Like many other boomers I learned about the Bible in childhood. The teachers in the Beginners Class at West Greenville Baptist Church, where our grandfather Rev. O. F. Owens served as pastor, taught us Bible stories and that sweet children's song in our introductory lessons---
The B. I. B. L. E.
Yes, that's the book for me.
I stand alone on the Word of God
The B. I. B. L. E.
Of course, much later in life, around age 30, the Bible became a more serious study for me. Up until what we refer to as our call to ministry there was a a growing familiarity with Scripture. At the time this young, married business man had agreed to teach a Sunday School class for high school juniors and seniors. That year a fellow teacher invited me to join him and a few others in a read through the Bible exercise, twelve months from Genesis through Revelation. That year of Bible reading ignited something in me that is difficult to explain. Now, in the next chapters of a forty year career in pastoral ministry, that year of Bible reading stands out as among the most formative periods of my own personal development. There was continued Bible education, a Master of Divinity degree, and an eventual doctorate. iN the process God has honored me with leading four wonderful congregations. There were also several years as Director of Pastoral Ministries for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Serving in these areas involved hundreds of worship services, weddings, funerals, baptisms, counseling sessions, conferences, seminars, and staff development events. In forty six + years as a husband and father, with joys multiplied by Harriet, Elizabeth, and Brian, now son-in-law Scott and grands John Lewis and Laura, those months of Bible reading still flash notably on my memory screen. Bible reading matters.
The Bible is campaign central in the Christian faith. The degree to which the believing community subscribes to the efficacy and authority of Scripture is certainly a matter of continuing debate. We Baptists tend to hold a high view of Scripture, meaning that the Bible is viewed as God's Word, inerrant and infallible. The Baptist Faith and Message- 2000 is an affirmation of basic Baptist theological standards. Section 1 identifies Southern Baptist beliefs about the Bible---
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to
man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for
its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is
totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and
therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union,
and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions
should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine
If you would like to read or study the entire Baptist Faith and Message-2000 please click here.
There are hundreds of Bible selections that affirm the value of Scripture with the basic assumption that it be read at the least. Six times in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus asked the Pharisees "Have you not read...?" or something to that effect (see Matthew 12:3; 12:5; 19:4; 21:16; 21:42; and 22: 31). He was challenging their legalistic belief system in the thought that they had surely read Scripture. On several occasions in the Pauline Epistles he wrote, "When you read...", a clear expectation that the believers who received his letters would read them (see Ephesians 3:4, Colossians 4:16, and 1 Thessalonians 5: 27). Certainly Scripture should be read. In that period back in 1979 God taught me several simple basics about the value of Scripture reading.
1. Scripture reveals eternal truth when read.
Those months of reading through the Bible were extraordinary for me. In the shifting dynamics of cultural systems eternal truth gave me timeless guidance for the ages. There were commands, promises, and the miraculous revelation of God's will for humanity. In those months the character of God became mysteriously clear. That period of reading taught me that, "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" (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV).
2. Scripture teaches us the ways of God in history when read. That reading challenge introduced me to the people, events, places, and circumstances of ancient history. It also taught me "For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed" (Malachi 3: 6, ESV). Encountering the unchangeable God in those reading assignments gave me assurance, hope, and peace, for the life he had planned for us. It taught me as well the enormous influence of those times on all of human history.
3. Scriptures introduces and guarantees the facts of life when read.
Yes, things have changed greatly in our world since those millennia past. Still, human nature hasn't changed and God's expectations of us are clearly seen in the pages of God's Word. A primary life lesson was "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23, ESV). This fact of life alone, with many others as well, became a significant milestone in living the life he planned for us.
There are many writings, certainly more eloquent and thorough than this one, about the value of simply reading the Bible. It's the B.I.B.L.E., yes that's the book for me. And, the blessings and joys of God's Word can begin in your life when you decide to read it.