The Bible is without a doubt the most popular book in all of history. It has sold more copies than any other book ever published and continues to be the most purchased text today. That can be perceived in many ways. It could be because of the compelling narrative of the Scriptures. Stories like David and Bathsheba read like a popular episode of the latest TV drama. It could be because of it’s great literary value as the book contains poetry, lyrics, narrative, history, and apocalyptic genres that are all great writings in and of themselves. However, I believe that the reason for the popularity of the Word of God through out time is a great reflection of man’s search for redemption and hope and thankfully humanity seems to be searching in the right place.
The Bible is not only a book about God, it is God. John 1:1-4 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” The “Word” in this passage is referring to Christ himself and helps us to see that these Scriptures are not simply about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit they are the heart of the Godhead revealed to us. It’s through the Holy Scriptures that we see who God is, what he does, and how we are to reflect his glory ever more clearly in our lives. Our lives are lived in response to God and response requires revelation. To reflect God we must see God and learn about the truth of who he is and what he has done. It is by his Word in which we do so. The Bible is the full truth of who God is. However, it is true that we see God in other places as well. Look at what Psalm 19:1-4 says:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
We see God in nature. He is all around us and the earth and the heavens tell of his glory. We can also see the glory of God in our marriages, our children, and in art, but all of these things are devoid of the thing we need to see most about God; his holiness. It’s his holiness that reveals to us our need for redemption and only through his Word do we get a clear picture of what we truly deserve and what Christ did on the cross to rescue our souls from the wrath of our just and holy Father. God reveals himself in many ways, but only the Bible is the full revelation of God and the full truth of how we are called as his children to live lives in response to his amazing grace.
God’s plan for redemption unfolds like a beautiful sovereign tapestry throughout the entirety of the Holy Scriptures. In the beginning God showed us about the importance of faith in his relationships with Abraham, Noah, and Joseph. These men had no laws to live by until God gave the 10 commandments to Moses later. Their relationships with God weren’t about keeping the law they were about faith. Which is why these great men are later referred to by the writer of Hebrews in what many Christians refer to as “The Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. These great patriarchs showed their faith in God and went to be with him in eternity. I am often asked how those in the Old Testament, especially before the presentation of the law and the covenant, would come into eternal life and salvation with God and the answer is less complex than most think. They were saved through faith. They were saved through their faith in God and their faith manifested itself in their obedience to God’s commands. They had no written laws, but when these men heard from God they obeyed and were revered as fathers of not only the Jewish faith, but of the Christian faith as well.
After the presentation of the laws to Moses and his communicating of them to the Hebrew nation they still were saved by faith. They had faith just like the previously mentioned patriarchs that if they obeyed God he would be faithful to forgive them. So as the Jews followed the law that was given to them God had his hand of favor firmly upon them, but when they would rebel God would remove his hand. This became a vicious cycle for the Israelites. The would be living in harmony with God then they would disobey. God would then warn them through a prophet to return to him and obey him. The Hebrews wouldn’t listen and God would turn his back on them. The nation would then beg for God to rescue them and in his mercy and justice he would. God sovereignly new that this covenant wouldn’t last forever and through out the Old Testament spoke prophecies and words that a new covenant would one day come by way of a Savior, but it wouldn’t just be for the Israelites.
In Isaiah 60:3 the prophet spoke these words, “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.” When God chose the Israelites as his people he knew that his story of redemption was not just for them, but for all creation and that the Jews would be the “light” by which the rest of the world would find hope and salvation.
In his unmatched divine wisdom God orchestrated a sovereign symphony to crescendo with the birth of Christ right at the crux of all time. In the days when BC switched to AD the birth of the Savior of the world transpired and he began fulfilling more than 300 prophecies about him found in the Old Testament. Once, the people had to have faith that if they fulfilled the laws of God then God in his faithfulness would forgive them, but under the New Covenant they simply had to believe in the one who had come to perfectly fulfill the law and the prophecies once and for all. Christ declared this about himself in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Also, when Christ was transfigured on the mountain before his 3 closest disciples in Matthew 17 he appeared with Elijah, the greatest prophet to the Jews, and Moses, to whom God revealed the law. Jesus is salvation come. Not just for Israel but for the entire world. His death and resurrection tore the curtain in the temple and fully satisfied the wrath of God. This was the beautiful manifestation of both God’s infinite mercy and perfect justice. But this story of redemption and hope presses on in the Word of God.
Jesus returns to the Father after his resurrection where he sits at his right hand. He has empowered believers since the day at Pentecost by the Holy Spirit and given Christians the promise that they will do even greater things because he was going to be with the Father. That promise came true at Pentecost in one way as more people came to know Christ as Lord and Savior on that day than during Jesus’ entire earthly ministry. God gave us the Holy Spirit by which to live in the power of the resurrection and as the church grew throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Europe God gave us the letters to the churches, or Epistles, in his Word to instruct us on how to live out the Christian life. The central way God shares the love and salvation that only comes through Jesus is through the lives and testimonies of those who believe. Therefore, much of the doctrine of Christian churches is derived from the letters of Paul, Peter, and other writers of the New Testament Epistles. These writers tell us how to live out our faith that we may be used by God in reflecting his truth to those who do not know him. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” God wants our lives to shine his love so that the world may believe in the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.
Paul tells us in his second letter to the church at Corinth 3:18, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” When Moses had seen the glory of the Lord he had to veil his face as to hide the glory of God from the Israelites. They could not behold it, but we have been made holy by Christ and Paul calls us to remove the veil and let the glory of Christ shine through our lives. He also says that glory should be “ever-increasing”. We should be growing in the degree to which we reflect Christ. We should be becoming more like Christ in the way we live our lives.
It’s this command that stirs my heart back to what the Bible really is. It is the revelation of God. If I want to be more like God, if I want to reflect his glory ever-increasingly then I need his Holy Word. It is the perfect truth of who he is and tells the story of why I need the sacrifice of God to rectify my relationship with God. It’s true that I can see the glory of God in creation, art, relationships, etc… but I can only know the truth of his love, redemption, and grace by loving, absorbing, and living out the truth revealed to me through his one and only Holy Word. This is why the Word of God has been and always will be the most influential book of all time. It is faith, hope, and love incarnate and the only place that man will find his life to lose it.
Thank you God for your Holy Word.