Before you say, “I don’t believe.” Chapter 14
If you were asked to summarise the main theme of the Bible, how would you answer?
When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1953, a copy of the Bible was ceremonially presented to her with the words, ‘Accept this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.’
The Bible, the world’s best selling and most read book, has changed nations and millions of individuals.
The Bible contains 66 books, written by about 40 authors, over a period of about 1600 years. There are two main parts: the Old Testament containing 39 books, each looking forward to Jesus’ coming and the New Testament, containing 27 books which tell us of Christ and the impact He has and does and will make to people, nations and history. The Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew, with a few short passages in Aramaic. About 100 years before the Christian era the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek. The New Testament was written in Greek. There are hundreds of ancient manuscripts containing parts of our Scripture and substantiating the accuracy of the Bible as we have it today.
So, our English Bibles are translations from the original languages, which are found in the ancient manuscripts containing parts of our Scripture. It means that translation can be done very accurately.
The Bible was first translated into English by Yorkshireman John Wycliffe in the 14th century. Later William Tyndale, a linguist of immense skill, translated and printed the Bible, making it accessible throughout the land. He was strangled and burned at the stake, but the influence of Scripture was unstoppable. In 1611 the King James Bible was published, and has had several modernisations from 17th century language. Today, to make the Bible accessible, there are both translations and paraphrases available in 21st century English.
Though containing 66 books, the Bible is one book, one history, one story. All the Bible is about God. The Old Testament begins with God, and the New Testament with Jesus, who is God incarnate. The Bible is God’s written revelation to humanity. Jesus is God’s living revelation, come to save lost humanity. The Old Testament is the account of one nation, Israel; the New Testament is an account of one Man, Jesus. The nation was founded and nurtured by God in order to bring Jesus to the world. So the whole of the Bible is built around the story of Jesus and His promise of eternal life for those who will repent and believe, trusting Him as Lord and Saviour.
I encourage you to read the Bible, or at least some of it for yourself, and allow God to speak to you through His word. Read Genesis, and the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. See the devotion in the Psalms, the wisdom of the Proverbs. Discover the great Christian doctrine of justification by faith in Romans. See how God describes the future, in the final book of Revelation. Read some of the Bible’s great history in Joshua, Judges, Ruth and 1 & 2 Samuel. Then let the prophets speak to you afresh. Let God speak to you and thrill you with Himself through the Bible.