The Basics of the Bible
We believe that a knowledge of God and a relationship with him is absolutely dependent on God revealing himself to us. In other words, if we are to know God then God must come and make himself known to us. The word that is given to God making himself known is “revelation.” There are two types of revelation – general and special revelation. General revelation includes everything that can be known about God by observing the world around us – people, plants, animals, rocks, and the universe as a whole. It makes known the greatness of the God who created everything. As amazing as this general revelation is however, it isn’t enough. If all we had was general revelation then we may know something about God, but we would never know God. If we are to know him – truly know him – then we need another type of revelation. We need special revelation. This special revelation is given to us as the Bible. The Bible is the way God has made himself known to the world. Therefore, if we are to have a relationship with him, the Bible must be the foundation.
The Bible is a collection of 66 books, divided into two major sections called testaments – the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament consists of thirty nine books and the New Testament contains twenty seven books. These books are further divided by a variety of literary types and genres of writing (like history, law, poetry, etc.).
The Law and Early History (Torah / Pentateuch)
Genesis – Deuteronomy
Joshua – Esther
Poetry and Wisdom
Job – Song of Solomon
Isaiah – Malachi
Matthew – John
Early Church History
Letters of Paul
Romans – Philemon
Hebrews – Jude
Prophecy / Apocalyptic / Letter
The Story of the Bible
The books which make up the Bible reveal the identity and nature of God, the purpose of the universe, the problem with the world, and the only way that problem is overcome. It tells us that God created everything that exists and created humans for the specific purpose of living in a love relationship with him, reflecting his goodness and greatness to the creation, and governing that creation under the rule of God. The first man and woman, however, rebelled against God’s authority and introduced sin and its consequences to the creation and the human race. This sin resulted in people’s relationship with God being broken, their relationships with one another being damaged, their bodies aging toward death, and them being guilty to suffer the judgment of God for what they have become and done. The Bible is the grand story about how God has acted in history to rescue people and restore the good creation that he had made.
The Old Testament tells the story of God’s plan to rescue people and restore creation by recording God’s actions with and for his people, ancient Israel. God entered into a special relationship with these people and over the centuries he revealed to them who he was, what he wanted, and what he was going to do. Through the Old Testament he told Israel that he was going to triumphantly act in history by sending a great king (called the Messiah) to rescue his people, defeat sin and death, and secure eternal life for those who trusted in him.
The New Testament completes the story that the Old Testament began. It tells us about how God has kept all of his promises to the ancient people of Israel. It tells us about how God became a human named Jesus who was the promised Messiah (or Christ). Jesus lived, taught, loved, and ultimately gave his life as a substitute for sinners. Jesus endured the judgment of God in the place of men and women who deserved it. This story is recorded in the first four books in the New Testament. The rest of the New Testament explains more fully what God has done through Jesus Christ. It tells us that any person, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, or status can have a relationship with God by believing in Jesus. This relationship assures us of eternal life, a relationship with God, and is completely a free gift of grace to those who trust God in faith. Those who trust Christ belong to God’s special people the Church. One day Jesus Christ will physically return and bring the broken, diseased, and sinful world to a close ushering in a new creation that is free of everything bad, sad, hurting, and dying.
Terms that Describe the Bible
The Bible can be described by six terms, each of which is essential for a correct understanding of the Bible.
A. Inspired – The Bible is given by God. Humans were used to write the Bible, but it is not fundamentally a human book. It is a book about God, given by God. He is the Author. That is why we call the Bible the Word of God.
B. Infallible – The Bible is powerful. It is not deficient in any way. It is not weak or lacking because it is given by God. Any mistake or error in belief, or a failure to understand the Bible is due to people’s weakness and not the Bible.
C. Inerrant – The Bible does not contain errors. It is totally and absolutely truthful in everything it affirms. It can be believed because it does not lie. This is an affirmation of trust in God. The Bible is given by God (inspired) and God does not lie or misrepresent the truth.
D. Authoritative – Because the Bible is given by God (inspired), powerful (infallible), and trustworthy (inerrant), it must be the final authority for what we believe and do. We must submit our lives to the text of the Bible and not try to mold the text of the Bible to fit our lives. We must be under its authority and not have it as under our authority. The Bible’s authority also means that nothing else can replace it or be placed alongside it. Tradition, opinions, theories, and human teaching must all be evaluated under the authority of the Bible.
E. Understandable – The Bible is not a cryptic puzzle to be deciphered only by the well educated or initiated. It is true that a person can never understand the message of the Bible apart from God’s Spirit working in his or her life, and a person can spend a lifetime and never understand the Bible fully. Still, the Bible is plain. A child can read it and understand what God is saying through its pages. The understandability of the Bible should be a powerful incentive to make the Bible available in every language and should spur us to read it for ourselves in our daily lives.
F. Christ Centered – We believe that the Bible is all about Jesus. He is the point. He is the person that everything (in both the Old and New Testament) is pointing to. Everything in the Bible is fulfilled in and by Jesus Christ.
The Proper Response to the Bible
A. Read the Bible – Spend time each day reading portions of the Bible.
B. Study the Bible – Invest time in knowing and understanding the message of the Bible.
C. Believe the Bible – Believe what the Bible says.
D. Obey the Bible – Do what the Bible says do.