God’s living Word touches every area of human need and concern.
Renowned theologian Professor Karl Barth visited the United States in 1962. His appearance at the University of Chicago attracted ministers, theologians, and students from all over North America. And of course, the press was on hand.
“Dr. Barth, you are recognized as perhaps the greatest theologian of this century,” one reporter began in an interview. “What is the most profound theological idea you have entertained?” After a moment’s thought the Swiss theologian replied, “Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so!”
Karl Barth was not being facetious. In his ingenious way, he was getting at the very heart of the Christian faith. The Bible, he must have meant, is both profound and simple—so profound no human mind can ever plumb its depths, so simple “that a fool, though a wayfaring man, need not err therein.”
But also Barth was pointing up the basic purpose of the Bible—to disclose God’s love in His Son Jesus Christ.
Many so-called “Bible students” have never seen this. Some consider the Bible an encyclopedia of information about interesting “religious” facts, designed to tease the human mind with such questions as, “Where did Cain get his wife?” Others study the Bible as if it were a divinely inspired jigsaw puzzle, and they invest all their ingenuity in trying to put it together in such a way as to answer all the questions about the end-time, like “Where will Antichrist come from?” Yet others devote their strength and scholarly abilities to defending the Bible as God’s inerrant Word, unwittingly putting their trust in their own ability as men of reason rather than in the Spirit of Inspiration who breathed the Scriptures in the beginning.
The central message of the Bible is Jesus Christ, God’s Son and our Savior. The Bible is not simplistic, but it is “simple” in the true sense of the word—it has one theme: “God loved us and sent His son.”
Martin Luther thought of the Bible as the manger in which Christ is laid. If we spend all our time examining the straw, we may prick our fingers. But if we are wise and faithful, our adoring eyes will fasten on the Son of God.
The one purpose of the Bible is to proclaim Jesus Christ as “the Way without which there is no going, the Truth without which there is no knowing, and the Life without which there is no growing.”
“The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me.” Commenting on these words of St. Paul in Galatians 2:20, Luther gave this important bit of advice: “Read with great vehemency these words, ‘ME’ and ‘FOR ME,’ and so inwardly practice with thyself, that thou mayest conceive and print this ‘ME’ in thy heart, and apply it to thyself, not doubting that thou art of the number of those to whom this ‘ME’ belongeth. The Son of God loved me, poor wretched, damned sinner, as much as He loved Peter and Paul, and gave Himself for me as much as He gave himself for them.”
The Bible is God’s living Word addressed to our puzzled and hurting hearts.
Therefore read it as you would read a love letter from someone who is dear to you. Read not only the lines but also “between the lines” in order to savor the Spirit which breathes within it. Pray as you read, “Open mine eyes that I may see!” and God will give you the Spirit who will reveal His love and His truth and heal your inner being.
God’s living Word touches every area of human need and concern. Although the Bible has but one theme, the implications of that message touch all of life and history. If in true obedience and simple faith you will attend God’s Word in the Bible, the Spirit who inspired its writers will illuminate your soul.
William M. Greathouse (1919-2011) was a minister and emeritus general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.
From Herald of Holiness October 1, 1979.