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  • Writer's pictureGrace Church Wakefield

What is the Bible?

The Bible is actually made up 66 smaller books and poems and letters etc. written by about 40 different authors over about 1500 years. No other book is quite like it.


If you went around the city centre of Wakefield and asked people what they thought the Bible was, those who tried to give you a thoughtful answer might say a kind of storybook, an instruction manual, a piece of history. And whilst it might, at certain parts and in some ways be some of those things, none of them come close to what it really is.


The Bible is actually made up 66 smaller books and poems and letters etc. written by about 40 different authors over about 1500 years. No other book is quite like it.


And yet it tells one very clear message - that mankind can be put right with God and can know him personally.


On one level it's simple enough for a small child to understand its message, but there's a depth and richness and complexity in what it says that someone can spend a lifetime reading it and understanding it and will never reach the bottom of it either.


God Speaks


The only way to sum up the Bible properly is to say it is God’s Word; God himself directly speaks through it.


Which means that the Bible is inspired. Now saying the Bible is inspired is a bit of a funny thing because, what we don't mean is what we usually mean when something is inspired. I.e. that the particular author of whatever part of the Bible we’re reading just had some really good ideas one day and decided to write them down before they forgot.


No, what we mean when we say the Bible is inspired is that God was directing the author to write exactly what they wrote, even if they perhaps didn’t realise it at the time they were writing. For example, in the NT, the apostle Peter in says in 2 Peter 3:15-16 says,


Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters.


So Peter is saying, ‘hey, listen to Paul’s letter. What Paul says in his letters in the New Testament (Romans, Ephesians, Philemon etc.), you can be sure that is God speaking through them because it’s his wisdom that Paul is using as he writes.’


No, what we mean when we say the Bible is inspired is that God was directing the author to write exactly what they wrote, even if they perhaps didn’t realise it at the time they were writing.


It’s a similar thing for the Old Testament as well, Jesus quotes the OT on numerous occasions and speaks as though it contains objective fact and is, therefore, to be listened to and obeyed. For example he says in Mark 12:26,


Now about the dead rising – have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”?


Jesus treats Exodus chapter 3 (which is part of the ‘Book of Moses’, as he refers to it), where God appears to Moses in the burning bush, as if it actually happened. And if that's how Jesus views the OT, then so should we.


What all this means is that in both the Old Testament and New Testament, God speaks directly through them to humanity. And that applies to today too, even though we live thousands of years after the accounts or poems or letters were originally written. It still deals with all the same problems that we experience today.


Like nothing else ever written … and yet backed up by history


The Bible also simply sounds like nothing else that’s been written. It makes no apologies for what it says and that is quite astonishing when you think about what you read there. For instance, the creation account right at the start of the Bible - it doesn’t present it as a theory but as a fact that happened.


And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. Genesis 1:3.


Experts of all kinds agree nothing else comes close to what the Bible is and sounds like.


Also, throughout the OT and NT there are lots of incidental details that have been backed up by archaeological discoveries or parts of non-biblical history. E.g. Luke in his gospel talks about Caesar Augustus being the Roman Emperor at the time when Jesus was born. We know from other discoveries Caesar Augustus was a real person and was emperor at that time in history. The Bible is seen as an incredibly reliable historical document. Many historians read the Bible and refer to it to confirm the validity of new archaeological findings.


And another key thing to know is that the Bible helps explain other parts of the Bible. That’s really important to know if we read a part of the Bible that we’re a bit stumped on and we think ‘what does this mean?’. When this happens, we should first ask, what do other parts of the Bible say on this particular subject? And there are ways to do this, like using cross references, using Bible notes, BIble commentaries. Alternatively, we could someone else who’s read it too or ask one of the leaders at GCW (Peter Mills or Ian Goodson).


FIEC Statenent of Faith


A final thing I want to show you is the statement of faith from the FIEC (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches) about the Bible. So we at GCW agree with this too.


God has revealed himself in the Bible, which consists of the Old and New Testaments alone. Every word was inspired by God through human authors, so that the Bible as originally given is in its entirety the Word of God, without error and fully reliable in fact and doctrine. The Bible alone speaks with final authority and is always sufficient for all matters of belief and practice.


So if someone, somewhere says something about God or Christian belief and it’s not backed up by the Bible then don’t believe it.


Hopefully this gives you new reasons to consider why the Bible is so important. The best thing to do is grab yourself one and get reading!


If you want to know more then here are some resources which can be found/bought on the internet.


- Can I really trust the Bible? by Barry Cooper (Short book, only 96 pages!)

- Confident by Dan Strange and Mike Ovey (Bigger, more in-depth book)

- Podcast - FIEC Independence podcast, Building Confidence in the Bible with Adrian Reynolds and Brian Edwards, 28th March 2023





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