The Bible has nothing to say to anyone to whom it does not first say, “Repent and believe the gospel.” The Bible is not a collection of random inspirational quotes or unrelated spiritual insights. The scriptures were not given so that disinterested bystanders could sift through their pages looking for nuggets of wisdom.
“Follow me,” is the first word of the church’s scriptures to anyone who looks to them for counsel.
Though there are many voices to be heard in the pages of scripture, we hear them as God’s voice only in their connection with each other, and in our connection to the one who lives at the center of the scripture’s story.
Yes, the Bible’s message is objectively true for all the world. It is not private religious knowledge that only applies to insiders. But the truth of the Bible is found in its totality, not in bits and pieces ripped from the context of God’s great work of creation and redemption in the history of Israel and the person of Jesus. It is God’s people who are committed to this story in its totality and who together can begin to work out how the various pieces fit into the larger picture.
The scripture’s grand narrative is God’s word first and foremost for the people who have responded to the message of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost:
Repent, and be baptized every one of you into the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The word of God, for the people of God.