The Bible is the story of God’s action in the world. It tells of his plan and purpose for his creation.
The Bible was written over sixteen centuries by about forty authors. It’s an amazing collection of 66 books, written in different styles and voices but all containing God’s consistent and unchanging message to the world.
The Bible is divided into two section —the Old and New Testaments — and is comprised of a wide variety of literary styles. It’s made up of narratives and dialogues, proverbs and parables, songs and allegories, history and prophecy.
While some of the books were written by eyewitnesses, others were handed down orally and were later put to paper. But there is a remarkable consistency in the story the Bible tells. While the style is diverse, the message is unified.
What the Bible Says About the Bible
That’s, practically speaking, what the Bible is. But let’s look more closely at what the Bible says about itself. And to do that, there’s no better place to go than Psalm 19. It says,
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
– Psalm 19:7-11 (NIV)
We learn several things about what the Bible is from these few verses.
- First, “The law of the Lord” means the law belongs to the Lord and comes from the Lord. The Bible is the Word of God — the very words God would have us know that tell us who he is and what he’s like and what he wants from us and how we are to live and how we can live with him forever. This is why you’ll hear the Bible referred to as the Word of God so often.
- Next we see that the Word is perfect. That means it’s not incomplete, it doesn’t lack anything. It’s perfect.
- The Bible is trustworthy. We can bet our lives on its truth and trust what it says.
- The Bible is clear. It makes wise the simple. Its meaning can be plainly understood and applied to our lives.
- The precepts of the Lord are right, which means the Bible is true. It’s not a book of simple platitudes or fables, it is the one source of Truth in this world, given to us by God himself.
- God’s words in the Bible are eternal. The Word of the Lord stands forever; its claims are timeless, unending, and unchanging.
- And God’s words in the Bible are sweet. They are sweeter than honey, refreshing us and calling us to savor them.
Living and Active
There’s one more thing you need to understand about the words contained in the Bible that makes it different than any other book out there. The words in this book are alive.
Hebrews 4:12 says,
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
As you work to interpret God’s Word, God’s Word interprets you — your thoughts and heart and motives and actions. You read the Bible and the Bible reads you.
- Spend a couple minutes scheduling your Bible reading. Put it in your phone’s calendar or jot it down.
- What’s your biggest barrier to reading the Bible regularly?
- How does delight drive our behavior? Do you delight in reading the Bible? Why or why not?
- What might help you dig into the Bible more frequently?
- Look at Psalm 19. What do these verses tell you about the Bible?
- Re-read Hebrews 4:12. What does this verse tell you about the unique nature of the Bible?
This is part 2 in the Appreciating the Bible series. Read part 1: Does Your Bible Look Like Brussels Sprouts or Dessert? | Part 2: What is the Bible? | Part 3: Who Wrote the Bible? | Part 4: Why Study the Bible? | Part 5: Bible Study Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore