“The B-I-B-L-E, Yes that’s the book for me.” What about you?
The Bible is the Word of God. Jesus is called the “Word of God” and “the Word” (Rev. 19:13; John 1:1). The “Word of God” also includes those words God has audibly spoken such as when we read: “And God said, Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). God has also spoken directly and audibly to people like Adam, Abraham, Moses. And He’s spoken through people—the prophet Jeremiah for example (Jer. 1:9). And, then, on Mount Sinai, God gave Moses the two tablets with the ten commandments, “written with the finger of God” (Exod. 31:18) (47–51). But the Word of God I am specifically addressing here is the Bible. Scripture. The written Word of God.
Meaning of “Bible”
Our English word “Bible” comes from the Greek word βιβλίον that means “book” or “scroll.” And then Latin-speaking Christians started using the plural word biblia to refer to all the books in the Old and New Testament (155).
Meaning of “Scripture”
The word “Scripture,” on the other hand, is the English translation of the Greek word γραφή. And it’s used throughout the New Testament to refer to the written Word of God (155).
Second Timothy 3:16–17 tells us:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
I previously defined revelation as that act of God communicating to man what we couldn’t know otherwise. He has made it known what He requires so we can have the right relationship with Him (10). And Scripture—the Bible—is the only written revelation from God that we have. The Bible claims to be supernatural revelation. It is God-breathed. Therefore, because it’s God-breathed, it is not ordinary. And in future posts, I’ll discuss how this extraordinary supernatural revelation is authoritative, inspired, inerrant, and more.
God has spoken. You’ve probably heard the facts:
- 66 books written over 1,500 years or so by 40 or so different authors
- Books of history, prophecy, law, wisdom, poetry, and more
- The Old Testament was written in Hebrew with a small portion in Aramaic
- The New Testament in Greek
- Providentially preserved by God in many manuscripts
Our featured theologian is Charles Caldwell Ryrie. (It doesn’t have to be an ancient theologian. They’re all fair game.) Ryrie was a scholar and theologian who just died a few years ago. Fun fact: He was really into collecting rare Bibles and manuscripts. He left behind a huge collection that sold for millions at auction. He loved the Bible. And he handles a subject called canonicity really well in his book he wrote on theology.
Ryrie explains how we use the word canon for the list of books in the Bible. People and church councils don’t make a book a canonical. The books were canonical the moment they were written. People and church councils have since recognized that God made it canonical. But it’s also true that those people and councils have had to make decisions on what books God intended to be in our Bible (119–124). So there are tests.
There is the test of authority. Old Testament books have the authority of a lawgiver or prophet behind them. New Testament books have the authority of an apostle.
There is the test of orthodoxy. Does it agree with the rest of what Scripture teaches?
Another important consideration is whether the books were used widely in the churches (156–158). These books were accepted by God’s people throughout history.
Because of these tests, you can have confidence that what you have in your Bible is the Word of God.
And now I ask: So what? What’s so important about having the Bible? And it should be pretty obvious. This is the Word of God we’re talking about.
As one theologian said:
Those who abandon revelation also lose the religion based upon it. The revelation of Scripture and the religion of Scripture stand or fall together (367).
The Bible is how we know what God himself has spoken in the past and spoken through men. It’s how we know Jesus Christ, “the Word [who] became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). There is no religion without revelation. There is no Christian faith without the Bible.
And it’s to your benefit to study the Bible. In the second verse of the book of Psalms, we read how the one who delights “in the law of the Lord” and mediates on it “day and night” is blessed. It’s a blessing to read and contemplate divine revelation. It’s a blessing to understand what God has said. It will encourage you and in your Christian life, rebuke you of your sin, and exhort you to live a successful and flourishing life.
There are a lot of bad ideas out there in the world, you know. What joy you can obtain by thinking on the ideas of God that will keep you from being caught up in all those bad ideas of the world (1:189). The world needs the written Word of God to know the incarnate Word of God—the person Jesus Christ. Believers also need the written Word of God to know how to love and obey God. It’s the basis for our Christian faith (5).
The world’s greatest need—and the believer’s greatest need— is the Word of God. Specifically and foremost in the person of Jesus Christ—God in human flesh, the revelation of the true and living God. The answer to everyone’s need is a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Word of God.