If you're new to faith in Jesus Christ or want to learn more about the Bible, exploring its teachings can change your life! In this article, we'll dive into the key elements of the Bible, demystifying its structure, content, and core beliefs. So, grab a cup of coffee, relax, and let's get into understanding the Bible.
The Bible: An Overview
The Bible is a compilation of 66 holy books divided into two main sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament encompasses ancient Hebrew scriptures. The New Testament focuses on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible contains various genres such as history, poetry, prophecy, letters, and narratives, making it a diverse and multifaceted Book of books.
Getting Acquainted with the Old Testament
The Old Testament serves as the foundation of the Christian Bible, reflecting the religious and historical traditions of ancient Israel. It consists of 39 books from Genesis to Malachi.
The Old Testament covers the creation of the world, the establishment of God's covenant with the Israelites, the lives of prophets and kings, and the moral and legal codes of ancient Israel. The chief elements include:
- The Pentateuch — the first five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
- Historical books — Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
- Wisdom books — Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon
- Major Prophets — Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentation, Ezekiel, and Daniel
- Minor Prophets — Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi
Familiarizing yourself with a few key stories. Here are a few you don't want to miss:
- The Creation account — Genesis 1
- Noah builds the Ark — Genesis 6
- God makes promises to Abraham — Genesis 15
- Joseph sold by his brothers — Genesis 37
- Moses and the Burning Bush — Exodus 3
- The Ten Plagues — Exodus 7
- God gives the Ten Commandments — Exodus 20
- David and Goliath — 1 Samuel 17
Exploring the New Testament
The New Testament introduces the life and teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the early Christian community. The New Testament includes 27 books — the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the Acts of the Apostles, the epistles (letters) of Paul and other apostles, and the Book of Revelation.
The Gospels are particularly significant. They provide firsthand accounts of Jesus' ministry, the miracles He performed, parables He told, and His crucifixion and resurrection. The epistles offer guidance and instruction to early Christian communities, addressing various theological and practical issues.
Themes in the Bible and Core Beliefs of Christianity
The basic beliefs of Christianity include:
- There is one true and living Almighty God. He created and sustains everything in the universe — visible and invisible. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. God rules over everything and directs the affairs of men according to His eternal purposes. (Genesis 1:1-3, Isaiah 44:6, 24, Isaiah 45:5-7, Mark 12:29-32, Acts 17:25b-28).
- Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father and salvation comes only through Him. He is the very nature of God, was present and active in creation, and He stepped into human flesh and bone to walk among us. Jesus was born of a virgin (immaculate conception), raised as the son of Mary and Joseph, and was anointed for ministry by the Holy Spirit at His baptism by John the Baptist. He taught the truth of God, the need for salvation, worked miracles, and confronted the established worlds of religion and politics. He was unjustly crucified for our sins willingly in order to reconcile us with God. He died, rose again on the third day claiming victory over satan and death, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father.
- The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, guides our lives and gives us the desire and power to declare Jesus as Lord. He testifies that we are God's children. He intercedes for us in prayer. (John 14:6, Romans 8:5-17; 26-27, 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 12:3).
- The Bible is the inspired, holy Word of God, His love letter to us. In the Good Book, God reveals His nature and that He desires a deep and satisfying, covenant relationship with His children. The Bible is both comprehensive and authoritative. It is our guide to live rightly as Jesus did. (Psalm 19:7-11, Proverbs 30:5-6, Philippians 1:27, 2 Timothy 3:16).
- Jesus is coming again and He will take all believers to eternal glory where He will reign forever and ever. (Matthew 28:2-7, John 1:1-3, John 3:16, John 14:6, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:18-23, Philippians 2:6, Colossians 1:17-20, 2 Peter 1:11, Revelation 12:10-11, Matthew 16:17, John 14:1-3, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:3-5).
- Believers are to display the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We believe that our primary jobs here on earth are to love God, love others, and share the Gospel to the ends of the earth. (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:41-47, Ephesians 2:19-22, Ephesians 3:10, Hebrews 10:24-25).
Approaching the Bible
Understanding the Bible requires humility, submission to God, and an openness to the Holy Spirit's guidance. Anyone can read it and comprehend the words, but digesting what it means takes setting aside pride and listening to the voice of God. Beginners and long-time students of the Word will find that it's impossible to plumb it's depths. There's always more beauty there! His Word offers a fathomless treasure trove of wisdom, inspiration, and guidance for your life. So take your time, explore at your own pace, and let the Good Book speak to your heart and mind.