The bible is a book which, if everything else in our language should perish, would alone suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power.The Bible is a library of books about God and the relationship between him and his human family on the planet Earth. The Bible reveals God as the all-powerful, all-knowing creator and sustainer of all things; that every man, woman and child is made in God’s image and likeness. It outlines God’s covenants and promises which set out the principle of mankind’s freedom of choice. In the Bible one finds passages dealing realistically with the conflict between good and evil including that which is in each individual. A general truism is found to the effect that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. God promises that he will visit his people in the flesh through a virgin woman in order to reconcile all people to himself, to abolish sin through his own son’s death, and return in the spirit to dwell within his children. The Bible sets out principles and guidelines for human conduct and people’s interaction with each other. These principles are calculated to assure an anxiety-free life on earth and in the hereafter in harmony and right-standing with God. These revelations are set out in the Bible in 66 books of varying types and lengths written over a time span of about 1500 years.
What the Bible is According to the Bible
One cannot read the Bible without soon discovering that it claims to be the word of God. God speaks. He speaks out directly; he speaks through angels; he speaks through prophets. God directs Moses to write his words, and he directs the prophets to be his spokesmen. His words are spoken by Jesus Christ of Nazareth and recorded by the gospel writers. The epistle writers convey God’s messages of instruction and encouragement. The apostle Peters sum up the Bible’s view of itself when he says, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (II Peter 1:21)
The apostle Paul in writing to his aide, Timothy, defines the nature and purpose of scripture in these words: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:15-16)
Why Should We Read the Bible?
Why are you interested in reading the Bible? Whatever reason you may have for reading it is a good reason. What a person receives from the Bible quite often is governed by the point of view, the problem, or the question motivating the reader at the time. For example, are you a believer or a nonbeliever? Are you interested in it because it is ancient literature? Are you merely curious about what it says? Do you believe that the Bible is the word of God, or do you regard it merely as the ideas of men? Regardless of the particular circumstance causing you to read the Bible, you will feel its challenge, for one must come to grips with what it claims for itself and the fact that it demands a response. You may respond by acceptance or rejection, but you will form some kind of response to the views and principles which it set forth. Perhaps the biggest challenge to our minds is that the Bible speaks in the spiritual realm, and we are not always ready to “shift gears” and leave our materialistic frame of reference to contemplate the idea that we are spiritual beings with a future in a totally spiritual setting.
Our English word “spirit” comes from the Latin word spiritus which means “wind” or “breath.” In the Greek language, the word is pneuma and in Hebrew, ruah. The World Book Dictionary says that “spirit” refers to the aspect of every human which is not material. It is equated with “soul” or “personality”. Webster’s Dictionary defines “spirit” as “the breath of life” or “life-giving force,” connecting it with mind and emotions. These definitions show a universal awareness of our spiritual nature which we recognize or suspect whether or not we deem ourselves to be very “spiritual.”
A starting point for gaining a sharper conception of our nonmaterial makeup is to reflect upon the variety of well-known human characteristics. Consider, for example, such attributes as personality, thought, ideas, reason, belief, intellect, emotion, and intuition; also, love, hate, wisdom, character, right and wrong, anxiety, humility, pride, compassion, peace, joy, and happiness. None of these elements is physical; yet each one is very real. There are, of course, many more than these, and it might be both interesting and revealing if you would make a list of those qualities, attributes, and capabilities which apply to you. Others you might also consider are talent, creativity, language, insight, and mystique. These aspects of our being are invisible, but we know that they exist, and we have words in our language describing them. They give us clues to understanding our personal identities which are not confined to the limits of a three-dimensional world. If these attributes are in another dimension, that is, a nonphysical, perhaps fourth, dimension, is not our real identity in the same dimension, which we may refer to as the spiritual dimension? Every civilization has had a concept of this realm as evidenced by a belief that a person lives on after the demise of the physical body. The person in this continuum is referred to as a “spirit” or “soul”. A realization of this status, whether consciously or subconsciously, moves mankind to seek a supreme being who has power and authority over the universe and who through his love and concern communicates with and helps his people.