What is the Bible?
The Bible is the best-selling book of all time from many different ranking sources. Estimations state that over 2.5 billion copies of the Bible have been sold since the printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. Additionally, it is also the most compelling account available to us of all creation, from the beginning of time through the end of the ages. ¹
The Christian Bible consists of 66 different books—39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. Writers of GotQuestions.org claim that “While the Bible is a unified book, differences abound between the Old Testament and the New Testament. However, in many ways, they are also complimentary. While the Old Testament is foundational; the New Testament builds on that foundation with further revelation from God.”
The Old Testament delves into the beginning of the world and early historical empires.
Pentateuch – Includes 5 books about creation, the Flood, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It also follows the Israelites during their time in Egypt (captivity and exodus), through 40 years in the wilderness, and finally entering the Promised Land.
Historical Books – Includes 12 historical books which include the conquest of the Promised Land and continues with the disobedience of the Israelites through the Babylonian invasion.
Poetry and Wisdom – Includes 5 books that show how the people of God communicated with Him and with each other.
Major Prophets – Includes 5 books on prophets and their prophecies. These prophets warn of judgment for being disobedient and the hope of Jesus Christ.
Minor Prophets – Includes 12 books on prophets and their prophecies. These prophets warn of the same prophecies as the Major Prophets – judgment and future hope in their Messiah.
The New Testament examines the age of Jesus.
Gospels and Acts – Includes the first 5 books of the NT which records the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, including His death, burial, and resurrection. Whereas the Book of Acts includes the Holy Spirit’s outpouring on the early believers and the spread of the Gospel to both the Jews and Gentiles
Paul’s Epistles – Includes the 13 letters written to the early Church which follow Christ as He corrects and guides it on how to address specific problems it encountered.
General Epistles through Revelation – Includes 8 general epistles which follow along with the purpose of Paul’s letters. In contrast, Revelation concentrates on the seven churches in Asia Minor, imparting prophecy regarding future persecutions people will face and describing the new heaven and the new earth.
Some Bibles include additional books in a section between the Old and New Testament called the Biblical Apocrypha. Uniquely, the preface to the Apocrypha in the Geneva Bible explains that these books were written by godly men for their historical knowledge and godly instruction only. The Geneva Bible was a significant English Bible translation used in the 16th century; it preceded the King James Version by 51 years.
Who Reads the Bible?
While the Bible is considered the “go-to” book for Christ-followers, it is also read by a multitude of Americans, both religious and otherwise. In Who Reads the Bible—and Why? David Briggs states that the top two reasons people surveyed said they read Scripture were for “personal prayer and devotion, and to learn more about their religion.” The third most popular reason was “to seek guidance in personal decisions and relationships with spouses, parents, children, and friends.”
Additionally, Briggs notes that “people no longer just open the pages of the Good Book. Thirty-one percent read it on the Internet and [twenty-two] percent used e-devices.” ³
Why Read the Bible?
When we read the Bible, we become aware of many other people—just like us—who have encountered the same circumstances that we experience. Through their example, we can gain insight into how to handle the good, bad, and the ugly in life. Moreover, the Bible is the only book that addresses every problem men and women will ever face.
Being devoted to Bible reading and listening to sermons is commendable, but you must be quickened by the Spirit for true godly understanding. Not only is the Bible the Word of God, but it is also the believer’s inspiration and God’s last word on authority. Reading the Bible increases and matures a person’s faith. Faith is defined as “our belief and actions regarding God’s truths.”
The apostle Paul says, ‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (John 6:63).
As mentioned above, many believers and unbelievers read the Bible. Believers are sanctified through their reading—meaning that through their reading, they learn how to live according to the purpose and design of God.
When unbelievers read the Word of God, God’s grace may touch their spirits and lead them to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior through the confession of their sin and a commitment to follow Jesus. This is known as a salvation or “born-again” experience.
When salvation occurs, the Bible takes on an entirely different meaning to the reader; it is only then can a person comprehend the things of God and His Word, experience God’s presence and trust in the power of the living Word.
Outcomes When Reading the Bible
The late pastor Adrian Rogers chronicles four outcomes Christ-followers can depend on when one asks the Lord to help them understand His Word.
- Eyes will be opened. (Psalm 119:18)
- Understanding will be increased. (Luke 24:45)
- Hearts will be stirred. (Psalm 119:36)
- Minds will be enlightened (Psalm 119:73) ⁴
Is the Bible Inspired?
To answer this question, some say it isn’t right to answer by using Scripture itself, but I disagree. Not only has the Bible said the words by God are inspired, but historically it has been deemed accurate by many early and late scholars. [See the verses below for verification.]
“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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
“For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
The Bible consists of God’s words to us. It is how our heavenly Father communicates with us.
Through Scripture, we learn about God’s character, His goodness and His promises. In the same way that food nourishes our body, the Word of God strengthens our spirit to help us live an honorable lifestyle. We learn how to imitate Jesus Christ by understanding His intention for us to live a worthy life by serving and loving Him.
Furthermore, God provides stories about the heroes of faith: prophets, apostles, Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit. These Biblical stories are understood by illustrations in multiple parables and real-life events.
In 2 Timothy 2:15, God calls us to read and study the Bible. Coupled with time, it takes planning. This discipline takes time. We must be committed to reading and studying the Word of God.
Applying Our Mind
When we apply our mind to understand the Bible, God will reveal His promises to us. When that occurs, we become enlightened to His ways, enabling us to obey Him, gain His strength, establish our faith, gain courage, increase wisdom, and direct us away from temptation and sin.
While the Bible can be read through casually, it is also for us to study deeply—maybe verse by verse, chapter by chapter, or topic by topic. As a matter of fact, when we dig in and truly study God’s word, lightning bolts of insight spark our mind and show us a deeper understanding of His ways that we may not gain from a quick read-through. By the same token, when we meditate on the Word of God, God’s presence, guidance, and love will speak to us about how to become the person God wants us to be.
The Bible is the holiest of all books. In light of that, it should be cherished and regarded with the highest honor and esteem. Through it, God will give us wisdom and instruct us in righteousness.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is thinking deeply on the Word in our mind, soul and spirit. It takes time to meditate. But when we do, we will start desiring to apply God’s truths to our lives. Through our prayers of worship, praise, confession, requests and pondering on God’s righteousness, we are sanctifying our thinking and becoming more under submission to our Lord Jesus Christ. Henceforth, our minds are being guided to want what Jesus wants for us.
Reading the Bible is a virtuous goal and this practice is wholeheartedly encouraged by many churches, pastors and religious organizations.
In fact, I found when I first started reading the Bible seriously, it was because of what I would call an insurmountable need—the need to move closer to my parents in Houston or stay in seminary in Ft. Worth to pursue my calling into the ministry. In fact, my desperate yearning for an answer to this problem stimulated an unfathomable longing for more of God’s Word.
I can honestly say reading the Bible is one, if not the most, thrilling experiences of my life. Consequently, I wake up each morning looking forward to hearing from my God; I think of Him throughout the day; I approach my evenings looking over the day’s occurrences and how He moved or how I need to move closer to Him.
If you are so inclined to read the Bible from cover to cover (Genesis to Revelation), I applaud and encourage you to do so. God’s word will convict and change lives—yes, even yours!
However, I must lovingly caution you. The Pharisees prayed and read God’s word only to be seen by men:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)
Take care, my friend, that you do not read the Scriptures only to declare that you have read the Bible through—hoping to impress others with your “religiosity”. Be careful not to become big-headed, smug or boastful in declaring a numerical digit as to how many times you have read the Bible through, how often you read the Bible or how many hours you spend in the Word of God. God knows, but everyone else doesn’t need to know. But I bet they will see it in your attitudes, kindness, and countenance!
In the final analysis, practicing humility in this area is a good discipline to follow.
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)
When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
The Bible has been criticized, degraded, and disgraced by many people. Satan has made sure of this. Moreover, most people who criticize the Bible are justifying their OWN choices and actions. While many “celebrities” have been condemned for their belief in God and the Bible, we are seeing many more being openly critical about the Bible and things of God. Unfortunately, many believe it is a psychological crutch to get us through a difficult time.
For example, Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota, once said, “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.” Agreeing with him is Larry Flynt, producer of magazines, such as Hustler and sexually graphic videos, who commented, “There’s nothing good I can say about it [religion]. People use it as a crutch.” Ted Turner once simply said, “Christianity is a religion for losers!” Ventura, Flynt, Turner, and others who think like them view Christians as being emotionally feeble and in need of imaginary support to get through life. Their insinuation is that they themselves are strong and in no need of a supposed God to help them with their lives. ⁵
Unfortunately, this is a heartbreaking indictment against their denial of Jesus Christ—the one and only true God.
The Bible—Loved by Millions
Baptist theologian and apologist Bernard Ramm stated, “the Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions.” ⁶ In conclusion, my deep desire is that you will make a commitment today to read and/or study the Bible. It’ll change your life—I promise!
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9)
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. (James 1:14)
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
Oh, how I love Thy Word. Teach me to respect and obey all the words in Your love letter to me. May the Bible guide me and protect me all the days of my life. May I honor You through my love, obedience, and desire to know You more and more every day. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
¹ “Top Ten Best Selling Books of All-Time.” www.rankings.com/books-sales-worldwide.
² “What Happens after Death.” GotQuestions.org. https://www.gotquestions.org/what-happens-death.html. I used “Old Testament vs. New Testament – What are the differences?” https://www.gotquestions.org/difference-old-new-testaments.html
³ Briggs, David. “Who Reads the Bible—and Why.” Ahead of the Trend. 7 March 2014. Accessed 18 March 2019. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-briggs/who-reads-the-bible—and_b_4919444.html.
⁴ Rogers, Adrian. “How to Make the Bible Come Alive.” Love Worth Finding. OnePlace. Accessed 18-18-2019. https://www.oneplace.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/read/articles/how-to-make-your-bible-come-alive-15522.html
⁵ “Is Faith in God a Crutch?” Accessed 8 March 2019. GotQuestions.org.
⁶ Ramm, Bernard. “Bernard Ramm.” Wikipedia. Accessed 17 March 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Ramm.
Bible verses are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted
Edited by E. Johnson
Books by Patti Greene
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