What Is The Bible?

Most Americans have more than one Bible in their home. 47% claim to read it regularly. But do we know what we are reading? What is it? Letting the Bible speak for itself on this issue is fascinating.

The Bible was written by humans. Duh. But have you ever let that sink in? The authors of Scripture were just like us. They were deeply flawed and needed grace as much as we do. Moses and David were murderers and yet they wrote or at least passed on orally, a significant portion of the Hebrew Bible. Paul had a wicked temper and yet he wrote most of the New Testament. These were fallen, fallible people. We should not expect them to be perfect in writing what they wrote. They often got the facts wrong. Just read the resurrection accounts. Harmonizing all the different perspectives is almost impossible. Moses thought the earth was flat and that the Sun was the center of the universe. The editors of Deuteronomy thought it was okay to wipe out whole people groups.

The Bible was written by fallible, fallen ancient people who lived in particular historical and cultural situations. 

The Bible was also inspired by God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that God breathed into the Bible. No one quite knows what that means, but we can guess. God did not dictate to a group of stenographers each word of the Bible. He did lead them through His Spirit just as he leads us. The life of God was in the writers. Not in an inerrant way. The Bible never uses that term to describe itself. Is a sunset inerrant? No, but it is inspiring. Is a healthy marriage inerrant? No, but makes it life-giving. Is a newborn baby inerrant? No, but God breathes life into every child ever born. Is a song that brings tears to your eyes inerrant? No, but it is inspired. Unless its Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, in which case the inerrant category does apply :). God breathes life into so many facets of creation, but that does not mean those acts of creation are inerrant. That category does not work, but inspiration does. God’s breath and life are in the Bible just as they are in us.

Jesus understood the Scriptures better than anyone ever has. He, therefore, knew their purpose. He said, “You study the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:29). The purpose of the Bible is to lead us to Jesus to find life. To become truly human as we grow in his likeness.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it this way. “We must read this book of books with all human methods. But through the fragile and broken Bible, God meets us in the voice of the Risen One."'

Ron JohnsonComment