
Yes! Sammy pretty much summed up my feelings here. I’m more of a both/and kinda gal. :) This post certainly got me thinking.
Could Christianity survive without the bible? Absolutely. It might even do us some good. There’s certainly a tendency to idolize the written word, forgetting that the eternal Word is ever-present, ever-faithful, ever-teaching.
That said, I’m ever so grateful that I have the scriptures to study and to read. As you point out, the majority of the Christians of the past never had access to the bible on a personal level – the early church hadn’t canonized them yet, and until the printing press revolutionized things, even later followers of Christ only heard scripture from priests at church. I’m glad I live in a time where I can study and learn and read and process on a day-to-day basis – it’s a luxury I often take for granted.
Amazing comments, Nicole. You crystallized my thoughts on Bible worship perfectly (and more coherently than I ever have). The question reminds me of how lost we’d probably be without our GPSes or maps.
This was a great post, and you ask a great question. I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about the idea, but I’ve definitely brought up the same thing in conversations with people. We DO tend to idolize the Bible and look to IT for everything. Don’t get me wrong; I love the Bible, but I want to make sure my faith isn’t in the Bible but in God. I think many people unconsciously equate them because they think “the Bible is God’s Word” so because it “comes directly from God” then it has everything God wants us to know and do. Even when I’ve asked people about the Holy Spirit teaching them, they just say that the HS will not do anything new but just teach/remind people what is already in the Bible.
Great post, Nicole! Reminds me of a song by Downhere, asking the same question (and a few others). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls-CNruapm4
The Eastern Orthodox would say that the Bible is commentary on the essential core of Christianity which is an unbroken chain of Eucharistic liturgy from the Acts 2 church to today. If the Bible disappeared, then almost everything that comprises the Bible would still be passed down orally as part of this liturgy. Orthodox bishops basically have to memorize the entire Psalter and probably significant chunks of the rest of it.
My thoughts as well, Morgan.
Jesus told His disciples that He would build His Church. When we look at what the New Testament really is, Holy Spirit inspired means of communicating the truth of Jesus and how the Church should operate, it seems to me that this is Jesus doing exactly that. The first century church didn’t have the New Testament because they were the guys who wrote it. Did God need to do that to build His Church? No. If all the Bible disappeared today, would that prevent God from building His Church? No.
Christianity doesn’t merely survive because of the Bible. We survive, first and foremost, because of the God who holds His people together in this type of community.
Would anyone be so bold as to take on the challenge? To continue from henceforth, being a Christian without the Bible? I know I wouldn’t.
Interesting conversations! I hear what you’re saying, Nicole, and I agree with some who have posted that at some point, the Bible may indeed be unavailable or not allowed (as it is in some countries already). However, I think that the Bible teaches us the foundations of God- especially what disciples look like, history of how God’s worked in the past, not to mention being a fantastic “road map” about how to become more like Jesus. Can we do it without the Bible? Sure- God’s not limited to spread His word and His message and develop disciples. However, should we? Why would we neglect a huge portion of teaching and wisdom if we have it available? The early church learned from people that had walked with Jesus; although we have the Spirit within us, His message can often become garbled with our sin nature and misunderstanding. I think that’s where Scripture comes in, to check the “feelings” or “revelation” we receive from God with what the Bible says. Like checks and balances in our government. ;)
I disagree, for the most part. If the Scripture disappeared today, the first generation of believers would probably do just fine. The second generation would slip by. By the third generation, though, systemic error would grip the church, and heresy would reign thereafter.
The Scriptures might not be essential for the individual believer living in community because that believer gleans truth from the community as a whole. But the community as a whole absolutely needs scripture in order to avoid drifting into error. History has shown that (e.g. the Catholic church in the 15th century; the Acts church after the Apostles died but before the NT letters became widely available) and Scripture teaches as much (e.g. Titus 1:9).
Also, to address another issue that has been raised, the Acts Church did have the entire Old Testament (In both Greek and Hebrew), and they quote it 300 times. They also recognized Paul’s writings as Scripture no later than C.E. 52. Paul, when writing 1 Thessalonians, said, “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God” (1 Thes 2:13, cf. 2 Pet 3:16)
So Paul wrote with the self-understanding that he was writing the Word of God (Scripture). It wasn’t a 3rd century council that made Scripture Scripture. It was the Authority that Jesus gave to the Apostles, and the Holy Spirit who moved them to write with that authority.
Having said all that, I totally understand the impulse of everyone who wants to say, “Jesus is enough; the gospel is enough”. In a sense that’s very true. God could of course work a miracle and save the world by a message as long as the apostles creed. But History shows that the Church normally drifts into error over time unless Scripture is allowed to correct our course. So I believe we need it. And I thank God for giving it.
I think we need to be cautious about saying we don’t need the Bible. It’s true that we do not worship the Bible and that some people make it an idol above God, His Son and the Spirit, studying it for its own sake. However, it’s clear that God intended His word to be more than just any other words. Remeber that Jesus is the Word made flesh! I think before we say that we could be followers of Jesus without the Bible, we need to first have it taken from us. Of course it is possible because others have done it out of necessity. However, as it is, we have the word, and I am willing to assume that, at least for me, that means God in His sovereignty thinks that I still need it. Someday if that isn’t the case and all the Bibles are burned up or taken away, then I’m sure by his spirit He will sustain us. And if that time comes, I’m sure we will look with hunger to one another for help to remember His sweet words to us.
My personal feelings are to many of us Christians worship the Bible more than we worship God. The Bible to me are the words of God. The Word we are to worship is the true, living, inerrant Word of God, which John 1:1 tells us…in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. I take that to mean the Word of God is Jesus. As long as we have Jesus we can proclaim the gospel, live a victorious life and enjoy His fellowship even without the Bible.
Thank you for this courageous and exploratory post!
Since leaving Bible college and moving to Gainesville, Florida last year, I have followed the Lord’s leading on scripture reading and memorization (in the past, I would do both compulsively or out of guilt). It has been interesting. I do not read the Bible every day, but it is great to hear the testimony of various saints, as well as the letters of instruction and encouragement as the Lord leads in certain situations.
I think the key is to live by the Lord’s life, which is not found exclusively in translated scripture. Words are a revelation of Jesus Christ, but not the sole revelation.
PS I dig the shutout to Jamal. He’s a good brother, and actually how I found your blog!
Absolutely agree. Christ is not “in” the Bible. His story is there, and the words he spoke are living and active. But Christ transcends the Bible. Jesus is in us. All the Bibles in the world could disappear but Jesus Christ would still be present in this world because we are his ambassadors- his living, breathing testaments.
At first when I read your question about if you can be a follower of Christ without the Bible I immediately in my mind responded no, but you made a good point in that the desciples back then (after Jesus’ resurrection) didn’t have the new testament to read, they received some letters from the apotles but each individual did not have the letters. So what did they have back then? How did they follow Jesus? Jesus’ followers back then were filled with the Holy Spirit and did not grieve the Spirit like many do today, they followed the Lord through revelation, and we can only receive revelation from God when we have a personal relationship with the person of the Holy Spirit.
Many people or I would say most people now days do not cultivate their relationship with the Spirit, He is a person, you can speak to him just as we speak to Jesus in prayer, and its this relationship that causes us to be sensitive to his moving and therefore he speaks to us and reveals things to us, in how to deal with things and how to live a life pleasing to the Lord.
Many people today do not have this personal relationship with the Spirit but they do have the Scriptures and yet many Christians neglect the Word. So if you don’t have revelation from the Spirit or the word, then you can’t follow Jesus, because then you don’t really have a relationship with him. Remember, Jesus wants a bride, someone who is devoted to him, not a date or fickle friend.
The Church in China is on fire for God, and became so with very few Bibles. Meanwhile, the Church in America is declining, with Bibles all over the place. Like the Chinese (and others), we need to hunger for the Word of God contained in the Bible, but it can’t be our source of Life. As you said, that job is taken by Jesus. At the same time, if we want to know Him, it helps to spend more time in the Bible. Sadly, many do not.
I agree entirely. The Bible is very important, yes. But at the end of the day, are we striving to have a relationship with and be more like Christ? Or are we trying to be “better Christians” by seeing how much religious literature we can stuff ourselves with?
What I’d really like to ask anyone who says we cannot be followers of Christ without the Bible, is what about our persecuted brothers and sisters? What about those who aren’t free to practice their faith, whose countries have made the Bible illegal? What about these Christians who spend so much of their life searching for what so many of us are free to read and recite anywhere we choose to? Do they not also have commitments to God? Does Christ not also live in their hearts?
I believe the Bible is important, but I believe just as well that it is nothing without working to solidify our spiritual connection with God.
Another question… Do you believe the Bible is black and white, or shades of gray?
Being very hypothetical here, please entertain this question. If by some government rule the Bible is banned, and so in every form. Zero, zip, zilch. And lest say it happens tomorrow. Then fast forward 50 years, is there still a Ekklesia? Could the Bride of Christ vanish from the face of the earth? Could Gods eternal purpose be wrecked?
Please remember the Ekklesia is Jesus, as indicated when Christ asked Saul “why do you persecute ME?”
I’ve come a long way when I say this, but I DO believe that Scripture is often elevated to the 4th member of the Trinity (Quadrinity?).
Of course, like some of your commenters have stated, when God reveals Himself and speaks, it does involve Scripture. Maybe not at first, but eventually He will lead someone to His written truth.
Your father-in-law sounds wonderful and reminds me of my grandpa.
Intriguing questions here… These types of discussion should always just be fun and fascinating. While I agree that the Acts 2 believers were the method of spreading the good news of Jesus, and that many persecuted Christians around the world often only have scraps of handwritten Bible sections, I still think they all grabbed firmly to that word as their only means of really growing. Most proper “good Jewish-raised” boys :) would have memorized huge chunks of the Pentateuch which they could recite and discuss, plus we know that in Acts 17:11 that the Bereans “examined the scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true.”
Tricky. Can I be a Christian without a Bible tomorrow? Yes, I could continue in what I have learned, but I think it would be easy for me to slowly shoot off course the further I traveled without his word as a compass. Speaking of which, I haven’t picked my Bible up yet this morning… :) Need to do that.
Have a great week, Nicole. Thanks for asking the question.
When I first learned to drive, I had to read the instruction manual to understand the rules of the road. The book wasn’t necessary once I learned to properly maneuver the car. The Bible is also an instruction manual for those seeking to know God. But the problem arises when we find ourselves ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of Him. We need to learn how to lift those words from the pages and apply them to our lives by the power of His Spirit. Essentially, get off the milk and mature in Him. The Father’s name becomes written in our hearts and we become living Bibles to others who are seeking truth.
I thank God for His Word because it lead me to His heart and it is filled with His deepest thoughts and precious promises. Every time I read it, something new appears. Is the Bible they only thing I rely on? Certainly not. I see Him revealed in nature, in history, through music and the arts, in worship and prayer, in His interaction in people’s lives and in that still small voice that guides me every day. He is the living Word.
The whole of scripture declares Jesus , and our union with Him.From Genesis to Revelation , Himself and His heart to be ONE with us , in and thru us is the theme.The accomplishment of this by Jesus and the manifestation of Himself IN us fulfills Gods Heart, is our reality and fulfillment , and is the only hope for the world to know Him in truth.To not see the scripture in THIS context , explains why many of us (like Neo in the Matrix) knew something was wrong , but couldn’t quite put our finger on it .Trying to operate outside of being One with Jesus individually and corporately explains the “mess” we have made , all the while justifying the mess by the very scriptures we do not understand.May we SEE what the bible declares , live by the LIFE it declares we NOW have , and LOVE all with His Love.We may not have the scriptures with us at all times , but we do have ONE in us all the time that All the scriptures declare :)
Very well stated bro.
“We may not have the scriptures with us at all times , but we do have ONE in us all the time that All the scriptures declare”
Well *RE-stated* Jim. That is it, right there.
Amen, Amen and Amen
If the Bible is a how-to book, then Christians and churches are powerless without it. In fact, if all the Bibles went away, Christians would make their own how-to books. Look at the Mormons.
If the Bible is a who-is book, then we could get by without the pages, but we would need to quickly ramp up the discipline of telling Jesus’s story and gossiping the gospel. Come to think of it, that not a bad discipline to develop, regardless.
Thanks Nicolle for this thought provoking post and to everyone who took the time to comment. I am new to this blogging society and it’s been great getting to know everyone.
Joel I like your blog about the Linux Church, “All we need is the Holy Spirit and a Bible and each other.” Putting it all together, the church is powerful when the power that inspired those pages is allowed to live inside of individual believers. If another Bible could be written based on God’s power at work in the lives of modern day people, I wonder if our story would be in it.
Great post, Nicole! I always say, “GOD is bigger than the bible”.
Thanks for your thoughts. And Thank God!
As a historical document of thr life of Christ, the New Testament is our chronicle. I am not sure about all of these later books, but certainly Revelation needs to be torn out. Torn out along with half of the Old Testament which is riddled with the worldly tendencies of pre-Christian mankind. And in its place, we need a few new books, about the greatest discipleship since. It is 2000 more years! Where is the Book of Francis, the Book of Mahatma? Why are we stuck on the horrible and superstitious nightmares of John of Patmos (whoever he was) in Revelation, as the last word from our living God? No, He has not willed such a history upon us! This is a disgrace and the sin, of almost every Christian church. But it is only endemic, of the following ancient superstition which lives on the bible and in our churches.
The myth of predestination, is an unending smear on our God. Yes we know: He could do it, He could do anything. But why would the loving and generous God who brought us our life, the Earth, and Jesus to save us from ourselves, apply his power in such a calculating and closed-ended way? I believe He has not, that He would not give us free will on the Earth, simply to make us into puppets on His string.
Therefore, our prayers and our actions do make a difference in this world and perhaps, God Willing, the next. You see, the Second Coming is simply within us all. We have been given the gospels of Jesus but grasped it only in part, and one day out of seven. We are still held back by all of our human worldliness, INCLUDING these books and these churches that purport to deliver his word.
Jesus never refered to the scriptures (which during His time was the Old Testament)? What was it that Jesus was talking about in Matt 24:1-31 and Matt 24:36-44. Were these just parables aswell?
Should we tear the book of Matthew out, which proclaims Jesus’ teaching, death and ressurection and Jesus’ foretelling of what is to come?
Should we get rid of Mark and Luke as well?
Revalations confirms what Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24.
Jesus said, ” So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel…” Should we tear out the major prophets in the Old Testament aswell?
If you claim that God has not willed such history upon us, you go against the Word, Jesus.
The older I get, the more I question the validity of the written bible. I pretty much have had to throw it all out to get on with my life. Church? Please. I find myself having to unlearn most of what I accepted as true — especially that which has been filtered through a pastor, teacher, etc.
Television preachers are the worst.
The hypothesis probably isn’t realistic. The Bible is not going to disappear. But the point remains valid. Is the Living Word pre-eminent or the written word? To me that’s a no-brainer. If the Bible has any authority at all, it would be because it points to and reflects the Living Word. And if we believe the Bible, the Living Word is not dead but is resurrected and continues to speak to us. I strongly recommend reading and reflecting upon scripture, but in the end it does not fully explain itself. Unless we are guided by the Holy Spirit, we can get seriously off course if we are just relying on the written word. There are a legion of examples of that happening.
My own blog post from years ago, Why I am evangelical but not an Evangelical, addresses this in more depth. I invite people to read it at http://billsamuel.net/blog/?p=18
The Bible is nothing more and nothing less than the God-breathed testimony of God’s people. God continues to breathe in our world today. What we do is come up with standards as a community for evaluating the reliability of the testimony people share. The Bible is the testimony that has been most definitively validated as authentic by God’s people. To have a Bible is the inevitable result of having a community that shares, discerns, and records testimony. But I agree with the basic point that we shouldn’t idolize the Bible. Look at Acts 15 and how the early church actually modeled Biblical discernment. It’s pretty surprising. http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/how-does-the-bible-model-biblical-discernment-acts-15/
I’m really late coming to this but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed your post and agreed with it. It seems to me that in some ways the Bible has become the fourth member of the Godhead, the one that we are most comfortable with because we can see it and hold it but I cannot get away from the fact that Jesus never wrote anything down ( except once in sand ), and he never told his disciples to write anything down. What he told them was to wait for the Holy Spirit who would lead them into all the truth. God has made provision for us without having to have an instruction manual, He is alive, very real and living within each one of us .
You forget that when Christians never had the Word of God in its complete form, they had the Prophets. God always guides His people… then, and now. He has not left us without a compass. That compass was the Prophets in the past, now it is the written Word. To remove the Bible from Christianity and claim such is legit, is to remove that compass. Removing the Word from Christianity is in fact worse than what the Catholic Church does re the Bible. They ADD other books AND oral tradition AND the decrees of their own Church. What you are essentially doing is the opposite, i.e. leaving the Christian with NOTHING. At least nothing that is immutable, but subjective experience instead to take its place. Moreover, Christ is oftentimes described by Scripture as the ‘Word’ of God where, this means and directly refers to the WRITTEN Word as well.
Rodger, if the Bible is to be man’s “compass”, then it is most obviously a hidden compass. Maintenance of thousands of “Christian” denominations speaks to how the Bible-compass is long being read/interpreted in a great variety of ways. However the Spirit sent as promised is able to “teach you all things” — to accurately realize what is being spoken (by the prophets, or by epistle, or by account) well beyond what simple English is capable of conveying. I’ve yet to meet anyone laying claim to “follow the Bible” who is actually doing it. Those who “follow Christ”, yes, they can be observed truly listening and doing the resolve/will of our Father in Christ. So often for the religious, the Scriptures have become excuse or recourse to avoid God in this life.
This article has given so much peace to my heart! I don’t attend church regularly or read the Bible much at all (although I am very familiar with its stories, like the Tower of Babel, Esther, the Gospels, Revelation, etc.), but I love the Lord more than I could ever scream!
When I do go to church-related event centered around young people my age, the only thing they emphasize is, “Read your Bible.” We’ve all heard that message several times before, whether we truly follow through or not. But I’m sitting there thinking, “Okay, well, while we’re all here together in one room, can we worship now? Preach a sermon? Do prayer-requests? Share anything wonderful we’ve learned or experienced this week? Actually READ from the Bible right NOW? We just spent the last 30 minutes talking about the importance of daily Bible reading. If I wanted that advice, I would have googled it.”
Christians put such a huge emphasis on reading that I was beginning to feel like I should be reading solely because I’m “supposed to,” because it’s the “thing to do.” Then there’s the people that tell you how you should read the Bible and how much of it each day. It was starting to feel like a religion with God rather than a relationship. I began to stress out and my relationship with God was actually weakening greatly, I think because I was focusing more on how to worship than actually worshiping Him the way I always have.
I’m still growing as a believer, but all I can say is our faith shouldn’t be measured by how many verses we read each day.
Right on target. Let’s think about it for a moment….
The Bible is simply a collection of letters written to churches that were not living the life of the Spirit. (And I’m not talking about the craziness seen in many of today’s churches that pass as works of the Spirit) If those churches had not had any problems, then those letters would not have been written. They were written directly to those churches. Of course, we can glean from those same letters. But to think we can’t live without the book is not true. We are called to live by the Spirit, not a book.
The first century Christians did not have a Bible to rely upon. Instead, they had the Spirit, the one promised by God to lead them into all truth. This fact goes to show what is so drastically wrong with today’s Christianity. We no longer have the concept of what it means to live a spiritual life. When a Buddhist has a better understanding of a spiritual life (although a wrong one) then we have a problem.
Without the Bible, Christianity would eventually evolve into something unrecognizable. It is our anchor. Only the words written in the Bible can light our path. Without it, men would distort every word just as the serpent did with Eve. People do that even with us having a Bible. Imagine what they would do without one? It would open the door to every kind of teaching. The Bible and Jesus go hand in hand. They are inseparable.
So, I like the question posed here. As a “Bible Believing Christian” since 1996, I’ve come full circle, and then some, regarding the Bible.
I first encountered the resurrected Jesus after reading More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell. Soon after I became an apologist for the faith and loved debating the scholarship of all things Christian. Even today. But as time went on, things began to change.
In a nutshell I found that the answer wasn’t so simple regarding scripture. Where did I find this info? From Christian scholars who specialize in Texual Critisism, which is the endeavor to get to the original Greek manuscripts as best as possible. Three of my go-to’s are Bruce Metzger, Daniel Wallace and Darrell Bock. They are all considered defenders of the faith. These are friendly voices for Christians. I fact Metzger was one of the scholars in The Case For Christ by Strobbel.
After reading and listening to their works, you realize that history relating to the Bible and how we got it and so on are much messier than I ever thought. I’ll throw a few examples out of what I’m talking about.
Take one of the greatest stories on the Bible, The Woman Caught In Adultry found in the book of John I think. Most scholars agree that story was never in the original scripture! It was a later addition. They do think it was a real story that Jesus did, but the oldest manuscripts don’t have the story on them.
Another interesting messy point is that there are missing verses from the modern translations. I’m not even closes to a KJ Only person, but the verses are only found in the Greek that the KJV used which are much older manuscripts from the Middle Ages. The oldest Greek manuscript don’t have those verses. So if you go to, say Acts 8:37 in your NIV Bible, you will notice something weird, it isn’t there at all. It just skips right to verse 38. So it reads 36, 38. You would have to look in footnotes to see what’s up. So, the gist of the thing is that the Greek New Testament that the KJV and NKJV is translated from is markedly different than the Greek New Testament the other versions translate from. Now to be fair, the differences are nothing major and don’t effect essential Christian doctrine, but they are different enough to where you can’t say they both are right. One is closer to the original Word Of God them the other.
Another issue, speaking of “The Gist” is that it is apperant the New Testament writers were ok with just giving The Gist of what Jesus said and did then giving an actual account. If you look at many of the same stories in the different gospels, you see that they are reporting the same event but with different details that should be the exact same. Like when Jesus was baptized, what exactly did God say to Him? Well, you get different wording in each gospel. No major differences, but the point is, God only said the one thing to Jesus there and we don’t know what it is based on the gospel accounts. Does it mean it all never happened? Nope, it happened, but the writers are a little loose on details. Or take the accounts of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness: the gospels give a different order of events. Someone got it wrong or they actually didn’t care to get it perfect and the gist was considered good enough for them. But regardless, according to the Bible worshippers this shouldn’t be the case.
In regards to the writers being comfortable giving the gist of things instead of a perfect accounting, look at the writers quotes of the Old Testament. If you actually go to the Old Testament and look up what they are quoting, it is no where near the actual quote and in some cases you can’t even find the quote anywhere. But at the very least, the New Testament writers did not take great care to quote every jot and title. You can’t find their wording in the Hebrew or the Geeek Septuagint. So again, it messier than I always thought.
One last thing, the earliest church fathers did not consider the New Testament letters on par with scripture from the Old Testament. You can read it for yourself but it’s true. They considered Jesus’s Words on par, but not the apostolic writings.
So, in closing I am trying to come to grips with all this. Right now I firmly believe in the Gospel, there is no disputing that, but when it comes to peripheral doctrine, things can get a little dicey for me. Like the original poster said, there was no New Testament for the early church, for centuries yet they were able to preach the Gospel and live in Gospel centered community be joyess for their forgiveness of sins. Right now that’s all I know for certainty.
Since you don’t read the Word of God, you have missed the several times that Jesus himself refers back to Scriptures and asks his disciples, HAVE YOU NOT READ?! ;
“Have ye not read what David did…” (Matthew 12:3).
“Or have ye not read in the law…” (Matthew 12:5).
“Have ye not read, that he which made them…” (Matthew 19:4).
“Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes…” (Matthew 21:16 ).
“Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone…” (Matthew 21:42).
“Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God…” (Matthew 22:29).
“But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read…” (Matthew 22:31).
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
Not only are you missing out on the teachings of Jesus by not reading the Word of God – but note, the book of Acts had taken place before the New Testament had come together and it was by the Holy Spirit that SIGNS were authenticating the works of the Apostles.
Ron Rhodes, of Reasoning from Scripture Ministries, states that 35 percent of born-again Christians do not read the Bible at all. Rhodes also points out, “Among those Christians who do read the Bible, the majority of them only read it during the one hour they attend church each Sunday morning.” 1 Of 8,665 people surveyed in the United States, 99.7% of whom said they are followers of Jesus Christ, “only one-half read the Bible daily, with another 37% reading it more than once a week, but not daily. Only two out of five respondents have read the entire Bible. When asked what hinders their Bible reading, most participants indicated that they are ‘too busy’.” 2 Fifty-six percent of self-identified Christians in America born between 1980 and 1991 rarely or never read the Bible. 3
Notice above that most people said they are too busy to read the Bible. Certainly, we live in a very busy culture. We must make a living, and we have family and other responsibilities. Yet, sales of entertainment and recreational items continue strong. Why is it that we are not too busy for them? Isn’t it really a matter of getting our priorities straight? If any of us learned that there was a treasure box full of precious jewels buried in our backyard, I think we would suddenly find we had a lot of time to dig until we found it. Peter told Jesus that He had “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). These words are now in the Bible, and they are more precious than any earthly treasure. Don’t ignore God’s gracious gift of His Word and become weaklings who are starving for spiritual nourishment. Make a commitment now to read and study your Bible daily.
I have followed the bible for twenty years now ,two days ago I experienced salvation Jesus saves us not the bible or religon and his love for all man kind was in its broken state,so love yourself as you are for God does in Jesus be free from hating your experience of being human and alive on his awesome planet.love all.
Thank you Nicole for this post.
We shall ALL become the sons and daughters of the living God.
Please keep studying. History began far before the Bible. I taught the Bible for 25 years. I believe the Bible teaches eternal truths. I believe Christ called himself “The son of man”, I believe Christ said that ” There is none good but God” after some calling Him good.
I ask, how are YOU (all who read this post) serving the one who created u
I don’t know if this site is still active or not, I was just looking to find a place to share with believers of like mind. Those who only truly know Jesus, who walk depending on only Him for their spiritual life and existence, rich beyond expression, following the wind wherever He blows.
When Jesus came walking on the water towards the boat which the disciples were in, they weren’t sure if it actually was Jesus or were they seeing some kind of “ghost” or spirit approaching them. Jesus told them not to be afraid that it was him. Then radical Peter said to Jesus “if it really is you, tell me to come out to you.” You know the rest of the story, he stepped out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Jesus. As he began to sink from looking at the waves, Jesus caught him and they safely made it back to the boat.
After so many years of attending church, tithing, countless “bible studies”, being active in church programs, [many good] my soul was waning in a state of famine. Being saved and totally forgiven by Jesus almost thirty years prior with a Damascus road experience with the Savior, the fruit I longed to produce for Jesus, never was, even after all my religious exploits to do so. The bible had become stale bread to me, the more and harder I studied the drier I became, there were hunger pains in my soul, I was faint and weary, but Jesus was deep inside me, never to leave, not even in this spiritual drought.
There was something inside me, a desire for more, of what at the time I did not know, but it gradually became a burning desire, to the point that I was being eaten up on the inside, something was about to happen, but what? As this desire became evident of its origin, I like Peter, got out of the boat, drawn away by the still small voice I heard through the deafening waves in my soul, “come”!
I drove over an hour to and from work on the highway everyday which was a time for thought and prayer, but this one day was different. I approached the Lord and told him, “Jesus, I give up every bit of religion known to man, church, bible, books, seminars and man’s teachings and put my entire trust in you to keep and sustain me, feed me with your life and guide me with your Holy Spirit. If I sink you will hold me like you did Peter and if I don’t sink, you will keep me in the way you want to.” I have walked on water now for 21 years and encourage all I talk with to do the same.
The transition did not happen over night though, it was two years before I could comprehend what happened to me on that day. I was just a branch, but the vine I was connected to was feeding me a life I had no idea existed. There were ups and downs, still times of doubt and fear, but I continued forward with no church, books, bible, or any other religious remedies recommended by man. He established me in Himself, with all confidence and a fellowship with He and the Father that can only be experienced by the complete denial of all helps from myself and others. A complete and total reliance on Jesus for the life that our souls cry out for and thirst beyond our comprehension. It can only be you and Jesus, you can add nothing or take away anything that He provides in the new life that has been infused in us. We are part of His DNA and at this point of total self denial and dependence on His full sustenance we now have unlimited fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
What I am trying to express here is something apart from the beginning salvation that we first received when we believed in Jesus. When we first get saved, we are immediately coaxed to join a church, tithe, read the bible and join every bible oriented program the church offers. Being new born babes hungry for the Word, we did just that. We are taught to read and memorize verses from the bible and that if we don’t pursue such a practice then we will dry up, backslide and ultimately be taken over by sin again and end up in a worse state than before we got saved. Such error has produced false doctrine that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus, but because the “church” teaches and preaches this it must be true.?
Jesus is life. There is nothing else to add to what He has done. Reading the bible allowed me to hear and see the teachings of Jesus, the power of who He is, the promises He gave to those sheep that belong to Him, the love of God towards all mankind and the death, resurrection and ascension that redeemed man to have fellowship with God eternally. That which we have read from the bible, is brought back to our remembrance by the Holy Spirit, it is an attribute of His ministry to us, He will remind us in a time of need in that instance. There is no need for repetitious memorization, the living Word in you is able to feed your soul for the day of tribulation.
In short, Jesus is willing and capable to lead us, feed us, [the living bread, manna from heaven] and keep us from sin because we are one with Him, and Jesus cannot sin, His seed remains in us. When we sin it is from our old fleshly nature, not our new nature in Christ, we are sanctified in Him.
I walk in full confidence today in Christ, having the continual awareness of His presence within me, no striving to enter His rest. A time of prayer and fellowship in the Spirit with He and the Father, loving each other with tangible moments in the Spirit that only one can know only by being totally immersed in their presence. Tears of love and comfort I never knew existed until I fully released myself to Him. Just to hear His name brings a flow of tears in love.
The only way to really live in Christ is to lay down everything you can give or offer Him to enhance your walk, REST in Him. You will live in the confidence and peace of being in Him and He in you in a way the bible cannot convey. And the fresh word every day you receive in your precious time in fellowship with Him, will be just for YOU! Hear what the Father longs to tell YOU from His heart, you are now being feed by the vine, producing that beautiful fruit by abiding in Him, that all the religious works in the world cannot produce.
It pleases God for those who come to Him with complete reliance casting aside any fear that they would receive nothing short of His mercy and grace and receive far beyond any expectation of who He is.
I have exchanged my time studying the bible, to time dedicated in prayer, fellowship and loving worship with the Father and the Son, an uninhibited relationship basking in the holy presence of God. The life is in Jesus, not the bible.
I humbly say to you, get out of the boat child of God, come on in, the water’s fine!