Christian Essentials, The Bible

What is the Bible

The word Bible means “books of books.”  That means there is no other book on this earth that give us the true divine revelation of who God is and what is truth.  Within the Bible there are 66 different books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.  The Bible was written between 1500 B.C. and 100 A.D. by approximately 40 different authors on 3 different continents. (Africa, Asia, and Europe)

The Bible, or Word of God, has been historically proven so that there is no doubt of it’s authenticity.  Also, just as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “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.”  Here, Paul was speaking of the Old Testament because back then that was all they had.  But those verses can also be applicable to the New Testament, because that is how the Bible was written, it was “inspired by God” or God-breathed.  Those words that we read may have been penned by men, but the Holy Spirit guided those men as they wrote every word as Peter states in 2 Peter 1:21 “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

The Bible is full of history, prophecy (fulfilled and unfulfilled), poetry, exhortation and theology.  It is the greatest book ever written.  It covers so many different topics, such as creation, the triune God or Trinity, the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the second coming of Christ.

Why was the Bible written?  Paul answers that question in Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  What is that hope?  John answers that question in 1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  That is the purpose, all we have to do is believe in Jesus, the Son of God, and we will have eternal life.

Jesus illustrates the reception of the Word of God in Luke 8 as being a seed scattered about.  Some of the seed “fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.”  Other seeds “fell on rocky soil and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.”  More seed “fell among the thorns and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.”  But the rest of the seed “fell into the good soil and grew up and produced a crop a hundred times as great.”

That is how the Word of God works in us.  If we don’t listen to it, it is like the seed that was trampled and eaten by the birds.  If we listen to it, but then forget about what we heard, it is like the seed that landed on the rocky soil and ran out of moisture.  If we listen to it, but still live in the world, our desires of the flesh will choke it like the thorns choked the seed.  But if we read, listen, do, meditate, apply and totally immerse ourselves in the Word of God, we will produce much fruit, just like the seed that landed on the good soil.

The Bible is such an important tool in our lives.  It is our sword, as Paul describes it in Ephesians 6, being a part of the Armor of God.  One cannot fight a battle without a sword and we cannot share the gospel and be a witness for Jesus unless we have the Word of God abiding in us.

Who Wrote the Bible

Known

  • Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy were all written by Moses.
  • Ezra, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Malachi were all written by themselves.
  • Proverbs was mostly written by Solomon.
  • Psalms was written by various authors.
  • Lamentations was written by Jeremiah
  • Matthew, Mark, Luke John, 1, 2 & 3 John, 1 & 2 Peter, James and Jude were all written by themselves.
  • Acts was written by Luke.
  • Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon were all written by Paul.
  • Revelation was written by John.

Uncertain and Unknown

  • Joshua was possibly written by himself.
  • Judges was, according to tradition, written by Samuel.
  • Ruth was possibly written by Solomon.
  • 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Esther, Job and Hebrews all have unknown authors.

WHAT IS THE OLD TESTAMENT?

The Old Testament, otherwise known as the Hebrew Scriptures, contains the history of Israel, creation, prophecy, poetry and many others.  The Old Testament is also called the “Tanak” for it’s three parts:  Torah (Law), Neblim (Prophets) and Kethubim (writings).  It is also known as the Old Covenant when compared to the New Testament because it is  the first Covenant that God made with the nation of Israel, but through Christ’s death and resurrection the New Covenant was established.

The Torah, or Law, consists of the first five books of the Bible:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  It contains the Law given to the Israelites from God, through Moses. The Torah is also known as the “Law of Moses” because it is the Law of God, given to Moses from God, to give to the Israelites, as written in Exodus 24:12 “Now the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the Law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.””  The definition of Law is:  used for a commandment, a word, a decree, a judgment, a custom or a prohibition.  The definition of Torah is:  instruction, doctrine, a regulation, direction, a precept, a statute, (human) law, (divine) law, collective laws.  But the essential meaning of Torah is teaching.  The word “Torah” is used more than 200 times in the Hebrew Scriptures.  The central idea of Torah is that of instruction received from a superior authority on how to live.  The Torah is more than just laws, it includes the story of God’s dealing with humankind and with Israel.  In Exodus 19:5 & 6 it says “‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;  and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.””  Here the Lord says to Moses that if the Israelites will obey His law, they will receive blessings.

The Neblim, or prophets, consists of all the books that contain prophecies.  These books are Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. One definition of a prophet is given in Numbers 12:6-8 “He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream.  “Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?”   Here God is telling Aaron and Miriam about how He communicates with prophets.  The definition of a prophet is “one who utters divinely inspired revelation, one who foretells future events.”  The Hebrew word “nabi” (Strong’s #5030) means “prophet or inspired man”.  It’s root meaning is “to bubble forth, as from a fountain.”  A prophet is therefore someone who speaks for God.

The Kethubim, or writings, contains accounts of the return from exile, wisdom literature and personal accounts of God’s leading.  These books are Ruth, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and Lamentations.  These books contain wisdom, poetry, prophecy, historical accounts of people Whom God used to share truth and love.

WHAT IS THE NEW TESTAMENT?

The New Testament or Covenant is what replaced the Old Covenant made by God in that Jesus Christ came to earth in the form of a man and He suffered and died on the cross for our sins so that we may have a personal relationship with God.  This is the Covenant of grace as stated by Paul in Ephesians 2:8&9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Here Paul is stating that our salvation is not  based on works, it is only by the grace of God, all we need to do is have faith in His Son, Jesus the Christ.  The New Testament consists of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and Revelation.

The Gospels, which include Matthew, Mark Luke and John, consist of the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.  They contain the teachings of Jesus Christ, the “good news” of salvation.  Each Gospel shows the different characters of Christ.  Matthew is symbolized by a lion because he emphasizes Christ’s strength and royal authority.  Mark is symbolized by a bull because he shows Christ’s service and power.  Luke is symbolized as man because he portrays Christ’s wisdom and character.  John is symbolized by an eagle, which represents deity, because John stresses the fact that when Christ came down to earth, He was God in the flesh.

The book of Acts is where Luke records the events in the apostles’ lives after Jesus ascended into heaven.  It also contains the last recorded words of Jesus known as the “Great Commission” in Acts 1:8 “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  That is exactly what the apostles did.  They went all over the world and preached the Gospel,

The Epistles, or letters, mostly contain those of the apostle Paul, but there are some written by Peter, James, John & Jude also.  They include Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John & Jude.  These letters were used to communicate to the churches, cities & individuals.  Paul wrote many letters to the different churches.  Some were written to exhort (Philippians) but others were written to discipline (Corinthians).  There can be much knowledge and insight gained from these epistles because they tell so much about the author and the recipients.  The apostle John states it well in 1 John 2:7&8 “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.  On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”  These people that the authors were writing to were Christians.  They had already received the Light which is Jesus.  The authors of these epistles were giving the people further instructions as to how to go about making sure the true Light was always shining.

The book of Revelation is a prophetic book.  The word “revelation” means “unveiling or disclosure.”  It talks about future events in which Christ will return and take up His people to heaven.  It was written to give hope to Christians, especially to those who suffer, by revealing Jesus Christ as the ultimate victorious King of kings and Lord of lords.  Revelation 19:11 & 16 state “And I saw heaven opened and behold a white horse and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war…And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”  The apostle John is the author of this book and while he was banished to the island of Patmos, God unveiled to him what would come to pass.

In order to understand the Bible, we need to study and read it everyday.  John 14:26 states “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Jesus promised a Teacher to all who believe in His name.  The Holy Spirit will guide us as we search the Scriptures for the truth.  He will help us in our everyday walk with God, all we have to do is ask!

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