“You search and keep on searching and examining the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and yet it is those [very Scriptures] that testify about Me;”
So hopefully every person reading this will know what the Bible is. This series will try its best to briefly summarise the themes across the Bible. This obviously is not a devotional and nor should you treat is as such. However, the hope is that you as a reader will be inspired to learn more by exploring the Bible for yourselves.
So, what is the Bible? Well it’s God’s story that starts with the creation of the universe and ends with him restoring it to its full glory. In-between the start and end there are many twists and turns with the one constant theme being a loving, faithful God trying to lead and love people who are unfaithful. The Bible itself is split into 66 books. Even though the Bible is bound as a book it is much more of a library with different kinds of books:
- Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy)
- History (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther)
- Wisdom (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs)
- Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel)
- Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)
- Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
- Pauline Epistles (Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon)
- General Epistles (Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, 1,2&3 John, Jude)
- Apocalypse (Revelation)
Where did it come from?
The Bible was written by multiple authors, such as Paul, John and Jeremiah, throughout centuries who were all in deep relationship with God. This is unlike other religions (such as Islam or Mormonism) who believe that their scriptures were dictated word for word from God above. This is reflective of the relational nature of us as Christians with God. Therefore, the writing styles differ between books because there are different authors working with God. This reflects the relational loving God that is clear throughout the Bible.
To me this show just how loving and patient our God is. I personally am probably not the most patient of people which means that I tend to want people to be working at my pace and would choose people who would be able to keep up. Therefore, if I were God I would probably go for the dropping scripture from the sky option so as not to have to put up with anyone who would slow me down. Luckily, I am not God (which is a very, very good thing) and instead we have a beautiful collaboration between God and people he uses to have such an incredible book.
By the very nature of the Bible itself, before even getting to what’s written in it, points towards a loving, patient and generous God.
So why do we read it?
As Christians, we are in relationship with God, through the Bible it is shown that we have a God who has revealed himself to us. Epicurean views that state that if there is a god/gods, they are far away from what’s actually going on are shattered in the scriptures. It is through scripture that we find out who our God is, it is through scripture that we found out who we are. Scripture shows us God’s promises to us. It is through scripture that we find how God speaks, how he calls us, how much he loves us. It is through scripture that we learn the truth.
On top of this scripture has authority. When Jesus was in the desert and Satan came to tempt him, Jesus did not use well thought out arguments he simply stood on three words ‘it is written’ and the same is applies to us when we are under attack.
When I feel that I’m alone I know that I can stand on scripture and say it is written that my Father is with me (Hebrews 13:5). When I’m told that I’ve messed up too badly to be loved by God I know that it is written that there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1) When I’m told that have no value I know that it is written that I am a child of God (Romans 8:15).
So where does this authority come from? It comes from God and through Jesus. N.T. Wright puts it like this ‘Authority of scripture is authority of God in Jesus, mediated through scripture.’ The Bible points to Jesus, the Word of God. It is the God-given Bible that gives us this. Without it we would be entirely free to create a Jesus that we liked instead of the one hidden in the Old Testament and revealed in the New.
Scripture is authoritative and powerful as it points to Jesus’ authority, the Word of God, the Double-Edged sword (Ephesians 6:17).