Some people believe the Bible is true in what it asserts. Skeptics, on the other hand, may view the Bible as a collection of falsehoods and superstitions. These are entirely different attitudes. It is analogous to today’s tensions about what may or may not be believed—the difference between true news and so-called “fake news.”
Scripture is not fake news, and, while it is true, it is more than true news. It is good news. The word “gospel” in the New Testament literally means “good news.” The core message of the New Testament is “gospel,” as is evident throughout:
Jesus: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).
Luke: “After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages” (Acts 8:25)
Paul: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Rom. 1:16).
Not fake news, and more than true news, the good news of the gospel is the reality that, in Christ, God has initiated a great movement of salvation and reconstruction. It begins with the good news of forgiveness of sin, moves on to reconciliation with God, and ends with the promise of a new creation.
We are “living the Bible” when we take in the good news of the gospel and realize the freedom from guilt and fear and sin that begins decisively. This is God’s unilateral action of rescuing us. “In [Christ] was life; and that life was the light of mankind” (John 1:4).
Now some who are skeptics say that this is precisely where the credibility of the Bible breaks down. They say that the writers of Scripture had a perspective they were promoting. So naturally their texts conveniently support their superstitious ideas. Old Testament and New Testament writers, the skeptics say, produced propaganda. But there is a logical fallacy here. If someone is a proponent of an idea, that does not mean they fabricated the idea.
Yes, the writers of Scripture had a perspective. They were proclaimers, not just reporters. But they were proclaiming happenings like the resurrection of Jesus with enthusiasm precisely because the event was life-transforming for them. Just because they considered it “good news” does not mean that they made the story up or that they believed a rumor because it was attractive to them.
Think about it. The truths of the “good news” are not convenient. If you accept the gospel, you are agreeing to sacrificing your life, giving up personal autonomy, committing to service. You give up self-sovereignty. You are generous with your money and your time. The disciples of Jesus did not create a fake news story about Jesus having risen from the dead because it made them more comfortable, secure, and prosperous. In fact, their proclamation of the “good news” resulted in many of them losing their lives. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it”(Mark 8:35).
Living the Bible is founded on that gospel—that, in Christ, God has entered this world and our lives in order to establish his reigning. This is true news, but it also has an infinite spiritual and moral value, and so it is good news.
Living the Bible means we see the great potential of people because of God’s reigning, and so we do not need to be despondent over the horrific things we see in the news every day, the harsh truths about natural catastrophes, wars, shootings, tribalism, crime, disease, ignorance.
Living the Bible means we will discern the difference between what is false and what is true. It is understandable that some people get so confused and discouraged that they conclude that they will never know what it true. But becoming cynical is a great loss. It means losing not only what is true, but what is good, also.
If we are “gospel people” we will let the good news, in all of its detail, fill our minds, and so shape us. As the Apostle Paul put it in some of his closing words he wrote to his friends in Philippi: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Phil. 4:8-9).