You may say, “Surely we all know what the Bible is? What is the point of asking such a question?” Very true. But bear with me for a few minutes, because I think you will be interested in what I have to say.
The word “Bible” is from the Greek word BIBLOS, which the Lexicon tells us is “the inner bark of the papyrus; hence the paper made from this, and so by usage, a scroll or book.” So the word Bible does not necessarily refer to just one particular book, and in fact these days you will possibly find in bookshops such titles as “The Good Health Bible”, and “The Vitamin Bible,” to mention just a couple that I’ve seen. However, we must not try to dilute the simple fact that the word “Bible” has been, and always will be, the compilation of 66 books comprising the Old and New Testaments.
This very special collection of writings has been enshrined into Jewish and Christian religious cultures for millennia, and deserves our attention. Its authors are many and varied, for example we meet with a Hebrew man brought up as an Egyptian Prince (Moses), a King of Israel (David), Prophets of varying literary skills, one being the equivalent of a University Graduate (Isaiah), another a Cowherd (Amos), and yet another a Priest (Ezekiel), then we have a deported Royal Prince of the House of Judah (Daniel), a Tax Collector (Matthew), three Fishermen (Peter, James and John), a Gentile Doctor (Luke), and a notable Pharisee (Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul).
Many Christians refer to the Bible as “God’s Word.” Is this true? Well, let’s stop for a minute to see whether the expression holds water. Clearly there are passages within the Bible where godless men’s words are recorded, such as those of Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, or Job’s three “friends”, just to mention a few. These sayings are clearly notGod’s word. So we need to be careful how we use the expression. Is it therefore wrong to say the Bible is “God’s Word”? I don’t believe so. There is a sense in which the whole Bible is an inspired document which declares the righteousness and character of God, and therefore it must contain sections which show by contrast the unrighteousness of man. It is a marvellous historical document of the dealings of God with man, and how God has met with, spoken to, judged, and assisted man in his pilgrimage through the ages. Furthermore, we are told that the document is inspired. Paul, writing to Timothy, had this to say, “From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim.3:15-16) Peter also had a word to say,“No prophecy ever came about by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21)
The Bible is the only book in the world that commands the respect it deserves. It is the only book in the world which has been signally used by God to change men’s lives, expose all manner of sin, deceit and compromise, and provide us with an authentic history of mankind from the beginning. The Bible is not a book of philosophy for men to argue about, (even though men use it for such!) but rather it is a Signpost and Guide for all those who humbly seek God. The Bible is not a book to be worshipped as an idol, or treated as a talisman, it is a divinely inspired manual of instruction, by which man may find the right way to go. It is a holy book, whereby we may meditate and learn of God’s ways and His character. It is a “black and white signal generator” to eradicate all things that are “grey”. It is a divine assessment of human history from the beginning to near the end of the 1st century A.D., and contains future history written into its prophetic words. It is, above all, the most precious gift this world possesses, and should be read and studied by all.
I suppose the Bible must be the one book above all others that has been printed in its multiple millions, and is found far and wide. Sadly many Bibles gather dust and are never read. In the Western World there must be millions of Bibles that are left untouched and unread, whereas other countries are crying out for copies and cannot obtain them. Some people revere the Bible in its most expensive bindings, but hardly ever touch it. In other countries there are people who only possess small portions but read it daily. Such is the imbalance in the world. Jesus said, “Unto whom much is given, much is expected.” In the Western World we have been given so much we have it in superabundance. No doubt we shall be judged accordingly, if we do not use the gift to its full value.
Let’s have a look at what the Bible says about itself. Psalm 119 is full of praise for the written word of God. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (119:105) This is the psalmist’s admission that he cannot progress through life without a clear guide. But he goes on to say, “I rejoice at Thy word as one who finds great spoil.” (119:162) How many of us are able to say the same? Does this come as a personal indictment? The psalmist goes one step further when he says, “Great peace have those who love Thy law, and they shall have no stumbling block.” (119:165) A Guide, a Treasure, and a Safe Passage through life. What else does a man need? It’s like saying we only have air to breathe.
But what is today’s world like? We are regaled by such a plethora of newspapers and magazines that our attention is continually diverted from the Good Book if we are not careful. “Yesterday’s newspapers, telling yesterday’s news,” says a well-known song. Yes, that’s the point. All these papers and mags become out of date almost as soon as they are printed, but the Bible remains constant. And then we have the visual distractions of today’s world, television, films, the computer, with its unlimited flow of information, and the games one can play. Unless one is very disciplined, all such things can create degradation and fatigue. The Devil wants to turn man away from the reading of the Bible, and he does everything in his power to distract man’s mind from what is most important.
We have seen that the Bible is a Guide. Listen to these words of Isaiah. “Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’, whenever you turn aside to the left or the right.” (Isa.30:21) Those who never read the Bible will have forsaken God’s signposts. But those who persevere in their reading will find that “The word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, the joints and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”(Heb.4:12) This is the amazing thing. There is no other book in the world that can claim to be “alive” in this sense. But those who take time to read and study the Bible find that their consciences are touched, and all their wanderings are checked from hurtful paths to the left and the right.
In conclusion, let us hear what John had to say about his gospel. “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name.” (John 20:31) Indeed, he began his gospel by declaring that Jesus is THE WORD. We may rightly say that the whole Bible is alive with the Son of God, who declares that He is “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Yes, the Bible is the most precious treasure in this world.