Where did the Bible come from?
Over a span of more than 1,500 years, God moved the hearts of about forty people from various walks of life to write down what they had seen and heard. Teachings, stories, and eyewitness accounts had been passed down orally, on tablets, and on scrolls. These sacred writings, when put together, became the Bible.
The Bible is God’s self-revelation to the world. He speaks to us through the prophets, the apostles, and His own Son, Jesus Christ. It is a record of God’s interaction with people through history. Through these historical events and divine messages, the Bible shows us who God is, where human beings came from, and what God expects from us.
The Bible’s main focus, however, is on the salvation that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, brings to the earth. It explains how God sent Jesus Christ to re-establish our relationship with Him, and to pave the way to His heavenly kingdom.
If you want to find out more about the Lord Jesus Christ, and how to reach heaven, your resource is the word of God: the Bible.
How do I know the Bible is the Word of God?
i. The unity of the Bible
No work of literature written over thousands of years by 40 different writers can deliver a coherent and consistent message. The Bible does. From Genesis to Revelation, we see the gradual unfolding of God’s salvation plan. Although the Bible contains teachings on hundreds of controversial subjects, there are no contradictions among the various authors. Together, the Bible offers us definite answers to our most basic questions: Where do we come from? Where do we go after death? How can we know and be reconciled with our Creator? The amazing unity of the Bible tells us that God inspired and oversaw the writing of its books.
ii. The historical and geographical accuracy of the Bible
Modern archeological findings have confirmed the accuracy of the people, places, and historical events recorded in the Bible. New discoveries continue to affirm rather than discredit the Bible.
iii. The prophetic accuracy of the Bible
Deuteronomy 18:22 tells us that the test of a prophet’s authority is the accuracy of his predictions. Measuring the Bible by its own test, we find that hundreds of prophecies recorded in the Bible have been fulfilled, including the rise and fall of major world empires (Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek/Hellenic, Roman); the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; the birth and death of Jesus Christ; the re-establishment of the nation of Israel; the ageless enmity between Jews and Arabs.
iv. The scientific accuracy of the Bible
Although the Bible is not a book about science, many statements in the Bible were confirmed by scientific discoveries hundreds or thousands of years after the time of their writing. [e.g. a spherical earth (Isa 40:22); the earth suspended in space (Job 26:7)]
v. The fulfillment of promises contained in the Bible
Through the Bible, God has offered many promises to those who believe and obey Him. Today, we can experience these blessings when we put the words of the Bible into practice. For example, believers today still receive the Holy Spirit just as the apostles did thousands of years ago. Through prayer, demons are cast out, the sick are healed, and even the dead are raised. In our daily lives, we experience the Lord’s guidance and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. In difficult times, we receive comfort, strength, peace, and joy. These are the fulfillment of the Bible’s promises to believers.
How can I understand the Bible better?
i. Devote time to study
It is more important to read the Bible than to read about the Bible. Set aside time each day when you can fully devote yourself to reading God’s word (such as in the morning; before the duties of the day wear you down). Select a quiet place, free from the distractions of work, kids, friends, or the television, so that you can fully focus on what God is trying to tell you. Regularly attend church services and Bible studies, where believers share God’s word with one another, as well as their experiences of it in their lives. With a commitment to learn, you will soon experience the same benefits.
ii. Seek God’s guidance
While the Bible’s language is simple enough for a child to read, its message can be too profound for scholars. We can’t count on our knowledge in reading the Bible. We need to humbly confess our ignorance and ask for God’s guidance, for He has “hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (Mt 11:25). Each time you sit down to receive God’s word, it’s important to prepare your heart and mind for the study of His truth. Spend some time in prayer, and ask God to open your heart and spiritual eyes so that you may come to really understand what it is He is trying to teach you.
The Bible also tells us that “no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:11). God’s Spirit, also called the Holy Spirit, is the Spirit of truth and revelation who can guide you into all truths (Jn 16:13). Pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit and His guidance so that you can understand what you read.
iii. Trust and obey God’s word
You need to combine the teachings of the Bible with faith. This faith is more than agreeing with your mind: it means accompanying your belief with actions. When you put the Bible’s words into practice, it comes to life, and you will come to the fullest understanding of it.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only… he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
There will be times when it seems difficult to carry out God’s word, such as forgiving someone, helping others, or enduring suffering. But God’s word is powerful and effective, and His promises sure. We just need to trust in the Lord. According to His promise, if we keep His word, He will grant us blessings and joy beyond measure.
What is the main purpose of the Bible?
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Tim 3:16)
i. The Bible is the standard for living
In a world full of choices, it is always difficult to know what is really best for us. Sometimes the choices we make leave behind painful scars. But God’s word is the true guide for our lives (Ps 119:105). It illumines our souls to see God’s will for us–directing our thoughts, values, and daily conduct. The Bible gives us the wisdom to know what is good for us, as well as for those around us. As the ultimate standard of right and wrong, God’s word teaches us the consequences of our actions; both blessings and punishment. It is the standard by which God will judge everyone on the last day (Jn 12:48). If we follow the path the Bible lays out, it will lead us to God and to His heavenly kingdom.
ii. The Bible is a mirror for the heart
God’s word helps us examine our faith and conduct by bringing to light our hidden faults and sins (Heb 4:12). The Bible is like a mirror that reflects all of our shortcomings so that we may change for the better. In it, we see the reflection of every aspect of human nature. Its characters teach us about our own lives–the challenges we encounter, our weaknesses, and how we can overcome them. We can find comfort in the prayers of David, and encouragement in the honest and heartfelt writings of Paul. Their words work to cleanse us and renew us, because they carry the movement of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20-21; see Mk 12:36).
iii. The Bible is a weapon against evil
Darkness takes over where there is no light. Likewise, evil prevails when we ignore the word of God. Without it, we can easily fall prey to temptation and commit actions out of spiritual blindness. By carrying the word of God with us, we know what is right in God’s eyes. Equipped with this “sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17), we can be victorious, just as Jesus used Scripture to defeat the tempter.
iii. The Bible is food for life
Can a full stomach bring satisfaction? Temporarily, perhaps, but we also harbor the desire for greater meaning to life, for food to nourish our souls (Mt 4:4). Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn 6:63). The word of God carries life-giving power. It not only instructs us on how to live, but teaches us how to be reborn through the gospel of Jesus Christ. By trusting and obeying the word of the Lord, we can receive salvation and new life as children of God (1 Pet 1:22-24; Jas 1:18).