2. The Bible: Where It Comes From

When one discovers a treasure chest, it is not enough to see what it looks like on the outside. One has to open it to see what treasures are locked away inside. So it is with the Bible. So far we have looked at the outside of this “treasure chest”. Now we will open it to discover the treasures hidden away for you. We are sure that you will be greatly enriched by what you are about to discover.

One Main Message

As you read your Bible, you will notice a strange fact. Although it took about fifteen centuries to complete, and was written by over forty writers, it forms a remarkable unity. It is not simply a collection of diverse writings. It is a series of books that refer to and illustrate one another. All the books have two continuous main themes: the terrible effects of sin and the gracious love of God. And this in spite of the fact that most of the writers did not know one another! Surely there must be some explanation. The Bible itself reveals the secret:

Open your Bible at 2 Timothy 3:16 in the New Testament.

The Bible is inspired by God

God is not silent, and removed from His creation. God has revealed His will. God's Word is recorded in the Bible. He uses this Word to reveal Himself and to communicate His purpose and will to us. No man can do God's will without having at least a basic knowledge of this revelation. How did God reveal His will? In the above quotation you saw that God inspired every writer of the Holy Scriptures. It means literally that God “breathed” His Word into His selected messengers. As Muslim this will not be new to you, for it is a fundamental part of the teaching of the Qur'an (e.g. Suras 2:136; 5:47-48; 10:95; 21:7; 29:46).

God Revealed His Will in Different Ways

When you read the Bible, you will find that God inspired His messengers in various ways. He did not use them as mindless robots who merely wrote down what was dictated to them. He inspired them to write down God's revelation in their own words. (We give some Bible references so that you can check these statements yourself.)

1. By Direct Speaking

2. By visions or Dreams

3. Through Prophets

Much of the Old Testament was written by prophets. In these prophecies God revealed His will, and even foretold events that only took place much later. This was given in particular concerning:

This knowledge is normally beyond human comprehension. But the Bible explains: “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

Here are a few examples:

4. By Recording Historical Events

God reveals Himself also in His dealings with His people.

Read 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11

The Bible was revealed progressively in stages, according to God's purpose, the need of His people and their capacity to grasp the message.

The Message of the Bible

The Old Testament (Old Covenant) is named after the covenant (agreement) that God made with Abraham and later with his descendants the Israelites. (A covenant contains promises and blessings from the One making it and the obligations of those involved in it.) God had chosen them to become the nation to which He would reveal His Word. Abraham therefore already stood in a covenant relationship with God. They were to be people set aside for Him. They had to obey His revealed Word and to teach it to their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-7), so that future generations would recognize and receive the promised Messiah (= Anointed One).

Moses was called to be the leader of this nation, and under him the covenant was renewed. The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) were an expression of how God wanted His chosen people to live. Thus with these commandments God also gave instructions for reconciliation, if somebody should be disobedient (Leviticus 4 and 16). Then we read the history of faithful men of God; but also how the nation of Israel was disobedient. God sent many prophets and punishments to call them back to Himself, but with little or only temporary response. At last, when the right time had come (Galatians 4:4), God sent Jesus, the Messiah, into the world. Through Jesus the New Testament (New Covenant) began to operate. In Him the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled (Luke 24:44-45). He was the only man ever to keep the law of God fully. Because He was pure, He qualified to become the faultless sacrifice of God. It was John the Baptist (Yahya) who exclaimed when he pointed to Jesus:

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29.)

The New Testament then goes on to describe the life, work and death of Jesus Christ, how this fact has changed and will change the lives of His followers and how He will come again. In our further study all this will become clear to you.

Test Yourself No 2

Answer the following questions for yourself. The correct answers are here.

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