Bible Catechism: The Doctrine of the Bible

Question How does the Bible benefit us?

Answer The Bible provides help and hope for all of life when we receive it as we ought. It enables us to grow spiritually and produce good works, and makes us wise, stable, and strong.

Scripture Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Explanation| “What’s in it for me?” Have you every heard or asked this question before? Sometimes, this is how we also think about the Bible. As we’ve seen over the last eight questions, I hope you’ve come to understand that the Bible is uniquely special and is what we need. But even in talking about what you and I need (the Bible), we should also understand that it isn’t just necessary. It’s also good for us. It is beneficial to us. But, how does it benefit us?

The Bible provides help and hope for all of life. If you fall down, sometimes you need someone to help you get back up. Even though we don’t like admitting it, we all need helpfrom time to time, don’t we? Now, think about what the Bible does. It, too, provides help.It comes to our aid. This is a good way of thinking about how the Bible benefits us. And yet, how the Bible helps us is not what we typically think of when we think of help. Because it is a book, the Bible doesn’t physically come to our aid, for it has no physical hands and feet. Rather, it helps us by what it says.1 Further, because the Bible is God’s book, it doesn’t primarily help us with physical problems, like physically falling down. No, we have other, greater, non-physical problems. And here, again, the Bible helps me by what it says about all of the other various problems related to my thoughts, beliefs, ambitions, attitudes, and affections. What about our physical problems? Well, it’s not as if the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about physical problems. It does. It’s just that the Bible tells us that our words and actions—which normally accompany our physical problems—really come from our hearts.2 And it’s our hearts that the Bible says is where our greatest problems lie. To put it another way, the Bible’s help to us, then, is primarily spiritual. So, the Bible provides help, but it also provides hope. We often think of hope as something we want to happen, but don’t know if it will happen. But when the Bible talks about hope it is usually referring to something that will happen, that we should look forward to happening even if we don’t know when it will happen. And the Bible is book of hope, providing hope to those who need it.3 Now, notice the next phrase—‘for all of life.’ The help and hope that the Bible provides are for all of life. What this means is that the Bible can benefit me no matter how young or old I am, what I’m facing in my life, or even what sort of life I’m living. 

The Bible enables us to grow spiritually and produce good works. The Bible does help us. And, its help is spiritual. But what sort of spiritual help does the Bible provide? It helps us grow spiritually and produce good works. But, let’s backup for a moment. God wants us to grow spiritually and produce good works.4 However, none us naturally do what He wants us to do. In fact, the Bible tells us that, on our own, we can’t do what He wants us to do.5 And the reason we can’t do what He wants us to do is because we are dead to God.6 So, we need to be made alive by God, which the Bible calls ‘new life’ or being ‘born again.7 Then, God continues to work in our new life so that we grow up spiritually and produce good works. How does this happen? The Bible not only tells us about these things, it is also what God uses to bring these things to pass. Let me give you a couple of examples. First, look at our verse above. What do you notice about the person it’s describing? He seems pretty fruit-ful (not fruity)doesn’t he? Similarly, the verse also uses ‘prospers’ to help us understand that this person is healthy, growing, and producing good things. But, how does this happen? The beginning of this particular Psalm tells us—‘his delight is in the law of the LORD,’ and ‘on his law he meditates day and night’ (Psalm 1:2).So, it happens as he pursues the Bible. Second, a few questions back, we looked briefly at the apostle Peter’s encouragement to, ‘love one another earnestly from a pure heart’ (1 Peter 1:22). Love is something that we need to grow in, which also becomes a good work that is produced in us. Again, how does this happen? Peter says that it happens when we are ‘born again’ by the word of God, and continually obey ‘the truth.’ Again, it happens when we pursue the Bible. What these two examples tell us, then, is that it is the Bible that helps us to be and do what God wants us to be and do.

The Bible makes us wise, stable, and strong. We could include many other benefits we receive when we read and respond rightly to the Bible. But, we’ll summarize it with these three words—wise, stable, and strong. The Bible can make us wise.8 Wisdom is knowledge applied to real life. It is skill at living, living as God intended you to live. It’s not only knowing what needs to be known, but living in such a way that rightly puts into practice what is known. And, it is the Bible that above all other things can make us wise. It can also make us stable.9 To be stable means I’m sure-footed. I’m not easily put off-balance, or prone to flit from one thing to the next. Certainly, stability is closely related to wisdom. And, it is the Bible that can make us both wise and stable. The Bible, too, can make us strong.10 By strong, I do mean ability. But this is not physical ability. Rather, what we’re talking about, here, is spiritual ability. It’s the ability to do things that are spiritually difficult—like loving others earnestly, or enduring difficulties. But it’s also the ability to not do things that would be spiritually wrong—like not giving in to the Devil’s temptations, or the enticements of sinners. And, it is the Bible that can make us wise, stable, and strong. Yes, it really does do these things. But, keep this in mind—it won’t do these things in your life if you don’t ‘receive it as you ought.’ You and I need to pursue the Bible and respond to it rightly. 

This is what the Bible teaches about…the Bible!

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1 Psalm 119147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. (See also, Psalm 46:1; 119:175)

2 Proverbs 423 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (See also, Psalm 64:6; Matthew 15:18-19; Luke 6:45)

3 Psalm 119114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. (See also, Psalm 33:22; 119:81)

4 Ephesians 210 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (See also, Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 4:15; Titus 2:11-14; 3:8; 1 Peter 2:2)

5 Romans 8For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (See also, Romans 3:10-19; Galatians 5:17)

6 Ephesians 2And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

7 1 Peter 1Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (See also, John 3:1-15; Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17)

8 2 Timothy 314 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (See also, Deuteronomy 4:6; Proverbs 1:1-7)

9 Colossians 123 If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[a] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (See also, Ephesians 4:11-16; Matthew 7:24-27)

10 Psalm 11928 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! (See also, Isaiah 40:30-31; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10-20; 1 John 2:14)