What is the function of scripture? I attempt to answer this by highlighting three areas I hope are conclusive in what the function of the scriptures should be for. (This is an excerpt from a paper I wrote for Fuller Theological Seminary).
1. The Scriptures Tells Stories About God
First, the scriptures, as something that has been handed from generation from generation, function much like the historical Psalm 78 does–it tells us the story of God in the history of humanity so that present hearers might recognize and acknowledge this God. The Bible is, in short, a huge narrative about the greatest love story told–the all-powerful and almighty God, who is perfect in holiness, continue to redeem a people by motivation of his steadfast love, as pinnacled by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which when accepted in faith, brings people of all races, languages, and all time into right and restored relationship with God, so as to spend eternity with these weak and sinful people. That is a story worth telling every person on earth! And the scriptures provide us that story, chronicled by the people of faith who encountered the God writing their part of the story in their generation.
2. We Encounter God Through the Scripture
Secondly, the scriptures are a way for people to encounter God. The Bible is not God, but it bridges us to experience God, as empowered by the Spirit. When we read the scriptures, I certainly believe that we are encountering the Triune God. His presence bleeds through the pages and fulfills every soul who read it. Dogmatics and doctrine of the church are a written merely to make sense of this encounter. The Bible is only faithful for teaching, rebuking, and instructing the church because by it we believe we have encountered the living God and recognize his presence. We may not, as Thomas did, see Jesus with our eyes and touch him with our hands, but with the scriptures, empowered by the Spirit who inspired it and who enlightens our understanding, we may encounter and know Jesus of Nazareth truly as did all who were honored before all human history to interact with the second person of the Trinity in the flesh at one point in history. History is no longer a limit to encounter a dead-but-now-living-eternally Man because the scriptures serve as the bridge by which we encounter him today.
3. Invites Us to Participate
In light of learning the story of God, and encountering the living God, the scriptures give instruction in how we should respond. If the scriptures are a love letter from God, we must then respond to fully enjoy its purposes. We are to, as Jesus said, listen, hear, and obey its message (Mat 7:26). We are to put our trust in God, as did the patriarchs of old, follow Jesus with reckless abandonment, holiness and uprightness, and obey the Holy Spirit who now resides in us. These are a few invitations the scriptures inform us about in order for us to participate in the drama God continues to write in human history.