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What is the Bible?

November 2005 | by Gerard Chrispin

The Bible is different

Just as the Lord Jesus Christ is different from all other leaders, religious or otherwise, so the Bible is different from all other books. Those leaders and those books are of earthly origin. Such religious leaders are men or women with all the weaknesses and failures of sinful humanity. And all the other books, even religious ones, are written merely from a human point of view.

By contrast, just as Jesus is the living Word of God whose origin is from heaven (John 3:13; 1 Corinthians 15:47), so the Bible is the written word of God — also of heavenly origin (2 Peter 1:18-19).

Jesus came to earth from heaven, and took on the form of manhood sinlessly, even though he was the offspring of a woman who was godly but nevertheless sinful. In the same way, the Bible was sent from heaven, and is infallible and God-breathed — despite being put together on earth through the instrumentality of writers who, though godly, were nevertheless sinners (2 Peter 1:21).

The Bible is a library

You can hold in your hand the whole of God’s revealed will to men and women in a single volume — and do so in any one of many languages and different versions. That is exciting! Almighty God has given us a book to own, to read, to learn, to consult and to live by. It is an amazing book!

And yet it is more than a book — it is a library! The thirty-nine Old Testament and twenty-seven New Testament books that make up the written word of God can be regarded as different sections of God’s library.

That library is divided into sections dealing with subject matter as diverse as law, poetry, history and prophecy. Just as there is a huge difference between this book of God and any other book, so there is an enormous difference between his library and all other libraries.

There is no library in the world where all the books, written by different authors at different times on different subjects, are in perfect harmony and accord with one another. This library, the Bible, has a perfect and infallible oneness. It cannot contradict itself because it is God’s work not man’s.

The Bible is God-breathed

The Bible claims to be ‘breathed out’ by God (2 Timothy 3:16). That is what the word translated ‘inspired’ really means. God wrote it. He inspired every original word that makes up the Bible in the original languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. The Bible is infallible because God is infallible and he is its author.

Yet the Bible came to us through men who, like us, were sinful and fallible. They could make mistakes and their knowledge and intelligence were limited, just as ours is today. Yet, because God the Holy Spirit came upon them and inspired them as they wrote, they were kept from making any errors in the words and text he gave them originally.

Obviously, it is not always possible for a translation to convey the depth of meaning of those original infallible words. However, careful translations by scholars of integrity, using the oldest manuscripts available, give us translations that are very close to the original meaning and usually completely on target.

The Bible is miraculous

Sometimes we use the word ‘miraculous’ too lightly. We usually mean that something has happened which was wonderful, unlikely and unexpected. But such things are by no means miraculous in any true sense of the word.

A miracle occurs when God personally steps into a situation to do something that otherwise just could not be done. Thus the creation of the world was miraculous, as were the incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus. Genuine Christian conversion is miraculous also.

By definition, no human being could be the Bible’s ultimate author because it is ‘the word

of God’ (Hebrews 4:12). By very nature, therefore, it is a miracle. God did what no one else could do. Only he had the authority, the knowledge and the wisdom to write it.

Yet the Bible is practical too. Jesus lived among us as a practical man, despite also being ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). He worked with his hands, ate our food, walked our roads, talked our words — his miraculous nature and origin blended with his practical and sinless humanity.

Similarly, the teaching of the written word from heaven, the Bible, is profitable in every possible practical situation in human life. It equips the Christian to do good in every circumstance of life (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Thus it speaks to us in the home and in the workplace; in sorrow and in joy; in sickness and in health; in society or in solitude; in riches or poverty; in youth or old age; in life or in death; in success or in failure; in the church or in the world. God speaks to us in every situation through his self-revelation in the Bible.

The

Bible Panoramais a chapter by chapter guide through each book of the Bible followed by a vigorous and practical defence of the Bible as the infallible word of God. It includes flexible readings schemes to encourage regular Bible reading.