WHAT IS THE BIBLE?

The  Bible is the most widely published book in the  world,  but what is this book? Is the Bible purely mythology about the origin of the universe and human beings that has been fabricated by writers of the ancient nation  of  Israel to explain their history and existence? Does  the  Bible hold the secret to the mystery of life  and  its eternal  purpose? Is it the word of the Supreme Sovereign of all that exists for the instruction of  his creation?

These  are  but a few of the many questions that  have  been  asked about this most read and least understood book. In the pages that follow,  we will attempt to help answer some of these questions and  show the importance of the Bible to understanding the purpose of human existence.

IN THE BEGINNING

The first chapter of the Bible gives the  purpose for the Bible's existence. Verse  1 shows that God created the  physical  dimension  of existence. Verses 2 through 25 record the process of structuring the physical creation and creating  various kinds of  creatures  within the confines of the earth. In verses 26-28, God  creates  humanity,  and gives them rule over  all  of  the physical creation:

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"  (Gen.1:1 KJV).

"And  God said let us make man in our image, after our  likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said to them,  be  fruitful and multiply, and replenish  the  earth, and subdue  it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and  over the  fowl of the air, and over every living thing that  moves  on the earth" (Gen.1:26-28 KJV).

THE MYSTERY OF HUMAN EXISTENCE

From the first few verses of Genesis  to the last verse of the Book of Revelation,  there  is only one major subject being revealed—God's plan and purpose for humanity.

A Well Kept Secret

The purpose for human existence is being  kept  secret from  most people until humanity learns a lesson that only  time and experience can teach:

Matthew 13:10-17 KJV

"And  the disciples came, and said to him, why speak you to  them in  parables?  he answered and said to them, Because it is  given to  you  to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,  but  to them  it is not given. . . Therefore speak I to them in  parables: because  they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not,  neither do they understand" (vs.10-13).

"And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says,  By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing  you shall  see,  and shall not perceive: For this people's heart  is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their  eyes they  have  closed; lest at any time they should see  with  their eyes  and hear with their ears, and should understand with  their heart,  and should be converted, and I should heal  them"  (vs.14-15).

"But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.   For verily I say to you, that many prophets and  righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and  have not heard them" (vs.16-17). Also see Mk.4:11-12; Lk.8:10.

The Mystery Revealed

Today, in this age of unrest, suffering, and anguish, through the Bible and his servants, God is beginning to reveal the Good  News of his soon-coming Kingdom and his  purpose and plan for humanity.

"Go  you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in  the name  of  the  Father, and of the Son, and of  the  holy  spirit: Teaching  them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and,  lo, I am with you always, even to the end  of  the world. Amen" (Matt.28:19-20 KJV).

God the Father and Jesus Christ's purpose for  humanity  is  so awesome  and exciting that it is almost beyond belief.  God the  Father,  the One who sent his Son Jesus Christ to earth over nineteen hundred years ago, is in the process of  creating more spiritual children out  of  human beings. God the  Father  is expanding his family.

Instructions for Today and the Future

The  Bible  is  the God family's instruction  book  to  humanity, and within  its  pages the following things are revealed:

These  are just a few of the many exciting and important  messages and concepts that God reveals through his written word.

The apostle Paul said that the scriptures were written for inspiration,  teaching, correction, instruction in righteousness,  and so that  we can have hope for something better than  this  present existence:

"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 to all good works" (2.Tim.3:16-17 KJV).

"For  whatever things were written before, were written  for  our instruction,  that  through  patience and  encouragement  of  the scriptures  we  might  have  hope" (Rom.15:4 Para.).  See also 1.Thes.4:13-17.

GOD AND THE BIBLE

The vast majority of those who profess to believe in God have not taken  the time nor spent the effort to actually prove  that  God does  exist and that the Bible is his word. Most have just  taken the  word of someone in whom they have confidence or  they  just have  a  feeling  that these things are true. But, is it  logical to  take the word of someone else or trust your feelings on  such an important question?

King  David reveals the kind of person who refuses to acknowledge the existence of the true God and Jesus spoke of the importance of the information that is found in the Bible:

"The fool has said in his heart there  is  no God"  (Psa.53:1 Para.).

"It is written, that man shall not live by  bread alone, but by every word of God" (Lk.4:4 Para.).

IS THERE EVIDENCE THAT THE BIBLE IS TRUE?

But is there any evidence of the veracity of the Bible?  Is there evidence that the Bible is the word of God put into print?

Yes,  there is proof that the Bible is actually the written  word of  God. There is so much evidence that the Bible is the work  of God  that it would be impossible to list and explain all  of  the evidence in any single publication.  

Obviously,  some  of the evidence may be very convincing  to  one individual,  and totally meaningless to another. What any  person believes  will  depend on each  individual's  background, life experience, and  what they choose to believe regardless  of  the facts. Therefore, it is not the purpose of this paper to prove beyond  a shadow  of a doubt the validity of the Bible. God  clearly shows through  his written word that it is the responsibility  of  each person  who wants to worship him to sort these questions  out for themselves and to prove his  existence and the validity of his word to their own satisfaction.

BIBLICAL ACCURACY

Throughout  history, many  people have tried to disprove the  validity of the Bible; however, the Bible stands as one of the most  accurate  of all ancient historical books. There are so  many  proofs that the Bible is the written word of the God that it is  difficult to categorize and list them all.

Year by year, the names, places, events, and scientific data mentioned in the Bible are being verified and found to be absolutely correct in the smallest detail.  What was once thought to be myth or error in the Bible is rapidly being proved to be true and  is being added to the immense amount of evidence that proves the accuracy of the Bible.

Historical Records

Historians,  ancient records, and civil and  religious  documents confirm  the accuracy of the Biblical record.   These  historical writings are full of evidence of the existence of the people  and places mentioned in the Bible.

All one has to do to prove the validity of the Bible, is go to  any good Bible reference library and do a small amount of research in order  to  find  undeniable proof of the  historical,  prophetic,  and scientific accuracy of the Bible.

Science

There are many scientific principles mentioned in the Bible that  were doubted for  centuries by the scientific  community,  until scientific  research found them to be absolutely true. For  example, the Bible records the following scientific facts:

PROPHECY VALIDATES THE BIBLE

The  Bible is a  record of the past, and contains prophecies for the present, and the future, which deal with the purpose for the existence of humanity. In  the fulfillment of prophecy, the Bible stands  alone in its accuracy.

There are dozens of prophecies about people and events that  have been fulfilled with absolute accuracy, and  many  books have  been  written, which detail the fulfillment of  Old  and  New Testament prophecies. These fulfilled prophecies are but  another proof of the Bible's veracity.

Many Bible prophecies have already been fulfilled, many are being fulfilled now, and many more will come to pass in the  near  future. As sure as the universe and  God  exist,  the prophetic word of God is accurate in every detail.

THE BIBLE ENDURES

Jesus said that the word  of  God contained within the  Bible would endure past this present existence of the physical  heavens and the earth. Although the Bible's enemies have tried to destroy the truth which it contains, they all have failed, and the Bible and its truth still exist today:

"Truly I say to you, Until the heavens and earth pass away, in no way shall one iota or one tittle pass away from the law until all comes to pass" (Matt.5:18 Para.).

Jesus  says  that not even the smallest detail of  what  God  has caused to be canonized as his word will fail to be accomplished:

"The  heaven  and the earth will pass away: but my words,  in  no way will pass away" (Lk.21:3 Para.). See also Jn.10:34-35.

BIBLE NUMERICS

The  Bible was written by dozens of men over centuries  of  time, and most  of these men were not scholars, scientists, or  mathematicians; however, an intricate mathematical pattern is found to exist from the first verse of scripture to the last.

Every  word,  sentence, phrase, and concept,  pertaining  to  any given subject is linked together with a specific numerical value or mathematical equation which is unique to itself.

The mathematical construction of the Bible is beyond the  ability of  modern technology to reproduce and it is far beyond the  realm  of mere  blind chance. The mathematical complexity and structure  of the  Bible  proves  beyond a doubt that  a supreme intelligence guided its construction.

UNITY WITHIN THE BIBLE

The  Bible  traditionally consists of 49 books, that were written  by  more than  thirty  different authors over a period of  1500  years  in three different languages. Moreover, these books were written under every circumstance  imaginable. When combined these 49 individual books reveal fantastic unity of thought and purpose.

The  unity of concept and story flow that exists from the  beginning  of the Bible to the end of its last book is truly  astounding.  Each writer was inspired to reflect the  overall  concepts, themes,  and story flow of the existing scriptures  as  well  as adding  to  the  detail and revelation of God's  great plan  for humanity.

There  is no conceivable way that such a book, with its unity  of purpose and  thought, could have come into existence unless there was a master author who guided its many writers and its development through many centuries.

JESUS AND THE BIBLE

The birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus the  Christ is  an undeniable fact of the Biblical record.  Jesus  literally changed  the course of history. Below are some of the  historical references to the existence of Jesus and his impact upon  history and humanity.

The  birth  of Jesus, which was foretold by Daniel and  other  prophets, triggered the mass murder of all male children who were two years of age and under by King Herod of Judea. See Matt.2:1-18.

Found in the Vatican library is a document titled 'Herod Antipater's  Defense'.  This document was written by Herod to  the  Roman Senate  to  explain  and justify why he had  murdered  the  young children around Bethlehem about the time of the birth of Christ.

In this same library there is also the letter from Herod  Antipas to the Roman Senate regarding his beheading of John the  Baptist and  the denial of Pontius Pilate's accusation that he was cowardly and disobedient in the case of Jesus. In this letter, Herod also upholds his father Herod Antipater's decision to murder  the young children at Bethlehem about thirty years earlier.

The  writings of Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Eusebius,  and  other early church leaders mention Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator who  ruled  Judea from A.D. 26 to 36. Moreover, these writings make reference  to  an official report Pilate made to Emperor Tiberius about the trial  and condemnation of Jesus.

Sometime between 115 A.D. and 117 A.D. Tacitus, a Roman historian, mentions Jesus specifically in  his annals, where he explains the meaning of the  word  'Christians': "Christ, from whom they derive their name, was condemned to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Emperor Tiberius" (1 Annals xv:44).

Even Jewish history confirms the life and death of Jesus.  Of all the  people on earth who would have a vested interest in  proving that  Jesus and the history surrounding him was only a  myth,  it would be the Jews; however, they cannot do so.

The  Jewish  historian Josephus (A.D. 37-100), who lived shortly  after  Jesus' death and resurrection, wrote the following about Christ:

"Now,  there  was about this time, Jesus, a wise man,  if  it  be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.  He  drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.   He was  (the)  Christ;  and when Pilate, at the  suggestion  of  the principal  men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross,  those that loved him  at first did not forsake him, for he appeared  to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had  foretold.   These and ten thousand other wonderful things  concerning him,  and  the tribe of Christians, so named from  him,  are  not extinct to this day" (Antiquities of the Jews).

History clearly records that Jesus of the Bible was not a myth or a legend—he did exist.

Comment:

In the preceding pages we have only explored a very small  amount of  the  evidence available that proves the  Bible  is  the written  word of a being of supreme intellect and power.  To  say that  the Bible is not the written word of the Creator God is  to deny  its  very existence. See our article "Books  And  Reference Materials",  for a short list of reference works that help  prove the validity of the Bible.

GOD SPEAKS TO US

The Bible clearly shows that God spoke to his people through  the patriarchs,  the prophets, Jesus Christ, and the apostles. All  of  the things which he has caused to be written in the Bible are intended to be understood by those who are called to salvation.  Notice some  of  the things which are said about the importance  of  the word of God:

"Every scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof,  for  correction, for instruction in  righteousness;  so that the man of God may be perfect, fully finished for every good work" (2.Tim.3:16-17 Para.). See also Eph.6:10-17; Heb.4:12.

"Now  all these things happened to them for examples,  and  are written  for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world  are come" (1.Cor.10:11 KJV). See also Psa.19:7; Pro.1:1-7; Dan.12:9-12.

JESUS THE TEACHER

"And  he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to  you, yet being with you, that must be fulfilled, all the things having been  written  in  the law of Moses, and the  prophets, and  the Psalms,  concerning me. Then he opened their minds to  understand the Scriptures, and said to them, so it has been written, and  so it was necessary that the Christ should suffer, and rise from the dead the third day" (Lk.24:44-46 Para.).

Jesus  came  to earth not only to save humanity  from  the  death penalty imposed for the breaking of the law of God, he came  also to reveal the secrets of God's plan for humanity.

The Bible reveals why Jesus taught the things he did, why he must come again, the time of his return, and what those who have  been called to follow him must do until he returns:

"All  those  who listen to my instructions and  follow  them  are wise, like a man who builds his house on a solid rock. Though the rain  comes in torrents, and the floods rise and the storm  winds beat against his house, it won't collapse, for it is built upon a rock.  But  those who hear my instructions and  ignore  them  are foolish, like a man who builds his house upon the sand. For  when the  rains and the floods come, and the storm winds beat  against his house, it will fall with a mighty crash" (Matt.7:24-27  LPB). See also 1.Tim.6:17-19.

Other Inspired Writings

Most people who seriously study the word of God realize that God inspired much more to be written and recorded than is found in the collection of writings of the modern-day Bible.

The Book of Jasher is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2.Samuel 1:18, and Jude refers to the contention between Michael and the devil over the body of Moses and a prophecy of Enoch. None of these reference works are found to be a part of our modern-day Bible. However, these reference works were a part of what God had inspired to be recorded.

There are probably many other letters, prophetic writings,  and written accounts that God inspired to be written throughout history, and if these were found and understood, they might clarify some gray areas of history and the plan of God.

There is obviously more truth recorded and yet to be found and understood about God, the ministry of Jesus, the acts of the apostles, and the early church than  is contained in the Authorized King James Version of the Bible.

Scholars, archeologists, and historians have discovered literally thousands of ancient writings, documents, and records, which contain information and revelation about God and his plan for humanity.

The important question to answer is whether God has caused enough information to be made available in order that a person he calls to become his son can understand that calling, perform the function or responsibility for which they have been called, and grow toward spiritual maturity.

The answer to this question is, yes! God has caused sufficient information to be documented and placed into the book we commonly call the Bible. This information, if rightly understood and truly followed by any whom God has called to salvation, will lead to spiritual success.

Additional Knowledge and Revelation

Not all of what Jesus taught, and obviously not all that the Father wants revealed to his children is recorded in the Bible. However, enough is recorded that all who are called to salvation can acquire enough knowledge and understanding to fulfill their calling. All other knowledge that the Father and Jesus Christ want to give to the elect of God is given through the holy spirit, angelic messengers, dreams, visions, and other methods that are mentioned throughout the Bible.

The  apostle John says the following about the things that were not recorded about Jesus and his teachings:

"I  am that disciple! I saw these events and have  recorded  them here.  And we all know that my account of these things  is  accurate.  And I suppose that if all the other events in Jesus' life were written,  the whole world could hardly contain  the  books" (Jn.21:24-25 LBP).

Jesus  told his disciples that the holy spirit would be sent to them,  they would be taught by it, and it would remind them of the things  that he had taught:

"But when the Father sends the Comforter instead of me—and by the  Comforter I mean the holy spirit—he [it] will teach  you much, as well as remind you of everything I myself have told you" (Jn.14:26  LBP).  See also  Jn.16:12-13;  1.Cor.2:11;  Eph.3:1-5; 1.Pet.1:12.

SUMMARY

The  Bible  is unique. There is no other book on earth  that  can claim its values. Moreover, it is the only book that claims to have the answers to the basic questions of life; it tells humanity who its Creator is, why it was created, and what its ultimate destiny is to be.

It is the only book that shows the purpose for humanity's existence and its awesome potential. It is the only book which gives a formula that will lead to eternal life and immortality in the Family of God, if it is followed.

The Bible is  the only book on the face of the earth that  claims to be the Word of the Creator God.

The  Bible is not just a collection of stories, myths,  and  legends;  it is the inspired Word of God, and the most  important book  ever written to humanity. Moreover, it has the answers to  life's greatest questions about the purpose of  human  existence—past, present, and future.

Very few people throughout human history have been privileged  to understand the Bible. In this age, God is presenting the opportunity to understand his great and awesome purpose for humanity. If you are beginning to understand the Bible, do not  dismiss  this opportunity  casually,  because  the reward for  those  who  act positively  upon the knowledge that is being revealed to them is  almost beyond the comprehension of the human mind.

By B.L. Cocherell, file b3w5 7/24/99                     home.gif (1487 bytes)