What The Bible Is?
The question “What is the Bible?” has been asked for as long as there has been a Bible to speak of. Many books have been published and are in the process of being published or being written at this moment to answer this seemingly basic answer. Some answers are accepted, others are rejected, yet with each person who speaks or writes on this question there seems to be endless ways of answering it. I have considered this question and read some of those books. I have even written on it before. I have an understanding of the Bible. Yet, there is still much for me to learn and contemplate when it comes to the Bible and that is why I am here at UD. I hope that my years here will help me better understand what the Bible is and how to apply it to my life and help others do the same.
The bible is full of truth, beauty, grace, wisdom, and story. If used properly the bible can and will transform your life. By properly, I mean we should read the bible seriously without trying to read anything into the text and praying about what we think the bible is saying to us. It has transformed and still is transforming me. If you just read the words and don’t dig deep, you can easily miss the beauty, wisdom, and mystery. If you take the bible only literally you don’t read it like it should be read. We should read study and apply the bible to our life. The bible is not ‘Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.’
The bible is an amazing collection of wisdom and story. I say take the bible seriously and not literally. Read the bible in context and don’t forget that the Bible is an ancient book, written not for our time, and shouldn’t be used to validate personal agendas. The Bible is a living text because while the writing of it happened a long time ago it still speaks to the reader today. There are no clear answers. It forces the reader to dig and think.
Through the reading and studying, I have begun to see the Bible as a story told in six acts. We often only hear or read chunks and not the entirety of it. Failure to see the Bible as whole makes us miss the grand story that it is telling. This six-act paradigm helps us the bible as a whole.
1. Creation—the creation story found in the first three chapters of Genesis reveals Humanity’s purpose. Humans were to exercise dominion over the world in a loving selfless way mirroring the way God rules the world.
2. The Fall—Tragically, given the choice Humans rebelled rather than accepting God’s love and His invitation to submit to His will, this is the tragic fall of Humanity from God. Even after the fall into sin, we see God’s inexhaustible love and instead of giving death, He gives life. Even though, we rejected him God had a plan to reconcile us with love.
3. Redemption Initiated—In spite of our rebellion, God had a plan to reconcile humanity to Him. That plan was to become human in Jesus. To prepare for the coming of one man, Jesus; God prepared one people, Israel. God offered himself to them as their loving Father provided they would be loyal to him alone. Israel was to be God’s Kingdom; the place where God’s will is done.
4. Redemption Accomplished—Even though, we reject the awesome love of God, He does not and He will not give up on us. He does all He can to invite us in, to woe us to His love. In Jesus, God became flesh and lived among us. Jesus announced the arrival of God’s Kingdom in a fuller form. He himself embodied the rule of God. In his death on a cross, Jesus showed the depth of God’s love for us. Jesus, the embodiment of the Kingdom invites us to walk with him there.
5. The Mission of the Church—those who accept the invitation to walk with Jesus comprise the Church. It is not about believing the right things or joining the right group but becoming a disciple of Jesus and following Him step-by-step. It is only in union with Christ that we embody God’s Kingdom and become truly ourselves, who we were really meant to be. The church is not an institution or a building but a living, breathing relationship.
6. Redemption Completed—God has an end purpose in mind for creation, an end He is working towards now. The church is (should be) living out the new Creation purposes now. God’s Kingdom is now and not yet. Jesus did not just come to save us from our sins, but for himself. He invites us to be his disciples, to embrace love even though it means going to the cross, following Him into Kingdom life.
Science writer Clifford Pickover says, “The bible is an alternate-reality device. It gives its readers a glimpse of other ways of thinking and of other worlds. We are not always sure of the intended message. We only know that the bible reflects and changes humankind’s deepest feelings. At a minimum, the bible is a fascinating model of human understanding–of how we reach across cultures to connect with one another and learn about what we hold as sacred.” I like that. What Pickover is saying is that whether you accept that the world the Bible speaks about, the kingdom of God is a reality or not you can be shaped by its vision of the life now and in the future. By simply reading the Bible you can enter a new way of living in the world.
Pastor Bruxy Cavey calls the bible the holy hand grenade. “…the bible, a document designed to blow up religion from the inside out, with the teachings of Jesus functioning as the pin. So, when you pick up a bible, consider that you are holding an explosive device. I see the bible as a holy hand grenade, for it invites us into a way of living that makes religion superfluous, exploding its monopoly on God.” Cavey’s book The End of Religion says that by doing life with Jesus we end the religious striving and enter a relationship that is about becoming who God created you to be from the beginning. For Cavey and many like him (including myself) Christianity is not about religion but relationship. This applies to reading the Bible and answering the question of what the Bible is about.
The Bible is a story about what God has done, is doing and will do. God created a good creation and when man messed up he restored man again and again, and then sent Jesus to reconcile all of creation. The Bible is a story about man’s place in the world and what it means now and later to have faith and live by grace.
I have fully committed myself to reading, studying and applying the bible to my life in a real way. I intend to follow Jesus in a real way. I pray that God will use the bible to guide my life in healthy and loving way and that through me many will be blessed.
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