One of my first bible classes in college was a course called Old Testament Introduction. From that class I realized for the first time that the Old Testament was not written in English and, as a matter of fact, was written in an ancient language, Hebrew. As I began to study the various theories about the Bible and the many great thinkers who contradicted its authenticity, I had great difficulty sorting out the truth from error. A wise and competent teacher guided us in the course, however, and it soon became clear to me that the Bible is a wonderful, supernatural book, which is the source of our Christian faith.
Because the Bible is the source of Christian faith, it is very important how we regard the Bible, how we can discover the truths revealed in the Bible, and to what extent we can understand what the Bible teaches.
(1) The Bible is our source of information about God—who He is and what He has done for us. (2) The Bible is a revelation of man—his character, history, and spiritual needs. (3) The Bible also tells us about God’s plan of salvation, which provides forgiveness and renewal for man in his sinful situation. (4) The Bible reveals what God’s standards of right and wrong are and what His will is for His creatures. (5) Christian faith is one of hope for the future, and the Bible alone can chart the course of our future into eternity. It would be difficult to overemphasize the importance of the Bible and what it reveals.
In a survey of the Bible, one soon discovers that it is a most unusual book and that it has no comparison to any other book that ever was written. Other books on religion are quite different from the Bible. Whether one consults the Hindu Vedas, the Mohammedan Koran, the Confucian Five Classics, or the Jewish Talmud, the Bible clearly stands alone as a comprehensive statement of faith.
Unlike other books, the Bible was written by about forty human authors who lived during a 1,500-year period beginning with Moses in the fifteenth century B.C. The Bible was written in two major languages—Hebrew and Greek, with a few portions of the Old Testament written in Aramaic. No other book has ever been composed in quite the same way as the Bible. The human authors came from various walks of life. Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, was probably the best educated man of his day, having studied under tutors in the royal palace of Egypt. The human authors also included those who were great leaders, such as Joshua, and those who were chosen of God to be prophets, such as Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Some of the authors were like David, who began as a shepherd but became king of Israel. From the position of one occupying the throne, he wrote many of the Psalms, forming a rich poetic background for much biblical truth. Some of the writers were farmers; some were warriors; some were fishermen. There was little that tied them together except that they all wrote a portion of the biblical truth as contained in the Bible.
The Bible is an unusual book. In spite of its diversity, it has continuity, beginning in Genesis and ending in the book of Revelation. In its contents are included moral and political law, history, poetry, prophecy, and letters.
In Christian faith the unity of the Bible, in spite of its diversity of subject matter and authorship, is traced to the work of the Holy Spirit rather than to a human penman. The difficulty of producing a book like the Bible can be seen in the fact that if one could choose from all the literature in the world and could select from forty different authors ranging in time for 1,500 years, it would be impossible to create a second Bible equal to what the Bible is itself. Though some have attempted to explain the Bible on naturalistic grounds as simply revision of other current books on religion, the Bible stands as a supernatural production, uniquely different, self-consistent, and presenting a united picture of God and the world.
In the actual writing of the Bible, sometimes the writers had other manuscripts before them that contained facts about the past. The Bible, however, was not a copy of these books. Rather, the authors selected what was true, and the result was a fresh, unique, authoritative word about God’s truth.
It would be impossible to explain the origin of the Bible by any other means than to note that it claims to be a supernatural book guided by the Holy Spirit and supports its claim by the facts presented. Though human authors were used and the Bible has clear evidence of their human involvement in writing the Bible, they were so guided by the Holy Spirit that what they wrote was the truth as God wanted it to be said, and they were kept from the error of including anything that was extraneous or unnecessary.
The contents of the Bible make clear that it has to be supernatural in its origin because the Bible includes revelation beyond the scope of people’s knowledge. The Bible also presents God’s point of view of human activity and history, which would be impossible to learn unless God Himself revealed it.
The Bible is not only supernatural in its origin but also supernatural in its truth, dealing with subjects such as salvation, forgiveness, righteousness, spiritual restoration, and hope for eternity. The scope of the revelation extending from eternity past to eternity future obviously requires divine revelation.
1. How can we find the truth concerning religion in a world of many conflicting teachings?
2. What are the important facts revealed in the Bible about God?
3. What are the important facts revealed about humankind?
4. What are the important facts revealed about salvation?
5. What important facts are revealed about right and wrong?
6. What important facts are revealed in the Bible concerning God’s will for us?
7. What are the important facts revealed in the Bible concerning our hope for the future?
8. In what respect does the Bible differ from other religious books?
9. How was the Bible written and by whom?
10. How do we explain the unity of the Bible with so many different authors?
11. Why do we believe that the Bible is a supernatural book?
12. If you were to summarize what you believe about the Bible, what would be important to you?