We certainly believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, breathed into its writer by the Holy Spirit. We believe it is His way of communicating with us today.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.
However, we should also remember that although it was written for us, it was not all written to us. The epistles, for example, are letters addressed to specific people or groups of people. They were read out in various churches, and no doubt circulated beyond their original addressee. Nevertheless, the epistles represent correspondence between an apostle and someone else. We are reading somebody’s mail.
Does this make it of less value? No, but we have to remember this, and remember at all times who the writer was, and to whom he was writing.
Why? Because well-meaning Christians who want to honour God look at a verse, and say, “This was written to us!” Was it? It was written to somebody else, although there is much value in what is said, from which we can learn (2 Timothy 3:16). In other words, it was written to somebody else, but written for us!
Consider the following examples:
1 Timothy 3:14,15 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long, but in case I am delayed…
Who was ‘I’? Who was ‘You’? Are we to wait for Paul’s return because of this statement?
2 Timothy 4:19-21 “Greet Prisca and Aquila. Make every effort to come (visit me in prison) before winter. Eubulus greets you.”
Who was Paul speaking to? Are we to greet these people because the Bible is written to us? Are we to make the journey to Rome before winter? Are we all blessed with Eubulus’ (and others’) greetings? You will say, “Stupid question! It’s obviously to be read in its context of situation and time!”
Hebrews 10:31-34 But remember the former days.
Whose former days?
1 Thessalonians 4:17 – …we who are alive and remain shall be caught up
Whom is Paul writing to? Who was ‘we’? If you said, “Christians thousands of years in the future”, what reason would you have to say that? Simply this: We do not believe that Jesus came back in their lifetime, and so Paul couldn’t have meant what he so obviously said!
1 John 2:18 – Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.
To whom was this written? Who is ‘we’ When was the last hour?
When we read God’s words like this, bearing in mind the writer and the audience, it really becomes quite difficult to believe that the writers are addressing us today. The warnings, the promises, the assurances were all God-inspired to the churches and individuals of the time, those specifically mentioned in the salutations.
Does this mean the Bible is irrelevant to us today? Of course not! Ask a Creationist if Genesis is irrelevant! The principles, the wisdom, the unfolding of God’s plan have enormous relevance for us!