Why the Bible?
Bible Study #3
September 6, 2018
For our first two Bible Study sessions, we discussed the problems that we face as Christians, the questions they often raise, and what our job is in the midst of them. This week, we will talk about that “sword of the Spirit” that was mentioned in last week’s lesson: the Bible. After all, it is every Christian’s biggest asset (and the Word of the Living God)! If you found yourself wondering, “Why the Bible?” during the first two sessions, get ready for some concrete examples and answers to that very question! So, let’s answer the first, most obvious of some questions you or someone you know might have: what is the Bible?
The Bible is a collection of 66 smaller books written by multiple (about 40) authors over a period of about 1,600 years. Its great, overarching theme is God’s plan of redemption for His people. The Bible is the world’s most influential and best-selling book of all time (5 billion copies). It is also the world’s most hated, most banned, most burned, and most censored book. Many countries such as North Korea, Somalia, Morocco, and Libya either limit its translations or ban it entirely. Maldives also mandates that its citizens must instead be Muslims. The Gideons International, a Bible-distributing ministry organization you may identify by their hotel-room Bibles, are not allowed to operate in several Middle Eastern countries, China, and North Korea – the latter of which executes any person found to possess religious literature.
So why is this? Just why is it that the Bible is so loathed by so many public officials worldwide?
This could prompt several responses. To me, the Bible is firstly offensive or off-putting to people because its commands, almost always, contradict our sin nature. Think of the Ten Commandments or Jesus’ teachings. “Don’t lie? Don’t steal? Don’t even think about it? No can do, God!”
Questions for Reflection:
Why do you think the Bible is so offensive to some people?
How many Bibles do you own?
Which books of the Bible have you read?
Which is your favorite?
Have you read the entire Bible?
The Bible also carries with it a certain negative connotation for many. Some people, even many in America, believe it to be an archaic or even draconian tool of the “religious right” or “crazy fundamentalists” or crooked televangelists looking to make a quick buck.
However, despite all this, the Bible is still the foundation of what Christianity is all about. It is the Word of God. It is how God primarily communicates to us today. It is, in fact, that “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) we talked about last week. Let’s look at the article “Why I Believe the Bible is the Word of God,” written in 2017, by the late Billy Graham.
Our first verse…
Hebrews 4:12 New International Version (NIV)
“12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Sounds painful! For me, this verse from Hebrews sheds a little insight into why the Bible may be so revered by some and hated by others. “It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not so sure I want my thoughts and attitudes exposed to anyone, much less God! But that’s what the Bible does – it reveals things to us about ourselves and about God. And we should ultimately be thankful for that.
Questions for Reflection:
When was a time you felt judged by someone?
Do you know someone who takes offense at or rejects the Bible?
Has God ever revealed anything to you from His Word?
For the Christian, the Bible is more than just a dusty volume of story books – it’s how God primarily speaks to us. We should be very thankful that we have the Bible readily available and live in a country where we can freely read it. Many across the world suffer or even die for it.
The Bible is interestingly full of prayers, praises, history, drama, love stories, wars, prophecies, and more! Here are some more concrete reasons why we study the Bible:
Its cohesiveness – The Bible, no matter from where its read, is in total agreement and harmony with itself – almost as if it had been written by a single author! All throughout the text, Jesus can be found. Redemption for humanity is always the theme.
Its historical accuracy – God’s Word, despite scorn from many, is widely agreed to be historically accurate in its presentation of ancient civilizations, their technologies, and their cultures. Even among those scholars who adhere to biblical minimalism, the Bible is a historical document containing first-hand information on the Hellenistic and Roman eras, and there is universal scholarly consensus that the events of the 6th century BCE Babylonian captivity have a basis in history.
Archaeology – Archaeology, or the digging up of old stuff, constantly reaffirms biblical history and the text. There are many examples available in the news and many more emerge each day. (One example is the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1946.)
Encouragement – What’s more is that the Bible is our source of refreshment during our everyday lives. As Christians, we know that the Word is about more than just judgement or damnation. It’s about the Messiah who has come to earth to die for our sins and provide us a way into life everlasting!
And here are some examples of what the Bible says about itself…
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…”
Romans 15:4 ESV
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Isaiah 40:8 ESV
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Let’s end with one last verse.
Psalm 119:105 ESV
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Questions for Reflection:
In the last week, how has your personal walk with God been?
Could you stand to improve your habit of reading the Word?
Have you had an opportunity recently to share the gospel?
I like to think of this verse in this way: we may not see the whole, big picture, but just what’s at our feet or along the path ahead. The Bible, just as the psalmist wrote, can help us to illuminate our daily struggles by providing comfort and practical solutions. It can also, more importantly, help us prepare for eternity by providing the information we need to receive Jesus Christ.
Through God’s Son, we each can have an intimate, personal relationship with God. God’s free gift of grace to us means not just a life lived, but a life lived to the full – for now and forever. If you’re not a Christian, you can make the decision today to become one. And if you already are a follower of Christ, you can recommit to following Him.
Are you thankful for the Bible?
Once again, it’s important that we…
Know God’s Word
Follow His Commands
And be a witness for Him
(The Great Commission – Matthew 28:16-20)
Download this study:
Bible Study Handout 3