If you have spent any time as a child in a Christian Sunday School, no doubt at one point or another, you have heard the song by William B. Bradbury (1816-1885) called, Jesus Loves Me. This tune originally appeared as a poem by Anna B. Warner (1827-1915) in a book called Say and Seal, written by Anna’s sister, Susan Warner (1819-1885). The poem was published in 1860 and the hymn with music was written 1862 by Mr. Bradbury. So very close together. No doubt since these both take place so close together that the book must have been a popular work to catch the attention of Bradbury.
If you look at these dates in history and the history preceding these dates of when the poem, book, and tune was written, this was a turbulent time in American Church history. Many different religions, sects, and cults rose up at this time, which is commonly called The Second Great Awakening between 1790 and lost steam early 1850’s. But no doubt left a deep imprint of religion in America.
Cults That Rose Up
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church started by Ellen G. White, formerly established in 1863, came out of the Millerite Movement. The Millerite Movement, started by William Miller, who in 1833 publicly shared his belief that the second coming of Christ would happen between 1843 and 1844. This no doubt did not happen and should have been deemed a false prophet.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormonism, which was started by a young Joseph Smith (1830-1844) in which after received gold plates from the Angel Moroni and decoded them to produce a written copy of the Book of Mormon in 1830. Mormonism continued to flourish after Smith’s death and when Warner’s book was written, the LDS church was moving to the mid-west under the leadership of the second Prophet and President Brigham Young.
Another cult that came about around this time was the Jehovah’s Witnesses,which was started in 1870 by Charles Taze Russell which was a splinter group of the Bible Student Movement. Who have for almost 150 years have denied the biblical trinity, falsely predicting Christ’s coming multiple times, and proclaiming false prophecies about the end of the world.
Through the Second Great Awakening memberships skyrocketed in the Wesleyan, Baptist, Shaker and other Protestant congregations. It was one of, if not the greatest religious revival in American history.
So when this poem, book, and hymn were written, was very interesting especially with the words, “…for the Bible tells me so.”
How Much of The Bible Do We Know?
Which brings me to the point of this article. The cults that came out in the time of this hymn ignored God’s Word, and incorporated or listened to false prophets creating false religions for sordid gain. Each of these cults and false religions had their own bent towards the Bible, or rejected the Bible as flawed or outdated. That there needs to be some sort of extra-biblical revelation attached to it. Even today, those who claim to be Christian, much of the, “this I know” does not come from the Bible, but through their own personal feelings, experience, and logic. Why is that? Because people do not believe that the Bible is authoritative, powerful, or written by the creator of the universe.
It is why in my my opinion is the reason professed Christians are apologizing for something they have no right to apologize for. It is as if they are holding up their Bibles and saying, “Please excuse my dad. He’s a bigoted, grumpy old man who is outdated, not in touch with today, and doesn’t know what he’s saying.” To apologize would be admitting you’re wrong. These same people do not regard the words as supernatural, holy, and powerful. We need to read the Bible for what it is — the words of God. God breathed, perfect, and without error. We need to study the Bible, interpret it according to proper hermeneutics, and then apply it accordingly. It doesn’t matter what you say, or I say about a particular Bible verse, but what it says according to the person from which God commanded to write it down. Our feelings or personal beliefs should not matter when it comes to our interpretation of the Bible.
What Does God’s Word Say About Itself?
Throughout it’s pages, God’s Word describes itself in the most profound ways.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12
The Word of God is living and powerful. The book that you hold in your hands is timeless, active, and contains endless truths that do deteriorate, but are powerful, fresh, and strong even for today. It is not dead or antiquated, but alive and well, able to change lives thousands of years after it was written. It is far more than intellectual knowledge or a book of facts. It speaks powerfully to our very souls.
It is also sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing and dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It acts more like a surgeons knife than a blunt axe: it cuts fine and deep, reaching us with precision and accuracy to the problem and solution within our hearts. It divides so carefully as not to injure, but to get to the root of the problem and the heart of the issues that lay before us.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “Matthew 4:4
God’s Word is a source of life and nourishment to the soul, for with the soul cannot live without. It guides us, gives us hope and courage in the face of fear, and faith even when things we see go against us.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,2 Timothy 3:16, 17
that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
All Scripture is breathed out by God Himself, spoken to the Prophets and Apostles; written by Him, using them as the pen. The Bible is useful and rewarding for:
- Doctrine – teaches us what is RIGHT.
- Reproof – teaches us what is WRONG.
- Correction – teaches us how to GET RIGHT if we are on the wrong path.
- Instruction in righteousness – teaches us how to STAY RIGHT.
So that the Christian would be complete, whole, and thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Bible changes a person from the inside out.
Throughout Psalm 119 written by David, it gives us a glimpse as to how amazing God’s Word is and how we should never take it for granted. Here is a short list of the many things it says about itself in Psalm 119:
- There is no shame in its pages. (6, 31, 46, 80)
- It cleanses us and helps us to lead a clean life. (9, 80, 104, 112, 140, 158, 163)
- It’s hidden in our hearts and gives us power to resist sin. (3, 11, 101, 165)
- It gives us joy. (16, 24, 35, 47, 77, 92, 174)
- It councils us. (24)
- It revives our soul on a personal level. (25, 37, 40, 88, 107, 149, 154, 159)
- It is a source of strength. (28)
- It gives us freedom. (45)
- It gives us comfort in suffering, (50, 52)
- It gives us a thankful and worshipful heart. (62, 164, 171, 175)
- Imparts a continual source of life, (93).
- It is a source of illumination, guidance, and gives understanding. (99, 105, 125, 130, 169)
- It is a source of hope. (114, 147)
- It gives us a reverence for God. (120, 161)
- It gives peace to those who love His Word and keeps them safe. (165)
Love God’s Word and Live It Out
Reading the Bible is a joy, fills the heart, and soothes the soul. But reading it is only half the picture. The Bible says we should not be just hearers of the Word, but doers also so that we are not deceived into thinking we are ok when we are not (James 1:22-25). Jesus said that whoever hears His words and obeys them is is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock, when trouble comes from all directions, it is sturdy and withstands the storms of life; those who only hear — don’t (Matthew 7:24-29).
We as Christians need to remember Jesus has the authority to command us to go into all the world to share and spread the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20). We must use that authority to use His Word. Don’t ever let anyone tell you not to read it or use it in sharing the gospel; that the Bible is old, outdated or antiquated. For it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16; 10:14-17).
Thanks, Frank. We are blessed to have the Bible as our Authority.
RE: Second Great Awakening
Charles Finney famously termed the Western and Central New York regions along the Erie Canal as the “Burned Over District” because the populace had been “revived” so many times by so many itinerant preachers that he didn’t think he could spark another reaction.
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This is so good! I particularly enjoyed your break-down of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, I had never thought of it systematically like that before. These are not just random things God’s Word can give us but more of an all encompassing list of how God leads us using His Word. Pretty cool!
The Bible is so fascinating! Just when you think you are getting somewhere with your understanding of it the Holy Spirit uncovers another layer. God is the most masterful author.
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