Saturday, January 18, 2020

What is the Bible all about?

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2 Timothy 3:15-17 "and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."


    In nearly thirty years of preaching ministry, I've had a burden to draw people's attention to the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ. What follows is an attempt to get people re-engaged with the greatest book ever written - and I may add, the only one which has demonstrated its claims as God's Divine revelation - the Bible. In April 2019, Barna Research Group released a poll entitled: "State of the Bible 2019 - trends in engagement". Readers can access this eye-opening poll by clicking here:

     The poll suggests that although there is a slight increase in surface-level engagement with the Bible, the overall trend is drifting toward further disuse. The Bible, God's Word, is the chief instrument through which sinners are brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:17). Furthermore, the Bible is the chief instrument for Christian growth and the church empowerment (see Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). 
What is the Bible about?

     What is the Bible? This question is important to answer so that we can understand what the Bible is about. We can give four answers to this all-important question.

First, the Bible is the foundation of faith and life. 

     The Bible is not just a book, it is the "Book of books". Why? The Bible, by its very title, means: "The Book". The 19th century Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon produced a systematic question and answer book to take his congregants through major doctrines of scripture and systematic theology entitled: "A Puritan Catechism", which readers can access here: Spurgeon had observed in his day the rapid decline of Biblical Christianity.  He wanted to ensure that the tremendous Christian heritage he had inherited would not go extinct. The opening questions Spurgeon raises demonstrate this first point of why the Bible is fundamental to faith and life. Spurgeon notes:

Q1: What is the chief end of man?

A1: Man's chief end is to glorify God, ( 1 Corinthians 10:31 ) and to enjoy him for ever. ( Psalms 73:25 Psalms 73:26 )

Q2: What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him?

A2: The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments ( Ephesians 2:20 ; 2 Timothy 3:16 ) is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify God and enjoy him. ( 1 John 1:3 )

Q3: What do the Scriptures principally teach?

A3: The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man. ( 2 Timothy 1:13 ; Ecclesiastes 12:13 )

Secondly, the Bible is God’s final revelation of Himself to mankind. 
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     Whenever you open birthday presents, you are ripping off wrapping paper to uncover the hidden gift inside the box. Revelation is when God takes away the “wrapping paper” of His hidden purposes to uncover to us His plan for our lives (see 2 Peter 1:20-21). The only book in the world that can rightly claim itself as God’s written revelation is the Bible. In as much as we've noted the fundamental place of the Bible as occupying final authority for faith and practice of daily living, we must point out that it only has this function due to God's revelation of Himself through its words. So what else is the Bible about? 

The third thing about the Bible is that it has full authority. 
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      In addition to the Bible occupying a fundamental role in faith and life, as well as uniquely functioning as God's final revelation, we can understand why these first two thoughts lead us to see the full authority of the Bible. God revealed each book of the Bible by words through a process called: “inspiration” – which means “God’s out-breathing” (see 2 Timothy 3:16). The authority it carries as God's inspired collection of totally accurate, true and faithful words (and thus books) makes it unique. 

      The Bible contains 66 individual books, written by 40 authors, over 1500 years, on three continents, in three original languages. The Bible is God’s truth, no matter what place, time or language. Let's note one more important answer to our overall question: "what is the Bible about?". 
As a final thought on what the Bible is about, we can note....

The Bible’s focus – God revealed in Jesus Christ, to make know salvation and to point to God's glory.  
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      We could say that the Bible is: “the book of books, revealing the King of Kings”.  As the Bible focuses our attention on the Lord Jesus Christ, a focused message and goal emerges from its pages. The central message of the Bible is the Gospel. The Gospel is "good news" due to its life-changing contents. First, there is the Savior and Lord who is God and man - the Lord Jesus Christ, who lived, died, was buried and raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-6). Secondly, salvation is rooted in God's grace (that is, salvation unearned by good behavior, granted as a result of God's willing bestowal to redeem the sinner that He calls through the Gospel). Thirdly, salvation is received by a responsive trust in Jesus Christ as prompted by grace (otherwise known as, "faith, see Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is the Bible's central message, however, the overall goal of the the Bible is to make known God’s glory (God’s glory is when we can see all His goodness by what He reveals about Himself). These ideas tell us what the Bible “is all about”. 

Closing thoughts:

      Today's post aimed to introduce readers to answers to the big question: "what is the Bible all about?". We gave four responses:

1. The Bible is the foundation of faith 
    and life.

2. The Bible is God's final revelation of      Himself to mankind.

3. The Bible, as God's revelation, has 
    final authority.

4. The Bible’s focus – God revealed in        Jesus Christ, to make known          
    salvation and to point to His glory.