The first part is called the Old Testament with thirty-nine books. This tells the history of God’s dealing with the Hebrew nation before Jesus came.
The second part, the New Testament, has twenty-seven books. This tells of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It then describes the growth of Christianity and gives practical advice on how to live the Christian life.
The Bible took about 1,500 years to be completed. It was written by about 40 people. Among them were kings, a prime minister, a doctor, a taxman, fishermen and a farmer. Most of the writers never met the other writers. Yet through the Bible there runs an amazing unity and agreement. What is the explanation?
God spoke to the Bible’s writers and guided them to write down His words and instructions. They did not just sit down and write what they thought God was like and what God was saying. Again and again we have the words ‘Thus says the Lord’ or ‘The Word of the Lord came to …..’
God did not speak to human type writers. He spoke to men who were in close touch Him. He used their differing personalities and they wrote down God’s words in their own way, using their own words.
So John could write:
‘What we have seen and heard we declare to you.’
Peter writing about the Old Testament books put it like this: ‘Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.’
(The word ‘moved’ means carried along as a sailing boat is carried along by the wind.)
Paul summed it up by saying:
‘All scripture is inspired by God.’
How could the followers of Jesus possibly remember all He said and did? The answer is that Jesus promised them that the Holy Spirit ‘will teach you everything and make you remember all I have told you.’
God made known to these men His laws and His will and they wrote it down not just for their own generation but for all time. This is why the Bible is different from all other books. Through it God speaks to us today and on every page is His stamp of authorship.
The Bible tells us what God is like and how we can know Him. Without it we would know next to nothing about Him. We would have no idea why we are here or where we are going. The Bible sheds light on every kind of problem. It speaks with certainty on life and death and eternity. It is our guide-book from earth to heaven.
Is the Bible true? Can I trust it?
It is not just a book of history, yet it is full of historical facts and events that can be verified from other historical sources. It is not just a book of great literature, yet it does contain wonderful poetry and gripping stories.
It is not a book of Psychology, yet it shows a wealth of understanding of human nature and personal relationships that work in practice.
It is not a book of science, though it does tell us so much about our world. Science is concerned with finding out how things originate and work. The Bible is more concerned with answering the question why.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The final proof of whether or not the Bible is true is in the reading – and then in following its teaching.
How can I read the Bible? Where should I begin?
The Bible is not an easy Book. You will need help and you will need method. It is not a good idea to start at Genesis and work through the Bible. You will very soon get bogged down among all the laws at Leviticus. Nor is it a good idea simply to open the Bible at random and hope for the best.
Try starting with the Gospel of Mark. Then try Paul’s letter to the Philippians, then the Acts of the Apostles, Psalm 1-24, and the Gospel of John.
By yourself, you will understand or enjoy the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Believe that God is going to speak to you.
Many Christians find it helpful after reading a Bible passage to ask such questions as ‘What do I learn about God – about Jesus – about man?’ ‘Is there a promise for me to claim – an example to follow – a warning to heed or a clear command to obey?’
Pick out a verse or a phrase that strikes you, learn it and take it with you into the day.
Try to set aside a definite time each day when you can be alone and quiet. Make time to meet with Jesus and to read the Bible. Of course, this is not always possible for everyone, and it is not a cast-iron rule. But spending time each day can be extremely helpful. There are no shortcut to success and growth in the Christian life.
An excellent method of daily Bible reading is to follow a series of Bible reading aids. You have a booklet that will give you the Bible passage and helpful comments on it. Your minister will gladly tell about them.