Most of what we read is subjective. The content is subjective to the intent of the author, the interpretation of the content is subjective to the understanding of the reader. Generally, a reader may interpret the thoughts of a writer without any fear of negative consequences for misinterpreting what the writer said. (Exceptions to this might include the IRS tax code and instructions for “some assembly required” toys).
The Bible is somewhat different. God is its author therefore it carries with it divine fiat. Believers have the right to interpret Scripture for themselves free from dogma or control of spiritual hierarchy. With that right of interpretation, however, comes an incredibly important responsibility of interpreting it correctly. We are accountable to God for how we interpret His Word.
The Bible is the only book that can genuinely lay claim to divine inspiration. “Inspiration” literally means, “God-breathed”. God spoke to holy men and impressed upon them through visions, thoughts and audible voice what they were to write. God chose his instruments carefully and the result is a collection of 66 books that was written over a span of 4,000 years by numerous writers and yet is unified in its theme and consistent in its message. No other book can even come close to matching this level of magnificence.
We speak of the Bible as being inerrant and infallible. This means that it is without error and is incapable of failing. This speaks to God’s ability to preserve His Word as He promised. Satan has tried to deny, destroy, debate and dilute the Word through the centuries. He persecuted those who wrote and translated the Bible. He perpetuates lies and confusion to cloud the minds of men so as not to believe the Word, yet it still remains.
What is our responsibility concerning the Word? First, we are to read it as the source of our faith and knowledge. Second, we are to submit ourselves to what it says. Remember, Scripture is God speaking to us, we should listen and obey.
We are to recognize its superiority to the writings of men. It is wonderful to read what others say about the Bible, but that is no substitute for reading it ourselves. Reading Christian literature without reading the Bible is like reading a recipe book and hoping our body will receive vital nutrients from the experience.
We should realize that the Word of God is superior to our experience. I often hear people say something like this, “I don’t know what the Bible says about this, but this is what I felt.”
Peter dealt with this in II Peter 1:16-21. He, along with James and John were eyewitnesses of the majesty of God on the Mount of Transfiguration. They audibly heard the voice of God from Heaven affirming Christ as the Son of God. If something like that happened in our time, the individual who was blessed to experience it would get a book deal, go on a speaking tour and be on all of the television talk shows. Not Peter, his response to this was, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy“. He placed the authority of Scripture over his own experience with God.
Thank God for His Word that abides forever.