I love those instances when you stumble upon a bit of rock-solid, godly wisdom. This happened to me recently when I came across a phrase that was often repeated by a man who used to be my pastor. He was fond of saying, "What you believe about the Bible determines everything." What you believe about the Bible, and the corresponding implications of that belief, will determine everything about your life. This decision is like a foundational compass, the direction of which will determine your trajectory. No aspect of your life can remain unaffected by it.
The question of who God is presses in on every one of us. We have an innate sense of its importance. But any of our answers to this question can only come from one of two sources: either human speculation or divine revelation. Human speculation has come up with all sorts of guesses about who God is, but any guesses are just that. Even the most penetrating of insights are cloudy at best, because our understanding has been hindered by the Fall and we are speaking of that which we cannot know on our own. The only way that we can accurately and rightly know God is if he chooses to graciously reveal himself to us. And we are blessed that this is exactly what God does in the Bible.
The Bible itself makes it clear that it is God's revelation to us. For example, it says that "all Scripture is breathed out by God" and "men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21). So even though the Bible was written by human authors, that is not all that it is. God spoke through the human authors and got written exactly what he wanted written. This means that when we read the Bible, we are receiving the very words of God himself.
God is purposeful in everything that he does, and this is especially true when it comes to the Bible. He has said that his word "shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). God's goal in his word is to communicate with us. Therefore, he has revealed to us everything that he has wanted to reveal in exactly the way that he wanted it revealed. God never needs a mulligan; there is nothing that he left out, there is nothing that he forgot, there is nothing that he wishes he could go back and update. We may often wish that God would have answered some question that we have that he hasn't answered; but God never so wishes. He has said everything that he has wanted to say and everything that we need to know with the exact amount of clarity that he desired to give it. As it says in Psalm 19:7, "The law of the LORD is perfect." This is what theologians refer to as the clarity of Scripture (it is clear) and the sufficiency of Scripture (it is enough to know God and follow him).
Here is where the rubber meets the road. The big issue when it comes to the Bible is the issue of authority. That is, what is our ultimate determiner? What is the final authority for what we believe and think and do? Again, we are left with one of two choices: it is ultimately either us or the Bible. If we stand over the Bible and determine its rightness or wrongness based on our criteria, we are the final authority. Following the Bible as our final authority means that we stand under it and let it determine our rightness or wrongness. As Graeme Goldsworthy has said, "By definition a final authority cannot be proven as an authority on the basis of some higher authority. The highest authority must be self-attesting. Only God is such an authority" (According to Plan, p. 44). Since the Bible truly is the word of the Almighty God, we submit to the Bible in all things. No other posture makes sense.
But it is not just enough to believe in the Bible; we will not be compelled until we value the Bible the way that a hungry, desperate man values bread. You will never be transformed by the word of God if you think that you are fine without it. I think of the response of Peter when Jesus asked his disciples if they wanted to leave him: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). In the Psalms David rejoices over the word of God, because it revives his soul and rejoices his heart, being more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:7-10). Paul describes the Scriptures as profitable and equipping (2 Timothy 3:16-17). But what do you say? Because what you believe about the Bible determines everything.