This is part 2 in a series of related posts. Read part 1 here.
I found out that Christians are sometimes accused of being Bible worshippers.... by other Christians! At first I thought this was just another label given to those of us who call ourselves biblical fundamentalists. I did a little more research, and found the term was applied even more broadly that I originally thought. I was stunned to say the least! Essentially I was being accused of idolatry! I am the LORD thy God... thou shalt have no other gods before me (Ex. 20:2-3). I had NO IDEA that because I simply choose to make the Bible my final authority in all matters and that because I can back up my beliefs and my standards with Scripture, that made me a Bible worshipper!
If I'm a Bible worshipper, then I'm making the Bible an idol, because to worship anything other than God is idolatry. What is an idol anyways? An idol is an image or an icon that a person bows down to and gives reverence to. I have never bowed down to the Bible and "worshipped" it. We don't have a fancy Bible (or a tattered and torn Bible for that matter) in the front of our church for people to come forward and kneel before. At least I can have a clear conscience in that regard about being a Bible worshipper!
An idol can also be that which takes the place of God. An idol is something that would take away time I'm supposed to be spending with God and cause me to spend it elsewhere. An idol is something that would cause me to disobey the Lord. If I am giving all my time, energy, devotion, and worship to something other than God, then that is an idol. But when I'm giving my time, energy, and devotion to reading the Bible, I'm spending time with God! Is that idolatry? When I memorize Scripture, I'm doing that which pleases and honours God (Ps. 119:11). Is that worshipping the book more than the Author? When I quote Scripture to give instruction to my Sunday School class, am I exalting the Bible above its rightful place? When I'm witnessing for Christ and ministering in my church because the Bible tells me too, am I putting God in second place? When I sing "Jesus loves me this I know, for the BIBLE tells me so," am I a Bible worshipper... an idolater?
Personally, I think those who accuse others of being Bible worshippers are actually being convicted about their own lack of faith in the Bible. I think when they see someone who can quote Scripture and who can give biblical reasons for why they live the way they do, it makes them uncomfortable. After all the Word of God is a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb 4:12). Often these people have set up their church, pastor, or even their own ideas as their authority instead of the Bible. When they meet someone who lives by the Book they need to find a good reason why they don't live by the Book. They need to be justified. Calling someone a Bible worshipper makes them look more spiritual, and the other who has the Bible as his authority looks like the one who is sinning. This is some pretty twisted logic if you ask me.
Is it possible to worship the Bible? I do believe it is possible to become proud of one's devotion to the Bible. Christians can become proud of the fact that they read 10 chapters a day or something like that. And of course the person who reads 10 chapters must be so much more spiritual than the one who only reads 9 chapters. That's just pride, and the Bible warns us repeatedly against such an attitude (Pro. 8:13). One important thing to remember is that it's not the Bible reading that is the sin. It's NEVER a sin to read the Bible. It's the attitude of pride that is the sin.
The Word of God is important because it is how He speaks to us. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). The Christian life is indeed a life of faith. For we walk by faith, not by sight (II Cor. 5:7). You cannot expect to live a victorious Christian life apart from the Bible. The Bible gives us truth, guidance, and direction. Many say they have direction because God speaks to them in other ways, so they don't need the Bible. I don't question God speaking to us in other ways at all! He is God, and He can do anything. He often uses the testimony of another believer or circumstances in our lives to teach us. However, is what God teaching or telling you outside of the Bible in agreement with the Bible? If it isn't, then it isn't from God. God is never going to contradict His Word. HE wrote it!!!! Why on earth would He go against it?!!!! For I am the LORD, I change not... (Mal. 3:6). If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself (II Tim 2:13). I've heard all kinds of excuses for disobedience to God's Word, and often the rational goes something along the lines of, "Well I feel that God would have me to do this." That sounds so spiritual doesn't it? If it's violating Scripture then it doesn't matter one ounce what YOU feel, God DOES NOT want you to do it! God does not speak to us through feelings or ideas, He speaks through His holy Word. When our feelings line up with what the Bible says, then great. When they don't, then we need to change how we feel to match what the Scripture says.
Okay... now that I've gotten the sarcasm out of my system, on to being a bit more serious. Satan is all about casting doubt on God's Word. That was the first thing He did in the garden of Eden with Eve. You can read about it in Genesis 2. This notion that putting too much emphasis on the Bible makes one a Bible worshipper is another tactic the devil using to discredit what God has said. No born again Christian wants to be accused of idolatry. I certainly didn't. This idea is deceitful, and it's making Christians doubt the truth and authority of the Scripture. Satan knows that if he can cast doubt on the Word of God then he can keep Christians from being productive servants of the Lord. He is succeeding. He has put so much doubt and confusion into the minds of Christians that we are now accusing our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ of living too much by the Bible. If I'm not supposed to live so much by the Bible, then what's the alternative? Can we try too hard to be like Christ? Satan cannot take away the salvation of a blood bought believer; however, he can influence us. He will try his hardest and his best to tempt us. He is powerful, and he thinks he can win. He even tried to tempt the Lord Jesus, Who was perfect (Matt. 4)!!! That's just plain arrogance.
Since the early church countless Christians have given their lives as martyrs because of the truths of Scripture. They literally sacrificed everything to uphold the Word of God! Now we're being told that we shouldn't put so much emphasis on the very same Word that people bled and died for! Now we're being told, "Don't worry about what the Bible says, just go by your heart. God will guide you." Those who say this may mean well, but they are sadly blinded. The heart is deceitful. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9) Feelings will lie. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing... For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not: that I do (Rom. 7:15, 18-19). Only God's Word is reliable. The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul... (Psalm 19:7).
"All you guys ever talk about at your church is the Bible." Yup... that pretty much sums it up. Does that emphasis make me and my church and others like us Bible worshippers?
The Bible is God's revelation of Himself to the human race. Is the Bible God? Don't think I'm a heretic, but that's a question that I'm not sure if I can give a simple yes or no answer to.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). We know from John 1:14 that "the Word" in this passage is referring to Jesus Christ, and of course we know that Jesus is God. However, John under inspiration of the Holy Spirit gave the name of "Word" to the Lord Jesus. This has significance. The Bible is quick and powerful (Heb 4:12). The Bible is not God in the sense that it is divine. However, the Bible IS God's revelation of Himself to me. While God reveals Himself in creation (Ps. 19:1) and in our conscience (John 1:9; interesting that we learn these concepts from Scripture...), the Bible is the ONLY place that I can truly learn about God's character, and Who He is. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me (John 17:8). But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth (Psalm 86:15). Even more than that the Bible teaches me the way to God (John 14:6). It also teaches me what God expects of His children (Genesis-Revelation :). If believing the Bible is what it says it is makes me a Bible worshipper, then I guess I'm guilty.
What is my attitude toward the Bible? I'm going to share it, and then you can determine for yourself if I'm a Bible worshipper or not. Let me repeat. I have NEVER bowed down and prayed to the Bible. I have NEVER bowed and worshipped a book. We DO NOT bow to the Bible in my church.
I esteem, respect, and reverence the Bible.
Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments (Psalm 119:6).
...I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food (Job 23:12).
I obey the commands of the Bible (try to at least...).
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (James 1:22).
I believe that the Bible is my sole authority.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Gal 1:8).
This warning is severe! To depart from the gospel (which is found in God's Word), is a serious thing.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (II Tim. 3:16-17).
Thy word is true from the beginning... (Psalm 119:160).
I believe in meditating and memorizing the Bible.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night (Psalm 1:2).
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Psalm 119:11).
I believe in standing firm on what the Bible says, even if that means fighting for it.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3).
Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. And the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:11, 17).
I believe that wisdom comes from reading the Bible.
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding (Pro. 2:6).
I believe knowledge and understand come from the Bible.
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation (Psalm 119:99).
I believe that conviction comes from the Bible.
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they my receive forgiveness of sins... (Acts 26:18).
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty (conviction resulting in action), not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God (II Cor. 4:2).
I have started these statements with "I believe." Am I contradicting the advice I was given that my opinions mean nothing? No... I DO believe these things. I believe them with all my heart. I believe them not because they are my opinion, or my pastor's opinion, or a fundamental baptist opinion. I believe them because the Bible says so! If that makes me a Bible worshipper... so be it!
One more thought. If loving, respecting, memorizing, meditating, and living the Scripture makes one a Bible worshipper then the guy who wrote Psalm 119 was the biggest Bible worshipper of all! It's interesting that the longest chapter in the Bible is all about the Bible. Maybe God's trying to get across just how important it really is!