The Bible is full of Truth—but not all truth is created equal. The best way that I know to describe it is to say that the Bible contains truth from cover to cover. Some truth is unimportant, and some is extremely important. But there is truth that is essential to our Christian walk. It’s what we believe about the essential, foundational truths of the New Testament that determines whether or not we experience the kind of guilt-free living God designed for us to live.
Many people know about God. They may even know the Bible or have been influenced in some way by biblical thought. But most people have never experienced God for who He really is. Even those of us who desire to know God and read our Bibles daily often misjudge what it says because we read it as a regular book and tend to think that it is a progressive revelation of God. But as New Testament believers, it is important to realize that there is only one true revelation of God, and that is—Jesus Christ, His Son.
John 1:18 in the Amplified Bible says:
No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].
Jesus, is the only One who has ever seen God for who He really is. He is the sole and exact representation of God. It is through Him alone that we can correctly interpret what the Bible says about God and about us. Only through Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, can we rightly understand the truths of Scripture—both Old and New Testament. He is the lens we look through to know and experience God for who He really is.
Jesus is the foundational and essential truth we must use to build and establish our beliefs and doctrines. But what if I read something, Arthur, that doesn’t line up with who Jesus is? Then that truth is not essential; it does not apply to us—even if it’s in the Bible. But Arthur, the Bible is true. The Bible is true—but Jesus, who He is and what He accomplished in and through His finished work is “The Truth!”
Everything written in Scripture is “God-breathed” or “God inspired” according to 2 Timothy 3:16. God inspired the writers of the Bible to record their experiences with Him to reveal Christ. Does that negate their experience? No. But does that mean their experience becomes Truth simply because it is in a book we call the Bible? No. We must learn to discern scripture just like we discern someone’s testimony experience today.
A little old lady stands up in church to testify of God. She begins by praising God for getting her through another week of Satan’s vicious attack. She thanks God for testing her patience like gold in the refiner’s fire through her chronic sickness. She blesses God for teaching her humility through her failure to read and pray like she should. On and on she goes, attributing things in her life to God that are nothing like His character—things that we know God would never do to His children. Does her belief system define who God is? No! Was her experience real to her? Yes! Does that real experience constitute real truth? No! Can her understanding dictate other people’s experiences? Yes!
The same thing happened in Scripture. In the book of Job, we find a man of God experiencing tragedy. His friends come to “encourage him” with their opinions of who God is and what he needs to do to reconcile himself to God. Nine chapters consist wholly of their opinions—it is recorded in Scripture and Holy Spirit inspired, but they were all wrong! God even spoke to Job and said, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2 NIV) And Job himself had to repent. Not for anything he’d done that brought about his experience, but because he had misinterpreted and misrepresented God. He said, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand…My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you…I repent” (Job 41:3, 5-6 NIV). Job essentially said, “I’m sorry, God. I let others tell me who You were and did not know you for myself.”
It’s essential to know God for yourself—and vital to build our doctrines and beliefs on the rock of Jesus Christ—the essential Truth. We can’t attempt to lay a foundation on the sandy shores of our limited knowledge or experience. Standing on the Rock of Truth, we are able to experience the guilt-free life God designed for us in Him!
…But now you have had every stain washed off: now you have been set apart as holy: now you have been pronounced free from guilt; in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:11 (Weymouth)