I did not grow up going to church or knowing much about Christianity, and I know how it feels to be confused about one of the most well-known books—the Bible. It was not until I became a Christian that I learned how wrong all my assumptions were. In a three-part series, I will be going over what the Bible is, why it is reliable and important and how to read it for your stage in faith.
Whether you are a Christian or not, knowing about the Bible is extremely important to understand why you hold the beliefs you do. If you call yourself a Christian, do you know the history or essentials of your faith? If you aren’t a Christian, are your objections to the Bible and Christianity based on truth or common misconceptions? It is important to be knowledgeable about both sides of the spectrum to ensure that your beliefs, whatever they may be, are rooted in truth.
What is the Bible?
The Bible is not written in one style, by one author or in one time period. The Bible contains 66 diverse books, was written by 40 authors and spans about 1500 years. It is broken up into the Old Testament (Genesis through Malachi) and the New Testament (Matthew through Revelation).
The Old Testament books can be divided into the law or Pentateuch (the first five books), history (Joshua through Esther), poetry and wisdom (Job through Song of Solomon), major prophets (Isaiah through Daniel), and minor prophets (Hosea through Malachi).
The New Testament contains the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), early church history (Acts), letters of Paul (Romans through Philemon), general letters (Hebrews through Jude) and prophecy (Revelation).
As D.A Carson summarized, the Bible’s shortest storyline is “creation, fall, redemption, consummation. That is the beginning and the end, and in between the two, you have the fall, the problem that is addressed and then redemption, the solution that God provides.”
Creation & Fall
Genesis, the first book in the Bible, begins with the creation account. God made the world and man good, but man caused the fall in his rebellion against God. In response, God sent the flood, but He allowed Noah and his family to survive. However, the Tower of Babel shows evil’s remaining prevalence in the world.
As Genesis continues, the Jewish people rise and God’s promises are emphasized. D.A Carson explains how the Israelite’s growing population became to be “viewed as a threat and so gradually imposed servitude [was] demanded and eventually that [lead] to outright slavery.”
The second book of the Pentateuch, Exodus, provides Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery. In Exodus, God allows Moses to escape the Egyptians through parting the Red Sea. Moses later gives the Ten Commandments, but he soon finds everyone has already turned away from God. After Moses’ death, Joshua brings the Israelites into the promised land. The book of Judges then shows Israel’s need for a savior from their cyclical cycle of sin. Their needs are never solved by, only temporarily bettered by, the judges God sends to rescue them.
1 and 2 Samuel, Kings and Chronicles give the line of kings. The first king of the united monarchy is King Saul. However, he is eventually led to his downfall, so God appoints King David. The Davidic Dynasty brings Jerusalem’s rise. David is followed by Solomon then his son, Rehoboam, who causes the divide between Israel and Jerusalem.
Foreshadowings of Jesus can be seen as early as Genesis 3:15. The prophet, Isaiah, also demonstrates the coming of salvation for all people through Jesus. His amazing prediction came 700 years before Jesus’ birth.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel also prophesize a Redeemer given by God. There is then a 400 year period of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Then comes the Gospel. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. Jesus fulfills the prophecies and provides salvation through his sacrifice during the crucifixion. Through faith in Jesus and his work on the cross, humanity can be saved from their previously inescapable sin. The book of Acts traces the church’s explosion and spreading of the Gospel. The rest of the New Testament consists of letters addressing specific churches or regions. However, Revelation also contains details on the end times.
The book of Revelation can be seen as the apocalypse. However, the end will bring a new heaven and earth. All death, pain and sorrow will be gone.
Okay, you now have a brief, overarching view of the Bible. However, you might still be wondering how anyone could believe in it. Or, maybe you struggle with the importance of it all. Well, stay tuned next week for “The Bible Part 2: Why Is It Reliable And Important?”