Our word “Bible” comes from the Greek biblia, which means “books.” Such is a rather simple and unassuming name for what is arguably the greatest book ever written. It is hands down the best selling book in all of history, and its popularity has not declined over the past two thousand years. But what is the Bible? What message does it contain? What are we supposed to do with it?
The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by approximately 40 or so authors over a 1,500 year period (ca. 1400 BCE – 100 CE). It is commonly divided into two large sections: the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament represents 39 books from Genesis to Malachi; it describes the creation of the universe, the earliest history of man, God’s choice of Israel as His people, and the history of Israel and God’s messages to Israel. The New Testament represents 27 books from Matthew to Revelation; it represents the story of the life of Jesus Christ and the beginning of His church, along with messages sent to the earliest churches.
The Bible claims to be the unique revelation of the God of the universe to mankind. The God who reveals Himself within its pages claims to be the sole God of the universe (Deuteronomy 4:35), and His Son, Jesus Christ, claims to represent the singular truth and way to God (John 14:6). While in times past God directly communicated with certain people of His own choosing, and through them revealed His will to mankind (2 Peter 1:20-21), the Bible gives no indication that He is still choosing such people today. The Bible indicates that within its pages man will find everything he needs to serve God according to His will (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Through its pages we can learn all that has been known and needs to be known about Jesus and how to become conformed to His image (Romans 8:29).
It is important to remember that the Bible itself is not God, and the Bible does not, by itself, represent faith. The Bible is best understood as a road map, the guide to life; our instruction manual for our operation, so to speak. God would have us to understand His Word (2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Peter 3:18), but it is not enough only to know what God has said. We are also supposed to understand what the Bible teaches so that we can apply its lessons to our lives (Hebrews 5:14, James 1:22-25). The Bible directs us to God and His Son Jesus Christ, and provides the way by which we can have faith in them and be their servants (Hebrews 11, Luke 17:7-10).
God has revealed His Word, the Bible, so that if you seek after God you may find Him and understand what He would have you to do (John 4:20-24, Romans 10:17). While many things in the Bible are difficult to understand, and you may require assistance in understanding them (cf. 2 Peter 3:16, Acts 8:31), know for certain that you can read and understand the Bible. God waits for you to open up His book so that you can understand how He would have you to to live, and we wait to assist you in any way you may need!
Ethan R. Longhenry