This passage and hopefully this blog will offend some and challenge some. If it does I really encourage you to engage with the questions it brings up for you.
Is the Bible true?
For a lot of people this is a very hard passage to read. It challenges every opinion and world view that we have that is not supported by scripture. It might in fact change the way you live out your faith completely. And it comes down to one crucial question: is the Bible true?
This is a topic that gets a lot of peoples backs up. Firstly because non-Christians don’t believe that everything inside the Bible is true (which is to be expected) but secondly and more sadly because not all Christians believe it!
To someone who is not a Chrisitan it is an offensive statement to say that the Bible is true. Our society is accepting of different faiths, religions and diverse world-views…as long as those views don’t impose on anyone else’s. You may have heard statements like “each to his own. I have my beliefs. You have yours. Both are ok” but it becomes a problem when you claim that what you believe is “truth” and so you claim (or infer) that others are wrong.
To claim that what someone else believes is wrong is offensive, insensitive, “narrow minded”, out of order and politically incorrect…and it is also what the Bible teaches. If you are a Christian let me submit to you that this is what you need to believe too, and you may not be liked for it.
What does Scripture say about itself:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”
- 2 Tim 3:16
After John 3:16, this is my next favourite 3:16 in the Bible. The Bible claims that it is breathed out by God, that every word that is inside the book that we call The Bible is in there because God put it there and if God put it there it must be believed. To disagree with what is inside the Bible is to disagree with God.
But what about evidence?
The Bible tells us that what is in the Bible is right, but why should we believe that?
Let’s have a look at Paul. Paul wrote about half of the New Testament and at the time that he is writing this letter to Timothy he is in prison waiting to see if he will be beheaded for preaching the Gospel. At the start of our passage (v11) he is telling Timothy about the persecution that he has suffered for spreading the gospel. As a guy who went from persecuting Christians to being persecuted himself Paul must have believed what he was preaching to such an extent that he thought it worthy of so much suffering. He must have believed it to be true. Even as he waits to die he urges Timothy “Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you” (4v5).
Look at this way, if Paul was con-artist, if he was creating a cult for his own gain, writing his own bible that he wanted people to follow and inventing a religion that he wanted people to join he would not have included half of the content that is in the New Testament or endorsed everything that was in the Old Testament. He would not have urged believers to expect persecution (3v12) or to follow Jesus, a guy who was had no money and was killed or in any way to peruse a life that did not put the self first and own gain as the high priority, those aren’t selling points…unless they are the truth.
The Bible makes some serious claims that do offend and if you believe what it says you will offend people. Some of those are big things, like who God is, who Jesus is and the fact that he died for our sin and rose from the dead, but what about the smaller things that you come across as you read through your Bible; the passages about sex, relationships, leadership, money, lifestyle, heaven and hell (to name a few)? Do you believe all of it? Some of it? or none of it?
We can’t pick and choose.