A few months back I wrote an article which discussed why I believe the Bible is not the final authority for the Christian. The premise of my article was that Jesus is the final authority and we know this because it is the Bible that tells us so.
When we truly love something, we want it to be treated with the dignity it deserves, the way it was designed to be treated. The Bible points us to Jesus, and it is for this reason that I have loved it since I came to faith in my teenage years.
I grew up in a church where the Bible was given prominence above anything else. Bible memory verses were popular and favourite passages were quoted during services.
Those formative years gave me a love of the Bible which was the foundation of my fledgling faith as a reserved, somewhat timid teenager. It all started for me when I was 15.
At that time I was the only Sunday School student in my year level at my church, so I had the full attention of my Sunday School teacher. When I told him that I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I didn’t know what I had done. And a few weeks later when an older friend in the church said he had heard that I had ‘made a commitment’, I thought that if that’s what I had done, I suppose I had better start reading the Bible! So I did.
The first book of the Bible I remember reading was Proverbs. It is no exaggeration that its impact on me was profound. Reading the early chapters on advice to the young, I took them to heart as a 15 year old. When I read words which talked about getting wisdom and understanding, to not forsake wisdom, but to love it and that it will watch over me, I was moved to the core of my being. I remember thinking that this was what I had been looking for all of my young life. I wanted it with a passion.
As the months went by, my home circumstances grew gradually worse as I realised my parents’ marriage was seriously on the rocks. I experienced a mild depression as Mum and Dad argued every day and the tension at home increased.
During this time I was going through a program of reading the Bible in a year. I have to say I found a lot of the Old Testament quite dull, but the New Testament was something else.
I vividly recall sitting on the plane flying to Germany in the summer of 1985/86, reading through Acts. I was on the trip with Mum, and Dad had said he would be moving out when we got back home. In this context I read about Paul going through shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment and misunderstanding. I shook my head as I read what the great apostle went through.
I then read in John’s Gospel that, in Christ, God had given those who believed in him the right to become children of God, and in Romans that there is no condemnation for those in him. My sense of self-worth was given a new foundation; I didn’t have to be a scared teenager anymore, trying to look cool on the outside while being dead-scared on the inside.
Going further, I read in the letters to Timothy and the letters of Peter about being persecuted for your faith and for doing what was right. With my newfound sense of identity, I then wanted nothing more than to do right by God. That was affirmed when I nodded in agreement at Paul’s statement that he wanted nothing more than to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.
In the midst of the suffering and turmoil caused by the disintegration of my parents’ marriage, my faith became personal and rock-solid. But perhaps the greatest encouragement came when I finished my year of going through the whole Bible. In Revelation, that most misinterpreted of all books in the Bible, I read at the end that there would come a day when there would be no more tears, no more pain and no more death. The joy and hope within me was confirmed. My family’s upheaval was not the final say. A better day was coming. I could have joy and hope right in the middle of what I was going through. And it was all because of what I read in the Bible.
Today those words still give me hope. My passion for the Bible is as strong as ever. Reading it taught me about Jesus, the one who gives hope not just for the future but for the present. I pray that I will remain ever thankful for such a gift.
Nils von Kalm is from Melbourne, Australia and has a passion for showing how the Gospel is relevant to life in the 21st century. He can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nils.vonkalm and at http://nilsvonkalm.com
Nils von Kalm’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/nils-von-kalm.html