Knowing that the Bible is sufficient, authoritative, and final still leaves undone the question of mankind's access to its power. Can we understand the Bible? Do I need a priest, or other official to help me understand the Bible? Paul begins to address this question in the writing to the Ephesians,
"For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles -- if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit." (Ephesians 1:1-5)
Paul was not writing to priests or any special group within the church. He was simply writing to the saints, or Christians, who were at Ephesus (Ephesians 1:1). And how did these saints understand the great mystery that Paul wrote about? By reading. Under the Old Covenant, access to God was controlled by the Levitical priesthood, but today Peter refers to the saints everywhere as a Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).
This new dispensation comes with great honor, but also great responsibility. While we have the privilege of access to God and His great will, we also are entreated to seek out our own salvation and understand His offer to us.
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)
If the path to salvation is faith in Christ, and if this faith comes through His word, then apparently the word of God must be discernable by men. If it were only understandable by the priesthood, then only priests could attain the faith leading to salvation. Knowing this, the Bereans questioned Paul with diligence.
"The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men." (Acts 17:10-12)
Even the great apostle Paul, author of nearly half of our New Testament, was double-checked by the Bereans. What is most interesting though, is that they believed because of this study and understanding. Notice that they examined the Scriptures daily... Therefore many of them believed. The word of God produced faith, just as Paul wrote to the Romans, not because of his explanation or revelation, but because of their own diligent study and understanding. Perhaps Jesus summed it up best, that His holy word would bring about truth and freedom,
"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)
This has been an important truth to grasp. I hope you have seen that the word of God is far more than a good book. It is historically accurate, divine in origin, sufficient for salvation, authoritative in instruction, final in its revelation, and an entreaty to us as humans to consider God's wondrous offer.
Knowing and trusting the word of God as a beacon unto salvation is a great start. Beyond that, however, we must see that God has not only revealed Himself through His word, but also through His Son.