The Bible is living

The Bible is living

For the Word of God is living and active… Hebrews 4:12  


E.L. Mencken was an American journalist, social commentator, skeptic, and self-identified atheist who died in 1956.


He once observed, “If the Bible is true, the fundamentalists are right.”


Given his worldview, that statement appears both paradoxical and even confusing to 21st century ears.


Here’s some context: the religious “fundamentalist/ modernist controversy” ignited within Presbyterian churches in the US and raged throughout the western world in the 1920s and 30s. 


Essentially, the label fundamentalist was a pejorative term attached to those who took the Bible literally, believed that God was involved in the affairs of men, recognized that Jesus is God, and as the God-Man rose from the dead after His willing sacrifice on the Cross for the sins of mankind.


The modernists – what today we’d label as liberals – denied much, or all, of those tenets of faith.


And the mocking by the modernists caricatured the fundamentalists as unthinking, backwoods-ish and hopelessly out of step with the times.


But in a classic case of theological reductionism, the issue that caught the headlines in the press was that of creation vs evolution: which best explained the beginning of the universe in general and life in particular?


Can the biblical creation account of Genesis be trusted? And if not, can anything in the Scripture be believed?


Then another question arose: should the modernists, the progressives, the liberals continue to be classified as Christian?


J Gresham Machen bluntly stated in 1923 what was obvious to many: “despite the liberal use of traditional phraseology, modern liberalism not only is a different religion from Christianity but belongs in a totally different class of religions.”


In our day, it appears that the defining wedge issue for many Christians and the churches they attend may be that of contemporary societal norms of sexuality, transgenderism, and all that is implied by DIE (diversity, inclusion, equity).


Does accept mean promote? Does tolerance mean to embrace?


Essential language is being redefined.


And in an age when biblical literacy among self-identified Christ-followers is abysmally low, many are not aware that their churches have ignored – or outright rejected – biblical truth.


But the Word of God proclaims itself to be living and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God.


So, in what way is the Bible living?


The Greek language of the New Testament has 3 word families that can be translated as life in English.

1)   bios refers to physical life and is the Greek word from which our English term biology is derived. Jesus uses it in the Parable of the Sower: but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries…(Luke 8:14). The term is often translated by English words like livelihood, that which is necessary to sustain life.        

2)   psuche is the psychological or soul-life, encompassing the mind, emotion and will. That’s why Jesus said For whoever wants to save his life (psuche) shall lose it (Matthew 16:25). As may be obvious, it is the root for the English words psyche or psychology

3)   zoe as found in the New Testament, means life divinely given, abundant and eternal. Consequently in his Gospel prologue, John says of the Lord Jesus – the eternal Logos – In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4). Here the Greek word refers to the transcendent vitality; the uncreated, eternal life given by God; the divine life uniquely possessed by God.

Consequently, zoe is used when addressing issues of abundant and eternal life in the teaching of Jesus: Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life (Matthew 7:14)

And in the theology of Paul: even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

That brings me back to Mencken: “If the Bible is true, the fundamentalists are right.”


Confident in the truth of the living Word – that which is empowered by the very Spirit of God – we need to reaffirm our commitment to living with a diet of God’s Word in our lives, and faithfully proclaiming – and living out – the biblical Gospel of Christ. 


British explorer William Perry took a crew to the Arctic in the 1820s. After charting their location by the stars, the expedition began the treacheroust, arduous, and exhausting journey northward.


After hours of incremental progress and nearing exhaustion, Perry took their bearings.


To his absolute disbelief and eventual horror, the co-ordinates indicated that they were further south than when they had started! The ice flow on which they trekked was moving south more rapidly than they were hiking north.


The point: with every step, the hikers believed - by their own sense of progress - they were nearing their objective. However, the truth was exactly the opposite: they were blind to their regression. 


Takeaway: may the words – and the warning – from the pen of the author of Hebrews be our constant reminder and hope:


For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12,13).

About Us

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:28 The community at Bethel includes a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Young and old, families and singles, English-speakers and those with a French mother-tongue, various ethnic and religious backgrounds. We reflect the make up of the city of North Bay. More importantly though, we are a group of people who Jesus has saved through his work on the cross. By God's plan of redemption we were all brought into one family as brothers and sisters in Christ, given a mission to reach into our world and make disciples for Him. We hope you will find at Bethel a friendly, loving group of people striving to live for Jesus Christ. Whether you are visiting for the day or trying to find a permanent church home, you are welcome to join us as we together seek out Him.