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How Can We Treat the Bible like Jesus Did?

Photo of Renée SprolesRenée Sproles | Bio

Renée Sproles

Renée Webb Sproles is from Murfreesboro, TN, where she directed The School of Christian Thought for five years at North Boulevard Church. She is a 15-year homeschool veteran. She is also a founder and co-director of the Discipleship Tutorial in Murfreesboro, where she has taught government, economics, personal finance, health, study skills, English grammar, and writing. She is the mother of two grown children, Houston and Emma, who is married to Thomas Goodwyn. With her husband, David, Renée has co-taught parenting classes for 20 years and currently teaches a marriage and family class of 100 students each week. Renée is the author of On Gender: What the Bible Says about Men and Women (Renew, 2019).

In times of increasing skepticism about the Bible’s authority, we need to return to who Jesus is and how he viewed the Bible. (See articles 1 and 2 here.) How can we treat the Bible like Jesus did? We respond as Jesus did: We submit to Scripture by believing and acting on it.

Believing It

Both in his view of Scripture and his use of Scripture, Jesus was entirely submissive to its authority as the authority of God’s own Word. We have no liberty to exclude anything from Jesus’s teaching and say, “I believe what he taught about this but not what he taught about that.” He’s not only our Savior, he’s the king of the universe, seated at the right hand of God as I write this.

Unlike Jen Hatmaker, other progressive Christians, or the men and women in my recent parenting class who are skeptical of Scripture’s authority, we have no competence to set ourselves up as judges and decide to accept some parts of his teaching while rejecting others. All Jesus’ teaching was true. It is the teaching of none other than the Son of God.

You are likely reading this article today because you believe Jesus is Lord. We would do well to remember that a Christian is someone who not only confesses this but also brings every aspect of his or her life under the sovereign reign of Jesus. Our opinions, our beliefs, our standards, our values, our ambitions—we submit everything to him.

We must believe what Jesus believed, and He believed all of Scripture to be the very words of God.

But how can we do this? Do we just white-knuckle our way into belief? No. Jesus shows us a better way.

Acting Upon It

Obedience is fundamental to Christian discipleship. We obey God’s reliable Word even when we don’t want to or when His commands don’t make sense to us, just like young children with their parents. I think this is at least part of what Jesus meant when he said we cannot enter his kingdom unless we become like little children (Matt 18:3). If we decide to pick-and-choose, then we have set ourselves up as judges and reduced Scripture to nothing more than any other self-help book on Amazon.

Jesus also said,

“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17).

Rosaria Butterfield calls this the “hermeneutics of obedience.” Child psychology calls this action “preceding beliefs.”

Young children do not have the moral means to create or respond to right and wrong.…This does not mean, however, that you suspend the training of right responses.…Actions precede beliefs. Teach him to keep his food on his high chair tray. Teach him to not hit. Teach him to not scream in the house. Teach him correct behavior. When the age is right, he will understand why this behavior is right.[1]

So, when I find myself tempted to ignore the clear teaching of Scripture, I can be assured that my obedience will eventually bring understanding, even love, for God’s Word. And when obedience seems like an unattainable standard, I remind myself that I’m not alone. J.I. Packer notes:

The distinctive, constant, basic ministry of the Holy Spirit under the new covenant is so to mediate Christ’s presence to believers—that is, to give them such knowledge of his presence with them as their Savior, Lord, and God that three things keep happening. First, personal fellowship with Jesus…Second, personal transformation of character into Jesus’s likeness… [and] Third, the Spirit-given certainty of being loved, redeemed, and adopted through Christ into the Father’s family.[2]

The ministry of the Holy Spirit gives me fellowship with Jesus, personal transformation, and deep certainty that I am loved.

In short, the Spirit helps me obey God’s reliable Word. Through the Spirit’s work, my predisposition for disobedience can be replaced with a love for holiness. Scottish minister Dr. Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) notes:

The love of God and the love of the world, are two affections, not merely in a state of rivalship, but in a state of enmity and…the only way to dispossess [the heart] of an old affection, is by the expulsive power of a new one.[3]

Oh, that we would all feast daily on Scripture as we continue Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians to have “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,” loving, knowing, and following Jesus on his own terms, because of his great salvation. For, how can we worship God if we do not know His character? How can we trust in God if we do not know God’s faithfulness? How can we obey if we do not know God’s will? How can we hope if we do not know God’s promises?

Genuine faith is not irrational; it rests upon the reliability of the God who has spoken.

Kevin DeYoung noted in his excellent book, Taking God at His Word, “Counselors can counsel meaningfully because Scripture is sufficient. Bible study leaders can lead confidently because Scripture is clear. Preachers can preach with boldness because their biblical text is authoritative. And evangelists can evangelize with urgency because Scripture is necessary.”[4]

In all of the splendor of His glory, our God is also eminently practical. He has spoken to us in His reliable Word so that we can return to it again and again to listen to Him, to know Him, to trust Him, and to obey Him.

DeYoung continued, “If the Bible is everything we’ve seen, then why wouldn’t we read it, study it, memorize it, and teach it to others? Why would we build our churches on the shallow soil of self-help philosophies? Why would we counsel with the leftovers of worldly wisdom?”

I’d add: Why would we look inside ourselves or to our favorite bloggers for direction? And why would we sit in front of our closed Bibles, praying day after day, begging God to speak to us? “God’s word is final. God’s word is understandable. God’s word is necessary. God’s word is enough.”[5]

Jesus affirmed this. He guided and regulated every step and detail of his life by Scripture. So, in allegiance to our Lord, we must each strive to really believe and obey what we find in Scripture. May the Spirit of God give us the fortitude and grace to do just that.

Genuine faith is not irrational; it rests upon the reliability of the God who has spoken.

[1] “Actions Precede Beliefs,” Chronicle of a Babywise Mom: Implementing the -wise series, accessed October 20, 2020,

[2] Packer, J.I.. Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in our Walk with God (BakerBooks, Grand Rapids, MI 1984), 43.

[3] Chalmers, Thomas. The Expulsive Power of a New Affection (Curiosmith, 2012).

[4] DeYoung, Kevin. Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What that Means for You (Crossway, 2014), 92.

[5] DeYoung, Kevin. Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What that Means for You (Crossway, 2014), 92-93.