Bible Basics: Origin, Purpose and Reliability
The purpose of this study is to examine how we got the Bible, what it is good for, consider if it is reliable and true, and what to do with it.
Origin, Purpose and Reliability
By David M. Augenstein
Let’s face it. Most people, even many Christians, do not know much about the Bible. In fact, many of them are confused as to what it says and question its integrity and authority. Then there are many people like me, who know some of it—enough to realize how little we know and how much there is to learn.
The purpose of this study is to examine how we got the Bible, what it is good for, consider if it is reliable and true, and what to do with it. This study is for the believers to further their knowledge. It is also written to the unbelievers or Bible skeptics that they may reconsider.
Reasons to Trust the Bible
There are many reasons why we can and should trust the Bible and seriously consider it for what it says. Here are five major reasons:
1. We received the Bible consisting of 66 books by over 40 writers, written over a space of over 1300 years—covering a 4000-year history, yet each of the books of the Bible supports the other and does not contradict. This is explained simply by the fact the one Author is God– as the word proclaims! (Wherever we have an apparent contradiction, it is due to our misunderstanding, improper application of the keys to interpretation or an error in translation.)
2. Hundreds of biblical prophecies have already come to pass. These prophetic fulfillments can be verified not only within the Bible but many prophecies can also be historically documented in great detail! This cannot be claimed of the other sacred books of religions.
3. Like all of God’s creations, the more we examine the Word in depth and detail we see greater beauty and perfection. Likewise, when we study the planets, the human body, the miracle of birth, genetics, or plant seeds we see a divine design in their ordered complexity. Would God do any less when He created His Word, the Bible? (Only a few years ago, science concluded the life processes within the amoeba, formerly thought to be the simplest of organisms, are highly complex and possess a mysterious intelligence.)
4. God, Jesus, the prophets of the Old Testament and the believers in the first century say to trust God and His Word. We can prove the Word of God in our daily lives simply by doing what it says (Romans 12:1-2). Ever wonder why some Christians live a life full of love, joy and peace? They may not know that much about the Bible, but they practice what they know and receive the benefits. We can demonstrate the power of God’s Word.
5. God and His Word does not change. It was true yesterday, it is true today and it will be true tomorrow. Yet the word of man and the promises of the world fail many times. Their words, as proven over and over again, cannot and should not be trusted.
If you are an unbeliever or if you doubt the truth of God’s Word (like many people do) I want to challenge you. What if you are wrong? What if the Bible is the revealed Word and Will of God, can be understood in large part, and holds many great and precious promises for your life, including how to obtain eternal life. What then?
How We Got the Bible
Let’s examine what the Scripture says about itself concerning how we got the Bible. Of all places, it is only logical to go to the source claiming to be God’s truth. (You can go to www.blueletterbible.org directly to these verses and read the entire context and look at the Strong’s Concordance entries for each word using the linked reference below. My comments are in parentheses.)
2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private (idios, one’s own) interpretation (determination).
2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time (not at any time) by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved (brought—same as the word “rushing” in Acts 2:2 describing the holy spirit as a rushing mighty wind) by the Holy Ghost.
The sixty-six books of the Bible did not come by the will of man. None of it was of any man’s own determination, nor did any man determine to bring it forth. The Holy Spirit brought it forth!
Gal 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s gospel (Romans through Thessalonians, concerning the mystery, the church of the body and the new grace administration that began in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost) was not received from another man nor was it learned—even from the Old Testament. But he received the new gospel (good news) by revelation.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God (theopneustos (Greek)=God-breathed), and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
For what purpose did God-breathe His Word?
2Ti 3:17 That the man [woman, too] of God may be perfect throughly furnished unto all good works. (This is another teaching in itself)
The God-Breathed Word
In this study we will be examining in much detail 2 Timothy 3:16 dealing with how we got the Bible. The other key scriptures will be handled in the next Believer’s Trumpet.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture (all of it, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21) is given by inspiration of God (theopneustos (Gr.)= God-breathed), and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
This verse says: All scripture is theopneustos or God-breathed. Does God breathe? No, God does not literally breathe. This is the figure of speech, anthropopathia (Greek, meaning ways of men). In Latin it is translated condescensio from which we get the English word condescend and condescension. Whenever the scriptures attribute human characteristics to God it is this figure of speech called condescension (e.g. God’s anger, God’s face, God walked, the mouth of God, etc.)
Whenever a figure of speech is used in the Bible it is being marked or highlighted for emphasis.(Note 1). E.W. Bullinger’s Figures of Speech in the Bible, (1898) the most exhaustive work ever published on this topic, concludes that of the 220 known types of figures of speech (most are essentially lost or often taught as grammatically incorrect) 212 are used in the Bible. Some of them have up to 40 variations.
II Timothy 3:16 also shows why the scripture is profitable. It is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
Doctrine= Principle, precepts or beliefs
Reproof= Proof or evidence; that by which a thing (or person) is proved or tested by way of evidence
Correction= Restoration to an upright state; or a better life and character
Instruction in righteousness= Whole training and education, like in raising a child, in right living in the eyes of God.
Is the Bible True?
Yes, the Bible is the Word of God and it is true because God is all truth. So we need to go to the Bible itself to see what it says concerning its truth.
Jesus, in his final recorded prayer to his Father God for future believers:
Sanctify them [set them apart] through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Jesus claimed many times over that God’s Word is truth. That’s quite a recommendation.
The Psalmist David declared in Psalm 138:2:
I bow down toward thy holy temple and give thanks to thy name for thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness; for thou [God] hast exalted above everything thy name and thy word. (The Revised Standard Version)
David, writing by revelation as the Spirit gave utterance, made known that God has exalted above all His creation His Name and His Word! If God’s creation of the human birth is so spectacular, would He do any less with the creation of His Word?
There a hundreds of scripture that refers to the truth, value and power of God’s Word. One section that comes to mind is the 119th Psalm wherein all 176 verses contain a reference to God’s Word (testimony, statutes, word, commandments, precepts, judgement, etc.) Take some time to read Psalm 119 this week.
The question is not if the Bible is true, rather the real question is if our understanding of it is correct in any area of our study. Where we “rightly cut” the Word, we have truth. If we wrongly cut it, we have error.
2Ti 2:15 Study (Do your best, with speed, accuracy and precision in mind) to shew thyself approved (dokimos= well pleasing; proven by way of testing against accepted standards) unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (cutting, as a fine diamond—with precision) the word of truth.
What Should We Do With The Bible
Do not take my word for what the Word says or trust any man with his interpretations! Rather you go to the scripture yourself and prove it to yourself:
Act 17:11 These (those believers in Berea) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (to the standard of God’s Word), that ye may prove (test for yourself) what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
When we come to the Word with believing, renew our minds accordingly and live by it, we demonstrate its power—just like in the Book of Acts and in the Gospels.
1Cor 2:4 And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1Th 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received [it] not [as] the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
First and foremost, God’s will for everyone is that they be saved. How does a person get saved (which is the same as born-again or born of God)?
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Once one is saved, it is God’s will for them to come to an accurate and experiential knowledge of His Word:
I Timothy 2:4
Who [God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Praise the Lord that He gave us His Word, so that we may know the truth. Now we can know how we got the Bible, what to do with it and how it profits us day by day. Go share it with others!
1 Figures of speech are not difficult to understand. We use some figures of speech in everyday language. For example, if you say “I am starving” what you really mean is you are very hungry (unless, of course, you are actually starving). We use this form of expression, although not true to fact, but to draw emphasis to the fact we are very hungry. Some figures of speech, like condenscensio, even though they are not true to fact, they are a perfectly legitimate method of grammatical construction and communication. So when you begin to eat, if your spouse says “You are eating like a pig” this is a figure of speech in English we call simile. But if your spouse says “You are a pig” this is a different, but similar, figure altogether called metaphor.
The use of many “ands”, the use of no “ands”, the double negative, the use of past tense to emphasize the certainty of a future event, and parenthetical phrases are five other types of figures, all used to denote emphasis.