Sitting under a glass case at the University of Texas is a very special book. It was one of the very first books to come off Gutenberg’s printing press over four hundred years ago. The university paid $2.4 million dollars for this rarest of treasures.
Why is this particular book so special? If you go to the university’s website, you will read all sorts of information about the design of the book and the invention of the printing press that made it possible.
What the book says, though, is even more intriguing. The treasure under that glass is a copy of the Bible. Gutenberg chose to print the Bible first because it was the most important book in the world.
And it still is. Thanks to the invention of the printing press, millions of people all over the world can read the Bible in their own language. It remains the best-selling book in the world today. No one knows how many are given away to people who cannot afford to buy the Bible for themselves.
Even so, this is not about price, or technology, or popularity. The Bible is the most important book in the world because it is the word of God. Lots of books are precious, but the Bible goes one step further by claiming to be from God Himself.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16
The word “Scripture” refers to all the writings of the Bible. The Bible is like a portable library.
- It has a total of 66 books.
- It is divided into two main sections. The Old Testament has 39 books, and the New Testament has 27 books.
- God inspired or “breathed out” His words over a period of 1,600 years.
- He gave these words to 40 writers from all walks of life: preachers, farmers, kings, fishermen, tax collectors, and many more.
A Message from Above
We shouldn’t be surprised that God would want to share His thoughts with us. God is the creator of the entire universe. He is the one who made us, and He cares about us. One of God’s writers, King David, wrote a poem on this very subject:
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:14
David saw what most of us still see. We are not an accident of nature. All living things, including human beings, show evidence of purpose and design.
This same attention to detail can be found in God’s plan for man. Listen again to the beautiful words of David:
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:4
David was amazed by God’s interest in us. We are tiny creatures living on a small blue planet circling a medium-sized star. On a clear night, David could see a thousand stars. And yet we are special; we matter a lot. In fact, we matter so much that God gave us the Bible.
Notice again what that passage from 2 Timothy 3:16 says: Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
- God has given us His word so that we can learn more about Him – that’s teaching.
- He has given us His word so that we can know where we have gone wrong – that’s reproof.
- He has given us His word so that we can fix the mistakes we are making – that’s correction.
- He has given us His word so that we can learn to be better people – that’s training in righteousness.
Can We Trust It?
There is no doubt that the Bible claims to be from God. But is it? After all, if someone says, “Trust me,” you would want to know why you should trust him. Just saying it doesn’t make it so. When it comes to the Bible, we have plenty of evidence to believe that it really is the word of God.
First, the Bible does not make the kind of mistakes we would expect to find in ordinary human books. In our own writing, we struggle to keep our story straight and our facts right. The Bible avoids these mistakes. This would be impossible for an ordinary book written by 40 different people over a space of 1,600 years. But it is not impossible for God.
Second, the Bible contains all sorts of special information that ordinary human writers could never know by themselves. A lot of this information includes predictions about future historical events. These predictions are known as prophecies.
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Peter 1:21
Many prophecies reveal God’s plan for mankind. He said He would send His Son to live among the people of Israel. His Son would be born into a family with roots going all the way back to King David. He would be born in the town of Bethlehem. He would teach us about His Father in heaven. He would die on a Roman cross for our sins. He would establish His church, and invite everyone to become a part of that church. God revealed this information over many centuries, and it all came true in Jesus. No one could guess that all these events would take place in the life of just one man. This makes the book containing all those predictions very special, and it makes Jesus very special.
And third, God has been watching the progress of His Bible through the ages. He made this promise to the prophet Isaiah:
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. – Isaiah 40:8
People who love God have always wanted to share His word with other people. They have copied God’s word, and they have made the best copies possible. But they were not working alone. God has always been behind the scenes making sure that His word stands forever. Our Bibles today rely on a marvellous record of copies that go into deep, distant history. There is nothing like the Bible.
Where Do We Begin?
The very first verse of the very first book of the Bible is a great place to start:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
God revealed this message to Moses so that he could share them with God’s people, the Israelites. They needed to know who they were. They needed to know where they were from. And most of all, they needed to know where they were going.
From Genesis we learn that Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Their choices had a terrible effect on their own lives, and the lives of everyone who came after them. God had a plan to fix this problem. That plan was revealed through prophecy.
God said He would send a Saviour. The Saviour’s Father in heaven would call Him Son (Matthew 3:17). His family on earth would call Him Jesus (Matthew 1:20-21). His followers knew Him as the Christ (Matthew 16:16). “Christ” means Chosen One. He was the One expected from all those prophecies back in the Old Testament.
Jesus came to establish His church. Anyone who wants to follow Jesus can be a part of His church. If you want to read more on this subject, please see Introductions 2: The Church.
Copyright © 2012 Trevor Major. All rights reserved.