Over the last few weeks, Americans have been captivated by The Bible on television. The record-setting series garnered huge audiences, and brought many of these most well-loved Bible stories into our living rooms in living color. Congratulations to Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, for the wonderful job they did in bringing the Book of the Ages, God’s Holy Word, to life.
But lest we get lost in the fanfare surrounding the success of Christian-friendly programming, I would like to mention a few of things that would be good reminders for all of us regarding The Bible:
Now that you’ve waited for the movie, don’t forget to read The Book. All in all, The Bible was very well done, and the producers should be commended in trying to “stay true to the spirit of the book”. However, be sure not to base your theology entirely on what was depicted on the screen: Read the Bible for yourself, and let the Holy Spirit of God reveal to you personally what is the holiness, righteousness, and love of the God of the Universe.
You can’t make this stuff up. In the course of promoting The Bible, I saw Mr. Burnett and Ms. Downey on a well-known (fairly conservative) talk show. The interviewer (who said he was religious), while discussing the series, stated repeatedly, “Now, we all know that the Bible is just allegory (good moral stories, but not factual, historical accounts)”. When he pressed the issue, and asked the producers their opinion, they stated, unequivocally, that they believed the Bible to be a historical, factual account of actual events.
As Christians, our faith depends on the factual and literal life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9 states it very plainly:
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Now, I could go on for hours about historical fact, archaeological evidence, as well as personal observation (having personally traveled to the Holy Land more than a dozen times). However, in the interest of time (and not to be overly simplistic), I’ll sum it up as a friend recently noted:
“If you are going to pick and choose ‘truth’, and if the death and resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith (and thereby must be factual truth), which story is easier to believe: That a boy killed a giant with a stone, or that the God of the universe became a man, was born of a virgin, was killed by His own creation, and got up out of a grave after being dead for three days?”
Eating at the buffet of truth. It would be impossible to cover every significant event of the Bible in the 10 hours that it took to portray what ended up on screen. Just as God’s plan for the ages cannot be contained in a mini-series, truth is not a “buffet”. Unlike the stories chosen for the series (for time and content purposes), we cannot pick and choose what truth we want to believe and what we want to leave at “the bar”. If we cannot trust God in matters of judgment and justice, how can we trust Him on matters of grace and mercy? When it comes to truth, it’s all or nothing. God does not operate on the shifting winds and whims of the masses or mobs. Even if “the majority of Americans believe” that which is contrary to the Word of God, God is not going to change His opinion. Truth is truth… regardless of polls, public opinion, or political correctness.
When we come to Christ, we must come to Him on His terms…
We must recognize our need for Him. “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
We must recognize that we have sinned. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
We must recognize that our sin separates us from God. (Romans 6:23… 1 Corinthians 6:9-10… Romans 1:28-32)
We must believe, accept, and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. “For 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) “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
When we come to Jesus, we are invited to come and die; die to our old self… die to sin and the sinful nature. We are invited to “deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him” (Matthew 16:24). If you did see The Bible, then you realize that taking up the cross (even figuratively) is not to be taken lightly. But although the path in following Him may be steep, stony, and wrought with peril, that which awaits us at the finish line is joy, peace, grace, mercy, and life eternal… all found in the open and nail-scarred arms of Jesus.