The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. – Jeremiah 31:3 (KJV)
When I was a young and newly-converted believer in Jesus, I heard it said that the Bible is “God’s love letter to you.” That was then for me a pleasant thought and one that led me to read and study the Bible with a view to finding out how God could be speaking to me, personally, through its words. Of course, there is much in the Bible that could hardly be described as the language of love and moreover, there was much of it that seemed not to be addressed to me but to the Old Testament people of God, the Israelites, or in the case of the New Testament, to the first generation of Jesus’ disciples. But I came to understand, and I hope you do too, that the whole point of the Bible is that it is God’s way of speaking to us because of His great love for us.
I also recall from a later time, the many love letters my wife and I wrote to each other during our courtship. However, they were somewhat different. Tyla’s letters were full of loving thoughts and passionate expressions of longing directed toward this unworthy recipient. She was also very creative in her letter writing. Once, I received a literal letter in a bottle! I could count on getting a letter just about every day. My missives, however, tended to be long theological musings and exhortations. I was then in seminary and getting stuffed full of divine truth, truth I thought would be very helpful to my beloved. Poor Tyla would quickly scan the many paragraphs of theological erudition until she got near the end, or even the very end where a hint of my love and regard for her might find expression, if only by such a sign-off as “with all my love”, you-know-who. That poor girl! In any case, she persevered with me and I think that today, she knows I love her passionately and with all my heart. It’s just that I had a funny way of showing it! My letters were, in fact, love letters, showing that I regarded her as the one with whom I intended to spend my life, a life in service to God.
Now, when it comes to God’s love letter or letters to us, that is, the Bible, we may need to exercise a little of that same kind of trust and perseverance. It is said that the great theologian, Karl Barth, was once asked to summarize his theology in a single sentence. This is a man whose magnum opus consists of thirteen fat volumes known as the Church Dogmatics, the largest systematic theology ever written. To this question he replied, “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’” Karl Barth’s theology was based on the Bible and the central teaching of that book: the God who framed the universe and keeps it in existence loves you and gave His only-begotten Son that you might be saved from sin and live eternally in conscious communion with Him! (John 1:1, 14; 3:15-16)
Perhaps the question has occurred to you, “Can I trust that the Bible is indeed from God? Might it not be just the words of men?” After all, the Bible did not come wafting down from heaven nor was it delivered by angels. It was indeed written by human beings and it plainly says so. It also, just as plainly, and in many places, claims to be the product of Divine inspiration. But how shall we come to a firm conviction about this? There are a number of ways to do this but one that brought me originally to faith in the Bible was the following reasonable argument. First, the writings of the New Testament are reliable as history. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are perfect, but just as good a source of information as say, Josephus’ book, The Jewish War, written in the same century about the same region. On any reasonable evaluation, the authors were contemporaries of the persons and events they describe. Second, they testify concerning a man who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah. They provide a sample of his teachings and activities authentically set in the period and place they claim for him. Third, they testify that he died and, three days later, arose from the dead. This testimony is first-hand, by those who were eye-witnesses. This testimony was delivered shortly after the event and continued throughout their lifetimes during which they suffered much for their testimony, including losing their lives. The resurrection of Jesus, therefore, is sufficient evidence that His claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God, is true.
Now, if Jesus was truly the Messiah, His testimony about the Bible should be believed. And what was His testimony about the Bible? A full treatment would fill a good-sized book but here is a brief summary: He said that the Bible is superior to the traditions of men (Mark 7:6-13). He quoted the Bible to refute the arguments of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). He said that what the Bible said, God said (Matthew 19:1-6; note that He quoted simple narrative statements and said they were God’s words). He said that the Bible was about Him (John 5:39-47; see also Luke 22:41-45). He said that the Bible was divinely authoritative, down to the smallest letter and stroke of the pen (Matthew 5:17-19). He said that the Bible was entirely trustworthy and dependable (John 10:30-39). He said that the prophecies of the Bible must be fulfilled (Luke 22:37). He treated the Biblical accounts as reliable history, including such things as the flood of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39) and the story of Jonah and the great fish (Matthew 12:39-41).
Nor was His endorsement of the Bible confined to the Old Testament portion. He said He would send “scribes of the kingdom” who would provide from their treasures “things new and old” (Matthew 13:52; 23:34) a wonderful expression for the New Testament authors who quoted from the Old Testament in support of their own testimony of Christ.Jesus sent His apostles forth to teach all nations, (Matthew 28:18-20) praying for all those who would believe in Him through their word (John 17:20).The New Testament writings are those words.The point is this:we can believe the Bible is God’s letter to us because Jesus says it is!And it is, indeed, a love letter, for the sum of all its contents is that simple but profound truth: God loves us and has demonstrated His love through His Son, Jesus.No matter where we turn in the Bible, we should read it as God’s love letter to us, His children, with messages to comfort, correct, inspire and teach us how to live in this world and prepare for the world to come.