is the Bible all about?
an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now
in exchange for something after death."
the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to
us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Cor. 1:18 NASB
8.1 More than one book.
The Bible is actually
not one book, but a collection of sixty-six individual books and letters.
These books and letters were written by fifty separate authors, of various
occupations, from many countries, in three languages. 1
The dates of authorship span a period of time exceeding 1,500 years. The
literary forms employed include diaries, biographies, history, law, poetry,
The biblical authors
were largely isolated from each other by centuries, cultures, and continents.
Yet all the books of the Bible relate their teachings with perfect consistency
of viewpoint and accuracy. Christians believe that those teachings on knowing
God, and knowing about love, ethics, and a coming judgment are relevant
to all cultures for all time.
The writings collectively
tell the continuous story of God's redemption of mankind. The Bible
and Jewish tradition record that in the beginning of human history, God
communicated directly with individuals. As time progressed, God divinely
to write down that which was to serve to edify future generations. Ever
since the first century AD when Christ completed his ministry on earth,
and Jerusalem was shortly thereafter destroyed (subsequently dispersing
Christ's followers across the world), those inspired writings have continued
to serve as God's voice on earth.
The collection of inspired
writings is referred to as the Bible, Scripture, the scriptures, the message,
God's Word, or simply the Word. God's Word exists to serve as humanity's
God-given moral authority over our dealings with both God and with each
8.2 Old and New Testaments
The Bible is divided
into the books of the Old Covenant or Old Testament (O.T.) and the New Covenant
or New Testament (N.T.). The O.T. documents were written before Christ's
birth, and the N.T. afterwards. F. F. Bruce summarizes:
The books of the Old
Covenant, then, tell how God made necessary preparation for the sending
of his Son to inaugurate the New Covenant. The books of the New Covenant
tell how the Son of God came to do this and set forth the implications
of this New Covenant. Both collections speak alike of Christ; it is he
who gives unity to each and to both together. The former collection looks
forward with hope to his appearance and work; the latter tells how that
hope was fulfilled. 2
A major emphasis
of the Old Testament is the special setting apart of God's people. God
matured a group people for his use in the form of the nation of Israel.
They were intended to be his spokespersons to the world, and their nation
purposed to produce God's holy Messiah. It was while they, Israel, were
being held in subjection to Roman forces that Christ was born. Not long
after Christ's ministry and atoning death outside Israel's capitol of Jerusalem,
Rome utterly destroyed the city.
The destruction of Jerusalem
had the effect of forcibly dispersing the many witnesses to Christ's ministry
and miracles into and throughout the entire world. The effective dissolution
of the nation of Israel at this opportune time, and in this particular manner,
was like scattering the seeds of a head of wheat into the wind. Jewish and
Gentile (non-Jewish) believers spread out across the globe taking with them
the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ.
The emphasis of the
New Testament is Jesus Christ, who was the promised Messiah (or Christ)
of the Old Testament. These books and letters document Jesus' life,
death, and resurrection. They exist to tell successive generations about
Jesus, and to guide them by his teachings. These writings also include Christ's
promise to physically return to the earth. This event the Bible often refers
to as the last day.
The arrival of the last
day will be in an era the Bible describes as increasingly wicked and full
of people who are lovers of pleasure, money, and themselves rather than
lovers of God. His return will then precipitate a physical resurrection
of the dead, the destruction of the earth, the judgment of every person,
and a restoration of a new heavens and a new earth.
8.3 What were sacrifices all about?
A prominent feature
of the Old Testament is or was the sacrifice offering for sin. The sacrifices,
ritual laws, and historical examples within the O.T. revealed faith to be
God's solution for saving mankind from the penalty for sin. Faith in
the practice of sacrifice was real, but the practice itself only symbolically
foreshadowed that which would actually provide our salvation: the (then
future) death of Christ.
Sacrifice involved four
distinct elements as exemplified within this passage: "If someone's offering
is a fellowship offering, and he offers an animal from the herd, whether
male or female, he is to present before the Lord an animal without defect.
He is to lay his hand on the head of his offering and slaughter it at the
entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Then Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle
the blood against the altar on all sides" (Lev. 3:1,2 NIV).
Here are the four major
symbolism's involved in making that sacrifice:
- The sacrifice
presented had to be perfect: It had to be perfect so it could be properly
seen as dying in substitution of others, not just dying for its own sinful
lack of perfection.
- Man's sin was
imputed, or transferred, to the sacrifice: The death of the sacrificial
substitute then effectively carried away, or atoned for, the sin from
whom it had been transferred; the transferree(s) now sin free.
- The killing of
the sacrifice: Because the penalty for sin is death, the substitute
bearing the imputed sin had to die. The victim's blood, symbolizing its
life, had to be shed.
- The sprinkling
of the blood: This indicated publicly and firmly that the sin bearer
had died and that God's justice was now satisfied and complete.
How is this representative
of the death of Jesus Christ? The Bible also makes this clear:
- Christ alone is
perfect: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize
with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way
just as we are - yet was without sin." (Heb. 4:15 NIV)
- The sins of God's
people were imputed to Christ: "...the punishment that brought
us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed... and the Lord
laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa. 53:5,6 NIV)
- Christ died for
us: "He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves;
but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having
obtained eternal redemption." (Heb. 9:12 NIV)
- The sprinkling
of his blood: "...to God's elect... who have been chosen through
the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and
sprinkling by his blood." (1 Pet 1:1,2 NIV).
8.4 What is judgment all about?
Considering the judgment
which the Bible prophecies for the end of the world, and realizing that
we have all sinned, life is not so much being on trial before God as it
is awaiting sentencing. The penalty for sin is death, and we have all sinned
(see What is the
Although everyone dies
physically, the debt we owe to God is infinite. The Psalms state this as
"no payment is ever enough" (49:7,8 NIV). This is why it can only
take a death of infinite value, God in Christ, to fully satisfy our debt.
This may also be why hell is forever: in order to pay our debt for sin,
either a life of infinite value (Christ) must die for a finite time, or
a life of finite value (such as ours) must die for an infinite time.
After judgment, God
promises believers a resurrection into perfect, everlasting bodies for dwelling
among a new heaven and a new earth in his presence and bearing his character.
Those who did not believe will also inherit an everlasting body. Sadly,
they will be cast into the same hell which was meant for Satan and the angels
who followed him.
NEXT: About the site
An eternity in hell
is "fair" punishment?
Principles of God's