Bible Part 1 - INTRODUCTORY TOPICS
Net Bible Institute 1999


1


What Is The Bible?


As we begin to explore the subject of the Bible there are a few introductory matters that need to be considered regarding the makeup and purpose of this sacred Book.

Bible Means Book

Our English word Bible means book. It is derived from the Latin word biblia and the Greek biblos. From the second century A.D. the Christian church has used the term Bible to refer to the sixty-six books that they hold to be sacred Scripture. Consequently the Bible has been called the Divine Library.

Two Testaments

The Bible is made up of two testaments, the Old and the New. There are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament. The Old Testament was composed from about 1400 to 400 B.C., while the New Testament was written from approximately A.D. 40 to A.D. 80. From a human standpoint the Bible was written by about forty different authors. Though made up of sixty-six separate books the Bible is, in actuality, one book.

God's Word

The Bible claims to be the Word of God, that is, His communication to humanity. Over three thousand times in the Old Testament alone we find such phrases as, Thus says the Lord, or God said. In addition, Scripture claims to be God's only revelation to humanity. The Bible is the only sacred book where the One True God has revealed Himself.

Answers To Life's Questions

For centuries people have turned to the Bible for the answers to the basic questions of life: Where did we come from? Why are we here on Planet Earth? What will happen to us when we die? The Bible records the history of the world from its beginning until the time when God creates a new heaven and new earth. Scripture explains that a personal infinite God originally created a perfect world and how sin entered and spoiled its perfection.

The Nature Of God

The Bible also tells us about the character of God. Within its pages we find God who created the entire universe—and created humankind in His image. The Bible tells us what God is like and what He expects from us.

Purpose For History

The Bible also gives a purpose for history. History is not merely a series of unrelated events, as the Bible records it; history has meaning. The Bible shows a progression to an end, and promises that the world in which we live, with all its corruption, will one day be made into a new world without sin.

Basis For Science

Though this may surprise some, the Bible served as a basis for modern scientific pursuits. Modern science was born in the seventeenth century because of a belief in an unchanging God of order, purpose and consistency—the God portrayed in the Bible.

A Standard Of Right And Wrong

Our modern concepts of law and order are also based on the Bible. The Bible says that God has set standards of right and wrong behavior. Many of our current laws are based upon biblical morality.

Daily Needs Of Believers

Millions of Christians have depended on the Bible's promises that God would meet their daily needs. The Apostle Paul wrote:

And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).


The Book of Hebrews assures the believer:

For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).


Thus the Bible is not just a building block of our society, it is a practical help to countless individuals.

Written To Create Belief In God

The Bible was written for the purpose of creating belief in God. The Apostle John wrote:

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:30,31).


John informs us that his book was composed for the purpose of creating belief in God through the person Jesus Christ.

True But Not Exhaustive

Yet the Bible never claims to be exhaustive. The Apostle John told his readers that he did not record all the acts of Jesus that he witnessed.

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (John 21:25).


The Bible does not promise to tell us everything we want to know, just everything we need to know. It is a sufficient revelation from God. The Bible is the record of God acting in history. It tells us enough that we need to know concerning God, ourselves, and how we can enter into an eternal relationship with God. But it does not reveal to us every mystery of His kingdom, or recall every detail of the events therein, nor does it prophesy every future event.

Summary On The Nature Of The Bible

The Bible, though consisting of sixty-six books, is actually one book. It claims to be God's Word to humanity. The Bible offers answers to life's basic questions. These include the existence and nature of God, the identity and purpose of man, the meaning of history, and scientific questions about the nature of the universe. The Bible also provides a basis of right and wrong as well as a practical guide for daily needs.

Important To Consider The Claims

Whether or not we accept its claims, we must recognize its importance. Throughout the centuries, the Bible has wielded great influence. We could reasonably call it the most important book in the world. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that we understand its makeup, contents and claims.




2


What Are The Contents Of The Bible?


The Bible is a record of the beginning of the creation of the present heavens and earth until the future when God creates a new heaven and new earth. We can simply state its contents as follows:

Genesis

The Book of Genesis explains that God created the world perfect and created man and woman perfect. He placed them in a perfect environment—the Garden of Eden. However the first couple chose to rebel against God and bring sin into the world (Genesis 3). This caused a separation between God and His creation. Genesis then speaks of God's promise to reconcile Himself with His fallen creation. Genesis also tells us of a Flood that God sent to the world as well as the beginning of the nation Israel.

Israel

The history of Israel is recorded in the books of Exodus through Esther. This brings us up to the four hundred silent years—from the end of the Old Testament until the time of Christ. The rest of the Old Testament can be divided up into the poetical books (Job through Song of Solomon) and the prophetical books (Isaiah to Malachi). The prophetic books contain God's promises to the nation Israel concerning their present state as well as their ultimate destiny.

New Testament

The New Testament begins with the four gospels—each of which presents the life of the Lord Jesus from a different perspective. They record His public ministry, death, and resurrection.

Acts

The Book of Acts chronicles the beginning of the church—from its birth on the Day of Pentecost until the Apostle Paul reached Rome.

Romans To Jude

From Romans to Jude we have writings to both churches and individual concerning the truth of the Christian faith.

Revelation

Finally, we have the Book of Revelation which speaks of God's dealings in the future. It records Christ coming back to this earth to set up His kingdom. The paradise that was lost in the Garden of Eden will be restored when Christ returns.

All About Jesus

The entire Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is ultimately about Jesus Christ. He said to the religious leaders of His day.

You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. (John 5:39,46).


The central message of the Old Testament is that Jesus is coming. The central message of the Gospels is that Jesus has come. The central message of the rest of the New Testament is that Jesus is coming again. The central message of Scripture is Jesus.


3


Does The Bible Claim To Be God’s Word?


The claim that the Bible is the Word of God has not been invented by the Christian church—it is the claim of the Bible itself. We find in the Bible the claim that the words and deeds it records come from the living God. In hundreds of passages, in both Testaments, the Bible plainly declares, or assumes either explicitly or implicitly, that it is the very Word of God. Some thirty-eight hundred times the Bible declares, "God said," or "Thus says the Lord. We will consider specific passages in both the Old and New Testament.

Old Testament

The Old Testament claims to record the words of God:

And Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses (Exodus 4:30).


Benefit Future Generations

The Old Testament was recorded for the benefit of future generations.

As for Me, says the Lord, 'this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants . . . from this time and forevermore (Isaiah 59:21).


Infallible

The words of God, as recorded in the Bible, is an infallible guide to humanity.

God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken and will He not make it good (Numbers 23:19).


Eternal And Unchanging

The Word of God, is eternal and unchanging:

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89).


Powerful

God's Word is powerful:

Is not My word like a fire? says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29).

True

The Old Testament records things that are true.

Your law is truth (Psalm 119:142).

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7).
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).


Guide For Daily Living

The Old Testament is a guide for living a godly life.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).


Summary For Old Testament

From these statements contained in the Old Testament, we can see that it claims to record the words and deeds of God. We also observe that the statements made about God's Word assure us that we can place our trust in His promises.

New Testament

God's revelation to humanity was not finished with the Old Testament

More To Come

Jesus stated plainly that more revelation was to come after He left this world.

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear (John 16:12).


From this statement we discover that He would leave unfinished the revelation of God's truth to humanity. This opened the door for God to reveal a "New" Testament to the world.

Words Of God

The New Testament, like the Old Testament, claims to record the words of God. In what was probably the earliest letter of the Apostle Paul to a church, he wrote:

When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).


As was true with the Old Testament, God's Word was conveyed through human instrumentation:

These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches (1 Corinthians 2:13).


The New Testament says this about itself:

Authoritative

The Word of God is presented as the final authority on all matters, as Jesus demonstrated in response to His temptation.

Then Jesus said to him, Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve' (Matthew 4:10).


Eternal

Jesus said His words were everlasting:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Matthew 24:35).


True

Jesus also affirmed that God's Word is true in all that it says:

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:17).


Summary

In both testaments the Bible claims to be God's revealed Word to humanity. Thus it is the assertion of Scripture itself that it is more than a mere human book—it is the very Word of God.


4


What Terms Does The Bible Use To Describe Itself?


We find the Bible assuming itself to be the Word of God in the terms it uses to describe itself. The following terms are used in Scripture to describe itself.

1.Scripture

The term scripture comes from the Greek word grafay meaning, a writing, or that which is written. The noun form of the word occurs about fifty times in the New Testament and it is used mostly of the collection of sacred writings—the Old Testament. For example, the Apostle Paul wrote:

The gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:2).


Jesus said:

Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes? (Matthew 21:42).


The singular form of the grafay is also used at times when referring to the entire collection of sacred writings.

What does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3).


One Specific Passage

The word is sometimes used of a specific passage in the sacred writings:

and he [Jesus] began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:21).


Specific Portions Of Scripture

The term Scripture is even used of specific New Testament portions. In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quoted the words of Christ recorded in Luke 10:7 and called it Scripture. This is the earliest instance of Jesus' words being quoted as Scripture.

Larger Portion

In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter specifically refers to Paul's writings as Scripture.

He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

The verb form of grafay is used about ninety times. It is often found in a form meaning it is written.

1.The Word Of God

The Word of God is another title used of the Bible in both Testaments. This expression emphasizes the nature of the Bible as the revelation of God in written form. In Matthew 15:6, this expression is used specifically of the Law of Moses.

So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God (Matthew 15:6).


In Mark 7:13, the word of God is used of Moses' command regarding honoring father and mother.

thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this (Mark 7:13).


In John 10:35, the phrase is used of the entire Old Testament.

If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came — and the Scripture cannot be broken — (John 10:35).


Finally, in Hebrews 4:12, the phrase word of God is used of all Scripture. In this context it seems to refer to both testaments.

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).


3.The Law

A term often used in the New Testament for the Old Testament Scripture is the Law. The expression often refers to the entire Old Testament while at other times it is speaking the Law of Moses—the first five books of the Bible. In John 12:34, for example, we find it referring to the entire Old Testament.

The crowd answered him, We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man? (John 12:34).


4.The Law And The Prophets

Another New Testament expression used for the entire Old Testament is the law and the prophets. It looks at the Old Testament from the standpoint of how it is divided—the law, the prophets, and the writings. In Luke's gospel we read:

Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you — that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." (Luke 24:44).


5. The Oracles Of God

Another term for the holy writings is logion. This is a diminutive form of the Greek word logos and means an oracle, divine response, or utterance. It is used of the sacred writings in Romans 3:2 and Acts 7:38.

Much, in every way. For in the first place the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God (Romans 3:2).
He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us (Acts 7:38).


6. Testament

The word testament is also used for the sacred Scripture. The Greek word diathaykay translated testament, means covenant, testament, or will. It is used to distinguish between the Old and New Covenants— the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Apostle Paul wrote about reading the old covenant.

But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away (2 Corinthians. 3:14).


These six biblical terms—Scripture, the Word of God, the Oracles of God, the Law, the Law and the Prophets, and Testament—are used for the collection of writings that were considered sacred by the writers of the Bible. This demonstrates the attitude that was taken toward these books—they were the Word of God.

Summary

Both testaments claim to record the words and deeds of God. The New Testament uses terms such as Scripture, Oracles and Testament when referring to the Old Testament. Each of these terms shows that the writings were considered to be sacred or divinely inspired. It is, therefore, the claim of the Bible that it is the revealed Word of God. Consequently the issue that is raised by these claims is clear, Are the claims of the Bible true?


5


How Do We Know The Bible Is The Word Of God?


The Bible claims to be God's communication to humanity; but is that claim true? We have seen that there are many other approaches that people take with respect to the Bible. How can we test it out?

Two Approaches

Two approaches exist as to the credibility of the scriptural revelation. There are those who believe that the Scripture and the revelation it contains is self-authenticating, The infallibility of the Bible must be presupposed and can be because the Scripture says it is inspired and the Spirit accredits it.

On the other hand, there are those who stress the intrinsic credibility of the revelation of the Bible as being worthy of belief, that is, The Bible's claim to authority is not in itself proof of its authority; rather there exist factual, historical evidences which constitute the Bible's credentials and validate the truth of its message.

Arguing In A Circle?

Many opponents of Christianity complain that Christians try to prove the Bible by quoting the Bible. They are thus reasoning in a circle and still begging the question of the Bible's reliability. There is some validity to this complaint. Although it is important to understand what the Bible says in order to test its internal consistency, it is also possible to establish the Bible's authority on independent grounds.

Assume To Be True?

Some Christians believe the only way to know for sure that the Bible is the true Word of God is to try it out, to believe it, to trust it. Once a person is inside God's truth, they say, the reliability of it becomes apparent. This has been true for many people, but it overlooks the fact that the Bible stands up to objective scrutiny. We can investigate the Bible from the inside or from the outside, and we find it to be true, if we honestly evaluate the evidence.

Centers On Jesus Christ

This book presents some of the evidence for the Bible's reliability. At the center of the investigation is Jesus. Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God, God in human flesh. And He backed up His claim with the most remarkable event in history, He came back from the dead, as He said He would. We can reasonably accept His resurrection as a historical fact not only because of the multi-faceted testimony of the early Christians, which was collected in the New Testament, but because no one has successfully disproved it. Christianity had many enemies in its first few decades—enemies who would have been thrilled to show the errors of Christianity, if they could. They would have rushed to dig up Jesus' body and thoroughly debunk the resurrection, but they could not because He had risen.

Christianity Makes Sense

It is thus reasonable to believe that Jesus was whom He said He was. In that case, we would expect His followers to collect His public and private sayings and deeds and record them faithfully—which is exactly what the Gospels claim to be.
In the Gospels, we find that Jesus not only accepted but advanced the Jews' idea that God had spoken to them in their Scriptures. Thus Jesus Himself affirmed the divine origin of the Old Testament. He also promised that God's Spirit would help His followers remember His own words and works. So it makes sense that God would inspire the New Testament as He had the Old Testament. Jesus repeatedly taught that the Hebrew Scriptures prophesied about Him. Certainly God would take as much care in communicating the fulfillment of those prophecies as He had in the prophecies themselves.

Even a casual reader of the Bible will soon discover he is reading a very unusual book. Even though he may not accept its claims, a careful and reflective reading will demonstrate, for most at least, that this book is not only unique, but makes some very unique claims.

We Can Know

A person, therefore, can know the Bible is God's Word by first examining the claims of Scripture and then personally accepting the challenge of Scripture to taste and see if these things be true.


6


Why Do We Need A Written Revelation From God?


There is the issue as to why God gave us His revelation in writing. There are a couple of ways in which God could have chosen to reveal Himself to humanity.

Personal Revelation Not Practical

God could have chosen to personally reveal Himself to each individual, yet, He did not. There would have been insurmountable problems if He would have done it this way.

First, not everyone would have been willing to receive what God wanted to say to them.

Second, God would have had to have repeated the same message over and over again to each of us. This would seemingly be a waste of time and effort.

Finally, this method would lead to confusion. People would not agree with each other as to what God had revealed to them. This being the case, then who would decide which person had the correct revelation from God? Obviously some other method of God revealing Himself to humanity is necessary.

Written Revelation

There are at least six reasons why a written revelation is necessary.

1.Message Could Be Changed

First, if we were given only an oral communication from God, then we would have a message that could be changed and misinterpreted when repeatedly told. The more the story was repeated orally, the more the story could be changed. This would not give us much confidence in the message.

2.Which Version To Trust?

Moreover, if the message began to differ considerably, how would anyone know which version to trust? A revelation from God based upon oral communication would be beset with many problems.

3.Message Could Be Preserved

Once the words and deeds have been committed to writing, the message can be preserved. This allows succeeding generations to have the benefit of seeing what the original writers said. By putting the messages in a book, such as the Bible, the truth can be preserved for future generations. God continues to speak, though the original receptors of the message have died.

4. Solve Doctrinal Issues

A written revelation also solves doctrinal controversies. If there is a question of Christian belief, the written Bible can be studied as an authoritative source. Therefore all questions have a final authority in which to resolve them.

5. Transmitted To Others

Once a revelation is committed to writing, there is a greater possibility of transmitting it to those of a different language. The message can be spread and copied with the assurance that the original thoughts will stay intact.

6.Incapable On Our Own

Furthermore, the Bible says that human beings are not able to understand God through their own reasoning powers. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God's commandment, the communication between them and God was severed. God had warned them of the result:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (Genesis 2:17).


The main idea behind death is separation. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they suffered a spiritual separation from God. Before that time, man had direct access to God. This is no longer true.

God Is Unapproachable

God, by His very nature, cannot be approached by sinful man. The Apostle Paul described God in this way:

Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see (1 Timothy 6:16).


Thus, by His very nature God is separated from man.

Natural Man

The Bible designates our sinful condition by calling us natural man. The natural man, who is blinded by sin, cannot know God through his own wisdom or insight.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).


Because of these factors—the broken communication between God and humanity, the inaccessibility of God, and the fact that sinful humanity cannot know the things of God—a revelation from God is absolutely essential.

Summary

Without God's divine revelation in the Bible, we are left to our own ideas about who God is and who we are. Any attempt to explain God is doomed to failure because each of us would merely project our own thoughts about who God is and come up with the type of God we think should exist. There would be no consensus of opinion and no basis of knowing who, if anybody, is right in his opinions about God. With God's divine revelation as it is written in the Bible, there is no confusion surrounding God's character.


7


Is It Logical To Think That God Would Communicate To Humanity?


Some people have ruled out the possibility of God communicating with humanity. They believe a revelation from a divine being to man is not possible. However, the idea that God would communicate to humanity and leave a written Word makes sense for the following reasons:

1.Personal God

The Bible reveals that the God who exists is a personal God; that is, He has the characteristics of personhood. He thinks, feels, and can give and receive love. He also has the ability to communicate. The Bible says that God loves His people.

2.We Can Communicate

God made humanity in His image and likeness. Part of that likeness is the ability to give and receive communication. Since both God and man have the ability to communicate, it is perfectly logical to assume that He would communicate with us.

3.We Have A Communication

With these factors considered, a final point to emphasize is that we do, in fact, have a written communication that claims to be from God. That communication, the Bible, shows us a God who loves to reveal Himself. The prophet Isaiah said:

Hear O heavens, and give ear O earth! For the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:2).


Simon Peter said to Jesus:

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:68).


There is no doubt that the Bible presents a consistent portrait of God as a communicator. The Bible itself is His major communication.

Not Circular Reasoning

This may look like circular reasoning to some: the Bible proving itself. But that's not really the case. If we grant that the Bible has any validity at all, we have to recognize that it is filled, from cover to cover, with this sense of a communicating God. Within itself, it is consistent. If we, on the other hand, maintain that it is illogical to think that God communicates to us, then our God has little relation to the God of the Bible. Our system is closed. We are shutting out evidence that may prove valuable.

It is logical to think that God communicates with us. From a purely objective standpoint, it would be unwise to dismiss the possibility of a communicating God.

Summary

We conclude that a divine revelation from God to humanity in written form is not only something we should logically expect, it is also absolutely necessary if the message is to be kept intact and spread to those who need to hear it.


8


To Whom Was The Bible Written?


The appeal of the Bible is universal, addressed to all humanity. It is a book that everyone can understand. The Bible says that when Jesus spoke, the common people heard Him gladly (Mark 12:37). The multitudes listened and followed Him. Jesus encouraged the children to be brought to Him:

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14).


Certain parts of the Scripture are written to individuals and specific groups, but even these have both special and universal application.

Everyday Language

One way that we know the Bible was written for everyone is the language in which it was composed. As recently as one hundred years ago, we did not possess any Greek writings that were contemporary with the New Testament. The Greek of the New Testament was different from the classical Greek of Plato and Sophocles. Most scholars speculated that it was some kind of Holy Ghost language. In 1863 Bishop Joseph Barber Lightfoot, with rare insight, conjectured about the language of the New Testament. He wrote that New Testament Greek:

probably had been part of the common speech all along. I will go further, and say that if we could only recover letters that ordinary people wrote to each other without any thought of being literary, we should have the greatest possible help for the understanding of the language of the New Testament generally (cited by George Milligan, Selections from Greek Papyri, Chicago: Ares, 1980).


Since Lightfoot's time, the letters of ordinary people have been found written on pieces of pottery, papyrus, wood, and stone. His prediction was correct. It became clear that the New Testament was written in the common, everyday language of the people, not some special language. This reinforces the idea that the Bible was written to the masses, not just to an elite few.

Everyone Held Responsible

The Bible claims to have universal authority over all people everywhere. There are only two categories of people according to the Bible, believers and unbelievers. The New Testament says:

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36).


Summary

We conclude that the Bible was written to everyone, not just a select few. Scripture has been composed in such a way as to be understandable to the masses. Furthermore, God will hold everyone responsible as to how they receive His Word.


9


Are There Other Written Sources Of Religious Truth Apart From The Bible?


The Bible clearly says that it is the sole source of our knowledge about the one true living God. It is the only written revelation that He has given humanity.

Not To Add Or Subtract

There are warnings contained in Scripture not to add or subtract from what God has revealed:

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you (Deuteronomy 4:2).

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar (Proverbs 30:5,6).


Other Ways False

The Bible warns its readers of false prophets and false teachings.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out in the world (1 John 4:1).


Jesus warned of those who offer other ways to approach God:

I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved (John 10:7-9).


Summary

It is clear, then, that the Bible does not present itself as one of several options for religious truth. It claims to be God's authoritative Word, and it maintains that any work, religious or otherwise, which teaches any thing to the contrary is, at that point, wrong. As far as the Bible is concerned, it's all or nothing. If we accept it, we must accept it as ultimately authoritative. It must be the standard by which we judge all other revelations.




10


Does The Bible Have A Unique Makeup?


Yes. It is one book, with one author behind it - God. The Bible, as it now stands, has a unique makeup. This can be seen as follows:

Fifteen Hundred Years In The Making

From the composition of the first biblical book until the last, a period of fifteen hundred years elapsed. The Old Testament was written between 1400 and 400 B.C. The first book composed was either the Book of Genesis or the Book of Job. The books of the New Testament were written approximately A.D. 40 to A.D. 80.

Many Authors, Many Occupations

Over forty different human authors wrote the books of the Bible. These writers came from a variety of backgrounds and occupations. They included shepherds (Hosea and Amos) fishermen (Peter and John), kings (David and Solomon), a tax collector (Matthew), a prime minister (Daniel), a doctor (Luke), and a military general (Joshua).

Three Continents

The books of the Bible were composed upon three different continents - Africa, Asia, and Europe. For example, the writings of Ezekiel were composed in Babylon (Asia), Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible in the Sinai desert (Africa), and the Apostle Paul wrote the letter to Philippi while in Rome (Europe).

Different Circumstances


There was a variety of circumstances in which the Biblical books were composed. Moses, for example, wrote while leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. Jeremiah wrote while in a dungeon in Israel. Ezekiel composed his book while a captive in Babylon. The Apostle Paul wrote several of his works while in a Roman prison. John the evangelist wrote the Book of Revelation while banished to the island of Patmos. Obviously there was not a particular place or instance in which all of the biblical books were composed.

Can Reveal Himself Anywhere

Though many other religions had a certain place where the divine word was revealed, this is not the case with the Bible. This is to point out that God could reveal Himself in many different places over an extended period of time.

Different Languages Employed

The Bible was written in three different languages. The Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew with some parts being composed in Aramaic; the New Testament was originally written in Greek.

Different Subjects Covered

The Bible also covers a variety of subjects, including the existence and nature of God, the creation of the universe, the meaning of man, the purpose of our existence, and the final destiny of man and the planet earth.

One Complete Story

Hence, the Bible was written over a period of fifteen hundred years, by forty different human authors from various backgrounds who wrote in different languages, upon different continents, in different circumstances, and upon different subjects. Yet the Bible is a unity, one unfolding account from beginning to end in complete harmony and continuity. The Old Testament is incomplete without the New Testament and yet the New Testament does not make sense without the Old. Together the two testaments give a harmonious account of the dealings of God with humanity. This is one of the remarkable features of the Bible - its magnificent continuity.   


11


What Influence Has The Bible Had On Humanity?


Because the Bible claims to be God's Word written for all humanity, we ask what influence it has had since its composition. The answer is clear. Since its completion the Bible has had an influence upon our world as no other book before or since. Samuel Taylor Coleridge correctly said:

For more than a thousand years the Bible, collectively taken, has gone hand in hand with civilization, science, law . . . with the moral and intellectual cultivation of the species, always supporting and often leading the way.


Most Widely Read

The Bible has been read, studied, and loved more than any book in human history. Henry Van Dyke put it this way:

Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of all the world with familiar feet and enters land after land to find its own everywhere. It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the heart of man. Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life. The wicked and the proud tremble at its warnings, but to the wounded and penitent it has a mother's voice. It has woven itself into our dearest dreams; so that love, friendship, sympathy, devotion, memory, hope, put on beautiful garments of its treasured speech (Henry Van Dyke, Companionable Books, New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, n.d., p. 65).


The Bible has had this influence because it contains the testimony of Jesus Christ—which changes lives.

Most Criticized

However, the Bible has also been the most criticized book ever written. Bernard Ramm comments:

A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put. No other book has been so chopped, knived, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology   . . . of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line, and tenet?
The Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions (Bernard Ramm, Protestant Christian Evidences, Chicago: Moody Press, 1957, pp. 232,233).


The nature, condition, and cure for man's sin. Only the Bible describes man's condition in sin as it really is and demonstrates the impossibility for man to deal with his sin and sinfulness apart from God's grace solution in the person and death of His Son. Every other religion in the world, past and present, has man seeking to obtain his own salvation or gain God's favor by some form of human works or religious activity. Only the Bible presents a solution for man's sin that is truly life changing, when properly embraced and believed.

Summary

We conclude that the Bible has been the most loved book in all of history as well as the most studied and criticized. It has had an influence that no other book has had upon humanity.



12


In What Ways Has The Bible Been Criticized?


The Bible has been examined by various means. The discipline of examining Scripture is known as biblical criticism. Biblical criticism can be divided into three different categories: textual, historical, and literary.

1. Textual Criticism

Textual criticism has to do with establishing what each of the books of the Bible initially said. It asks questions such as: Is the text of today the same as that which was originally written? How has the text been changed throughout history?

2. Historical Criticism

The second line of criticism deals with the determination of the historical accuracy of the Bible, such as whether the Bible accurately reflects what happened in history and whether it can be trusted as a valid historical source.

3. Literary Criticism

The third line of criticism has to do with the authorship and sources of the Biblical book. It asks, Was the author of the book really the person who is traditionally believed to have written it, or could someone have forged a particular book? What sources did the author use? Literary criticism deals with these and other related questions.

Textual, historical and literary criticism are the three main ways the Bible has been criticized.



13


Is Biblical Criticism Valid?


Unfortunately, many who practice biblical criticism assume nothing in the Bible is true unless it is proved correct by some outside source. Scripture is assumed to be in error until some evidence can be brought up to substantiate its trustworthiness.

Benefit Of Doubt

The opposite approach, however, should be taken. The benefit of the doubt should be given to the Bible, not to the critic, and the work should be assumed to be correct until some evidence is brought forth contradicting what has been said. This is the method used in determining the reliability of any piece of literature, whether it be ancient or modern. If any document has been transmitted in a reliable manner and demonstrates itself to be historically correct, the burden of proof is on those who question its trustworthiness.

Times Have Changed

About one hundred years ago, J. B. McClure wrote the following referring to the attacks of the famous atheist Robert Ingersoll:

A religious faith at present so generally pervades the civilized world that it seems almost amazing that anyone should dare speak as Mr. Ingersoll does in his several lectures about the Bible. . . . That the Bible is in the least endangered is out of the question. It is too late now for that (J. B. McClure, Mistakes of Ingersoll and His Answers, Chicago: Rhodes and McClure, 1889, p. 3).


It is interesting how times have changed. McClure stated that the matter of the Bible's authority was beyond question. In the minds of the people, it has been firmly established as God's Word.

Today the opposite is the case. Most institutions of higher learning do not take the Bible seriously. Its authority on all matters of faith and practice have been severely challenged.

A Word Of Warning

Sir Walter Scott wrote about those who criticize the Bible with a desire to find fault with it.

Within that awful volume lies, the mystery of mysteries!

Happiest are they of human race,
To whom God has granted grace,
To read to fear to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch, and force the way,
And better had they ne'er been born,
Who read to doubt or read to scorn.
(The Monastery, ch. 12).

The criticism of the Bible is a legitimate discipline when the critic attempts to establish the text, history, and literary styles of the biblical documents. Criticism of the Bible, however, has gone far beyond that, for too many writers criticize the Bible using a different standard from the one they use with other historical documents. This is neither a scholarly or fair way of dealing with the subject.




Conclusion

As we have looked at some introductory issues concerning the Bible we can conclude the following:

1.   
The Bible, in both testaments, claims to be Gods communication to humanity.

2.   
There is sufficient evidence that the Bible is exactly what it claims to be—the Word of God.

3.   
The Bible is necessary because human beings cannot know God from their own reasoning.

4.   
Scripture was written in plain language to communicate to ordinary people.

5.   
The Bible claims to be Gods only written communication to humanity. All other revelations are false.

6.   
The Bible is the most influential book that has ever been written.

7.   
More criticism has been directed toward the Bible than any other book.

8.   
Because of its claims and influence, the Bible is the most important book that has ever been written.