1.2 What Makes the Bible so Special?
If you’ve dropped into this topic from the Q&A page, this is the second post in a six-part series that questions why anyone should bother to read the Bible today.
Wherever I’ve travelled during the past 30 years, and to whatever culture that I have come on any of the continents, one question seems to be at the top of any discussion related to ‘a higher order of things’ and that is: With so Many Other Books to Read What makes the Bible so Special?
Amazingly, the answer is simple:
“…the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword. It pierces as far as dividing soul and spirit, joints and bone from marrow, and it judges the thoughts, intentions and attitudes of the heart.”[i]
Wow! That sounds powerful! But what does that mean?
Well … there’s two things about this Bible verse that’s important right at the start:
- When it talks about the Word of God, the God it speaks of is the same God who appeared to Moses in the second book of the Bible. He is the Creator God: God Most High (according to the ancient Middle Eastern people) or ShangDi – the Supreme Sovereign (according to the Ancient Chinese). What’s interesting is that when He first identified Himself to Moses in the second book in the Bible, He called Himself: I AM.
So His very name tells us up front now that the Creator God is a Present Tense God. If the English saying is right: ‘tomorrow never comes’, then the Creator God could say of Himself: “I AM today what I was yesterday, and I will be tomorrow the same as I AM today.” His nature doesn’t change.[ii] If He was God Most High or ShangDi – the Supreme Sovereign in Ancient times, then He is the Most High God and the Supreme Sovereign today. He is today for us the same person who He has always been and just the same as He was back then. The reason why this is true of Him is because He resides outside of what we understand as ‘time’. Time is only a phenomenon that relates to the earth’s rotation and revolutions around our sun. The Creator of the Universe is “transcendent” – He transcends (and is not limited to) the physics of the time and space that He has created and uses as a functional tool within His own creation. Three thousand years ago was just like yesterday to Him and He remembers perfectly the conversations, events and His instructions within them, as if they only took place yesterday.
- Because He’s a present tense God, the nature of His purposes and instructions aren’t changeable either.[iii]
If, as the Supreme Sovereign, His instructions held supreme authority and were 100 percent relevant in what we call ‘ancient times’ then they have to be just as acceptable, adaptable and understandable for present day life, and just as they were first spoken and applied to what had once been ‘the present’ back then. In other words, the Creator God’s Word moves with Him from yesterday into today. So His Word will always be relevant in the present. That’s why the Bible verse above can say that it’s living and active. It’s alive and moves on with time. But in addition to the time element, our Creator’s Word transcends our geographical and cultural limits. This means that it actively interacts in the present with those who are currently reading it. Therefore no matter what language the words are translated into, every generation in any culture can read it in the present, and can take ownership of the words anytime, anywhere, to learn from it in any situation they find themselves presently in.
Apart from being the only book to ever claim to be living and active…
– It’s one of three ways for knowing beyond reasonable doubt that the Creator God could exist in the first place.
– It’s a specific message to those who have been made by God. It’s the Maker’s Handbook for humankind who have been created in His image: His ‘image-bearers’ both male and female.
– The faultless or perfect Creator God is the author behind the script writers. Therefore, His Word in it’s original language is without fault because He is without fault.
– The teaching and stories have been supernaturally preserved by the Creator God’s Holy Spirit for more than four millennia. They have then been handed down to us in such perfect detail that the record includes intimate details of private conversations thousands of years before digital recordings or computer databases were invented. The current text that we now have is taken from more than 20,000 existing manuscripts that date back almost two thousand years. These Biblical manuscripts are the largest collection in the world of any form of ancient literature. The quality and quantity of manuscripts that have survived far surpass any other ancient documents known to literary science. The matter of their existence in itself is a modern day miracle.
– Because it comes from our blueprint designer, it’s like bread and water that feeds our soul – it’s what our spirit feeds on.
Ok, wow again! But with all that said, it could be still confusing. So, let me give you some background information …
There’s three ways to know your Maker – the One who knitted you together in your mother’s womb and who made you in His own image:
1. We have the created universe around us.
Nature shows us several things about its Creator: (a) His divinity – creation shows that there’s someone else out there who has a level of authority, capacity and ability that’s well above humans; (b) His eternal power – just take a close look at some NASA images of our own sun that He has created by His own power, and that’s not even a big star; and (c) His invisible qualities – His beauty, intelligence and creativity. Our world and the universe serve as our greatest object lesson. According to the Maker’s Handbook, we’re now without an excuse because none of us can ignore what we’re encased in.[v] So through the created world clearly visible, we’re given what’s called the Creator God’s ‘general revelation’. The artwork tells us some things about the artist.
2. We have all been given a conscience.
This is part of our blueprint design, having been created in Father God’s own image. But it is also what was originally known as ‘the knowledge of good and evil’ that humans took for themselves in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of the story.[iv] Apart from having emotional responses to good and bad/positive and negative, the proof of having this ‘knowledge of good and evil’, lies with the fact that we now all die. In the original story in the third chapter of the first book – the Book of Genesis, gaining this additional knowledge meant separation from the Tree of Life. This eventually led to unavoidable mortality. So, logically, I could say that if 100 percent of us die at some point, then 100 percent of all normal, thinking humans who can rational process information should likewise admit that we also have a conscience – a knowledge of good and evil. According to the Maker’s Handbook, the two are now inseparable. But there is one more thing. Having been made in the image of God, His own Holy Spirit interacts with our heart, mind and soul in bringing us to a knowledge of our Maker, Father God. Even after travelling to more than 80 countries, I have never met a person yet who has read the Bible cover to cover (from Genesis to Revelation) and who still does not believe. God’s Holy Spirit works with our inbuilt conscience to confirm our Maker’s Words. No-one can come to have faith in the Creator God without the inner work of both His Word and His Spirit upon their heart and mind.
3. We have what’s called ‘the Specific Revelation of God’.
So most importantly of all, you can come to know your Maker through His own communication to YOU. His ‘manufacturer’s guidebook’ for the Life that He created and documented in the Scriptures, written over 15 centuries by Jewish authors (apart from two) and compiled into a library of 66 books and commonly called ‘The Bible’. To read more about why it is that more than one third of the world’s population also believes that, while the universe is the ‘General Revelation of God’, the Bible has been miraculously preserved specifically for humankind to read today, then just click on to my next post 1.3: The Creator God’s Specific Revelation