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Discovering the Temple

Discovering the Temple

With a story as large as the one in the Bible, it can be difficult to see how different parts of the story tie together. It has been suggested that there are four major acts that unfold in Scripture: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. While these four categories do help us to see significant themes in Scripture, thinking of the Bible in this simplified way creates difficulty when we try to make sense of other parts of Scripture that don’t seem to fit well into these big four. What of the Garden of Eden? What of tabernacles and sacrifice? What of temples and priests? What of the role of Israel in God’s plan? What of the Messiah? The list could go on…

Return to the Beginning

The good news is that this difficulty can subside when we uncover a central theme that ties all of Scripture together…from the beginning to the end. In order to do that, however, to discover this missing theme, we must look to the beginning for this is where the theme enters into the story. The Creation account in Genesis 1-3 tells of God’s creation of the world and the purpose or function He gives to it. The way that the story of Creation is often taught today, we are disconnected from the original context. We get caught up in all sorts of debates and miss one of the most important aspects of the Creation account, the theme that will help tie all of Scripture together – God establishing His temple. 

To highlight the disconnect, consider this question: What is the most significant day in the week of Creation from Genesis 1? If you were to ask a room full of modern Christians, the answer would likely be Day 6 because that is the day that God made Man from the dust of the earth and breathed His life into him (c.f. Gen 2:7). The 6th day of Creation is no doubt significant as it tells of a special kind of creation and of a personal kind of creature that has been made in the image and likeness of its Creator (Gen. 1:26-28). But is that correct, is that the most significant day? Close, but not quite.

The most significant day of creation is Day 7. This may queue the mental head scratch and rightly so. This day of creation does not fit well into the modern narrative and often ends up being a “throw-away” day. But it makes sense that this happens, right? God is all-powerful and doesn’t need to “rest” (Hebrew shabat). The creation of the world was not taxing on His power so why does He need to rest? You will often hear it said that Day 7 is merely an example for us because we need the rest. In this view, God is modeling the week for us which includes Sabbath rest. However, this line of thinking misses the main emphasis of Day 7. While the text does say that God “rested” it does not mean that God needed to take a break, it meant that he was ceasing from His work – He was done, it was completed. He had created order and beauty out of darkness and chaos. He had created a sacred space in which to dwell with mankind. God had made His temple!

You see, one of the keys to unlocking the significance of the Creation story is the connection of gardens to “sacred spaces” or “temples.”  In Genesis 1, the earth is described as being “formless and void” as God’s Spirit hovered over the deep waters. There was darkness over the earth and it was not yet suitable for life. For the ancient reader, this language would have evoked themes of chaos and disorder. In the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) context the waters (including the oceans) stood as a symbol of chaos. So, as God’s Spirit hovers over this world of chaos and disorder and begins to create, He is bringing order out of chaos. In the middle of the chaos and disorder, God creates Eden, a garden that is lush and teeming with life and herein lies the significance. In the ANE context, gardens (as well as mountains) were often seen as sacred spaces, or temples; places where the gods dwelt. It’s easy to see how ancient people would have made this connection. In a largely agrarian culture, a lush garden is a place of abundance, sustainability, and most importantly life. The source of this sustenance was connected to the power of the god(s) whom the people associated as creator.

But what is so important about a temple? In the ANE context, a temple was the dwelling place of the gods. The temple did not contain the gods, as if a mere building could do such a thing, rather, they were the place where the gods would meet with man. There was a sense in which the temple was the location of specific divine presence – a sacred space, a place where heaven and earth meet. The temple was also a place of ritual worship. Worship of the gods was carried out in the temple as acts of devotion and reverence. Thus, the Garden not only as a place for relationship with God but a place to worship Him. 

Another related theme becomes important here: the theme of man as an image-bearer of God. As God establishes His Temple on Earth, and the Garden as the first Sacred Space, you will see the purpose of the image-bearer. God places man in His Sacred Space and charges him to care for and expand it (Gen. 1:28). Almost immediately, however, this appointment of the image bearer raises a potential problem in the narrative. If God’s plan at creation was to create a sacred space in which to dwell with humanity, has God’s plan failed?! Already, in just the third chapter of the narrative, the image bearers disobey the Creator and are cast out of the Garden (Gen. 3:1-24). They fail to faithfully fulfill their role and are punished. What of God’s plan, what of His intent to be in relationship with creation? This is both the beautiful and tragic beginning of the redemptive narrative of Scripture. Tragic in the sense that man’s failure brought separation, sin, and death but beautiful in the sense that God’s plan had not failed, he would not give up on His creation.

Bringing It Together

The Temple theme is central to the message of the Bible. Once you see it in Genesis, the temple narrative forms a unifying theme throughout the whole story of Scripture. From Genesis 3 onward to the end of the Scriptures, the story of Scripture is God’s plan of restoring the union that was lost when humanity was sent from the Garden, cast out of the Temple. Throughout Scripture, we can see how time and time again, God establishes the Temple with His people. In the Wilderness, it was in the Tabernacle. With the Kings of Israel, it was in Solomon’s Temple and later Zerubbabel’s Temple. There are times where God’s people are not faithful and the Temple is destroyed and God’s presence is in a sense distant or removed. But following a long period of waiting and distance, God returns and tabernacles with man in the most distinct and profound of ways – the incarnation of the Son, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14). In Jesus, God and man come together in a unique way. He is both God and image bearer at the same time. He takes on the function that the first image bearer – Adam – could not fulfill. He demonstrates his dominion over creation and establishes the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that looks forward to the time where the Temple will be fully restored in the renewed heaven and earth (cf. Rev. 21).

In Christ, the relationship between God and Man is restored, heaven and earth reunited. The role of image bearer has been redeemed. Those that are part of God’s people have a renewed purpose as image bearers in the Kingdom of God. Empowered by God’s Spirit, the church body is commissioned to be that location of sacred space we first see in the Garden. In this way, a community of believers who are committed to loving God and loving others (Matt. 22:37-39) are the temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Through God’s Spirit, it is our love for God and love for others that continues to unite heaven and earth. Part of the church’s function then is to be curators of sacred space in a dark world of chaos and disorder. It is the church’s responsibility to share the good news of who Jesus is and what he has done and invite people into this sacred space.

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What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?

The conversation around the topic of marriage came to the forefront of social consciousness a few years back. These debates typically center on the limits of marriage, whether it is only meant for one man and one woman or whether it is open to any loving relationship. Most biblical arguments for the traditional view focus on two aspects; procreation and God’s design for men and women. However, these arguments don’t often speak to what marriage is, only what it does or why it exists. So today let’s ask the more important question: what is biblical marriage

To state it as succinctly as possible: Biblical marriage is a union of two persons – a man and a woman. This union involves a number of different aspects, like love, commitment, and so on, and it produces certain results, like relationship and offspring. But at its core, marriage is a union. While the Bible has much to say about procreation and the roles of men and women, let’s take some time to see what it says about this concept of union. 

There are three significant aspects of this union that we find in Scripture: 

  1. The marriage union is physical 
  2. The marriage union is personal 
  3. The marriage union is relational

The Marriage Union is Physical

After God creates the first man, He says something that He had never said before; He says “It is not good…” Everything He had done before was declared “good.” So, what was not good? God continues, saying “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). What happens next is informative: God shows the man every creature that He had made, but none was fitting for him. They were all good, but they were coming from outside the man, separate from him, and they were not made like him. So, God creates the woman from the flesh of the man. They originate from the same substance, and she was made specifically to fit him. So, as Scripture declares, the man and the woman “shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). To put it plainly, this is talking about sex, but that sex itself is the means of physical unification.

This physical aspect of union is essential to marriage. Like puzzle pieces that fit together just so, the man and woman are physically unified. They are of one substance, like a single object divided in two, that is made whole as it is brought back together. No other piece will complete the puzzle. 

This is an important distinction: the one who is fitting for this union is of the same substance, and is complementary to the other. Two different kinds of things won’t unify, and two that are not complimentary will not be fitting. 

The Marriage Union is Personal

Now, if bodily unity were the most significant aspect of marriage, then certainly we would not have much reason to consider marriage important. So much of what our culture gets wrong about sex and marriage comes from this point: physical intimacy involves the whole person. It is intimately personal. Sex is the means of procreation, but procreation is not essential to the physical union; rather, it is a result. The marriage union brings a person into intimate connection with another person in a way that nothing else can. Most modern cultures want us to believe that sex is merely a physical act, but Scripture teaches otherwise. 

This union is a loving communion of equal and distinct persons. When the two become one, it is more than a physical connection. It involves a connection on the personal level, where the two persons commune in a way that is unique to that relationship. Sex is a means of connection, but the whole of the marriage relationship involves this personal connection. The physical union is merely one level of contact. As we already mentioned, marriage involves the whole person: physical, emotional, spiritual, and so on. The goal of the biblical marriage is for the two to become one as they connect and commune with each other at each of these connecting points.

So, marriage is physical because we are physical beings, and it is personal because we are personal beings, but we also see that marriage is inherently relational. 

The Marriage Union is Relational

When God first creates the man and woman, Scripture makes an interesting declaration: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). The first time that the Bible mentions the distinction of the sexes is in relation to the image of God. So, the question becomes, what does this male-female union have to do with God? The answer is essential to Christianity, and to a proper understanding of Scripture: God Himself IS a union of persons. God is the relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit, Three-in-One; that is, three persons with one essence. Marriage is a picture of that union. 

The union we find in the Trinity is a loving communion of equal and distinct Persons who are One in essence. This is precisely what marriage is meant to be. While marriage is not the only expression of this divine union, it is perhaps the clearest picture God has given us to explain and even experience the Trinitarian life of God. Now, the question remains: what is this experience? What is the essence of Trinitarian life that is demonstrated in the marriage relationship?

As a loving communion of equal persons, this relationship consists of self-giving love which seeks the good of the other. The Trinitarian relationship is always outward-facing love from one to another. So also, the marriage relationship is meant to consist of this kind of self-giving, other-focused love. Consider what Scripture says about this: 

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” And we know this is precisely what Jesus does on the cross, demonstrating the greatest form of self-giving love. Paul picks up on this idea and connects it with the marriage relationship when he says in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Every human relationship in some way models this type of self-giving love, but in marriage we see it most clearly. We could spend hours discussing Christ’s relationship with the Church as it relates to marriage, but we will save that for another time.

So, as we close out this discussion, here is a clear definition of biblical marriage to walk away with: biblical marriage is a loving, self-giving communion of equal but distinct and complementary persons. If we approach marriage with this in mind, much of our cultural confusion about the nature of sex and marriage can be resolved, and many of our marital conflicts can be avoided. But remember; to love as God loves requires the help of God, and a relationship that imitates the Trinitarian life requires that our personal relationship with God be intimately connected with our marriage relationship.

 

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The Purpose of the Bible

This is a study of the most important book in the world, the Word of God. It is important to apply its truths to our lives. The goal today is to understand the central theme of this Holy Book —God’s redemption of sinful man. In this lesson the aim is to learn, “The Purpose of the Bible.”

The Singular Object of Scripture

In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24, Jesus has been raised from the dead and is walking on the road to Emmaus with two disciples who don’t recognize him. They are depressed because the one they had hoped to be the Messiah had just been crucified. In verses 25-26 Jesus rebukes them for their weak knowledge of Scripture. He says: “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” This next part in verse 27 is important, so listen carefully: “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Later, in verses 44-45, after revealing himself to them, He said, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” What was the truth about the Scriptures that Jesus shared? It was simply this: All Scripture is all about Me.

In the Gospel of John, 5:39-40 Jesus says the same things to the religious leaders of His day. They are arguing with Him about His claim to be Messiah. Indeed, they had plenty of evidence if they would only accept it. John the Baptist was supportive of Jesus, the word of the Father came from heaven at His baptism, and He performed many miracles, some exceeding even Moses, but they would not believe. He says to them, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). “All the Scriptures point to Me” is the key verse to the whole Bible. The Bible is all about Jesus.

Four Purposes in Scripture

With Jesus as the central point of Scripture, there are four purposes to the Bible that need to be discussed. The first purpose of Scripture is to present Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of this world. Thus, The Old Testament says, “Jesus is coming” and The New Testament says, “Jesus came.”

The second purpose of the Bible is to present the history of the Redeemer and the salvation that came through Him. Thus, there is something to learn from the time and space given to specific parts of the story. For instance, there are 89 chapters in the four Gospels. Of these, four chapters cover the birth and the first thirty years of Jesus, leaving 85 chapters to cover the last three years of Jesus’ life. 27 chapters cover the last week of Jesus’s life. One might ask, “What aspect of Jesus’ life is more important to the Gospel writers? The first 30 or the last three? How important did they think Jesus’ last week was when He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead? The Bible makes much of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, half of the Gospel of John is dedicated to discussing Jesus’ last week of ministry. Two of the Gospels do not even mention the birth of Jesus or His first thirty years. The Gospels are not written as biographies, but are written to preach something. They preach that Jesus came for that last week when he died for our sins and rose again to prove He was who he said He was—Incarnate God.

Just so, there are 1,189 chapters in the entire Bible. Eleven of these cover the history of the universe, the history of the earth, the history of people, the history of language, the history of evil. In Genesis 12, you meet a man named Abraham. Genesis twelve all the way through to Revelation twenty-two, 1,178 chapters, the subject is Abraham and his descendants, especially that one descendant through whom all the nations of the earth are blessed, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible is primarily interested in one thing and it gets to that one thing before it gets to its twelfth chapter. The Bible is interested in salvation; it is interested in demonstrating how salvation came, how the Savior came; so it gets to Abraham quickly. From Abraham to Christ, that is what the Bible is all about.

The New Testament has 260 chapters; the Old Testament has 929 chapters. Yet there are many people who say, “I am not interested in the Old Testament; that is the old Bible; just give me the New Testament.” The Old Testament is the pure Word of God and in these 929 chapters God says a great deal to his children.

The third purpose of the Bible, according to the Apostle Paul, is so that the servant of God might be completely equipped for every good work that God wants him to do. So, in one sense, the Bible was not written to the unbeliever but to the believer. Whether you are a man or a woman, God has a work that He wants you to do that will glorify Him; to equip you to do this work, God has given you 66 inspired little books that are filled with the truth that He wants you to know and reflect in life.

The fourth purpose for Scripture can be found emphasized in the Gospel of John, which is addressed to the unbeliever. In 20:31, John says, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” In this way, the Gospel of John is the only book of the sixty-six books of the Bible that is addressed to the unbeliever.

The last purpose can be summarized this way: God only has one message to an unbeliever, according to the Bible, and that message is, “Repent and believe the Gospel.” After an unbeliever repents and believes the Gospel, God has sixty-six books filled with truth for that believer.

So, there are four purposes of the Bible: to present the person of Jesus Christ; to present the history of Jesus Christ and history leading to Him; that the unbeliever might believe in Jesus Christ; and that the believer might be completely equipped for every good work that God wants him or her to do.

The History of the Bible

Turning now to the history of the Bible, are you able to answer some of these questions:

  • Who were the people who wrote the books of the Bible?
  • When and where did they write them?
  • In what language did they write them?
  • Is there a record of the original documents?
  • Who preserved these books for us?
  • Who made the selection of these books and put them in this collection of holy books?
  • Who authorized men to make these selections and when were these selections made?
  • Who organized the Bible like it is today?

If you tell people that you surveyed the Bible and are a serious student of God’s Word, they will expect you to know how to answer these questions.

So, who did write the Bible? God wrote this book. What does that mean? The section on the word “inspiration” answers that. Through the miracle of inspiration, God moved men to write these books. So really, God wrote these books.

There are two terms that need established when learning about God writing these books. The first is the term “revelation.” Revelation is a general term that covers all the ways that God reveals truth to man. God reveals truth to man through nature. He also reveals truth personally through the Holy Spirit. The second term is “inspiration.” Inspiration refers to what theologians call “special revelation.” The Bible is the special revelation of God. Over a period of about sixteen hundred years God moved men to write these books. It has a beginning. It has an end. In about AD 90 when John wrote Revelation, and when he put a period to that revelation, he said that if anybody adds anything to this book, God will add to him the plagues in this book and he warned us not to take anything away from this book. (Rev. 22:18-19) Now, some have said that John was just referring to the content in Revelation itself when he wrote that but other have suggested that John’s warnings apply to the entire Bible. Either way, no one should remove or add anything to the Scriptures. It was a special miracle. That is why they call it a special revelation.

This raises the question, “Does God still reveal anything personally?” Yes, He does.

Personal vs. Special Revelation

This then raises another question, “Which is more important, personal revelation or special revelation?” Special revelation always has authority over personal revelation. If someone comes to a pastor and says, “I am going to leave my wife. She is impossible. I am going to leave her.” The Pastor can ask him, “Has she been unfaithful?” He says, “No, no, I just do not like her; I do not want to be married anymore God told me to leave her.” Then the pastor full of authority can say, “God did not tell you any such thing, because in the special revelation of Scripture, God does not permit you to leave her. God says cleave to her. Real personal revelation will never contradict special revelation.”

You have to be cautious about saying “God told me.” Many times when you say, “God told me,” He did not tell you. You do not want to credit God with personal opinions and desires.

The important thing about considering the words “revelation” and “inspiration” is that many in the world put exclusive emphasis on words like rationalism, reason, logic, humanism. They are saying, “I do not need a revelation. I have a mind.” When you become a Christian, you do not become irrational, illogical, unreasonable or inhuman, but according to the Scriptures, revelation is the main criteria by which right from wrong can be determined.

Who Wrote the Bible?

Now the question of “who?” Who were the people that wrote the Bible? God inspired men to write these books. These men were kings, fishermen, shepherds, generals, political leaders. One was a physician. One was a tax collector. All kinds of men were inspired by God to write His messages. The poet, Dryden, wisely asked, “Whence but from heaven could men unskilled in arts, in several ages born, in several parts, weave such agreeing truths, or how or why should all conspire to cheat us with a lie, unasked their pains, ungrateful their advice, starving their gain, and martyrdom their prize?”

Who Collected and Canonized these books?

It helps to research how this miracle took place. If you do, you will discover that the Old Testament books were selected by men like Ezra the Great Scribe. By about A.D. 100 at the Council of Jamnia the Old Testament books were completely settled, even though they had been officially

This is a poem that rhymes in English and may not rhyme in your language. However, the author is providing a very beautiful message concerning the powerful testimony of Scripture, considering all the different people that wrote, the different times and places, there is a united and coherent message throughout. It seems very unlikely that the Bible was manmade. There is too much that would have gone wrong along the way. Consider either including this in the lesson or adding something which sheds light on the meaning of this poem. recognized as sacred Scriptures and collected three or four hundred years before that. The New Testament books had been collected, selected and arranged by A.D. 692 at the Council of Trullan, though already settled at the Council of Rome in A.D. 382, and clearly enumerated almost a century before that. In the case of the Old Testament, selection focused on the author’s reputation as a prophet or a scribe. In the case of the New Testament, three questions were asked. Was this book written by an apostle or the close associate of an apostle? Did the book manifest spiritual content that equipped the believer for life and ministry? Finally, do all these books unanimously agree about this spiritual content? Many people ask about the Apocrypha which was placed in the canon of Scripture by the Roman Catholic Church in A.D. 1546 during the Reformation period. Those books were not chosen during the original selection of Scriptures.

Original Languages of the Bible

Another thing to consider is the language in which the Bible was written. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic and the New Testament was written in Greek. Because the Bible was not written in your mother tongue, Bible scholars often study these original languages so that all can understand the Scriptures more accurately.

Now think about how long ago these books were written. The New Testament is almost 2000 years old, and the oldest books of the Old Testament are 3,500 to 4,000 years old. These books had to be copied and preserved. Since paper just does not last that long, none of the original manuscripts exist but there are trust worthy copies available. In order to get the Bible in [your language], it had to be translated by those who were committed to sharing God’s Word.

Conclusion

Hopefully this lesson has opened up the Scripture to you so you will understand it better and it will transform your life. Remember to carefully study these questions and the answers are quite important. These sorts of questions will help one to better understand the origin of the Scriptures. Knowledge will give us a confidence that the Word of God is true and reliable and relevant for us today.

Thank you for being a faithful student in this introductory study of the Bible. Continue to invite your family and friends to join in as we study God’s Word. The value of this study of scripture is eternal as it will help you learn and apply the eternal and spiritual truths of God’s Word.

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What Is the Bible?

Welcome to our study on the most important book in the world, the Word of God, the Bible. These lessons are an introduction or overview of the books of the Bible that fit all the parts together for better understanding and future study. Thank you for joining as we try to understand it and learn how to apply its truths to our lives.

Before studying the individual books of the Bible, a few questions need answering: First, “What is the Bible,” Second, “What is the purpose of the Bible,” and lastly, “How should we read it?

The Bible is divided into two halves, what Christians call “testaments.” These testaments are divided further into sixty-six books. Anyone who surveys each of these books needs to look for three things: first, observe the content of each book; second, observe the outline of each book; and third and most importantly, we want to discern the message of each book and how it relates personally to our lives.

Studying the Bible will help to equip every believer so that he or she can understand their faith and communicate it more effectively to friends, family and neighbors. There is a common belief that ministry is the work of pastors alone. Our relationship to the church can be focused on what we hope to get for ourselves from our leaders.

In Ephesians 4:11-13, however, the Apostle Paul envisions an entire church full of ministers who have been equipped by their leaders to do the work of ministry…an entire church full of people who are actively building the church, serving Christ, sharing their knowledge of Christ with others and helping them to become mature Christ-like Christians. He says, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

To all those involved in the study of the bible, you are a valuable part of the church and have been called to do good works through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul also says in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” The only way to really understand the Bible is to work – challenge yourself to commit to being equipped and become a faithful believer of Jesus.

Introduction to the Bible

Now, think about the definition of “the Bible.” What is the Bible? Christians often refer to the Scriptures as “The Holy Bible.” The English word “Bible” comes from the Greek word biblia, which suggests a collection of books. The Bible is a collection of sixty-six books, and yet it is one book with a single wonderful message from beginning to end – the story of God’s redemption.

The term “Holy Bible” means that this collection of books is a holy collection of books. The word “holy” means “that which is set apart, that which belongs to God,” or “that which is in some sense associated with God.” These books are related to God in a special way. This collection of books contains God’s message to humanity. This makes the Holy Bible not only the most influential, most read, most translated book in history, but also makes it the most important book in the world. Therefore, the study of the Bible is the most important study you can engage in.

The Bible is also referred to as “the Word of God.” What does it mean that the Bible is the “Word of God”? In II Timothy 3:16-17, The Apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” This means the whole Bible was given by inspiration from God and is useful to teach what is true and to make you realize what is wrong in your life; it straightens you out and helps you to do what is right. It is God’s way of making you well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone.

Paul is saying that God did have something to do with the writing of these books. God had a message that He wanted to communicate to you; in order to communicate that message, He inspired the writers of the Bible in such a way that the words they wrote were not their words, but God’s words. Over a period of 1500 to 1600 years, the writings of these prophetically empowered men were recognized as inspired writing and were collected to form what is the Holy Bible.

The Bible is Inspired

The process by which God moved men to write these books is called inspiration. Paul says that these books came from God by inspiration. The Greek word translated inspiration literally means “God Breathed.” The Holy Spirit of God breathed into these men, moving or inspiring them to write these books.

Second Peter 1:16 & 20-21 describes the Bible in these words: For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty…But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

So, while the Apostle Paul states that the miracle of the Bible came to pass through a process called inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Peter states what inspiration is. The message those men wrote in those books did not have its origin in those men. It originated with God. All of the messages written in these inspired books originated in the heart of God. God communicated these messages to men by carrying them along with the Holy Spirit. But at the same time, God’s Spirit used individual people to write the books and thus used their individual personalities and styles to write the Bible. God’s Spirit moved these people to write and guided them along the way but the message was not dictated to them. There was a dynamic relationship in place between God’s Spirit and man as the Scriptures were revealed and written.

Peter used a beautiful word in the Greek language to describe that “carrying along,” the word phero. In many places, where there is a lot of water, “ferryboats” are used instead of bridges to get across waterways, to carry people from one side to the other side. That is what the word phero in the Greek language refers to, “carrying along.” Just so, Peter says that God carried these people along to get them where He wanted them.

The Organization of the Bible

The books of the Bible are not placed in the Bible on the basis of when they were written or when their authors lived. The sixty-six books of the Bible are organized on the basis of the kinds of books they are.

The books of the Bible are in two divisions. One division is called the Old Testament with 39 books; the other division is called the New Testament with 27 books.

This has not always been the case. In the days of Jesus, for instance, there were no such things as an Old Testament and a New Testament. The New Testament had not yet been written, so the books that existed in the days of Jesus were simply called The Word of God or The Scriptures. It was after the New Testament had been written and brought together into a collection of books that the distinction was made between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Essential Message of the Bible

The essential message of these Old Testament books is this: “Jesus is coming.” In the beginning, according to the Scriptures, God and man were in harmony with each other, but God made man a creature of choice, and man chose to turn away from God. Because God cannot look upon rebellion or disobedience, there was a separation between God and man. That separation between God and man is the fundamental problem with which the Scriptures deal.

In the Old Testament, God says to us, “I am going to do something about that separation?” In the New Testament, God is saying to us, “I have done something about that separation, will you believe? You see, the Old Testament books say that Jesus is coming, and that He is going to reconcile the broken relationship between God and His creatures. The New Testament tells the good news: Jesus has come and reconciled the broken relationship between God and man. Two words in the Gospel of Mark sum up the whole New Testament. They are in Mark 1:9, “Jesus came.”

Old Testament Literature Categories

The Old Testament books are categorized under four different headings.

First, there is the Torah, which is also called the Pentateuch, which means five books These tell the story of God’s dealings with man from the creation, fall of man into sin, and the great flood. They detail God’s promises through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (who is also called Israel) and his children. They tell the story of the rise of the great prophet Moses who delivers the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, establishes God’s law for them, and brings them to the border of the land God promised to give to Abraham and his children.

The five books of the Torah are followed by ten History books. These ten History books detail important events from the time that Joshua, Moses’ assistant, brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, through a period of trouble where judges rose to rule the people, on through the time period kings ruled the Israelites, right up until the Israelites were taken into exile into Mesopotamia. The people of God obeyed those five books of the Torah and sometimes they did not. When they did obey, they became examples to follow. When they disobeyed, their lives became warnings to heed.

The History books are followed by the Poetry books. The Poetry books are God’s message to His people as they try to live out His Word in this world. In the Poetry books, God speaks a message to the hearts of His people. For example, in the Book of Job, God has a message for God’s people when they are suffering. In the Book of Psalms, His message is about all of the things that go on in your heart when you are worshipping. In the Book of Proverbs, God teaches what it should look like to live in day to day relationships with other people.

Ecclesiastes is a message from God to His people when they are experiencing doubt and frustration about the world in their hearts. The Song of Solomon is a message to the people of God about the beauty and struggles of godly human love.

Finally, the fourth category is called “The Prophets.” There are two sections. First, The Major Prophets. Second, The Minor Prophets. The Major Prophets are called Major Prophets not because they are superior to the Minor Prophets, but because they are long, while the Minor Prophets are much shorter.

New Testament Literature Categories

In the New Testament there also four kinds of books.

First, there are four historical books about the life and mission of Jesus: The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Second, there is one historical book about the life and mission of the early church—The Acts of the Apostles, or the Book of Acts for short

Then there are a collection of letters from some of the Apostles to Christian churches, the Epistles. There are two collections — the Epistles of Paul and the General Epistles, which include the letter to the Hebrews, and letters from Peter, John, James and Jude

The New Testament closes with one highly symbolic or Apocalyptic book, called “The Revelation.” It is hard to understand.

Summary

So, in the Bible, there are sixty-six books. There are 39 Old Testament books telling about the promised restoration of man’s relationship with God in the coming of Jesus, which is made up of four kinds of books: Torah books, History books, Poetry books, and Prophetic books.

There are 27 New Testament books telling about the fulfillment of Jesus’ coming and restoration of relationship between man and God. It contains four kinds of books: The Gospels of Jesus, the historical book: the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of the Apostles and the Apocalyptic book: Revelation.

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