What would you say if someone were to ask you, "define the Bible"? For years and years and years, my answer would have been, "It's the Word of God". Well, what's the Word of God? I would have said, "the Bible".
One of my hopes for this series is to provide you with a better, more helpful, more accurate, and user-friendly answer. In any undertaking of study, the first essential is to define the area of study. So, if we are to study the Bible, we need to be clear about what it is. And, by now you know, that is not a short answer.
The Bible is a collection of 66 ancient books, written by over 40 authors over 1500 years. It contains different genres, including history, poetry, narrative, prophecy, and law. Each book was written to diverse audiences at different times for specific time-bound purposes.
Even people with no faith do not dispute those facts. But we cannot stop there in defining it, because when read carefully, an amazing discovery is revealed. There is one consistent and unified story running throughout this library. This is why people of faith believe the Bible is "inspired". That the Holy Spirit somehow co-wrote these volumes, with the human authors, for God's purpose.
That leads me to another hope I have for this series: That you fully embrace the divine purpose for which we have the Bible: To make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ, and teach you how to live like Christ (said most succinctly in 2 Timothy 3:15-16). Use it for something else and you misuse it. Period.
This leads me to another hope that I have for this series, which is to explain how the Bible makes you wise.
In other words, how does an ancient library of Holy Spirit inspired books - that are oftentimes confusing, sometimes send mixed or unclear messages, and are often difficult to follow or understand - interact with you to give you wisdom for life in Christ and like Christ?
This is what we will dive into today, but let me print something here that will not only begin to answer this question, but will, if you allow it to, free you from feeling overwhelmed ever again when you read it.
It is this: The Bible demands that you wrestle with it.
I'll unpack that a bit more today, but just know that when you read scripture and something in it is unknown or unfamiliar to you, or better yet, something seems off or in need of deeper understanding, or even better, if something in the text seems to contradict with something else written elsewhere... YOU ARE PRECISELY WHERE GOD WANTS YOU TO BE.
Why? Because no one - and I mean no one - grows wise for anything - let alone salvation in Christ and life like Christ - without going through some kind of tension. This is what makes God's words "living and active".
Remember that our last teaching in this series will be a Q & A, so send in those questions!
Questions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to addresse it in this series.