What follows are my thoughts on why Christians should read the Bible as Scripture. Maybe the question "why read the Bible?" seems like an odd question to address in a post directed towards Christians, but I believe it is highly relevant because it strikes at our priorities, trust and relationship with God. We do not read the Bible as a historical novelty or with an eye towards criticism (even if we dabble in the latter). Rather ideally, we read it to know God, our hope and to know how to live. We believe in a living God who speaks to us today in the Holy Spirit through Scripture. At times we can't help but hear the Holy Spirit's voice communicating and transforming the way we see the world around us.
So many today want to worship a God who is silent, one who does not have thoughts of his own or ask anything of us, ever approving, ever "loving" we have a god of projection--an idol. Do we really believe in a God who is personal, who listens and responds? Do we believe in a God who is intimately involved in our lives, in human history and who speaks to us? Or is our god ambiguous and nameless, whatever we feel it is? Is this god at all? Is this the God who sacrificed and asks us to sacrifice?
The God of the Bible is one who didn't just create and leave us behind but holds everything together (c.f. Col 1:17). He is continually creating, bringing about and sustaining life.
God is Yahweh.
Yahweh is the three-person God who is inherently social interacting with those who created. He likes to pick people who are overlooked by others to talk to. He took a wandering dessert people and blessed the world through them. He seems to like natural analogies. He prefers to speak to people face to face, but they separated and separate themselves from him. Still, he did the impossible and became one of them and showed them who he was (c.f. John 1). He is also one who notices injustice and evil and gives warnings and calls human beings out of this and into a committed relationship with him. No idols or projections in this marriage. As he sacrificed himself he calls us to sacrifice ourselves every day.
With the above in mind, why read Scripture? And why call the Bible Scripture?
1. God is Not Nameless and He Speaks
As Christians, we reject the idea that God does not have a name. He is a particular God and does not like being confused with others. We believe he actually speaks to us and this is why the Bible has authority. It represents God's interaction in human history and with us. We believe in a "living Word" (C.F. Heb 4:12). Specifically, we think God is speaking to us today by the Holy Spirit as we read or listen to him through the voices of countless individuals who were alive throughout history (ex: Moses, John, Paul and countless people who do not know the names of).
We read the Bible because we believe God speaks to us and we want to know what he desires of us and how to become more like Him. Since this is the case, it is not ok to dismiss Him when he tells us not to do something or to do something. This is not a god of projection but one who actually exists, is involved, and is morally perfect in love, justice and relationship.
In some churches or social circles, we think we can slander other people and get ahead by telling lies in the name of "correct doctrine" or self-interest. Maybe we just talk behind someone's back and ignore our highest calling to love God and love others. We cannot love God while not loving those he loves who are inside the church, outside the church, at home or around the world, gay or straight, male or female...etc. This love is not merely a feeling though it comes from the heart, it is manifested in action by giving preference to one another and in commitment. God's Word condemns this.
In the Millenial generation, we struggle with sex. Many of us were not in unseparated families and do not necessarily have parents we can trust. Many of them thought they could sleep around without consequences. We think we can be good with God while sleeping with someone we are not committed to of the opposite sex by a vow of marriage (as defined by Jesus and Genesis). We think we can do whatever we want as long as we feel strongly and our projected god says nothing. How can a god of projection ever dare to challenge us? We can invoke him at will without complaint.
No, we read the Bible because we believe in a God of history with expressed ideas on how to live life to the fullest with Him and how to treat other people. This God communicates with us through the Scriptures.
2. God is a Social Being Who Desires Relationship
God is not a monad with no sufficient reason to desire relationships with others or to create relational beings. He is necessarily diverse within himself, a Trinity, each member different from the other yet fully God. He is revealed in the Bible as the One God, but triune. Though there are hints earlier in the Old Testament, we only know of the Trinity because of Jesus who revealed himself to be the One God but not the Father and who promised to send us the Holy Spirit who knows the mind of God (no one knows the mind of God except God).
God is loving in Himself already and so is able and eager to draw us into loving relationship with Himself and each other. How will we know who this God is if He does not tell us? How will we enter into the loving relationship He enjoys in Himself if He did not reveal Himself as one of us (the ultimate expression of love to the "other") and be the glue that binds us (Holy Spirit)? How do we know there ever was such an incarnation or encounter Him today if not through the Word in the Spirit?
3. God is the Creator and Sustainer of Our Life
The One who brought all there is into being, holds all life, matter, and energy together. He gives us our life now and is the One who brings us into His eternal life in relationship with Him. If we are cut off from the source of life we will die. When we are in relationship with Him, we are distraught over our sin and any relational distance caused by our action. The Spirit will bug us! We are never alone because the Spirit in us compels us to stop what we are doing. We may live in habitual opposition or run away from Him for a while, but if we have the Spirit we will return. Where our treasure is, there our heart is (Matt 6:21). If we are devoted to God our actions will follow and when we are empty or in need will look to Him.
God is our light in dark times. He is our hope. He gives meaning to the present in anticipation of the future (thank you Moltmann).
God gives us our new life, forms our character in Him. We want to know His thoughts because we know we are small and want to grow. We want to manifest His face as He manifests Himself as the God of this world. Our destiny is to live out our calling as image bearers (Genesis) after Christ the ultimate image bearer whose resurrected body points the way towards ours.
Now, time to read and be transformed!
Then there are those times where you are not listening and wham! God finds you in sermons, through random strangers and by a variety of methods. At TEDS I got a reoccurring Bible verse and lesson he was trying to teach me randomly pinned to my front door! Neadless to say I stopped, prayed and let God communicate to me so that I could change.