Until recently I had not opened a Bible since I was "confirmed" in the Anglican church at age 15.
The Bible was a strange old book and completely foreign to me. Like boring ancient history mixed with legend and fantasy. Unsupported stories of a small clan of people wandering around the Middle East, and events beyond credibility. The New Testament was only slightly more accessible.
From my Sunday school lessons, I could recite by heart the names of the books of the NT but I had no idea what was in them or what most of the names signified. Colossians? What is/was a Colossian?
Fact? Fiction? Fairy tale?
How could I know?
Long story short:
After several months of attending church, evangelistic meetings and Bible studies, everything changed.
Having never been interested in history, it suddenly became alive and relevant.
God, through the Bible, gave me a totally new perspective on my existence and revealed the false reality in which I had been living.
As I slowly discovered, the Bible is a revelation of God’s character and answers the big three questions in life:
- where we came from
- why we are here
- where we are going
The Bible does not prove God's existence; it assumes it.
It is God’s primary means of communicating with us.
As such, it is essential to approach it with an open mind and heart.
God will help us understand His word if we are sincere and honest in asking Him.
It consists of 66 books written by ~40 different authors over a period of ~1,600 years in a number of different countries.
Despite this, it is internally consistent and self-interpreting, which is amazing. To me, it is obviously divinely inspired.
(The Bible writers were thought-inspired, not word-inspired).
There are many questions, many doubts raised about the Bible.
- How can we be sure that all the right books were included?
- Has it been changed over the centuries?
- Why so many versions?
- Which one is best, the most accurate?
- How can we trust that all of it is God’s word and divinely inspired?
- Why did God make some of the Bible so difficult to understand?
- etc. etc.
Reasonable questions; I asked them myself.
The Old Testament was a well established collection of writings in Jesus’ day and has been well preserved to the present day as was confirmed by the dead sea scrolls which date back to BC.
The New Testament was assembled from the inspired writings that were already accepted and in common use in the early church. The NT is thus more a collection of inspired books than an inspired collection of books.
The NT documents are better-preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writings. There are more than 5,000 separate Greek manuscripts represented by early fragments.
The Apocrypha and the Gnostic gospels were rightfully excluded from God’s word as they are clearly not in harmony either with each other or with the canon of inspired books.
The Bible writers were divinely inspired, however the number of different translations in existence today can be confusing.
The key point, I believe, is that all the most common versions contain the same Gospel (good news) message: KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, RSV, etc.
Paraphrases such as NLT and The Message can be useful in conveying an overall theme or idea however to me they lack the depth, beauty and elegance of the more direct translations.
I use the NKJV as a default however I also refer to many other versions and Strongs for the original words.
The original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic words and phrases often had different shades of meaning and nuances depending on the context etc. so I find it rewarding to compare the different translations.
To repeat; the basic, essential truths making up the Gospel (good news) message are found in all these versions.
There are some links below that will address these topics and many others, however I look at whole issue of the Bible like this:
- Is God all-powerful and in control of everything? Yes.
- Was God able to control what writings were included in His word? Yes.
- Is my God a God of confusion? No.
- Is He going to mislead me? No.
- Would God make sure that what is in the Bible is what He wanted to be in it? Yes.
- Would He want even me to understand what He is saying? Yes.
- Can I trust God? Yes.
- Can I trust the Bible, the whole Bible, to be God’s message to me? Yes.
We can’t pick and choose from the Bible what we want to believe, or accept as true, and then discard the rest.
That’s not logical. It denies that God is all-powerful, in control and, above all, caring.
It puts trust in ourselves and others above our trust in God.
Who do you want to trust?
The Bible is God’s infallible word; from Genesis to Revelation.
It reveals our past and our future, from Genesis to Revelation.
It reveals our Creator, His love for us, His total commitment to rescuing us and His infinite sacrifice that gives us an escape route from this wreck of a world to eternal life in a perfect one.
The Bible contains the true picture of God, and He dearly wants you to see Him clearly.
God's Character website; a wealth of resources.
I was surprised to learn that so many expressions in common use came from the Bible e.g.
"by the skin of my teeth" (Job 19:20)
"the apple of his eye" (Deut 32:10)
"nothing new under the sun" (Ecc 1:9)
"to see the writing on the wall" (Dan 5:13-29)
"can a leopard change its spots?" (Jer 13:23)
"pride goes before a fall" (Prov 16:18)
"salt of the earth" (Matt 5:13)
"those who live by the sword will die by the sword" (Matt 26:52)
"turn the other cheek" (Matt 5:39)
"love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim 6:10)
"physician, heal thyself" (Luke 4:23)
"am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen 4:9)
...and many others.