I have been thinking about how Conservative Evangelicals exalt the Bible. Certainly it is right to do so because God Himself has said in His word through David “You have exalted above all things your name and your word”.
Still, it has been nagging me lately and I trust it’s the Holy Spirit doing it, that we have exalted the Bible to a higher place than even God has and it worries me. This impression has been building for some time, beginning with some comments of a well known pastor in a counseling book I’ve been reading, followed by a sermon by John Piper I saw earlier this year about the relationship between the Bible and the Holy Spirit and culminated with several conversations recently. I walked out of Sunday School last week unable to get my mind off a comment someone made about a counseling case study: “you could tell how much the Bible changed him.”
The Bible never changed anyone.
It is the Holy Spirit that changes people as He convicts them of sin, guilt, God’s righteousness and the coming judgment. The Holy Spirit only ever uses the Bible to perform this work in men’s hearts which is why it is so essential that we teach the Bible to all men everywhere, but millions of people know the Bible and are unchanged by it. Genuine Christians can read clear commands in the Bible and ignore them repeatedly. Satan knows the Bible and is unchanged by it.
We are in great peril of denigrating the Holy Spirit if we exalt the Bible to a place higher than God does. It is the Word of God but it is not God. There are only three persons of the Trinity and they have been filled since the beginning of time. I don’t think they are even taking applications.