God has and is always trying to reveal himself to us. He does that through creation – go out tonight and check out the stars (God of the telescope) or check out one of those CSI type TV shows and notice the complexity of the human body (God of the microscope). He also speaks through our conscience and through other people.
The major way he speaks however is through his son Jesus Christ. Maybe you know him. Maybe you’ve heard of him. We can read about Jesus and God speaking to us in the Bible.
Some people think the bible is a fantasy story like Peter Pan. Others like Killah Priest think it stand for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (B.I.B.L.E). For millions and billions around the earth today and for the past couple thousand years it’s a sacred holy text that forms the backbone of their faith. How about you? What do you think about the bible? How do you view it?
The Bible is a book, but more than a book. It is stories, prayers, songs, visions, sermons, and conversations that invite us into a large world where the invisible God has a plan for the visible world. We read books for school to learn information. We also read to be inspired, entertained, get wisdom and learn stuff like how to pass our learners test for driving and get our ‘L’. While the bible may speak to some of these areas, it’s main purpose is to point to God, share the story of His love for his creation and make us familiar with his character, ways, world and plan for us.
Are you interested in finding out the scoop on what it’s all about – the purpose of life, who we are, where we came from, where are we going, what went wrong along the way, what’s the solution and how we should we live?
AUDIENCE AND VALUE
The amazing thing about the Bible is that it is simple, yet profound and doesn’t require a password or key to get access. While it’s easily accessible by anyone who can read – even a child – it can also boggle and mystify the most intelligent mind. So take heart if it confuses you, you’re not alone!
It’s also kind of like a reality show – even though it was written thousands of years ago. It’s the real deal as it speaks to the ugliness, mess and pain of our world– including affairs (adultery), lying, murder, rape, fear, insecurity, masturbation, sibling jealousy and a lot more.
As you read through the pages you’ll discover it tells the truth even when it hurts us to hear it and doesn’t promise easy and quick answers to our problems although it does show how God can sometimes blow us away with his miracles. It speaks to all people past and present about how to believe, be truly and totally alive and offers forgiveness for the past, hope for the future and guidance and peace for the present. Books like Proverbs or James tell us how we can fill our lives with greater meaning and books by the prophets often have them taking a stance against evil practices and injustices in their culture. The Psalms is poetry that shares honest feelings from the heart both the good and the bad. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will paint the picture of the life and message of Jesus. Genesis will take you on a journey through the beginning of the world and 1 & 2 Kings or 1 & 2 Samuel will give you a glimpse into the history of God’s people – the Israelites.
Through the centuries and cultures the bible has been a standard that is reliable and unchanging. For communities and cultures of faith, traditions (the way we have always done things) can be helpful for guiding them but as you can imagine they can also be outdated. Personal experience is important but can sometimes be misguided. I might have an experience where I feel God wants me to do something but I might be told to do the opposite – who’s right? In our society the courts interpret the law. They don’t change every day or else it would be really confusing. For life, God gives us an authoritative and unchanging holy text – the Bible to shape the life of community and cultures.
WHAT’S JESUS’ TAKE?
Jesus read and studied the bible (the Old Testament portions) and knew it very well. While wandering the desert for 40 days all the while going with out food and water, Jesus is confronted and tempted by the devil. His response to the devil was to quote the bible. He also often quoted the scriptures when teaching and talking with others. He also says that he came to bring fulfillment to the law (the writings of the Old Testament).
AUTHORS & LAYOUT
The Bible is the result of a long process of the collection of many ancient documents.
Consider this – the Bible was written over a 1600 year span, by more than 40 authors separated over hundreds of years and miles – Moses, a political leader in Egypt; Peter a fisherman in Galilee; Paul, a well-educated rabbi (religious teacher/priest); Luke a medical doctor; Solomon, the wise king of Israel; Matthew, a tax-collector, Amos, a fearless shepherd/prophet (one who spoke God’s message to the people); David, a shepherd/king of Israel; Joshua, a military general; Daniel, a prime minister in one of the ancient world’s great civilizations. Crazy huh?
It was written from prison, hillsides, palaces, and wildernesses; in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; as poetry, history, law, parable, biography, prophecy, and personal memoirs.
The bible is one book but is comprised of 66 separate books and separated into two main parts – the Old Testament and New Testament.
1st Part – Old Testament:
It has 39 books and is the story of creation, humans disobeying God and paying the consequence, God’s people constantly missing the mark on who they are supposed to be and whispers of the coming of Jesus. It’s divided into parts.
The Law – these first 5 books in the bible deal with how man is to interact with God.
History – these books deal with recording God’s people as they struggle to hit the mark on who God called them to be and how to live.
Wisdom / Poetry – these books explore man’s inner and outer struggles and joys of knowing and following God.
Prophets – these books challenge God’s people to live right or pay the price of disobedience.
2nd Part – New Testament:
It has 27 books and is the story of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, the birth of the church and a vision about the end times. The first four books are stories about Jesus. The next two are about the birth and growth of the early church. Paul (a follower of Jesus) wrote thirteen of the New Testament books. The last book called Revelation is a vision God gave a follower of Jesus named John about the end times.
It wasn’t until 91 A.D. that an accepted list (or canon) of books that were going to be in the Old Testament was agreed to formally. For the New Testament it was in 367 A.D. Each of the 66 books is separated into chapters and verses. This didn’t happen until the 16th century.
All this variety and yet one unifying theme – God’s love.
BREATHE – WHAT NOW?
So, if you didn’t know before, now you know more about who wrote the bible, it’s parts and pieces, the history of it and how Jesus viewed it. What now?
We suggest you enter the story. Like oxygen that gives life to a fire, breathe it in and allow it to feed the fire of your soul! Need some help? Chat with a youth worker, friend at school, family member or pastor and see if they can hook you up with a good bible, help you find a place to start reading (listening if you have the bible on .mp3) or agree to meet with you to chat about your questions as you go. Finding some words confusing? If you get a bible with a something called a commentary in the back, it will help explain some of these words. Otherwise you can also snag a bible dictionary from your local Christian bookstore. You can also read the bible in a number of different shapes, colours, sizes and formats to suit your taste. There’s the bible on CD, .mp3, manga, magazine, DVD, illustrated and any number of different written formats.
The main thing is to just get comfortable and read it first before getting into deep studying. Ask God to speak through his word to you. Be receptive and patient with the hard parts, you’ve got lots of time. It’s a cool book and get this: it’s the only book in the world, where the author is present no matter where it is read!
So this is the deal, God is. He speaks to us through the bible. There is a purpose to our world, to us and he gives guidance on how to live life to the full. Check out His story, learn about your story, enter the story, read the bible and allow it to refresh your soul.
Reading Plans – 2 weeks on different topics (74 kb)
Questions to Ask – card with helpful q’s to ask when reading (637 kb)
Bible At Glance – 1/2 pg point form overview (364 kb)
(to download: right click & select ‘save as’ or ‘save link as’)