It will lead you you God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit too.
The Bible is an essential part of the Christian faith. Christians hold it in varying degrees to be the Word of God. To me this means that every word was inspired by God in its original and that on any one point God speaks what we should know through the whole Bible.
Any systematic teaching of Christian Doctrine will begin by establishing the centrality of the Bible to a true knowledge of God and his will.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (English Standard Version)
“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 competent, equipped for every good work.”
But knowing the facts and teachings of the Bible do not make a Christian.
John 3:16 (English Standard Version)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Knowledge about God does not mean we know God. But if we know God, Christians believe you can only gain knowledge about him through the Christian Bible. At each stage of its writing the Bible was complete and now with the completion of the Christian Bible, it contains everything we need to know about God for salvation. Essentially what everyone needs to know is that in Christ crucified we are saved. This is experienced through the working of God the Holy Spirit. Without the Bible telling us, we could not know this and realise it in our lives. Without the Bible we could not understand why we need to be saved, the nature of God or his means of grace.
This knowledge has been gained through the writings of ordinary men in their work-a-day languages through poetry, epics, prose, letters and proverbs. God chose each word and phrase of some forty authors’ writings to reveal himself to us.
Each of the sixty six books that makes up the Bible, written over 1500 years, needs interpreting for our understanding. The ordinary languages they were written in are for the most part dead. There is little doubt about the authenticity of the text and it is generally accepted that the text being translated is close to, if not identical to, the original. The job of the translator is to communicate the meaning of the text. This is done by word for word translations or by attempting to bring out the intended meaning through contemporary phrases and idioms. The whole process is open to scrutiny and criticism and certainly in English we have a wealth of translations.
Aside from the original writing of the books, there was no supernatural moment when the Bible was brought together; no blinding flash. Christians believe that the Bible is as it exists today, according to the tradition of the church though the content is certainly not there because of tradition. Tradition is wholly different in the understanding of the church, being its creeds, doctrines and, to some extent, liturgy and structures.
The books of the Christian Bible are complete, attested to and agreed by all Christian churches. Some churches have apocryphal texts but do not believe these to have authority. In fact, the canon of scripture seems to be one of the few areas of tradition where Christians have unity! The New Testament scriptures we have are the same as those of Irenaeus, a 2nd century bishop of Smyrna, whose boy hood mentor was Polycarp, a friend of the John of the Gospels. The New Testament canon (list of books) was set out by Athanasius in his Easter letter of 367 and included all the books from Hebrews to Revelation which had been a matter of regional variation from the 2nd century. Apart from faith, Christians can be secure in believing the scriptures we have to be reliable and trustworthy. That is not to say there are no problems with the text but Christians believe they can be resolved through study and that in no way will the integrity of the scriptures be undermined.
The world view contained in the Bible is that God created the universe; the Earth is special and men and women were created to live on it for God’s good pleasure. Through the sin of the first man called Adam, sin entered the whole of creation. What was created to be good is now subject to futility and death. It is hard to grasp, but everyone has a sense of this futility and feels the wrath God, but we can only know why through the Bible. The God of the Bible is just and merciful which again we could only know from the Bible. By nature we stand against him and our choice separates us from him eternally. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross the way back to God is open to all. By God’s sovereign work our eyes are opened to this and we receive a new nature which chooses to follow him. Jesus is shown to be God the Son who restores us and sets us apart for God’s pleasure eternally. The Bible teaches this and reveals that it is not by a work of our own effort, an effort to do better or study harder, but a supernatural work of his grace. At no point does the Bible allow that we are saved by our own effort.
The Bible in its writings teaches its own centrality to this world view and its authority to do so, but also its own inefficacy to save us. Jesus, speaking to a Scripture teacher of his time, says,
John 5:37-40 (English Standard Version)
And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
which is a word for word translation or, if you prefer a near contemporary version,
John 5:37-40 (The Message)
“But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John’s witness. It’s the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.
“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.”
This is God’s grace as nothing can separate us from God’s love which is given to us by the Father, through Jesus and the action of the Holy Spirit. In this the Bible speaks to us and presents the foundations of his truth which is why it is an essential book for our times and central to the Christian faith.