The First Five Books [The Pentateuch (Genesis–Deuteronomy)]
The Purpose Of The Scripture
When we come to the Bible, we come to God’s word, written to communicate God’s truth to us. One might define the Bible as God’s word written in the words of men. It tells a story and affirms that God has acted on behalf of man for his salvation and restoration. God certainly could have chosen any way he desired to communicate to us, but the fact remains that he chose a certain method to communicate his truth.
The result of that choice by God is the Bible, which we may hold in our hands, the contents of which we may hide in our hearts, and live out in our lives.
Scripture tells us that God has spoken to us, but what has he said? For one to be in a better position for the Holy Spirit to communicate effectively to him/her the truths of God, one must at least know the purpose of the Bible. If you are to begin to have a proper grasp of the meaning of Scripture, you must decide what its purpose is. To know the purpose of any object helps you define its use. Let’s use a hammer as an illustration. The primary purpose of a hammer is to drive nails. If it is used for that purpose, the intended results will be accomplished. If, however, it is used for other than its purpose, the result could be disastrous. Suppose for a moment that a child was given a hammer without being instructed concerning its use. You may find a hole in the wall instead of nails in the studs. The same is certainly true about Scripture. If you are to discern its meaning, you must know its purpose. If not, Scripture usually gets used in all kinds of ways that it was not intended to be used and holey walls become abundant. That brings us to its purpose.
The purpose of Scripture is to share the redemptive history of God. It is meant to convey a knowledge of God, who is known chiefly by what he has done and in the person in whom he was incarnate. The religious interest of the authors of Scripture control their selection of events and the importance attached to them. They often write for other ends than to simply impart knowledge. They may, on occasion, desire to move their readers to adopt a certain attitude toward life, i.e., religious, social, or political. On the other hand, they may wish to encourage them or calm their troubled minds. The characters of Scripture really lived life and had all the emotions with which we all contend.
Paul, writing to Timothy (2 Tim. 3.16-17), gives us the purpose of Scripture in a simple and precise manner. Paul tells us “…All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for…
- Teaching: which provides instruction for us
- Rebuking: which shows us our sin and summons us to repentance
- Correcting: which restores us to an upright position
- Training in Righteousness: which directs us to walk in the right paths as opposed to wrong paths.
The end result, … so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (v. 17). The word “equipped” is the same word that we find in Mark 1.19, there translated “mending” (RSV, in the NIV it is translated “preparing”), and in Ephesians 4.12 where it is translated “to equip.” In each of the contexts it means “to be put together.” In the vernacular, it means that God’s Word taught to us helps us “get our act together.” As we look at Scripture, we should realize that its purpose is to “mend” us and make us conformed to the image of Jesus (Rom. 8.29). If one uses Scripture with this purpose in mind, there will be much less chance of misusing it. The purpose of Scripture then is to help us understand the following:
- How God has acted on behalf of his children.
- How God relates to his creation, i.e., humankind.
- How humankind should relate to him as God.
- How humankind should relate to man.