The bible is of great importance to our world whether we believe it to be true or not. Most of the Laws that govern our world are heavily influenced by biblical principles and history.
Imago Dei the foundation of secular respect for human life and the validity of human freedom.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” – Genesis 1:27.
The secular values that define human life are historically and philosophically dependent upon a Christian view of reality. The secular belief that humans are much different from animals although we have a reptilian brain still holds. The book of Genesis describes human beings in the same light.
Although leaving among the animals and created by God just as the animals, Man was very different from the animals, our intelligence being an undeniable factor, although God is an extremely powerful being, He does not bind Man to himself. God creates man in His image and man exemplifies intelligence, freedom, moral responsibility, and an intimate relationship that is not selfish.
“So the Lord God formed from the soil every kind of animal and bird, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever he called them, that was their name. But still, there was no proper helper for the man. Then the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and took one of his ribs and closed up the place from which he had removed it, and made the rib into a woman, and brought her to the man.” –Genesis 2:20-25.
“Then Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh”- Genesis 2:23-24.
Fast forward to 64 BCE and the notion of Imago Dei fueled with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as ‘God incarnate’, fully God and fully human, reigns supreme over the ancient Jewish thought of Jew and Gentile, slave and captive. Jesus as God, the image of God in human form, had created ‘new humanity that challenged the then established pagan social-political order, blurring the difference between the slave and free, Jew and gentile, an undeniable milestone of setting man free.
An interesting fact is that the notion of Imago Dei tied to the concept of ‘new humanity’ originating from Judea at a time of great human bondage, slavery, and hegemonistic rulership was termed as ‘atheism’ by the then colonial power, the Roman Empire.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” – Matthew 25:40.
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” – Matthew 25:41-45.
The ‘new humanity’ removed the dictatorial grasp of the emperor of Rome from the minds of the masses and replaced it with a sense of equality and justice. The head of the ‘new humanity was not the emperor of Rome but God Himself, Jesus Christ.
Today, the United Nations on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights aimed at promoting the peaceful coexistence of the human family stipulates in article one that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
The bible, the essence of human life and the pinnacle of good principles
“There is not a person in the world who behaves as badly as praying mantises. But wait, you say, there is no right or wrong in nature; right or wrong is a human concept. Exactly! We are moral creatures in an amoral world. Or consider the alternative; it is only a human feeling that is freakishly a miss. All right then, we are the freaks and the world is ‘normal’. So let us all go have lobotomies to restore us to a natural state and we can leave lobotomized, go back to the creek, and live on its banks untroubled as any muskrat or weed. You first” – Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and overall the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” – Genesis 1:26.
Surely everyone has had something wrong done to them, we have done something that we know is noble and right but we can’t deny the sense of evil especially when we are repaid with wrong for something that we did right.
“The most appalling kinds of human evil and wickedness are a problem for anyone who believes in god, but they are at least as big if not, a bigger problem for people who don’t believe in God. These are the only two alternatives. Can there be even such a thing as ‘evil and wickedness’ if God does not exist, and we all here only by random chance? I don’t see how.
An atheistic view of the world has no logical place for genuine moral obligation. The strong eating the weak is completely natural and you have no foundation for saying it’s wrong or evil. Therefore, if you think that there is such as thing as good and evil that is not simply an illusion, then you have a very powerful reason to believe in God.” – Alvin Plantinga, Philosophers Who Believe
If Jesus Christ was God in human form then it made it clear that human life was of great importance at a time when the social class of an individual defined the importance of one’s life.
The practices stipulated in the bible actualized by the early Christian church members revolutionized the world’s perception of human life.
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” – Psalm 8:4-6.
Historian David Bentley Hart argues,
“This immense dignity, this infinite capacity, inheres in every person, no matter what circumstances might, for now, seem to limit him or her to one destiny or another. No previous Western vision of human begin remotely resembles this one”
If there is no such thing as morality, how can there be something good? For if we know we can live without goodness then we know there has to be morality, if not, why does it anger us if thieves break in for the valued possession that we have toiled in blood and sweat? If we need to be moral to exist then why should we have something that defines morality? Lucky for us we live in a world with a moral sense guarded by state Laws, however, these Laws have immense Christian influence.
Jesus Christ had made known the love of God by giving up his life for the world; the early Christians embarked on good works and proclaimed the importance of good virtues that superseded what the Graeco-Roman culture had exemplified. The emergence of secular humanism is deeply rooted in the Christ-like virtues of the early Christians. Christian virtues promoted many especially those that were been ostracized and overlooked by the pagan culture.
The spread of Christian virtues brought the end of the plight of the socially disadvantaged and restored dignity to those who were lacking a persona. For example, the disabled were not allowed legal identity and perceived as morally irrelevant, as a result, were subject to all manner of abuses especially sexual abuse.
Christian culture through biblical principles restored identity and self-dignity to all the disabled. Widows received special care from the church which included compensations, the sick received persistent care.
There is no doubt the Bible is one of the oldest books today if not the oldest, with it, comes an immense wealth in historical knowledge and insights. The bible, although not always, remains a key tool for archeologists and activities such as treasure hunts.
Some may claim that some of the books in the bible are irrelevant today and belong to the mythical realm. Statements such as “the Lord caused the water to be divide” (Exodus 14:21), as Moses leads the Israelites across the Red Sea cannot be proved or disapproved and therefore do not fit as a historical report. There are no electronic recordings that preserve actual utterances of key biblical figures such as Moses. Some of the stories recorded in the bible are actual parables while stories behind the prominence of biblical figures such as David described as a ‘man of war’ might as well been invented heroic deeds.
However, the bible is a crucial tool in the validation of certain historical events, for example, although the military events described in the book of Joshua might not have been the actual cause of the beginning of the Israelite community, settlements in the hill country are approved by the historical rise of the Iron Age.
Modern archeological discoveries such as the Mesha Stela an inscription discovered in Jordan prove the existence of King Omri, it also narrates his oppression of the Moabites which relates to 2 Kings 3 narratives.
Such historical knowledge at the end of the day solidifies the existence of biblical figures and raises the credibility of the bible stories as actual historical witnesses.
It is sometimes certainly impossible to prove the stories in the bible tell historical events as they happened. Most of it is related to the writer’s point of view keeping in mind most writers did not write to offer factual history but proof that Jesus was the Son of God. However, the truths that bible stories tell are factual enough to make the bible relevant today. Some countries such as Israel base most of their history on the bible, enough to brand themselves as ‘the Holy Land. Most countries in the world, especially in the Middle East associate their history, land, and sites with biblical verses, without the bible these countries lose a firm grip of their claims, and millions of revenue generated by biblical sites in their land, therefore, the bible remains of key importance in our modern world.
“This Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in all you do” – Joshua 1:8.
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” – John 15:7.
As Bible believers, we hope that everyone could understand the scriptures. However, we are not immune to doubt and the troubles of this world. We know that the scriptures are reliable but how are the scriptures important to us when we doubt them, or more so when feeling like they do not relate to what we face. Here are 5 reasons why the bible is important to any believer.
1. Our doubtful heart
“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” – Psalm 73:1-3.
As we go about our lives as believers, we are bound to be caught in troubling times, and scenarios that cause us to doubt the scriptures that we have believed. However, through the same scriptures, God meets us in our moment of doubt. There are countless instances when characters in the bible doubted and questioned God. However, it is through the light of the scriptures where beliefs that cause us to doubt are challenged.
“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end” – Psalm 73:17.
2. We know what we worship
Nothing exposes God and his character as the scriptures. As the world finds trouble in believing that God is true, we, on the other hand, want to be like Him. Those that do not know God cannot escape the power of sin.
“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” – Psalm 14:1.
It is from the bible that we learn that the heart is deceptive and can easily lead us astray and it is through the same scriptures that we examine and subject our hearts to Godly instruction.
“He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding” – Proverbs 15:32.
The world will never cease to seek after God, although they deny the scriptures and seek after their hearts and worship idols. We through the excellence of the scriptures know Him by name.
“Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I” – Isaiah 52:6
“Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” – 1 Corinthians 1:20-21.
3. There is no good thing in me, so I will look to the heavens.
As most religious books teach on human actualization, human works will, and power, the bible teaches us to look to God for help. The more we look within ourselves for solutions the more we get confused, we can’t control everything about ourselves. Although there times that we are full of faith, our emotions are never stable and other times we might be at our lowest.
“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” – Romans 7:19.
Knowing that we are to look to God sets us free from ourselves, the bible is truly our source of security and strength. Nothing is more empowering than knowing that the almighty God will never leave nor forsake you and neither is He angry or set to show you wrath but give you an inheritance that is not man-made.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” – Psalm 73:26.
When we fall we are not cast away, we find refuge in the scriptures as those without the knowledge and understanding of the scriptures fall into self-condemnation. Without the scriptures, we would rely on our understanding which would lead us to condemnation.
4. A Higher sense of purpose
The world can easily feel lonely and empty and everything starts to lose meaning as we age, all the fast cars and shining lights become so dull. However, the scriptures teach us not to base our worth on things on earth but on things above. This fills us with hope and a sense of fulfillment in life.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” – Mathew 6:19-21.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” –James 1:12
The bible promises of our immortality and great rewards in a perfect life that is to come. This sets for us a purpose in life and a reason to do good works, avoid strife and evil.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” – John 14:3.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” – 1 Corinthians 15:58.
5. Where we find answers
There is no doubt that we live in a cruel world, where injustice and hostility run rampant. This can weigh in on our hearts sometimes, however, unlike those without the scriptures that take this to mean God is dead and not existent, we know that God is mindful and will at the right time set everything right, avenge against the unjust and make restitution for all that is lost. While those without the knowledge of the scriptures condemn God for the cruelty of the world, accuse Him of being irresponsive of our pain, and quick to send judgment, we know that God is good and his mercy endures forever.
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” – Acts 17:30-31.
The scriptures give us a clear understanding of God’s mind which puts our soul at rest. They are a light on our feet us we live in a dying world.
“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ” – 1 Corinthians 2:16.
Reading and watching biblical prophecies fulfilled give us a better understanding of our world and where others are fearful we are filled with good expectations. This makes us optimistic in life and frees us from getting caught by the unfair ways of our world which would otherwise steal our faith and cause fear. Therefore we cannot afford to let go of the scriptures for it is the lamp that we have to guide us through a dark world.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” – Psalm 119:105.