What Is The Bible Actually About?
People reasonably ask the question: what is the Bible actually about? I suspect that many people, including me earlier in life, tried to read it but got bogged down in seemingly irrelevant stories of snakes and trees, incomprehensible laws and a lot of blood and gore.
Understanding the overriding message is not quick and I suspect that many give up before they have any real understanding. The Bible is a complex book containing history, instruction and prophesy. Having all this boiled down into a few explanatory sentences, without leaving out crucial information, would certainly have helped me overcome the initial hurdle; but it is not easy to do. Nevertheless, the following is my attempt at a simple explanation of what the Bible tells us.
The Bible Message
God exists. [Isaiah 45:18]
He created everything by his will: he spoke it into existence through His Word which was eventually to become a man, Jesus the Christ [John 1:3].
God is spirit, yet he made man “in his own image” [Genesis 1:27], meaning that man, unlike animals;
- is capable of discerning, and having communication with, God – assuming we want and try to do so [Deuteronomy 4:29]
- is capable of reason
- has free will.
God’s purpose for us was that we should be in fellowship with him. God wants a large family: a perfect eternal society.
However, mankind (Adam and Eve) was persuaded by Satan to sin – to break God’s laws and turn away from Him [Genesis 3].
The penalty for sin is death [Genesis 2:17], both to the body and the soul [Ezekiel 18:20]. This is an immutable law of creation, just as the mathematical constant pi, which describes a circle, is always equal to 3.141, so the immutable law just is. God sees this immutable law as fair and right [Ezekiel 18:29], but it is only applied if the lawbreaker knows, or should know, the law. [Luke 12:47-48, John 15:22]. (At the end of time everyone will know God and his laws [Matt 24:14] and will be judged by them.) If God were to change that law it would make him a liar, unreliable and untrustworthy, but God is the same before, now and always [James 1:17]. Unlike humans, He must be utterly inflexible so that we can absolutely rely on what He tells us.
Just as God gave Job over to Satan in the Book of Job, after Adam’s sin God has given the whole world over to Satan [2 Corinthians 4:4]. We walk in “darkness” and are destined for death – spiritual as well as physical – unless we come to the “light” through our belief and trust in Jesus.
Mankind’s sentence was commuted by God’s own Son who died for our sins
When the Israelites broke God’s immutable law, God symbolically reminded them of the lethal consequences by requiring them to kill a lamb as a sacrifice to God. Of course ultimately all mankind suffers the consequences of Adam’s sin physically, when our bodies die.
God loves his creation and he loves us, so it is not his will that any of us should die and He gives us time to come to him and ask for forgiveness. [Ezekiel 18:32, 2 Peter 3:9]
Since we are all sinners [Romans 3:10], if God was to save us He needed a way that applied the immutable law, but commuted the sentence. Killing an animal could not atone for the sins of mankind; something much more powerful was necessary. So, as he had promised through symbolism to Abraham when he demanded the sacrifice of his son Isaac and then effectively commuted the sentence by providing a lamb instead of the boy [Genesis 22:8], mankind’s sentence would be commuted when God provided his own Son to die for our sins in place of us [John 3:16]. Thus Jesus is the lamb of God who took upon himself all the sins of the world.
The terrible suffering that Christ endured for us on the cross contrasts starkly with the easy-going religion of today. It is important to understand that Christ’s death commuted the sentence for past sins, not all sin [Hebrews 10:26] as many churches teach.
The gospel, is the “Good News” that we can be resurrected to eternal life by believing in Jesus and his teaching, asking for forgiveness of our sins, publicly declaring our allegiance to Christ and walking in daily conversation with God. When we do that with genuine desire, God helps us to understand, not be tempted, and hear His desires for us through the Holy Spirit. All true Christians have the Holy Spirit [Romans 8:9]. The proof of this is in our changed character as we seek to be more Christ-like in our behaviour.
So, what is the Bible actually about? Ultimately, you could say it is about survival, but for me it is about truth, because without it there are only lies.
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