Probably most of us would agree that the Bible has had a profound influence on the development of mankind. But do the Scriptures have the same importance today as in times past?
Our answer to this question depends on what we perceive to be the purpose of the Bible. If we regard it as primarily a historical document, its relevancy might be questioned. But if we view it as a textbook for productive living, for serving God and working out our salvation, we come to a different conclusion. Thinking of the Bible as a statement of spiritual laws, and illustrations of how these laws were applied (or in some cases disregarded), we begin to see its timeless worth.
Could this important distinction be what the writer of Timothy was pointing to when he said that the Scriptures were ''given by inspiration of God,'' and are ''profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works''? n1
n1 II Timothy 3:16, 17.
J. B. Phillips interprets this passage: ''All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man's life and training him in good living. The ScripTures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit him fully for all branches of his work.''
The Bible makes clear the nature of God, showing Him to be the great creator, the supreme, governing intelligence of the universe. God is infinite, totally good; He is self-revealing Spirit. Man, created in His image and likeness, exists to express and glorify his Maker. Through study of the Bible we come to see that the evil supposition that there is a power opposed to God, and that man is a material, mortal, isolated creature, is not something to resign ourselves to or be victimized by. The Scriptures point to the Fact that evil can be, and should be, progressively challenged and overcome.
The Bible account of Moses is a good illustration of such overcoming. His perception of God as the one great I AM became the very foundation for the Ten Commandments and of his challenge to evil throughout his experience with the children of Israel. What was learned then about the demand to worship one God, Spirit - and the rewards of this allegiance - can be proved today.
Christ Jesus' ministry, as recorded in the Bible, is the supreme example of overcoming evil. Through spiritual means alone the Master healed all types of diseases, overcame limitation and lack, and proved his dominion over death itself.
Clearly we need to search the Scriptures - perceive the practical power of their teachings - and not just look into them casually, reading the Bible as though it were the latest paperback novel. We need to peneprate the surface, dig beneath a merely historical reading to the spiritual facts of being.
The Bible has not failed, but many have apparently failed to live its teachings. If, for example, mankind more widely, consistently, and profoundly strove to follow the directive ''Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, '' n2 would we be faced with the crass idolatry and sensualism of today?
n2 Exodus 20:4.
God, Love, is the source of the qualities that the great Bible characters expressed; and by virtue of our relationship to God, we can - and in fact must - express those qualities ourselves. And we today can call on God to care for our present needs. We can find healing and redemption. To me, this is the timeless, priceless message of the Bible.
Mary Baker Eddy, a devoted, lifelong student of the Bible and the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ''Rightly to read and to practise the Scriptures, their spiritual sense must be discerned, understood, and demonstrated.'' And she continues farther along: ''When the Bible is thus read and practised, there is no possibility of misinterpretation. God is understandable, knowable, and applicable to every human need.'' n3
n3 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 238
We don't have to blindly accept this premise; each of us can prove it for himself. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Proverbs 30:5