First, I owe an apology to anyone who read my previous blog post on this topic almost two months ago. My goal was to quickly follow it up with another article. As you can see, that definitely didn’t happen. When I made my last post, my wife said, “you know, you probably shouldn’t write a post that has a second part to it until the second part is written” (Famous last words). I told her that she was right (she loves when I say that) and agreed that it would be unwise to do that again in the future.
So, getting back to the scandalous writers of the Bible…There are some good reasons why God didn’t choose someone more qualified to write the Bible than the questionable characters that I shared about in the previous post. Let’s glance at a few of those reasons.
They Were the Best He Could Find
Sure, God could’ve zapped the Bible into existence in a nanosecond and had it over and done with. That’s what I would have done. I would have left people out of it. They’re too messy. But, for His own good reasons, he chose to include people in the process.
Imagine a basket full of rotten, worm-filled apples. Would you find them appetizing? You likely wouldn’t pick through them and painstakingly find the one with the least rot and worms. You could make applesauce out of them. Gross! No, never mind. You would just throw them all out and start over. According to scripture, our sin makes us much like those rotten apples to God.
Want the truth? We’re all questionable characters just like those Bible writers. Sure, some of us are more so than others but God was in a difficult position, at least from a human perspective. No matter who He chose to write, it would have been a scandalous choice. The worms and rot were unavoidable.
God chose the writers of the Bible much like Americans choose presidential candidates. You must choose someone but none are that impressive the more you find out about them. Again, from a human perspective, God made less sense in His decisions than that. We, at least in our limited abilities, attempt to choose someone who would be best. In some cases, God intentionally chose some of the worst.
Romans chapter 3 gives the bad news that no one is good. In fact, like those wormy, rotten apples, we’re all more than just a little messed up. It’s not just the bad things that we’ve done. It’s the good things that we’ve failed to do. We aren’t just fatally flawed in our actions but the secret thoughts of our hearts are often a good enough reason to upset a God who hates sin.
God Chose Some of the Worst On Purpose
Yep. Believe it or not, God reached into that basket of gooey, slimy, disgusting apples and pulled out some of the worst on purpose. There are a few obvious reasons why He did this, though I’m sure there are plenty of others that only He knows about.
First, He wanted everyone to see that He can accomplish whatever He wants, even with the worst possible resources. It was like he picked up a crack addict off the street and said to him, “By the way, you are going to be our next US president.” We couldn’t and wouldn’t but God can and did. Nothing is too difficult for Him and He proves it by who He chooses to do His work.
A second major reason is that God wanted to show that there is hope for ANYONE. Forget about the medieval painting with the halo over the head of Bible characters. It was more like a black cloud with lightning bolts instead. The Apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament admitted this much. The maxed out religiously hypocritical murderer said this in I Timothy.
“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.”
So, whether you’re on death row, can’t put three words together without dropping the F-bomb or falsely think that you’re good enough, the message is the same. There is still hope for you through Jesus. Whether you’re haunted by an abortion, live a double life, or have everything that you could ever want, there is still hope for you. If God could use Paul for good, God can use anyone, including you and bring you to a far better place after you leave this earth. You may say, “But you don’t understand what I’ve done.” I may not but God does. He’s used the worst apples. He’s not intimidated by that.
I Wasn’t Completely Fair
I admit that I picked out the most obviously devious writers of the Bible. Yet, I think if I were to hand you the rap sheet of every wrong deed committed by each Bible writer, they would all prove to be scandalous by a wide margin. You would say, “what difference does it make, they’re all full of rot and worms.”
But still, I only shared the dirty part of the lives of the writers. Let me explain what God did through them later on.
Moses – Though Moses was a murderer, God later referred to him as the most humble man in all the earth.
King David – Though David committed adultery and murder, God called him a man after his own heart. He maintained a close relationship with God even during his self-inflicted wreckage.
Solomon – There’s evidence from the book of Ecclesiastes that Solomon died a pessimistic and bitter person because of ongoing sinful life choices. God still used him to impart great wisdom to millions of people over a span of thousands of years through scripture despite his choice to walk a broken path.
Jonah – Not much more is known about Jonah besides the small book that bears his name. He earnestly hoped that God would burn up the “bad people” in the godless city he preached at. When God didn’t, he accused God of being kind. God graciously spared Jonah’s life though he deserved the fire more than the people he went to warn. God used him as a prime example of His patience and love for unlovable people.
The Apostle Paul – Paul inflicted plenty of suffering before becoming a Christian. He murdered and imprisoned families of Christians. After finding the true God, he suffered immensely for the cause of Christianity. He was beaten, imprisoned, nearly starved and left for dead. Church tradition records that he was eventually beheaded by the Roman Emperor, Nero because of his faith.
Peter – Peter, who cowardly denied Jesus three times to preserve his life, later became a major player in the building of the early church. Church tradition records that he was anything but cowardly at the close of his life. He was crucified because of his faith. Peter requested to be crucified upside-down because he didn’t feel worthy to be crucified the same way that Jesus had been. His tormenters apparently granted Peter his request.
It’s understandable to be repulsed by the evil these writers did and to respect them for the good they accomplished. Yet, ultimately, God gets the credit. The Bible writers couldn’t have done the good they did without the power of God flowing through their lives.
It Wasn’t Just Them
There’s an aspect of Christianity that will always require faith. Still, there is a lot that makes me think that the Bible is true besides that fact. One of the greatest reasons I think it’s true is that, from cover to cover, mankind is portrayed as a royal screw-up. I don’t think that people would readily highlight this point on their own.
Religions are typically about mankind sucking it up and being good enough to earn favor from a supreme being. Man’s achievements are then glorified. Christianity admits that people are too far gone for that. Bad actions can’t be cancelled out by good ones anymore than stew with rotten meat can be remedied by adding more vegetables.
The ultimate theme of the Bible, from cover to cover, is about a God who willingly helps people out of a mess that they can’t fix on their own. He’s benevolent, patient and loving even though peoples’ natural inclination is to hate Him. I don’t think that people would willingly admit this on their own, either.
Christian writer and speaker, Kay Arthur, shared that she once shook her fist at God and said, “to Hell with you, God!” His reply was, “No, to Heaven with you, Kay.” In the same way, God’s virtues constantly shine through in the Bible against the dark backdrop of evil human intention and action.
In the end, it will come down to a leap of faith. But I don’t personally believe that it’s a leap of faith without evidence. The reality is that though God entrusted people to write the Bible, He didn’t just give them a pen and notebook and then go on vacation.
He graciously allowed them to write in their own personality though they had no right to do so. Though the writers recorded everything, they didn’t get to write to satisfy their own agenda. God spoke His words through them like II Peter 1 says.
“…You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.”
So, there you have it. The people who wrote the Bible were not trustworthy in and of themselves. If it had been just them writing, you would have every reason to question the validity of the Bible. Thankfully, it wasn’t just them. God spoke His message through them and despite them.