God is not aloof. Sometimes we think He is, especially when things in our lives seem to be spiraling out of control. We look up at the sky and shake our fist toward heaven crying, “Where are You? Why don’t You do something?”
Far from being distant, though, the Bible offers continual evidence of God’s desire for intimacy and community. Before God, in His divine creativity, thought up the concept of time, iguanas, or the spinal column, He existed in perfect community with Himself in the confines of the Trinity. Then the intimacy between the Father, Son, and Spirit overflowed into His creation.
God didn’t plop Adam and Eve into the garden and tell them He’d be back to check on them in a couple of years. Instead, He walked and talked with them in the cool of the day. After He delivered His people from Egyptian bondage, He specifically instructed them to build an elaborate but portable tent so He could dwell in the midst of His people. And if we fast forward to the very end of time, when heaven comes down to meet earth, the resounding cry echoes this desire:
Look! God’s dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).
At its core, Christianity is an experience of God’s revelation of Himself, driven by His desire to be known intimately by His people. He already knows us inside and out since He knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13). For us to know Him, however, requires revelation. Through nature, we can glean certain things about God we know to be true, but that’s a limited degree of knowledge about Him. And that’s not sufficient for His children. He wants to be known fully and completely, for He knows that knowing Him is the pathway for humanity to experience the greatest amount of joy imaginable. Out of His love for us, God has revealed Himself to us. God has given us the greatest gift in the universe in His divine revelation.
There, right in the middle of God’s desire to be known, we find the Bible. The Bible is the record of God’s self-revelation. As such, it is no mere book. Scripture (which literally means “writings”) is inspired. Or to take a phrase from Paul, it is “God-breathed.” Jesus certainly regarded it as such. In the great story of His temptation in the wilderness, when Satan tempted Him with power and self-reliance, Jesus responded by quoting Scripture:
Man must not live on bread alone but on the very word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Along with Jesus and Paul, Peter was also convinced of the divine source of Scripture. He wrote,
You should know this: no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
In the same way God breathed life into Adam, He breathed Himself into the biblical authors and their words. In our understanding of Scripture, we must understand that every sentence in the Bible was written with a specific context to a specific group of people. But that doesn’t diminish the work of God in it. It simply means that the Holy Spirit chose to work through the events of the times and the personalities of the writers to pen the revelation of God found in the Bible.
We don’t find 66 books in the Bible telling separate stories, but one complete record of the revelation of God, told through a variety of different viewpoints. that variety helps to enhance the ultimate aim of Scripture–to know God.
That’s right–the ultimate aim of the Bible is to help us know God. It’s not to help us live a good life. We do the God-breathed words of the Bible a disservice when we approach them primarily as a tool rather than the story of God. Yes there are principles in Scripture that teach us how to walk rightly, but all its principles are meant to be seen in the light of the overarching purpose of the Bible. Namely, that we be intimately acquainted with the One who so passionately wants to be intimately acquainted with us.
Adapted from Holy Vocabulary: Rescuing the Language of Faith by Michael Kelley (available at ThreadsMedia.com).
Explore the Bible: Young Adults seeks to help young adults understand the ultimate aim of Scripture. Preview the first four sessions of the Hebrews study by clicking HERE.