What Is the Bible?

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Image by Stempow. Adapted for Redemption of Humanity. Used under licence.

Last edited on 13/Jan/2021

The Bible Is the Perfect Word of God

The Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God. Infallible means absolutely trustworthy or sure and inerrant means free from error. It is a collection of 66 books, divided into an Old and New Testament. The Old Testament contains 39 books, and consists of three parts: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The New Testament contains 27 books, and consists of four parts: the Gospel accounts, the Apostolic History, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse.

The Bible is God’s written revelation, which was authored by 40 men who were guided by the Holy Spirit over a period of 1,500 years. The Bible tells us that: “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” (2 Peter 1:20–21, ESVUK). This means that although men wrote the Bible and had some freedom in how they wrote it, every word they wrote was guided and inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the ultimate author of the Bible is the Holy Spirit.

The Bible also tells us that: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16–17), and that: “Scripture cannot be broken,” (John 10:35). Because God breathed out the Scriptures, and thus they cannot be broken, this means that the Bible is perfect in every way, and has no flaws. It tells us accurate things about who God is, how he dealt with humanity in history, and how he continues to do so today.

The Bible Is the Complete and Final Word of God Forever

The Bible is the complete Word of God. This means that there are no more written or spoken revelations that will come after it. The New Testament does not contain any prophecies concerning a new prophet or organisation that will arise and deliver more “special” and “new” revelations after all the Old Testament prophecies of salvation were already fulfilled in Jesus, or that Jesus’ church will somehow be destroyed and need a restoration, but rather it tells Christians to contend for the faith that was delivered (at the time of the New Testament church) once and for all (Jude 3). God has commanded that no one adds to or takes away from the Bible (Deuteronomy 4:2Proverbs 30:6). Additional revelations and prophecies are additions to the Bible, which God condemns. God has promised that his Word will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8). It is his perfect and final written revelation that will never fall into corruption.

The Bible Is the Absolute Standard of Truth

By extension of the fact that the Bible is God’s perfect and final written revelation, the Bible is also the only source of doctrine and authority for all Christian beliefs and teachings. God has given us the Bible so that he can instruct us, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, on what is right and wrong. It is the one and only absolute standard of doctrinal truth in the world. When the Berean Jews listened to Paul and Silas preach the Word to them, they didn’t just blindly believe everything they were told; instead, they examined the Scriptures daily to see if what they were teaching was in agreement with God’s standard of truth, the Bible, and they were called noble for doing so (Acts 17:10–11). The Bible says: “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps,” (Proverbs 14:15).

When giving instructions on who can be an elder, Paul wrote: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it,” (Titus 1:9); following this, he said to his disciple, Titus: “teach what accords with sound doctrine,” (Titus 2:1). Clearly, then, teaching and believing sound doctrine is important according to the Bible, and we can only do so if we “hold firm to the trustworthy word”. Paul also wrote to Timothy to present himself as approved to God, “rightly handling the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15), and that he will be a good servant of Jesus if he stays “trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine,” that he has followed (1 Timothy 4:6). Again, preaching and believing “the words of the faith” and “the good doctrine” comes from “rightly handling the word of truth.” Therefore, in light of everything that has been written so far, it is clear that the Bible is the only source of doctrine and authority for Christianity. Only the Bible can be used to determine what is true, and what isn’t.

The Bible Should Be Meditated on and Studied Daily

The Scriptures tell us that every word of God proves true (Proverbs 30:5), that his Word is upright (Psalm 33:4), and that knowledge and understanding come from his mouth (Proverbs 2:6). The Bible is not like any ordinary book that we put away once we’ve finished reading it, or that we leave for a few weeks or months before we pick it back up again. Instead, the Bible is a book that we should meditate and pray on daily, keeping it in our hearts, and following its teachings to lead a pure life:

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9–11)

The Holy Spirit Works through the Word of God

In addition, the Bible tells us: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible is living and active in the sense that the Holy Spirit communicates to us through the Word, and operates through it to create faith in our hearts and lead us to Jesus (See John 17:17 with John 16:13 & John 14:26). The Holy Spirit illuminates our understanding of the Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:12–14), and empowers its proclamation (1 Peter 1:121 Thessalonians 1:5).

The Bible’s Message Is Necessary for Salvation and Anyone Can Understand It

Jesus said that eternal life is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent (John 17:3). The only way we can know who God is, is either by reading the Bible, or by hearing someone preach the message of the Bible (Romans 10:13–15). Paul instructed Timothy his disciple with the following message:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14–15)

This is a very important passage, because it tells us that Timothy was taught about the Christian faith and made familiar with the Bible from childhood, and that the Bible is able to give us wisdom that will save us through faith in Jesus Christ. Since Timothy had this wisdom taught to him as a child, this tells us that the Bible is simple enough for a child to believe in and be saved. This is further emphasised by the fact that God commanded the Israelites to lay up his words in their hearts and souls, and that they teach them to their children (Deuteronomy 11:18–19). In this passage, ordinary parents were able to teach their children the Word of God in such a way that they could understand and believe it. Anyone can pick up the Bible, read it, and then based on this reading choose to put their faith in Jesus Christ, by God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8–9), for their salvation.

It also tells us that mere knowledge about God and his Christ is not enough, but that we actually need to genuinely believe in Jesus in order to be saved. True faith in Jesus means that we love him, and keep his commandments, as our Lord said: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. … and we will come to him and make our home with him,” (John 14:21, 23). These works flow as a result of salvation, and are not done in order to obtain salvation (Galatians 2:16, 211 John 4:10, 19).

The Bible’s Central Theme Is the Redemption of Humanity

The central theme of the Bible is the redemption of humanity (Ephesians 1:3–10Hebrews 9:11–14). God the Father sent his divine Son, Jesus Christ, to the Earth to restore our relationship with him, which we lost by breaking his commandments (John 3:16–18, 36Romans 3:23). Jesus, who is God in flesh, the second Person of the Trinity (John 1:1, 14Colossians 2:9), fulfilled the law that we failed to fulfil by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38), and took the punishment for our sins as our substitute on the cross (Matthew 5:171 Peter 2:24). His blood acted as the payment for our sins, because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and only the perfect life of God Almighty in the flesh was enough to satisfy the demands of the law (Isaiah 40:3–5Romans 8:3–4), and only God Almighty’s blameless sacrifice on behalf of humanity was enough to atone for every sinful person in existence (Zechariah 12:10Acts 20:28). Therefore, the Bible says:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:4–6)

This enables the gap that was once between us and God to be bridged. The Father rose Christ again from the dead (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10) on the third day to vindicate him, and to prove that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah who came to save the world (Luke 24:44–47Acts 17:30–31). Everyone who believes this about Jesus will have eternal life, because they accept his payment for their sins and his righteousness as a free gift, and will be given the Holy Spirit as a permanent companion who enables them to live as God wants them to live (Romans 10:9–10Romans 8:5–9).

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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