Only the Bible teaches us about God’s grace.
Jesus taught two little parables. The first is about a man who found a treasure and was so filled with joy that he “went and sold all he had and bought the field” where the treasure was hidden. The second was about a man who found a priceless pearl and “sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46).
What is most important to you? Family? Home? Job? Reputation? Portfolio? All of these? Something else? We work hard to achieve these, grow them, and protect them. But is there anything that would make you willing to give all that up? Some face the loss of life’s treasures in tragedies and misfortunes, but they do not choose to give them up.
It might be helpful to ask the question a bit differently. When your life comes to an end and you must give up all these things, what will be most important to you?
Speculation about life after death
Many have speculated about what awaits us after all of life’s treasures—and life itself—are gone. Research will lead to the sacred books of many religions that speculate what is of value beyond this life’s boundary. Some seek some wise person, perhaps on a mountaintop somewhere, who can answer their deep questions. Yet those answers are human opinions bound by observation and experience here on this earth.
On our own, we cannot penetrate anything beyond what we know and experience here. Even scientific research cannot. It can speculate and project but only on the assumptions about what we know here. Is there anything of eternal value worth enough to risk everything, not only to possess and live for but even to abandon our treasures, in order to retain?
Some claim they can see beyond our limitations. They tell the world that their message comes from an angel or personal vision that gives them special information outside the human experience.
The Bible also claims to have special information beyond this life. Jesus claimed to be sent from above. He said, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23). Is the Bible just another religious book among all the others, even those claiming some information beyond the human experience? What makes the message of Jesus we find in the Bible different and important? Why do people dismiss and even oppose the message of Jesus?
The Bible’s message of life eternal
Jesus had enemies even while he lived. When he claimed to be from above, some of those who heard him wanted to stone him in the streets of Jerusalem. He expressed his message so beautifully, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . . My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:11,27,28). Yet his message was unwanted and unwelcome, and they wanted to stone him (John 10:31). They would eventually succeed in killing him.
Then Jesus did what was impossible. He rose from the dead. No one had ever defied and even defeated death. He proved he was “from above” and could deliver eternal life as he promised. His enemies couldn’t believe Jesus rose; they wanted to stamp out the message of Jesus and those who proclaimed it. They did not succeed.
The message Jesus taught was more important than life itself to many of his followers, even though many rejected them and the message of the Bible. But the message of the Bible is unique in this world. The Bible announces the only message that tells us of God’s grace through Jesus that gives eternal life to all who follow Jesus. All other sacred books or speculation about death, life, and what will happen after this life are different. They all require human obedience to earn entrance into eternal life. Only the Bible tells us that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
We know that, and we treasure that truth. In order to treasure this, we have faced a painful truth about ourselves. We, as humans, are flawed and sinful. We are helpless by our own efforts or thinking to come to God, who is justly offended by our failings and sins. The Bible says we are all unworthy to enter life, but God himself has cleansed us through Jesus and covered our faults and shortcomings, that we might live forever in his presence.
A message that still matters today
The message of the Bible remains as simple as Jesus said, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It was true for those in Jesus’ day and for us too. The Bible still matters. Grace still matters for all those in need of cleansing, healing, and hope for eternity.
God’s grace is the foundation of what we believe and teach. It’s the reason we cling to the Bible’s message and consider it God’s Word.
We can join the apostle Paul in treasuring this gift of God. As he faced prison and the loss of all things—even his life—he wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. . . . I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 1:21; 3:8). He understood what was more important than everything, including life here on earth.
The Bible alone tells us of this undeserved gift. God’s grace is the foundation of what we believe and teach. It’s the reason we cling to the Bible’s message and consider it God’s Word. That grace of God in Jesus matters to us. It mattered to Paul as he faced prison and execution and wrote, “To die is gain.” It mattered to Martin Luther as he stood before the emperor and confessed his confidence in the Scripture’s message of grace. It matters to you now and to every other Christian who follows Jesus. It matters because he promises eternal life as a gift of his grace.
The Bible mattered to the many who suffered persecution and would rather die than deny Jesus. Grace and eternal life matter to those who face persecution and opposition today. The message of the Bible matters and will matter as long as death grimly invades our homes, taking our loved ones and stretching out its hand for us. It matters for those we will leave behind—the next generation and the generation after that.
Whether we want to admit it or not, a time will come when we will lose all we treasure here, even life itself. By God’s grace we look for the life to come because the Bible tells us so. The Bible still matters.
This is the first article in a four-part series on the importance of the Bible today.
Author: John Braun
Volume 108, Number 2
Issue: February 2021