OUR AMAZING BIBLE
What is the Bible? What is God telling us?
What does it mean for life today?
1. WHAT IS THE BIBLE?
believe the meaning and purpose of our lives comes from the fact that
our life story is actually part of a much bigger story. That particular
story is about God and his relationship with our world, including each
one of us.
Christians also believe that we can know that story because God caused it to be written down for us in our sacred writings
which are today called the Bible. The word “Bible” means “book”. in
fact the Bible is a library of books written by many authors over
hundreds of years. In some other religions the sacred texts were
written down by just one person and represent only that person’s
private experience. But the Bible records the experiences of God from a
wide range of people and communities.
Bible also has a very wide cast of people who feature in its pages:
kings, soldiers, prophets, farmers, fishermen, prostitutes, thieves,
homemakers, and civil servants, to
name just a few! As we would expect from such a large cast of people,
they show us both the best and the worst of human behaviour. We see
acts of love, faithfulness, compassion, integrity and other virtues
alongside unfaithfulness, selfishness, hypocrisy, and so on. That’s why
it is important to ask if the part of the Bible we are reading is
describing the way things are (a description) or the way that God says
they should be (a prescription)?
modern newspaper has lots of different types of writing: editorials,
political and financial reports, sporting pages, advertisements,
cartoons, and so on. Like a newspaper the Bible tells the story of God
and how he has related to human beings in many different writing
styles: history, poetry, short stories, prophecies, laws, letters,
biographies, and much more.
we read the Bible we need to be careful to ask what type of writing we
are reading at each stage. If we’re reading a newspaper today we don’t
go to the cartoons for history or the financial pages to get the
sporting results. It’s the same with the Bible – different types of
writing communicate in different ways. Of course, because we live in a
different time and place we will sometimes need the help of other people
or Bible reading notes or commentaries to help us understand what type
of writing we are reading and how to understand it.
2. THE EARLY CHAPTERS OF GOD'S STORY
largest part of the Bible, now called the “Old Testament”, tells us
that every person was created to have a relationship with God.
Because we were created to know God, our spirituality is an essential
part of who each one of us is intended to be. The Old Testament then
tells us how human beings sometimes got things right but also kept
getting things wrong when they got out of that relationship with their
Creator and off track from the Creator’s design for human wellbeing.
of the Old Testament books are about how God expressed his love for
humanity by working to rescue us. Beginning with Abraham and his family
(in the book of Genesis, chapter 12) God starts building a new
community of people called “Israel” who will live life the way God
intended. Their mission from God was to show others what it means to
live in a relationship with God. While there are some bright spots there
are also a series of failures as God’s people of Israel reject him and his way of wellbeing again and again.
3. THE FINAL CHAPTER – JESUS
Eventually God promises to send a special person who will be born as one of the people of Israel
and will succeed in God’s mission where Israel had failed. The second
part of the Bible, now called the “New Testament”, is the story of the
person Christians believe was sent by God to complete the mission of
Israel – Jesus of Nazareth – and his impact on the first generations of
people who followed him.
The early parts of the New Testament (the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) tell us about Jesus’s life,
his death, and his extraordinary resurrection to live again. The later
parts of the New Testament (the book of Acts and the letters) teach us
about what it means to follow Jesus through the experiences of the
earliest followers of Jesus.
was born and lived like us. This is the message of Christmas. He was
human – he got tired, hungry, sad and even angry. But Christians believe
Jesus was also more than human. In Jesus we meet God in a human life.
Jesus shows us what God is like and how deeply he loves each one of us.
extraordinary depth of God’s love is shown in the death of Jesus for us;
to free us from everything that separates us
from God and from each other. We believe this is the only remedy for
the hurt we do to ourselves and one another. In raising Jesus to life
again God shows us how much God wants to share new life with us. This
is the message of Easter. Jesus said: “I came that they might have
life, and have it abundantly” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10).
taught that in the ancient words God had written for us in the Bible we
discover truth and wisdom for life today. Jesus also taught that as we
read, think, and pray about the words of the Bible we are inspired and
empowered for life by God’s Spirit.
Continue to the next article, “A relationship with God”.