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What is the Bible?

Author: Jon Slenker

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
Psalm 119:103

Communication is one way that sets humanity apart from other living things. The bible is one of God’s primary ways of communicating to mankind. The bible is a compilation of stories that tells one grand story. It is divided into two overarching testaments (Old and New Testaments), also known as covenants or promises by God to his people. So what is the bible and what is the bible about? In one word, the bible is God’s story. It is God’s identity, word, will and ways. This is that we may know God, know ourselves, know the world we exist in and what or who we find our meaning in.

The bible is a compilation of 66 books or letters that chronicles history, kingdoms, prophecy and God’s relationship with his creation. It was written by 36 inspired authors in three different languages, spanning three continents and a few thousand years. And yet, it tells one great story with a scarlet thread. While the bible answers many of life’s questions, it is not ultimately a story about us as the main characters. All the Old Testament points to Christ, while all the New Testament presents Christ. It is helpful to answer the question, “what is the bible?” if we understand the overarching narrative of the Bible by observing it as one book in four parts, Creation, Fall, Rescue and Restoration.

It is within the pages of the bible that we are introduced to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, Angels, the Evil one Satan, demons and man and every living creature and thing. It speaks of the galaxies, birds of the air, fish of the sea, great beasts, pools in the desert, mountains and miracles. As a Creator God, he has written for us about science, art, relationship, love, identity, meaning and everything in between.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Psalm 34:8

Creation

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1

In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the creation account starts the story with “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1). God was and is, has always been and always will be. He is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 1:8). “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1) He is a creator God who spoke everything that exists, including man, into being. He makes them in his image and likeness (Gen. 1:27), breathes life into his creation (Gen. 2:7-8) and gives Adam and Eve their first command known as the “creation mandate”. He tells them to be “fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). This does not simply mean to make warm bodies, but to make worshipers as his “vice-regents” governing the earth. God entrusted his creation to us to care for and manage.

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
Hebrews 11:3

Fall

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Genesis 3:15

The Fall of man is recorded in Genesis 3 when Adam stood passively by and Eve entertained the Serpent questioning God’s word, “Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1).  The curse of sin is passed down through man. Sin twisted the creation mandate and instead of worshiping God, man now worshiped self and multiplied twisted worshippers (Rom 5:12). Eventually, man only did evil in the sight of the Lord (Gen. 6:5-22). The consequence of disobedience and sin is a broken relationship with God, decay and death that is physical and spiritual. We are in grave need of a savior to restore us to the right relationship with God and grant us new life.

Shortly after sin infected man, God promised to send a rescuer (Gen. 3:15). He called this Rescuer the “Messiah” in Hebrew, translated into Greek as “Christ”, meaning “anointed one.” This anointed one would be God incarnate, his own Son, a prophet who would come and offer a perfect atonement as a sinless sacrifice. He was sinless because he was born of the Holy Spirit, not from a sin-corrupted man.

From Genesis 3 to Malachi, we get a front row seat as to how God interacts with, relates to and rules over his creation; prophesying over 300 times that the Christ shall come and rescue the Lord’s people from sin and death.

“He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.”
Isaiah 53:11

Rescue

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”
John 1:1-4

Jesus the Christ would do more than be a sacrifice, he would be the supreme example for life and godliness as a worshiper, family member and friend. We are still living under the curse and consequence of the Fall, but God did send the promised rescuer, modeled the very life of God and how one should live. He embodied all of God’s character, chemistry, credibility and competence.

The Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, as well as the letters, are accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings, tendencies and relationships. It is fascinating that we get the chance to read from eyewitnesses about their first-hand accounts as to how he nurtured, challenged, dealt with conflict and stood up for the oppressed. These writings also detail the times when he spoke up and the times he remained silent or spoke in confusing parables.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14

“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Matthew 13:16-17

Restoration

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God…On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Revelation 19:11-16

Christ has come, and will come again! This time, to bind Satan and restore God’s own people and creation back to himself once and for all. There will be eternal peace, joy, community with God, the angels, people from every tribe, tongue and nation worshiping God, and enjoying him forever.

Conclusion

By God’s word he spoke creation into existence. By questioning his word mankind’s hearts and eyes were open to good and evil and broke the right relationship with God. By God’s word he promised a savior and the Word became flesh and dwelt among men (John 1:14). By God’s word he spread the good news, the gospel, and by the telling of it many have been and still are being saved through faith. By God’s word he promises to come again and restore all that was broken and marred by evil, sin and death. By God’s word he promises to bind Satan and redeem that which was lost. God’s word is holy, trustworthy, authoritative, inspired, powerful, relevant, unchanging, and much much more. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
Psalm 119:103

 

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