The Bible’s Power to Create a Culture

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.

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.

The Bible provides the support needed for the foundations of our government and our society

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.”

The Bible — God’s Word

The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here too, Heaven is opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully.  It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

Gideon Bibles Have This Statement on the Cover Page
The Word is part of discipleship

Many people in all countries around the world believe the Bible is a special book. The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book (more than 3000 languages). In addition, more copies of the Bible exist than any other book.

Why? Christians believe the Bible is God’s truth and contains God’s plan for the salvation of every person on earth. God is the source of the Bible, that is, the Bible is divinely inspired. The Bible also provides the information needed to become a Christian, to grow and mature as a Christian, and to live the Christian life according to God’s standards. The Bible says this in II Timothy 3: 16-17, which says,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV)

Divine Inspiration of the Bible

What does the Bible mean by “breathed out” or “inspiration?” The Greek word for “breathed out by God” (that is, inspiration) is “theopneustos” (θεόπνευστος). This word is used only one time in the entire New Testament. Some scholars believe the apostle Paul invented this word. Many translations render that word as “inspired by God.” In other words, God wrote the Bible. And because these words come from God, they have divine authority over our lives.

In addition, verse 17 states the purpose of Scripture. Scripture (the Bible) provides everything we need to make a Christian complete and equipped for the Christian life.

The Battle for the Bible

But many people choose not to believe that the Bible exists as God’s uniquely inspired Word. These people often rebel against the teachings of the Bible. They do not like the Bible. They feel the Bible intrudes on their free will. Therefore, they oppose the Bible. Their opposition includes inventing arguments designed to destroy the credibility of the Bible.

Is the Bible the word of God? Of course, we answer this question only by faith. We can neither prove nor disprove that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God. However, we can provide evidence to support our claim that the Bible is of divine origin.

What sorts of evidence can we provide? The answer to that question fills dozens of books on Christian apologetics. But for this blog we will briefly examine evidence in three areas.

  • Authority — What gives the Bible authority? If the Bible contained examples of events in history and these events were verified again and again by the latest archeological evidence, would truth like this provide the Bible with some authority? And if the Bible contained prophecies that came true centuries after the prophecy was made, would true prophecies demonstrate biblical authority?
  • Power — If the Bible really exists as God’s special book, should it not have some kind of special effect over the people who read it? But the Bible, in fact, does change people who read it and believe its teachings. The Bible also has a positive effect on societies that follow it.
  • Transmission — Can we trust the words of today’s Bibles? How can we know the text of the Bible matches the text of the original manuscripts? Skeptics claim the original texts were changed by scribes either by accident or on purpose. Is this true? In addition, how do we know if the words and deeds of Jesus really took place. Let’s look at some of the evidence.

Providing evidence cannot prove the Bible is inspired by God. However, if a divine book from God does exist, we would expect the history contained in its pages to match the facts discovered by archaeologists. Right? And if the book contained prophecy of future events, would we not expect some of those prophecies to be fulfilled?

In addition, shouldn’t we expect the ethics in God’s book to have power to change our society? God’s book also should have the power to transform lives and bring people back to God. And if this Book had such power, wouldn’t we want the accurate transmission of this book across the centuries?

Evidence and Faith

As I wrote earlier in this blog, no one can prove or disprove whether the Bible is the Word of God. And this evidence does not prove divine authority for the Bible. But this evidence can silence the critics and give people reason to believe. But the final step for believing in the Bible remains your step of faith.