The Whole Truth and Nothing Less.
On the morning of January 4, 2006, I walked the wet streets of Nashville towards the arena for a morning session at the annual Passion conference. The crowd, already abuzz with energy, was elevated by some welcome news. The day before, we had learned that 13 coal miners were trapped two miles below the surface of the Sago mine in West Virginia after a violent explosion caused the mine shaft to collapse. 18,000 Christian college students filed into Bridgestone Arena past headlines that read, “12 Miners Rescued, 1 Dead”. It felt like a victory.
Except, the headlines were wrong.
Within 20 minutes, after the first set of worship music was complete, we all learned the truth. 12 miners had perished, and only one survived. Some miscommunication had fooled multiple media outlets and lifted the spirits of the nation and even the victims families—but only for a moment. A surreal grief took hold as we the nation grappled with the reality that a great tragedy had taken place under our noses. When it came to the truth, there was far more at stake than we realized.
For most people, what is “true” is often what is easiest to access or most comfortable. We assemble little comforts here and there until we’ve stitched together a quilt of our identity. And that’s all well and good until these identities become incapable of connecting with or accepting other people’s version of truth. Eventually, we lose our ability to enjoy the community of others or discern truth at all.
The problem is obvious: the truth is too important to be so subjective. The fact that we crave truth and justice proves that there is some baseline source of truth out there, even if we can’t put our finger on it. We need a baseline truth, something that won’t shift and sway with the whims of humanity, something we can gather around and elevate together.
And thankfully, we have one.
The Bible is an entirely unique book. For Christians, it is a holy scripture, the very Word of God. But even at a historical level, the Bible possesses unique credentials among other religious texts. It is an unusually cohesive narrative, given that it was written by dozens of authors over thousands of years. Its events are supported by an increasing number of archaeological finds with each passing year. Far more original source texts exist for the Bible—over 5,600—than many historical works we accept as reliable, including Plato’s “The Republic” and Homer’s “Iliad” (seven and 643 copies, respectively).
While I could only scratch the surface here on the subject of the Bible’s credibility, I ultimately believe God’s Word to be true because of the work it does in the lives of ordinary people from all nations, races, and walks of life. How else could the Christian faith flourish from 12 common, unqualified men to a global phenominon, despite the aggressive opposition of the Roman Empire?
If the Bible is true, this is good news for weary truth-seekers. In God’s Word, we receive hope. In Scripture, we uncover God’s character and understand what is good and pleasing to Him. In light of these things, we also learn how to love and care for other people.
But with the knowledge of God’s Truth also comes a responsibility: to ensure that we are studying and applying the Bible in a manner that is worthy of its importance. The sad reality is that people misuse Scripture for their own benefit, be it to justify something they want or to use Scripture to assert selfish control over others. And even more people misuse Scripture without realizing it, simply taking it out of context or reading it superficially.
We need God’s Truth, but we must also be diligent to study it well.
That’s why I’m glad to be a part of the team that makes Explore the Bible. Explore the Bible is a unique Bible study resource in that it both celebrates God’s Word on book at a time and helps the whole church—adults, students, and kids—read and study Scripture in a manner that is reliably trustworthy, age-appropriate, and sustainable for a lifetime. Book by book, Explore the Bible teaches participants how to study Scripture in its historical, cultural, and biblical context and guides them through discussions that help reveal each passage’s original intent. Once armed with the truth, Explore the Bible then challenges participants to put the Word into practice in their daily life to help. In short, these studies are designed to not just inform but to provide participants with a regular and reliable encounter with God’s transforming Word.
God’s Word is an invitation to the truth. Explore the Bible wants to walk this journey with you. Download four free sessions today at goexplorethebible.com.
Whit Stiles serves as copywriter on the creative team for Explore the Bible. Also an accomplished musician and author of two books, he lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and three young kids.