What is the Bible?

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This is lesson two in a 12 lesson Bible study for believers. This basic discipleship material covers the essentials of the Christian faith including Jesus, the Bible, God’s Word, God, Assurances, and what God expects of believers after they come to Christ. This study can be used to teach new believers, to brush up on your Bible basics, or to study on your own. The end of each lesson contains a list of questions and Bible references for further study on the topic of that lesson as well as a suggested memory verse. For more lessons in the series, see the links at the bottom of this page. All lessons can be printed, shared, copied, or distributed.

Bible Study for Beginners – Lesson Two- The Bible

What is the Bible?

The Bible is divided into two basic parts. These are called the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament contains more material than the New Testament. It was written before Jesus came. In the Old Testament we learn of God’s creation of the world, the fall of the world into sin, and the helplessness of humans to overcome this problem of sin. We see that even though God specifically chose and blessed a certain group of people, the Israelites, they still did not follow Him. Therefore the Old Testament establishes the fact that man needs a Savior and in it God promises that He will send one (Isaiah 49:6-7).

The New Testament was written after Jesus came and describes His life and how the good news of His death and resurrection spread across the world. It fulfills the prophecies in the Old Testament and shows us that God did send a Savior to the world to save humans from the terrible problem of sin (Matthew 1:21). It also contains many principles that God wants His children to know and follow.

Each section of the Bible is also divided into books. Each book is divided into chapters and verses, like a library, so that we can find the information we are looking for quickly. The Bible is sometimes called Scripture, which means holy writings. It is also referred to as God’s Word, because it comes from God to us.

What is the history of the Bible?

Unlike many religious books of other religions, the Bible is a historical book. The events and people recorded inside are actual. They are not exaggerated or made-up. God wants us to know what really happened. The events in the Bible cannot be disproved and in many cases have been verified through other historical sources as well as archaeology.

The first books of the Bible were written by Moses around 1500 B.C. The last book was completed by the disciple John before 100 A.D. Nearly forty authors wrote parts of the Bible and it was written in several languages. Yet amazingly it all fits together into one perfect, unified whole! The same theme of one problem – sin – and one solution – the Savior – unifies the entire book. If a group of men were required to write different chapters of a novel with no outline the result would be a mess. But the Bible has no contradictions!

The Bible was written thousands of years ago and mostly in Hebrew and Greek. So how can we be sure that what we have today is the same? In comparison with other classic books from history, there are far more manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments than any other book. These date back in some cases to within a hundred years of the original writings. The Jews had a very strict system for copying sacred writings. It was so strict that many copies were burned by the scribes because they weren’t copied accurately enough. The ones that are left are extremely accurate. After comparing the manuscripts, teams of experts then translate them into native languages of countries all over the world. The Chinese translation most commonly used, Chinese Union, was translated in 1919 and can be a little difficult to understand. Some newer translations are easier to understand.

The Bible stands up to criticisms because it is accurate and God has made sure that it has been preserved through history so that all of us can read it and know about our Creator and Savior. We can read it with confidence!

Where does the authority of the Bible come from?

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”(2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible is inspired by God. That means it is God-breathed. It came directly from God to us. God wants us to know about Him and His plan. He is all-powerful and certainly capable of giving His word to us. All the words and thoughts in the Bible from the first book of the Old Testament to the last are inspired by God. They are not man’s stories or ideas. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says,“no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” God supervised the process of the writing of Scripture so that it would tell us exactly what He wanted us to know with no mistakes. God has blessed us in a great way. We don’t have to live blindly in this world. We don’t have to go through life without knowing where we are from or what we are to do. God has spoken to us in His Word, the Bible, and we should listen! The world around us is dark, but His Word is “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” (Psalms 119:105).

Satan has led the world again and again to attack the truth of Scripture, but God’s Word will not be broken (John 10:35). It is historically accurate. Hundreds of detailed prophecies were recorded in the Old Testament and have been fulfilled. No person can predict the future so accurately, but God can. Just by reading the Bible people should be able to recognize its divine authority. Millions have been changed completely by reading it. The Bible has been translated into thousands of languages. Far more copies have been printed and spread than any other book. It has had a massive influence the world. Though many have attacked it and even tried to wipe it out (Diocletian in 303 A.D.) it stands strong. Jesus himself said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mark 13:31). The human authors were men of integrity and not afraid to write about their own sinful weaknesses. Take the time to read it and see that it is the power of God.

Is the Bible still useful today?

The Bible is a historical book, but it is not out-dated. It was written in another part of the world, but it was inspired by the God of the world for all people. It was written in a time when there were no computers, cars, airplanes, or cell phones. Times and cultures have definitely changed. However, people are basically the same. People two thousand years ago have basically the same needs and problems as people do today. They ask the same basic questions. People want to know how to treat parents, relatives, and spouses, and what they should do in their jobs. They ask where they come from and what the end of life will hold. They wonder what meaning can be found in life and what goals they should pursue.

The Bible has answers to all of life’s burning issues. High math often cannot be practiced in day to day life, but the Bible is practical and can be applied to all situations. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” God’s Word is living and active. It speaks to real people in real situations. The Bible is the most profound book in the world, but it is also the most practical. Again 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” God’s Word equips to live righteously in this world. It teaches us the way we should go, corrects us when we do wrong, trains us to be righteous, and prepares us to do what is right in any situation we will face.

We would strongly encourage you to get a copy of the Bible. The best place to begin reading would be the gospel of John in the New Testament. Make a schedule and begin to read at least a chapter a day so that you can begin to discover all of the treasures inside!

Questions for self-study:

  1. How do the following verses describe God’s Word? (Matthew 24:31 Peter 1:24-25.)  How should this affect what you should pursue in your life? Why?
  2. How can you begin to have faith or strengthen your faith in God (Romans 10:17)?
  3. What is God’s Word comparable to (Matthew 4:4, 1 Peter 2:2)? What must you do if you want to grow spiritually?
  4. How often did this group of New Testament believers study the Scriptures (Acts 17:11)? What was their goal in studying the Scriptures?
  5. After reading or listening to the Bible, then what should we do (Luke 6:47-49, James 2:22-25)? What are we compared to if we don’t act on what we learn?
  6. How will God treat us if we are ashamed of Him and of His Words in the Bible (Luke 9:26)?
  7. How will God view us if we follow His words (John 8:31-32)? How will the Bible impact our lives?
  8. Contrast the differences between the wisdom we learn in the world from the wisdom we learn from God in His Word (James 3:13-17).
  9. Explain how deeply God’s Word should influence your life and what kind of effects it should have in you (Colossians 3:16).
  10. What weapon do Christians have to fight with in the world (Ephesians 6:17)? How can we use this as a weapon?
Lesson 3: Assurances

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