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“What is the Bible?” is a question generally asked by many. What they really mean is: what is so special about the Bible?
Our English word ‘bible” is the ordinary Greek word for ‘Book’. It contains words in several human languages. Historical events in real places are recorded in it. But it is unique among other books of the world, because it claims to be a revelation from God. Bible is not actually a single book, but a library of 66 books – a book of both unity and diversity. It was originally written in three languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
Its authors number over forty and they lives during a life span of over 1500 years. Therefore, of course it was not possible for many of them to meet one another. These books reflect the literary styles of the different authors and of their times, yet in this diversity there is a perfect unity. The Bible’s claim that one God communicated a unified message centered on the cross to humanity is the reason for this perfect unit.
II. How did the Bible Come to Us: When God spoke to them, the human authors utilized different sources of material, viz. Their memory, oral traditions, eye witness accounts or written documents, without affecting the role of the Holy Spirit in supervising their activity in any way. The disclosure from God came to them through dreams, visions, direct writing, messages through the apostles and prophets etc. These revelations were inspired of God. Though it is possible for us to know certain truths about God from nature (Ps.19.1-6; Rom.1.19, 20), and from our conscience (Rom.2.15) it was through special revelation that we have the knowledge of God and his purposes for humanity and the universe. The wisdom and science of man are powerless to solve with any amount of certainty/accuracy questions about our souls. So the Bible began as stories about patriarchs in history, commandments by God, Psalms, proverbs, prophecies, history, letters etc. These many works were later collected under God’s direction. God so led the authors to ensure that His words were properly remembered, recorded, preserved and collected (To know more about this read “Bible – The Book of books” by the same author).
The Book assumed a final written from under His direction. There were scribes and secretaries who played important roles in writing the inspired words but God was behind them all.
When the Bible was written there were no printing presses as we now have and copies of these documents had to be made by hand. The papyrus and vellum and other materials used were of high quality. Today we do not have any of those original documents but only copies. We now have copies of NT documents less than thirty years from the date they were written. We know that God preserved for us reliable texts of both of these Old and New Testaments.
Conservative Protestants consider the present sixty six books of the Bible as canonical, and spiritually authoritative. The Bible carries with it its authority. It is produced by the inspiration of God.
The Church did not create the Bible. Rather, it is the Bible, which has supremacy over the Church and is the basis for the Church. The Bible has authority. No man or institution vested it with such authority, but men were led by God to recognize what He had already placed by revelation as authoritative. The Book had received immediate recognition, i.e. were accepted as canonical, by the faithful as soon as they received them. It was not necessary for any council to approve them nor did any council approve them as such then.
God communicated in various times and in various manners (Heb.1.1). We all have the need to know from God, our Creator. And whatever God wanted to speak and whatever we need have been given to us in the Bible. In other words with the 66 books the revelation is complete. How do we know this?
The Bible, which claims divine origin, says holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet.1.21). The N. T. apostles and prophets had a foundational ministry (Eph.2.20). The Church began the process of assessing what were the canonical books on the assumption that revelation was complete. The present canon was accepted in the west by AD 397.
We believe God is True and He has spoken. If so, He would surely have preserved those words, otherwise revelation itself becomes useless. Therefore, there cannot be any conclusion other than that the Bible was without error and completely trustworthy in the original autographs.
God has made us. God has saved us. God has authority over us. And the Word of God, the Bible, claims authority over our lives. Therefore it is incumbent upon as children of God to listen to God and understand what He has spoken to us in His word.