How to Approach the Bible

By Chen Feng, China

At a corner of a park, there stands an octagonal pavilion. Every morning, a young man would sit in it reading the Bible carefully, and an old man would go to the park for a walk. Every time the old man came around the corner, they would greet each other. By chance, the young man learned that the old man had believed in the Lord for many years. Thus, they became church friends.

One day, the old man got to the corner and habitually greeted the young man, but that time he received a faint response from the young man. Then the old man got into the pavilion and asked: “Brother, do you mind me sitting for a while?” After raising his head, the young man weakly said: “No, my brother. Please sit.” “You seem unhappy. What’s eating you? Share it with me and I will be a patient listener.” The young man sighed and then said: “Since I believed in the Lord, I often hear the pastors and elders say that the Bible represents God and that faith in the Bible is faith in God and if we desert it, we are not believers. So I especially cherish the Bible and read it every day. But recently, a brother said belief in the Bible was not tantamount to belief in God. I feel extremely puzzled about this. Brother, what’s your view on it?”

How to Approach the Bible

After hearing his question, the old man did not answer immediately. Instead, he went out of the pavilion to pick some long grass stalks and then wove a grass dragonfly for the young man. “A gift for me?” the young man accepted it and asked in bewilderment. Seeing the old man nod, he said: “Thank you. I’ll keep it safe.” Then the old man said: “Before expressing my viewpoint, I want to first ask you a question. Do you like the grass dragonfly?” Nodding his head, the young man answered: “Yes, I like it. I’ll cherish it.” The old man shook his head and then said: “I’m glad that you like the gift. But if you’d like, I will give you a better one, for as time goes by, it will wither.” The young man was puzzled and so asked: “My brother, what are you trying to tell me?”

The old man took out the cross on his chest and said: “We believers in the Lord feel an attachment to the Bible and the cross and value them. We love the Lord and so love those related to Him. Is that so?” The young man nodded. The old man continued: “Then can they replace the Lord?” Seeing the puzzled look of the young man, he pointed at the grass dragonfly, saying: “It was made by me. And I’m happy that you cherish it because of respecting me. But it’s merely a thing made by me and cannot represent myself. Similarly, the Bible deserves the cherishment by us for it is a witness to God’s work, but it can’t represent God. It is God who bestows life upon us. And everything belonging to us comes from God, not from the Bible.” Then he once again made an analogy by saying: “Suppose one person is in charge of a project. In order for others to know the advance design, the construction process and the acceptance of work, someone records these details in a file and then preserved it. Can such records represent the person in charge?”

The young man replied without thinking: “Of course not.” Then he thought for a while and said: “Oh, I understand it a bit clearer. The Bible is merely a witness to the Lord’s work but cannot stand in place of the Lord. Is it right?”

The old man said: “Yes. Do you remember the Lord Jesus’ words? The Lord said: ‘Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And you will not come to me, that you might have life’ (John 5:39-40). From these words, we can understand that the Bible is only a testimony of God. Through it we can know some things, such as what work Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus carried out, how God’s followers in former times worshipped Him, and so on. However, it is only a book that bears testimony to God’s work. As God’s work progresses onward, it has been a historical book, and can only be used as a reference. The Bible can’t bestow the truth and life on people and only Christ is the truth, the way and the life. The Lord Jesus’ saying this is in the hope that we can treat the Bible correctly and don’t blindly worship and believe in the Bible or place the Bible on a par with God before we do things that resist God.”

The young man said: “Yes, we believers in the Lord should appropriately treat the Bible. But there is still something I don’t understand. Why will we easily resist God if we treat the Bible and God as equals?”

Hearing his question, the old man sighed and asked heavily: “Do you know who nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross?”

“The Pharisees,” the young man immediately replied.

“Right,” said the old man, nodding. “The Pharisees blindly believed in and worshipped the Bible, and even placed it above God. Just because of this, when the Lord Jesus came to do His work, they not only didn’t acknowledge the Him but condemned Him based on the Bible and even nailed Him to the cross. In the end, the Jews and their descendants suffered the loss of their nation. This is the consequence of the Pharisees’ blind belief in and worshiping of the Bible. So, we who believe in God should worship God, and must never worship the Bible, nor place it on par with God. God is God, the Bible is the Bible. The Bible cannot represent God, much less stand in place of God’s work.”

After hearing these, the young man happily said: “Thank the Lord. I finally understand that faith in the Bible is not tantamount to faith in God. I cannot follow in the footsteps of the Pharisees resisting God.”

As a gentle wind began to blow, the grass dragonfly swayed. The old man left. Then the young man turned away with a smile.

 

You may be interested in reading more on our Questions & Answers page about Bible and God, or in the articles below.

»     Many people believe that a believer in God can by no means leave the Bible, and that leaving the Bible is betraying God. Is such a saying right?

»     The Holy Bible = All God’s Words and Work?

Bible Questions

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