Why is the Bible special? What makes the Bible different from all other books? Yes, there are many ways to answer that question but for this particular blog entry one word stands out: “power.” The Bible has power that is unknown from any other book.
OK, I realize that if an atheist read those words, he would be rolling on the floor in laughter. “The Bible? Power?” He would say with a chuckle. “Give me a break. That’s the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard.” But wait! Let me explain. During the last 2000 years the Bible has shown its ability to transform lives and to civilize cultures.
The Bible makes changes in partnership with the Holy Spirit of God. That’s right, the third member of the trinity. How can the Bible do this? Well, the Bible begins by showing us the values and standards needed for transformation. Then the Holy Spirit gives individuals the power to transform. Finally, when a civilization becomes dominated by transformed individuals, the civilization undergoes change.
In other words, the Bible provides the blueprint and the Holy Spirit builds the house. Changed lives provide the basis for changed cultures. For more than two thousand years, God has used the Bible as the basis for civilization. But how does this process begin?
The First Step — Change the Man
All Christian growth and discipleship start with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Why? Because if you do not have a living, loving relationship with God, you cannot know or understand the things of God. The apostle Paul wrote about this connection in I Corinthians 2: 10-12, 14.
“For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. . . . The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (ESV)
Thus, the relationship with God begins. Now the process can be guided by the Bible and empowered by the Holy Spirit. This relationship with God enables the Christian to read and understand the Bible in a whole new way. The Christian for the first time can appreciate biblical standards.
God’s standards for human behavior are completely different from the standards mankind sets for itself. Why? Because God’s standards help us strive for holiness. The world’s standards leave us to wallow in a swamp of sin. The Bible speaks of the superiority of God’s standards in Isaiah 55: 8-9:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (ESV)
OK, if a Christian wants to live for God, then he must adopt God’s standards for his own life. And where do we find God’s standards? By reading and studying the Bible. And according to Psalm 119: 7, 9, 11, we should store up God’s word in our hearts.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules. . . .
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word. . . .
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. (ESV)
As the Bible begins to show us God’s standards and expectations, the Holy Spirit provides us with the power to change.
Power From the Holy Spirit
This change does not happen all at once. Change begins when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. In II Corinthians, chapter 3, the Bible uses the metaphor of a veil to describe this change. Before we accept Christ, a “veil” covers our eyes and prevents us from seeing the Lord clearly. However, according to II Corinthians 3: 16, “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” Thus begins an incredible change described in II Corinthians 3: 18:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)
What is the extent of this change? How far will God change us? Romans 8: 29 states that God’s intention is that we be “conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” God wants us to become just like Jesus Christ.
As more people are transformed, they begin to have an effect on their society.
Transformed People = Changed Societies
The real power in the Christian’s life comes from a restored relationship with God and the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Bible has the ability to accurately and authoritatively introduce us to God and to bring us before the throne of God.
History provides many examples of the Bible’s power to transform society. The laws in the Old Testament provide the basic structure for the laws of many societies today — including the United States. The words of Jesus help us learn compassion and kindness toward others. When the rule of law is paired with a culture of kindness and compassion, the transformation of a society is inevitable.
Eighteenth century philosopher Immanuel Kant provided a good summary statement. “The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”