Three months ago, I encountered a remarkable statement made by a pastor on YouTube rebuking Christians who have the audacity to think that everything God wants them to know can only be found in the Bible. He likened this to worshipping the Bible saying, “When you worship the Bible more than you worship God it’s called bibliolatry.” 

He went ahead to state that Abraham, Moses, Joshua, etc didn’t have the Bible. That all they had was a word from God they heard and a feeling in their heart. Therefore, Christians should stop telling folk to stop trusting what they feel and hear from God.

Similar perspectives on Scripture are becoming increasingly prevalent within the church. Especially today when much of what we call church is caught up in seeking emotional religious experiences and encounters apart from Biblical truth. 

This accusation is frequently lodged against believers who affirm the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Such believers are often accused of placing excessive emphasis on the Bible, at the expense of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Often likening it to worshiping a false trinity, ” The Father, Son, and Holy Scriptures.” 

We require more than just the Word of God; we need to hear God’s voice,” they say. However, these sentiments pit Jesus and the Holy Spirit against the Word of God creating a false dichotomy. It’s an approach that attempts to separate two elements that were never intended to be and can never truly be, separated. And this is what I seek to prove to you in this post.

Jesus Christ and the Bible

In the well-known words of the Apostle John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Scripture makes it clear that the Word of God is the expression of Himself. Further down the chapter, verse 14 explicitly states “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”, The Word that ‘was God’ in verse 1 was Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.

This fact is reiterated again in Revelation 19 as John vividly describes Jesus. He says:

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.  Revelation 19:13-18 ESV

In John, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in his day saying:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. John 5:39–40ESV

From cover to cover the Bible is about Jesus Christ. He is the treasure that is revealed within the sacred texts. In the Old Testament, Christ is often concealed beneath various elements, such as prophecies, types, sacrifices, and shadows. These elements served as a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah.  

For example, the Old Testament contains numerous prophecies about the Messiah’s birth, life, and mission to redeem humanity. Types and shadows, such as the Passover lamb or the sacrifices in the temple, were symbolic representations of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for humanity’s sins.

In the New Testament, Christ is fully revealed in the flesh. This refers to the incarnation, where Jesus, the Son of God, took on human form to become a propitiation for our sins. As a high priest, He offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice to atone for the sins of humanity. 

Clearly, The Scriptures bear witness to Him! As such, Christians rightly hold the written Word in high esteem because it serves as our primary means of encountering the incarnate Word.

Since the Bible is centered on Jesus and He is the Word of God made flesh, why then is there supposed tension between a love for the Scriptures and a love for Christ? He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). How can we know His commandments if not by reading the Scriptures? We simply can’t!

As a result, it should follow that a love for Christ should lead to a deep love for the Scriptures. The Bible serves as the only source for understanding His nature, teachings, and the foundations of the Christian faith.

The Holy Spirit and the Bible

2nd Peter says, 

“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21 ESV

The Spirit, who is wholly God, is the divine Author of all Scripture. Therefore, it’s a mistake to think that the Holy Spirit can be separated from and placed above God’s Word. Doing so is pitting the Spirit against Himself.  More than that, He lives to testify and glorify the person of Jesus Christ, to whom the Scriptures testify.

Speaking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, 

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father He will testify about Me. John 15:26 BSB

This means that the Spirit plays a central role in illuminating the spiritual truths contained in Scripture concerning the person of Jesus Christ. In the next chapter, Jesus also says this about the Holy Spirit, 

"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." John 16:13-15 ESV

Having earlier on, identified Himself as the embodiment of truth saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). We can safely conclude that the Holy Spirit leading us into all truth means guiding us to the Holy Scripture, to teach us about the person and work of Jesus Christ, 

The Holy Spirit is the one who reveals and interprets Christ to us, allowing us to see His glory in a profound way. He is the one responsible for opening our eyes to witness the beauty and glory of Christ in the Scriptures (1 John 1:1-4; Eph 3:4). 

While the idea that the Holy Spirit can give revelation outside what He has authored in the Scriptures may sound ‘deep’ and ‘spiritual’, the Holy Spirit does not lead anyone into an experience that lacks a solid foundation in Scripture.

“The Spirit of Fod leads the people of God to submit to the Word of God”
John Stott

Jesus Christ is the only truth that the Holy Spirit seeks to reveal to us. And this truth is found in the word of God which the Holy Spirit illuminates to believers. This also means that the Word of God and the revelation of the Spirit can never be in conflict with each other. 

So, Is It Possible to Idolize the Bible?

Unless you are setting your Bible on an altar, lighting candles around it, and kneeling before the Bible in an act of worship, the answer is NO!! Moreover, this form of reverence is not typically what people mean when they accuse someone of idolizing the Bible.

The Bible is not merely a human creation but a product of God’s divine revelation. In 2 Timothy, Paul writes,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

God the Father is the source of this divine utterance, God the Son is the incarnate Word of God and God the Spirit authored it. In essence, the Bible is the tangible work of the Trinity in perfect harmony, speaking to believers. In fact, in Psalm 138:2. the Psalmist gives thanks to God for He has “exalted above all things His name and His word.

Given this perspective, the question, whether Christians should beware of making the Bible an idol is somewhat self-defeating because it creates a false dichotomy between God and His voice. The Bible is intimately linked to the divine, and it serves as the primary means through which God communicates His will and character to believers. 

Therefore, prioritizing the Bible is, in fact, prioritizing God Himself because the Bible is the means through which God has chosen to communicate with humanity. Thus, holding a high view of Scripture cannot reasonably be considered idolatry.

If anything, having a deep reverence for the entire Bible as the inspired and authoritative voice of God should be encouraged. It’s through understanding the Bible that we know His voice, His character, His attributes, His kingdom, and His plan for our salvation.

A license to Go Beyond What is Written

Creating an artificial divide between the voice of God has given rise to false teachers who emphasize hearing the voice of the Spirit over the Bible. They claim to receive extra-biblical revelations from God and equate them with the same authority as Scripture. Unfortunately, even when their revelations contradict the Word of God, they often go unquestioned due to this claim.

This has resulted in many Christians being led away from sound doctrine as warned in 2 Timothy: 

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV

Many now use the Holy Spirit or Jesus as an excuse to reject the Scriptures. They discredit the Bible in favor of seeking subjective revelations from God and trust them blindly without comparing them to the Bible. This has given way to nothing short of new-age mysticism in the church.

This shift away from the authority of the Bible has seen an increase in all manner of false doctrines and teachings being peddled in the name of God. Moreover, it has led to a surge in the constant pursuit of prophetic words, signs, “downloads” etc. Including the commercialization of the Holy Spirit, with false prophets and Apostles charging money for ‘prophetic’ words from the Lord. Thus, diminishing the importance of studying Scripture.

Once you go down this road there is no end to what you can justify in the name of God. This is why Paul warned against not going “beyond what is written” (1 Cor 4:6). True to this warning, the pastor that I mentioned at the beginning of this post ended up speaking in support of abortion and unnatural relations (iykiyk) later on in the sermon as everybody in the congregation was cheered him on.

Final Thoughts

The Scriptures serve as a divine revelation of the mind of God. This revelation has been made known to us by the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of truth. As such, our love for God is inseparable from our love for His truth; His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Therefore, we cannot nurture a relationship with Christ without the Scriptures. It’s not feasible to create such a stark separation between the Holy Spirit and the Bible. We can not place them in opposition to one another or argue that the Bible can become an idol if it serves as the only means through which we hear from God. 

The only way we can deepen our relationship with Christ is by prioritizing listening to Him through His very Word.

Related: Should Christians Look Outside the Bible to Discern God’s Will?


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