What Exactly Is the Bible?
Updated: Aug 30, 2022
If you have been following me for a while, I hope you have realized that faith is a big part of my life - in fact, it's my whole foundation. I know this post isn't like my usual posts, but I have something I'd love to share. Several months ago, I awoke in the middle of the night (in a cold sweat actually) and had something pressing on my mind - the Bible. I have heard the Bible my entire life, but as I've grown older, I have become passionate about what the Bible truly is...and what it's not. Because I think quite often people, even Christians, get confused about how to approach the Bible. "It's old. It's long. It has so many words." Or even, "It's a book about me. It's what I read to show God I love Him. I need to read it today to feel better." While these things may have some truth to them, I want to show you why the Bible is actually so much more than that. I want to share why the Bible is the most exciting book there is! So while I was lying there awake, I spent the next 2 hours or so writing my thoughts.
It’s a book.
You're probably thinking, "Duh." But stay with me because this is significant. God could have chosen any way He wanted to pass down His words to us, and He chose this medium - writing through the form of a book. The Bible should be treated as such. It is a book that has a beginning, a climax, a main theme, and one overarching story - so that's how it should be read! When studying and reading the Bible, always keep this greater story in mind. It’s actually the most fascinating literary work of all time - made up of poetry, history, eyewitness accounts, letters, and tons of smaller stories - that all make up the greatest story ever told.
It’s easy to jump back and forth from the books we love most and to read only the books we find “interesting” and “encouraging.” But that’s not how you’d read any other book, and when we do that, we’re actually doing a disservice to ourselves. There’s a bigger, grander story going on, and every part of the Bible was written to reveal that to us. It’s all interesting. It’s all encouraging - maybe not on first glance. But once you start seeing the bigger plan unfold, the most natural thing will be to get excited about it! If we don’t have the Old Testament Law, we don’t understand the good news of grace. If we skip over genealogies, we don’t see the richness of God’s plan from the beginning. If we miss out on the Old Testament covenants, we don’t appreciate the New Covenant that comes to us through Christ. And yes, even the minor prophets are important! They reveal God’s heart, human hearts, and the tension between the two. Things get worse in the Story before they get better. But then, let me tell you, they get so. much. better!
Sub-point: The Bible is a historical book. Because the Bible is a book written thousands of years ago, historical context is important. The books were written to specific people at specific times in specific cultures, and those things do matter! Every Bible study should be approached in this way. Who was this written to? When was it written? In what style is it written? What do the cultural references mean? I have personally found the Bible to be SO much more rich and exciting when read with this kind of background and study in mind!
It’s a book from God.
The Bible is a book, but it’s also a book from God which makes it divine in authorship, authoritative in nature, and still active today.
Divine in authorship means God actually inspired these words. He (through the Holy Spirit) spoke, and men of God were moved to write down what He was communicating (2 Peter 1:21). No other religious book has about 40 human authors while also having one Divine Author.
It’s authoritative meaning this is a book of final authority. We rest it all on this. My husband has shared with me something his mom used to say to him. “If the Bible were to say birds don’t fly, either what we’re seeing isn’t a bird, or what that bird is doing isn't flying.” Everyone has something they go back to as a final authority - many times it’s their feelings - “this feels right, so it must be right.” Boy, am I glad I have a more sure authority than my feelings.
The Bible is also still active today, meaning it’s alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12)! It’s a mirror that we look into, and as we do, it reveals the motives of our hearts. It’s a schoolmaster that reveals our need. And it’s a revelation of God Himself (and His Son, Jesus). As we behold the glory of God seen through every page of the Bible, we naturally become like Him - because the Bible is alive and at work (2 Corinthians 3:18)!
It’s a book about God.
The entire Bible shouts of God’s nature. Through the Old Testament stories and the New Testament Christ we see Who this God is and what motivates Him to do what He does. And nothing is more exciting. Again, if we go to the Bible and read it as a book about us, we’re actually doing ourselves a disservice. We’re not the main characters of the Bible, God is! Noah might have built the ark and survived the flood, but God was the One hating wickedness, loving righteousness, and still choosing to preserve humanity. Abraham might’ve taken Isaac to the alter in obedience, but when that substitutionary ram showed up, God was the One foreshadowing a greater substitutionary sacrifice! Esther might have come before her king on behalf of her people, but God was the One working behind the scenes to make every detail fall into place (because He wasn’t about to forsake the promise He made to Abraham about His people). Jonah might’ve run from God, but God is the One on display in the book of Jonah. He pursued the wicked because He wanted to change their hearts. He worked through imperfect man to accomplish His plan. And salvation comes from Him (Jonah 2:9)!
If all we ever “get from our devotions” is: be more like this person, don’t be like that person, fight the giants in your life like David, don’t run from God like Jonah, well then we’ve missed the point of the stories! God is at work in every story, accomplishing His big plan of redemption in the lives of character after character. Every story is pointing us to that plan - it’s pointing us to Christ. So then Christ comes onto the scene and is the direct Word of God to us. When we see Jesus in Scripture, we see God. Over the span of 66 books, God is actively at work. Why? Because He wants to redeem fallen people back to Himself. And the really neat thing is that He’s still working today - working to redeem fallen sinners back to Himself so that they can be in a right relationship with Him!
That’s what the Bible is, and that’s why it’s not boring, in fact, it’s the most exciting book there is!