Foundational Truths - The Bible
Over the coming months we will explore the truths on which Elim is built. Simo Frestadius begins with a look at the Bible itself.
For Elim, the Bible matters. It matters because we believe it is the written Word of God.
We believe God inspired human authors to write the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, meaning the Bible is not just human words but was initiated and formed by God.
This is important for us. Since God is the source of the Bible and is truth, we believe the Scriptures, as they were originally given, are without error or fault. We therefore trust and depend on the Bible to guide our faith and the way we live our lives.
So why does Elim believe the Bible is the Word of God?
First, there is evidence that it transforms lives. The Bible can produce results in the lives of individuals and communities: it can bring hope to the hopeless, restore relationships and heal communities.
Many within Elim bear witness that the Bible has not only increased their knowledge of God, but has transformed their lives as they have encountered God through it.
Second is the uniqueness of the Bible. This highlights the uniqueness and power of the Bible’s divine message. Scriptures are remarkable in their ability to speak to people in different historical and cultural contexts.
And thirdly, this transformative power and uniqueness of Scripture helps us to believe verses which declare the Bible to be inspired truth from God.
Elim believes the Bible, as originally given, to be without error, the fully inspired and infallible Word of God and the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
For example, 2 Timothy 3:16 says: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
This is hugely important: we can experience the divine power and authority of the Bible ourselves.
In his book In My Father’s House, the late Elim minister and evangelist George Canty explains why this matters: "If it were possible to know that the Bible is the authentic word of God outside of personal experience, it would be no more use than knowing Mars is made of red sandstone. Such knowledge will not help us live or go places."
We can experience strength, guidance and closer relationship with God through God’s living Word. That said, we must make sure we read it carefully.
Whilst the Bible is the Word of God it was written by human authors, and we need to keep these divine and human aspects in mind when we are reading, preaching, or listening to it being read.
We also need to understand the historical context the human authors were writing in, if we want to interpret the Bible properly.
In his book Spirit Hermeneutics, New Testament scholar Craig Keener explains how we need to pay attention to three things when reading biblical passages:
Their immediate context
How they fit into the book in which they sit
To understand the cultural context 'that its language, assumptions and often allusions take for granted.'
But as we try to understand the human authors, it’s equally important to keep our spiritual ears open. What is the Spirit saying to us today through the text?
We should not just have a historical appreciation of the Bible but also be spiritually sensitive towards it. After all, as we said, the Bible is the living Word of God.
Why the Bible matters:
It is the Word of God
It guides our faith and lives
It transforms lives
In our next article: The Holy Spirit
Simo Frestadius is Dean of Research and Executive Director of the Institute for Pentecostal Theology at Regents Theological College.
This article first appeared in the September edition of Direction Magazine. You can order copies here.
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