In John 17:17 Jesus prayed that God would sanctify us in the truth and that God’s word is truth. The latter portion of this verse is increasingly being debated and disbelieved by believers. Moreover, more people are doubting the truthfulness of scripture and its relevance in our everyday lives. I believe that this development should be met with great sadness. The scriptures are declared as God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training each believer in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). With the many exhortations in scripture for the believer to grow and pursue holiness the questions one must ask is, is the bible relevant for us today and if so why should I read it daily?
The Word is truth
Before Jesus went to the cross, He conducted a prayer that centred around the glory of God. Jesus gives an account to God, confirming that He completed the task that He was given – namely to make God’s name known (John 17:3,6). Jesus prays for Himself (vv, 1-5), then for His disciples (vv, 6-19), and finally for later believers (vv, 20-26). In verse 16, when praying for His current disciples; Jesus declares that they are not of this world as He is not of this world. Then in verse 17, He prays that His disciples would be sanctified by God’s word. This is pivotal. The disciples would be kept unstained from the corruption of the world by the truth – which is the word of God. The word sanctified in verse 17 has both a relational and moral component to it. The relational component refers to separation from being influenced by and participating in evil and the moral component refers to growth in holiness in all aspects of life. Sanctification occurs according to the truth. This means that as the disciples, and by extension Christians worldwide, believe and live according to the truth they are being sanctified. The Greek word for truth (alētheia) in verse 17 is not an adjective, it’s a noun. Therefore, the implication here is that God’s word doesn’t merely conform to some external standard of truth but is truth itself. This means that if God’s word is truth, then it is the standard by which we test and compare everything else against.
The Word transforms
So, if the bible is true – if it is the word of God, then Christian, you must read it every day. This isn’t legalism; this is life. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:105, that God’s word is a lamp unto his feet and light unto his path. Whilst we remain in fallen and corrupted bodies we are susceptible to fallenness and the corruption of this world. We will be changed. Jesus promises that. But this transformation to glory isn’t a passive experience but an active one. We aren’t just called to believe that we are holy, we are called to pursue it (Hebrews 12:14). We don’t grow in holiness by trying harder but by beholding the One who is altogether holy, worthy, and wonderful. Reading the bible and praying enables us to see Jesus for who He is – the supreme Treasure of our lives. Jesus is the Truth and if we are to follow Christ we are to be people of the truth and there is no better place to get the truth than in the word of God.