The Bible is more wonderful and unique than any other book in the world. We can see this in different ways.
No one man or group of men planned the Bible. It was written in different lands over a period of 1600 years. The very existence of such a book is an overwhelming proof that the Bible is not of man, but that it is a production of God.
2 Peter 1:21 says that 'For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.'
It comes to us not at man's initiative but because men were moved by the Holy Spirit to speak `from God'. Scripture is inspired by God Himself.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 'All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.'
The Bible is not the oldest book, but though the first part of it was written more than 3,000 years ago and the last part nearly 2,000 years ago, today it is more popular than any modern book just off the press.
Unity and Diversity
The Bible is one great book with one great theme, Jesus Christ the Saviour of Mankind. Although it contains 66 separate writings from 40 different authors, in three different languages, upon different topics, and under different circumstances, yet it reveals a common message. Who could have possibly directed the writing of each and planned the whole except God.
When we say that Scripture is inspired by God Himself this does not mean that we must regard the writers of the Bible as robots or scribes taking dictation. No, God uses living human beings in His service. He even allows them a major role in giving shape to the Word He speaks to mankind. The individuality of the Bible's human authors comes through clearly, even though God Himself is the real author of Scripture.
To recognise the role of certain human
beings in writing the books that make up our Bible is not to say that there are
errors and contradictions in the Bible. We are not to declare that God's Word
is in the Bible - in and among all those words written by human beings. The
Bible is God's authoritative Word. And that is where we must start in our study
of the Word of God.
Because we have received the Bible from the hand of the King of kings, we must accept it as authoritative. Jehovah is not only the God who acts, but he is also the God who speaks. More than 2,000 times in the Old Testament the words `thus saith the Lord' or similar terms are used. No other book matches such claims.
And its authority is lasting. We cannot say
that we live in another time and so it does not apply to us today. Or His
authority was only binding as long as Christ's apostles walked the earth. The
Bible's authority is not time-bound. Scripture is God's Word for a thousand
The confession and cry of the Reformation was sola Scriptura, 'By Scripture alone'. It means that the Bible is no longer open to correction through later revelations. There are no continuing Scriptural revelations in our age. The Lord has already revealed all that we need to know. The Bible is complete. We must not try to go beyond what is written. Revelation 22:18 We don't have to wait for a fifth gospel. What we have already been told about Christ is all we need in order to know God and serve Him effectively.
Today there are many Christians who do believe in continuing revelation. The Bible is not the only 'Scripture' they value; they find traces of divine inspiration in other documents and writings as well. But God's word leaves no room for any other `word' of comparable authority.
Then there are those Christians who make a
point of declaring that they accept the Bible's authority wholeheartedly but
they still wind up undermining it. They say there is still room for more
revelation to be revealed by the Holy Spirit. We are not apostles who have been
promised a special, secret message from the Lord, and therefore we may not hope
for a new, further revelation. We have Moses and the prophets and the New
Testament Scriptures in addition. We have seen the fulfillment of the truth
even Christ. That should be enough for us. The Scriptures are not open anymore
they are complete. We are rich in possessing the Word of God, and it would be
sinful to long for more.
Don't let anyone tell you that the Bible is a murky, dark, or mysterious book. Scripture calls itself a light, a lamp.
But this is not to say that there are no difficult texts in the Bible. There are. There are doctrines which surpass the comprehension of created beings that are clearly taught. (Trinity, Natures of Christ, etc.) But the Bible's message for us is fully understandable. All those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation are so clearly revealed in some place of Scripture, that every serious inquirer, using ordinary means, may understand them. It is not a mystery that can be comprehended only by members of a certain closed circle in the Church. Scripture is the revelation of a mystery. Isaiah 45:19 says 'I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth'.'
But the fact that God has spoken clearly
about hard things does not make them easy. But those who study diligently will
be rewarded for their labours. If you read the Scriptures carefully and pray
for the guidance of the Spirit, you will receive insight. The Lord will repay
your efforts as you study His Word. Even if some passage leaves you scratching
your head the first time you read it, remember that one part of scripture sheds
light on another. So keep reading, God will make it clear.
John Owen the great Puritan theologian said that the malice of Satan hath raged no less against the Book than against the truth contained in it. History shows that mighty kings, emperors, and priest have tried at times to burn, corrupt and destroy the Bible.
Diocletian, the Roman Emperor made a decree in 303 A.D. to extinguish the Bible and Slaughter all Christians. He boasted that the name Christian was blotted out. But the Bible still lives.
The Roman Catholic Church during the middle Ages denied the Bible to the people. The Bible was the unknown book. Wycliffe, Tyndale and Luther were persecuted because they translated the Bible into the language of the people. Luther was a grown man when he said he had never seen a Bible in his life. Many men and women have died rather than deny the Bible and the Christ it presents.
The Bible has also suffered the blows of men who have taught that it was not inspired of God but was full of human errors. The higher critics, rationalists, modernists, and liberals seek to undermine the authority, inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. Voltaire (1773) boasted that within 100 years of his death not a Bible would be found save as an antiquarian curiosity. These men have passed away but the Word of God remains.