Definition: The Bible
As the FIEC declaration of faith states:
"God has revealed Himself in the Bible, which consists of the Old and New Testaments alone. Every word was inspired by God through human authors, so that the Bible as originally given is in its entirety the Word of God, without error and fully reliable in fact and doctrine. The Bible alone speaks with final authority and is always sufficient for all matters of belief and practice."
But this definition may benefit from some further expansion:
- Firstly, Bible-believing Christians find the succinct definition of the scriptures in Paul's second letter to Timothy. (2 Timothy 3:16) NB 'ALL Scripture' - not just the bits of which we approve. This means that sometimes we need to understand and appreciate things that might be new to us.
- Secondly, although there are a lot of complicated things to understand, the Bible is not primarily a test of intellectual expertise. Even young children or those with limited intelligence or limited language skills may grasp on to the fundamental teachings of scripture. - Saving Faith is a gift of God (see Ephesians 3:8)
- In illustration of point 2, above, the account of Philip meeting up with the Ethiopian Eunuch is fascinating (see Acts 8:26). We can only guess that this important man had power, ability, influence and riches and yet he could not understand what he was reading. And what's more, he was obviously a serious and seeking soul - after all, he had travelled hundreds of miles to go up to worship in Jerusalem and had acquired at least some part of the scriptures (Isaiah ch.53).
- For some people, the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament can be challenging. One helpful saying might go some way to explaining this problem: "The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed."
- Another helpful saying is that "The work or promise of Jesus Christ can be seen on every page of the Bible." - This might be a surprise to some people but for Christians we can recognise that throughout the whole of the Old Testament there are hints about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world as Saviour and Friend. For the disciples of Jesus this understanding of 'the scriptures' was clearly spelt out by Jesus Himself. (See the full story in Luke ch.24)
- Some people, perhaps from other religious backgrounds, might look to the Bible as a 'Rule Book' on Rituals and 'obediences'. Immediately my mind goes back to the 'Ten Commandments' (see Exodus 20:1-17) and would suggest that the whole of the Bible explains to us how we ought to keep these commandments. (see Psalm 119:105).
- Jesus Himself expands upon our approach to the Ten Commandments as recorded in Luke 18:20. For this 'rich young ruler' his measure of commitment was to 'sell everything'. For us today the measure of commitment is simply offering our heart totally 'in full and glad surrender' and the fruits of the Holy Spirit will follow.
- Perhaps we should add one last point: NOTHING in our Holy Bible should be ignored or removed. Yes, somethings might be difficult to understand and we may need to wait upon the Holy Spirit's illumination to guide our understanding. Also, NOTHING should be added to what the Bible teaches. No rituals, no intermediaries nor 'pilgrimages', no prayers to anybody outside the Holy Trinity, usually praying to our Father via the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ. 'Nothing in my hand I bring' (see verse 3). Or as we read in Revelation 22:18-19