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 revealedGod'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.
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.
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.
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.
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 legendhe did exist.
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 meand by the Comforter I mean the holy spirithe [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.
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 existencepast, 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