Kay Arthur trembles as she contemplates the impact the Bible has had on her life.
At age 83, she is in her fifth decade of teaching multitudes how to study God’s Word through inductive studies, books, and television and radio programs.
“I have been absolutely transformed, and I am being transformed,” she says. “I know that I know truth, and I know God. I understand His character, I understand His ways, I understand His power, and I understand His love and grace because I’ve studied His Word. I love and totally believe Matthew 4:4, when Jesus turned to Satan and said: ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’
Arthur recalls the life-giving truth she gleaned from reading Romans 9:25 at age 29, shortly after leaving an immoral lifestyle to : “He called her [His Bride] ‘beloved’ when there was nothing lovely about her.”
Through trials like the recent death of her husband, Jack, to Alzheimer’s Disease, and the shock of her daughter-in-law’s unexpected death at age 48, Arthur has been upheld by the God she has come to know through the pages of the Bible.
“The Bible gives me peace in fear, calm in crisis, power and strength in weakness and light in darkness,” she said. “I know God is sovereign. I don’t question Him. I don’t raise my fist at Him, and I don’t scream at Him. I bow before Him. I know what He has purposed will surely come to pass. I know what He has planned no man can thwart, as it says in Isaiah 14 [verses 24-27].”
Decision interviewed Arthur and three other widely respected Bible teachers—Tony Evans, David Jeremiah and Michael Brown—about the impact of the Scriptures on their lives and on humanity throughout world history.
“It’s not only information about God; it’s the voice of God in print,” said Evans, author and pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. “It should lead to worship of its Author, not the Book apart from its Author.
“It shapes how I look at anything and how I view everything. It’s the grid through which I evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly in my life and in my surroundings. It has been the foundation of my ministry, so I am totally consumed with its truth, its power and its Author.”
Jeremiah, author and pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., marvels at how the Bible’s 66 books—written by many authors over a span of centuries under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—cohesively fit together.
“The Old Testament prepares you for the New, and the New explains the Old,” said Jeremiah, who published a study Bible in 2013 that has been distributed around the world. “Jesus is the subject and is basically the red line, the crimson line of blood, that runs throughout all of its books. He’s really the message of the entire Bible—not just the New Testament.”
From beginning to end, the Bible reveals for sinful mankind through the life, death on the cross, and the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that He provides the One Way to eternal life, and that we are to repent of our sins and to receive by faith His grace and forgiveness as our Lord and Savior.
“God sent us His Word to bring us to Himself,” Jeremiah said.
Brown, an author, scholar and radio talk show host, said no other source of literature comes close to the impact the Bible has had on societies around the world.
“While it’s common today for atheists and other skeptics to criticize the Bible, the truth is that the great themes of Scripture have had a life-giving effect on nations over the centuries, with the moral standards of the Law [the Ten Commandments] setting the moral codes,” Brown said. “We have the Biblical ethic to ‘love one another’ and to care for the poor and needy. Even the Biblical emphasis on healing the sick has led to medical advances and the building of hospitals and schools to train medical personnel.”
Said Evans: “As an African-American, I believe the reason we could resist slavery through civil rights and the church is because of what the Bible teaches about freedom, which was adopted in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but was not being applied.
“The Bible has influenced many of the songs we sing, and the money we print has a recognition of God. The Bible has dominated the influence of Western civilization, but when the Bible is marginalized, that civilization disintegrates.”
Because of what the Bible says about itself, sound doctrine holds that it is the supreme source of authority for life, without error as originally written. According to 2 Peter 1:3-4, the “precious and very great promises” in the Bible provide “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (ESV).
Brown noted that while the Bible has never been more readily available in much of the world, including many translations for free on smartphone apps and online websites, Biblical illiteracy is on the rise. Thus, it’s not surprising that religious liberty is being threatened by courts and a culture supporting anti-Biblical positions on issues such as marriage, sexuality and gender.
“Invariably when we see apostasy in the church, we see apostasy from the authority of Scripture,” Brown said. “We act as if we know better than the Bible, as if we are wiser than God, and we begin interpreting the Bible through our morality rather than interpreting our morality through the lens of the Bible.”
Arthur contends that much of modern culture is bowing its knee to political correctness.
“In our finite minds, it’s judging an infinite God and coming up with a new theology,” she said. “But in reality, when I open the Bible, I need to believe it’s God’s Book, and that God says what He means and means what He says. I am to live by His every Word.”
There is no way to measure the impact the Bible can have on the lives of its readers, Jeremiah said. However, Psalm 19:7-11 is a premier passage for understanding the benefits of Scripture.
“It’s kind of like God put those verses there so we would have a central passage to go to,” he said. “It’s the perfect law of the Lord, and it converts the soul (verse 7), so it’s involved in salvation. It’s involved in education because it makes wise the simple (verse 7). It’s involved in legislation because the statutes of the Word rejoice our hearts (verse 8). The way this passage is laid out, it tells us what the Bible is and what it does.
“The 10th verse talks about how precious it is—more precious than gold and sweeter than honey in the honeycomb. And it’s by the Word of God that the servant is warned (verse 11) and gains great reward by keeping it.”
A commitment to a regular time of digesting the truth of God’s Word can be compared to the difference between eating junk food and combining healthy eating with consistent exercise, Brown said.
“It’s the difference between life and death, health and sickness, vitality and complete weakness,” he said. “When people are in the Word of God on a regular basis, it energizes their lives. It raises moral standards. It calls people to action. It calls them to account. It helps them walk in love. A church would be absolutely transformed if its members were regularly in the Word of God. The same is true for a family or an individual. The impact would be obvious. You would not need to announce it. Any bystander would be able to see the difference.”
Brown, Arthur, Evans and Jeremiah combined have published around 300 books, booklets and Bible studies, but all four teachers know that their literary offerings and oratory messages have no lasting value apart from the truth revealed in Scripture.
“If no other book were ever written or published but I had the Bible,” Arthur said, “I would have .” ©2017 BGEA
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken by permission from The Holy Bible, New King James version. The passage marked ESV is taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.
Timeline: The History of the Bible
1450-1250 B.C. — The Lord gives Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Later, Moses records the five books of the Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
1070-1000 B.C. — David pens many of the Psalms later recognized as part of the Biblical canon.
850-430 B.C. — God speaks His words to Israel through the Major and Minor Prophets.
280-250 B.C. — About 70 scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek, a language common among dispersed Jews. The translation becomes known as the Septuagint, abbreviated LXX (signifying its 70 translators).
430 B.C.-Circa A.D. 1 “Silent Years” — This period is termed the Intertestamental Period, during which God ceased to give new revelation nor raise up new prophets for Israel. By 300 B.C., the Hebrew canon—what Christians term the Old Testament—is considered closed.