By Mark W. Moseley
The modernist says, “We need a changing religion to keep up with a changing world.” The humanist says, “The Bible cannot meet the needs of modern man. It is archaic and outdated. We need a new approach to solve the problems of a scientific age.” The moralist says, “The Bible is old-fashioned and steeped in backward, prejudicial ethics. The moral hang-ups and inhibitions of a 2000 + year old book cannot provide the moral standard for a progressive society.”
Certainly it must be admitted that books written by men quickly lose their relevancy to society. How keenly we are made aware of this fact by simply browsing through a science book that is twenty, ten, or even five years old. The only books that men have written ages ago that have much to offer are those that deal with the nature of man. Modern man is considered to be intellectual if he can recite the works of men like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. How can this be? Because such men grappled with the essential questions of life: What is my purpose? Where am I going? How can I find happiness?
The philosophies of man still intrigue us today. Why? Because they deal with the nature of man and that nature has not changed. Unfortunately, after studying both ancient and modern philosophies, we are still left in the dark. Man simply cannot find the answers to the questions of life by himself. “I know, 0 Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). A study of man’s history up to our present civilization clearly reveals this to be so. Whenever men have given up the knowledge of God in their quest for independence the result has been the same. Paul’s description of the wicked Gentile world in Romans I could easily be an excerpt from today’s newspaper editorial column.
Is the Bible relevant? How can it be? Let me suggest to you three points that demonstrate the relevancy of the Bible to modern man. (1) God is the author of the Bible. (2) It meets the needs of modern man. (3) It answers the problems of modern man.
The Bible is relevant because it is the word of God! The great Creator and designer of all things can alone open the door to the meaning and purpose of life. He alone holds the keys of wisdom and understanding. God made man in His own image (Gen. 1:24f). Who is better qualified to tell man the answers to the questions of life? No science book ever written can tell man where he came from, where he is going, or why he is here. But the Bible answers all these questions.
In fact, Paul answered them all in Acts 17:24-31. Man came from God. “The God who made the world and all things in it . . . He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things . . . in Him we live and move and exist For we also are His offspring.” Man is here to seek and serve God “. . . if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” And man is going to God where he will stand before Him in judgment. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
Peter made this magnificent statement concerning the word of God in 1 Peter 1:22-25, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. For, all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord abides forever. And this is the word which was preached to you.”
The Word Of God Meets The Needs Of Modern Man
Space does not permit us to do much more than simply demonstrate that this is so. What are man’s basic needs and how does the Bible meet those needs?
Of course the Bible does not meet the physical needs of man. That is not its purpose. But as Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4) Man has a dual nature of body and spirit. When a man satisfies only the body and ignores the spirit, he is bound to be frustrated. He is bound to yearn for that which is still missing. That is why people who are rich, famous and popular are often still unhappy and unfulfilled. Only the Bible can truly satisfy the spiritual needs of man.
1. Man Needs To Be Loved. How does the Bible meet that need? By telling us that no matter who we are, what our station in life may be, or what others think about us, God loves us. (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Jn. 15:13). God has loved us with the greatest love ever known to man. With an unselfish, sacrificial love He gave Himself for us to save us from condemnation.
What is more, the Bible teaches us to love God with all ou, heart, soul, and mind (Mt. 22:37) and to love our neighbor as ourself (Mt. 22:39). Try as it might, we know that human wisdom has never been able to supply this kind of love “for all the world.”
Man Needs Peace. If there is anything the world longs for, it is peace. And yet the most important and valuable peace is available now through the gospel. Peace of mind, peace with self, and peace with God is found through Jesus Christ. Even if the world will not turn from selfishness and war, this peace can be ours (Jn. 14:27; Rom. 5:4, Gal. 3:15). And who can deny that if all men would live according to the teaching of the Prince of Peace there would be no more war of any kind.
3. Man Needs Important Work. He needs a reason for living. It seems that only a few people are destined to do anything that can be viewed as truly lasting and important. Not many of us will ever be a president, senator or even a town mayor. We will not likely be the head of some great company or find the cure to some dread disease. But if we are Christians, our work is of eternal importance. There is no greater work in all the world than that of serving God faithfully. Every Christian has an important mission in life to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mk. 16:15). Furthermore, Paul said in Ephesians 6:7, “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” With that view of life all work becomes important. Everything the Christian does, he does to please God. What could be more important?
The Bible Answers The Problems Of Modern Man
1. The Bible Answers Social And Moral Problems. Who can deny that if men lived according to the teaching of the Scriptures there would be no more lawlessness and rebellion (Rom. 13:1-7). If both citizens and government recognize that they will give an account before God as to how they execute their civil responsibilities, there would be no more injustice or anarchy.
If men lived according to Bible principles, there would not be one drunkard or dope addict (1 Cor. 6:19,20; Gal. 5:21). There would not be one prostitute, unwed mother, or case of venereal disease (Gal. 5:19; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). There would not be one case of robbery or murder (1 Cor. 6: 10); Rom. 1:20). There would be no more problems in the home between husbands and wives or children and parents (Eph. 5:23-25; 6:14).
Racial prejudice would not be a problem if all men followed the golden rule and treated others as they would want to be treated (Mt. 7:12). If we would acknowledge that we really are “soul brothers” with all men, made in the image of God, we could hold no animosity toward one another. We would not see each other as unequal or less important.
2. The Bible Answers Ecological Problems. Surprised? It’s true. Would we have a pollution problem if all men recognized that the “earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains” (Psa. 24:1)? If we recognize that God is the owner of the universe and we are but caretakers and stewards of a small part of it, surely we will be more careful with our environment. And if I love my neighbor as myself I will not be dumping my garbage in his back yard.
3. The Bible Answers The Problem Of Sin. Of all the solutions and answers the Bible gives to the problems of life, none is more important than this – the Bible answers the spiritual problem of man, that being sin. The Scriptures provide the only viable solution to man’s guilt. It is the only answer that God will accept. The Bible is, above everything else, a story of redemption and salvation from sin. It provides an escape from our past failures, direction for the present in the path of righteousness, and a hope of eternal life in the future.
The gospel tells of God’s great sacrifice upon the cross to atone for the sins of the world (Isa. 54; Mt. 27; Eph. 2). It tells how men may be saved through the blood of Jesus by faith in Him and obedience to Him (Rom. 1:5, 16; 5:1; Acts 2:30; 22:16). Thus James proclaimed, “Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21).
Is the Bible relevant? Indeed. Yes, even more than relevant. The Bible is essential.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 20, pp. 611-612, 632
October 18, 1984