The Bible is God’s Word to us. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. It should be read slowly, frequently and prayerfully.1
Introduction: Knowing that in the previous lesson God chooses and desires to reveal Himself to us the best place to start the study of His revelation is the Bible which is the written witness to God’s words and acts on the plane of history.
What is the Bible?
The Bible is the Word of God. It claims to be truth, the message from God to man.2 The English word Bible comes from the Greek word biblia, meaning “books” So the it is a collection of books that are bounded into a single book with two distinct parts or “testaments,” from the Latin testamentum, meaning “oath” or “covenant.”
The books themselves were written over a period spanning at least twelve hundred years from 11000 BC to AD 100. The books were written by approximately 40 different men who lived at various times and in different countries and was originally written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. It has been translated into some 2000 languages, and more than 80% of the world’s population has access to the Bible or some portion of it (i.e. Gideon’s New Testament) in their own language.
Despite this vast variety, God moved the writers to focus on God’s glory in man’s redemption with one central figure—Jesus Christ, the Son of God.3
The Old Testament
The Torah or the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy)– The books of Moses in which God calls or elects Israel to be His people, frees them from bondage in Egypt and enters into a covenant with them in Mount Sinai.
The Historical Books (Joshua to Esther)– They trace the history of Israel over a period of some 800 years: from their entry into the Promised land (Canaan) under Joshua in 1250 BC; the settlement of the land during the 200 year period of the Judges, the monarchies of Saul, David and Solomon as kings of Israel; the split and division of the land into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and their defeat by the Assyrians (in 721 BC) and the Babylonians (in 586 BC); the Exile in Babylon and the return of the exiles to Israel under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah (mid 400BC).
The writings or Poetic Books (Job to Songs of Solomon) – The devotionals and wisdom literature, which describes God’s greatness and His dealings with men.
The Prophetic Books (Isaiah to Daniel) – The collected writings of the 4 Major Prophets, whom God commissioned to deliver His message to men. These books are called “major prophets” because they are generally longer than the “minor prophets.”
Other prophetic writings (Hosea to Malachi) – The writings of the “minor prophets” also the last 12 books of the Old Testament written from approximately 840 BC to 400 BC.
The New Testament
The Gospels (Matthew to John) – The written testimonies of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Acts of the Apostles – The historical account of the Church starting from Pentecost in Jerusalem to the outward movement of the Church towards the 3 missionary journeys of Paul.
The Letters of Epistles (Romans to Jude) – It starts with the Pauline Epistles which are the letters attributed to Paul, written to church communities and to individuals; it also includes the letter to the Hebrews and the general letters of James, Peter, John and Jude.
The Revelation or Apocalypse – John’s apocalyptic visions about the sovereignty of God, the Second Coming of Christ and His coming victory and triumph over the forces of evil at the end of history.
Conclusion: The question of reliability
“I rely on Your word, O God.” God has established His precepts, and the psalmist again and again declares their reliability. He’s given us a morality to follows. He helps us with our greed, with ethics, with integrity, in verbal attacks from others, in feeling lonely and on and on. We could read right through this psalm, and we would uncover most of life’s major. Each time the writer returns to the same throbbing them and says, “I rely on Your Word…I find Your Word dependable…I realize it has never once failed me…”
And it is still true today. Amazing, isn’t it? The ancient, inerrant book is reliable right up to these closing days of the twentieth century. I like what an old Baptist scholar named A.T. Robertson once wrote with tongue and cheek, “One proof of the inspiration of Scripture is that it has withstood so many years of poor preaching.”4
The question for us then would be if we know this much about the Bible do we really view it as: “God’s Word to us. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. It should be read slowly, frequently and prayerfully”
1 Schwarz, John - A Handbook of the Christian Faith p.11
2 McArthur, John – Fundamentals of the Faith p. 1
4 Swindoll, Charles – Growing Deep in the Christian Life.