Publish the Word
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The Greatest Book -- Ever


   

  The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
Psalms 68:11




The Holy Bible

God Wrote A Book 

Why is the Bible the most-read, best selling book of all time? 
          (5 billion copies since 1815) 
   
Why was the Bible the first book ever printed on a printing press?
           (in 1450)

Why was the Bible the first book to go into space and to the moon? 

Why is the Bible considered a history book of the universe?

Why is the Bible considered a supernatural book?

The Bible is a library of 66 books written in 3 different languages by 44
different authors over 1500 years on 3 different continents!

Among the writers God spoke through were shepherds, historians,
kings, prophets, fishermen, a doctor and even a tax collector.

   When you first go to a library, it can look a bit confusing.
There are so many books you don't know where to start! But if you ask
the librarian for help, you will be told where to find the sections to help you.

The word "Bible" comes from a Greek word that mean "books" or "library."
Just as our libraries are divided into sections for different subjects, so the Bible
is divided up -- into 37 books of the Old Testament and 29 books of.the New.

TWO MAIN SECTIONS

There are 2 main sections in the Bible, called The Old Testament and The New Testament. The word 'Testament' means promise or a historical record.

The Old Testament -- The Old Testament is made up of 39 books written
in Hebrew and Aramaic between 1400 and 400 B.C. These are the writings
of the Jewish people that contain the promises or contract made by God with
the Jewish nation. If they kept the laws that He had given them and worshipped
only Him, then He would take care of them forever.

He promised that one day He would send someone from Heaven to take the
punishment for breaking His moral law of right and wrong – sin. The Savior's title
was MESSIAH. That was Jesus who was God in human flesh.

Our Chinese friends tell us the book of John in the Bible begins with these words:

In the beginning was the Dao/Tao (Word), and the Dao was with God,
and the Dao was God.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has
been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

And the Dao became a human being and lived among us.
 

That was Jesus.  He came to die to take the punishment for the sin of everyone
 - not only the Jewish people, but each and every one in the whole world.

The New Testament -- After He died, Jesus came alive again and went to
heaven. Books were written about what had happened to Jesus, and later, what
happened to the people who believed in Him. Written in Greek, a common
language of the Mediterranean world between A.D. 50 and 100, these 27 books
were called The New Testament. They were all about new promises and a new
contract that God had made with people.


What was this new contract?    


This agreement was not only for the Jews, but for everyone on earth who believed.
Unlike the Old Testament, the agreement did not depend on keeping the Law
(although that was still a good thing to do). It depended on a person being so sorry
for the bad things he or she had done that they didn't want to do them again. This is
what the Bible calls "to repent." It depended on them asking Jesus to forgive them
and to be their Lord (master). There are many verses in the New Testament that tell
about this new promise and agreement between God and us. Here is one: "Repent,
and turn to God, so that your sins may be forgiven."(Acts 3:19). This statement is
found in the book of Acts, chapter 3, verse 19.

The entire Bible is written so that God can help men and women understand several
important questions people all over the world in every time and culture have asked:

Who am I? Why am I here? Where will I go after death? How did the earth and

the universe come to be? Is there a God, and if so, who is he and what is he like?
Why is there evil in the world? How should I live my life?
and so on. . .

The Bible is God's answers to humanity -- for the whole world.

 

These historical documents known as scripture are the basis of understanding
Christianity -- those who follow Jesus Christ. Christianity began in Asia, but it is
God's good news for all people in the whole world.

The many books of the Bible are written in different literary forms: history, poetry,
law, prophecy, letters. Each was written for a different reason and to different readers
at different times, but all together the 66 books create a unity and coherence of
purpose -- God's message to all people of 1) who he is, 2) who we are, 3) our
relationship to him, and 4) to each other.

Here are the major literary forms:


In the Old Testament, the first 5 books are called the Pentateuch -- penta means five.
1) Genesis means beginning and it begins with God's creation of everything, including
humans who are given life by God's breath. Of course, the story quickly changes from
a love story -- Adam and Eve -- and their friendship with God, to a tragedy -- they
disobey Him, then sin and death enter the world and our original parents must leave
Paradise.     

   
             

Because of their disobedience, or sin, every human born after them inherits a genetic
birth defect -- sin, the inability to live without rebelling against a perfect, sinless God.
God is just, but also loving, and when Adam and Eve leave Paradise, God set in motion
a plan to restore fellowship between Himself and humanity that would require He,
himself, to eventually come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ (Christ means Messiah
 – Jesus the Messiah or Savior).
 
Only Jesus can change our original sin nature that we are born with – our tendency
to break God's moral law – and invite us to an eternal home in heaven. All this begins
in Genesis.

The next 4 books explain how God began to prepare a specific people, the Jewish
tribes who would become the nation Israel to receive the Savior of the world, Jesus,
in due time. 2) Exodus is mostly a journey from slavery to freedom, from Egypt to
Israel, under the leadership of Moses. 3) Leviticus is about God giving a spiritual-
moral-social law for the Jews, the people He chose as ancestors through which Jesus
would be born. 4) The book of Numbers lists all these people according to tribes.
5) Deuteronomy means "second law" and it provides more rules for living.

The next 12 books beginning with Joshua (a great warrior-leader) and ending with
Esther (a great woman of faith) are known as the history books -- about 1000 years
of life in the small Middle Eastern country of Israel (for a time divided into a north and
a south kingdom -- Israel and Judah) where God's people, the Jews dwell, but also
the rise of great civilizations: the Babylonian and the Assyrian-Medo-Persian empires.

 

The next 5 books in the Old Testament are the poetical books. Job is the story
of a good man who is tested by God. Psalms is a song book -- 150 songs that range
from great joy and praise to sadness and despair. Proverbs is also called a wisdom
book; Ecclesiastes is a wise man's search for meaning; and Song of Songs is
beautiful love poetry. The last 17 books of the Old Testament are called the prophets.
A prophet is someone who speaks for God to the people. In them you will find some
history, some moral instruction, but mostly God telling people to prepare for the
coming savior, Jesus.

The New Testament begins with the 4 gospel narratives -- stories about Jesus, all
written by eyewitnesses who knew him personally or interviewed many who did.
To begin studying the Bible, I would suggest you start not at the beginning, but in
the middle -- the heart -- with one of my favorite gospels, either Luke, which was
written by a Greek doctor named Luke -- clear and straightforward, or John, a
companion of Jesus, who writes very poetically.
 
Gospel, by the way, means "good news" and you will see that this good news is
about no ordinary man who ever lived -- Jesus was/is God who became a man.
Why did he leave heaven and come to earth as a humble human being, born in a
poor animal barn, the son of a carpenter, a working man?
 
You will find the answers as you read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John --
the accounts of Jesus' life, mostly his adult public life as a teacher who died a cruel
and painful death nailed atop a wooden cross at age 33 -- not for doing anything
wrong himself, but for all of the wrongs we human beings -- each and every one of
us -- have done during our lives. He dies, but he comes back to life and now reigns
as king in heaven.  This gives hope to all of us that we can also live forever when
our earthly bodies die and we leave this life.

 

The book of Acts (of the Apostles) is the New Testament history book, how
after Jesus returns to heaven his followers begin to take the good news of Jesus'
teaching to the whole world, a wonderful message of peace and love. Beginning in
Jerusalem, the message spreads, the Christian Church grows and soon the whole
world around the Mediterranean Sea hears the good news -- as far as Rome and
Spain and then India and eventually China (by the 7th Century).

The rest of the New Testament is 21 letters written to specific church communities
in different places like Rome and Corinth, mostly by Paul, Peter and John --  the
early leaders and missionaries of the Church to answer questions and explain Jesus'
teaching of how people should live in faith, hope and love.

The final book, Revelation, is an exciting and challenging story of a future yet to
come -- the end of the world, the establishment of God's eternal kingdom, the fate
of every one who ever lived. It has many symbols, such as numbers and colors, and
we see a cosmic war between angels and demons, God's people and Satan's armies,
the return of Jesus, the King of all kings, and at last, a new heaven and a new earth,
a lake of endless fire for evil-doers -- those who reject God's free gift of forgiveness
and eternal life. Some people think many of these events in Revelation will begin to
unfold soon.

A suggestion: begin reading one of the gospels – learn first about Jesus, the center
of time and history. Then read Psalms and Proverbs – timeless truths. God speaks
clearly in every book. When you read a book of the Bible you should understand:

Who is the author of the book? When was it written? To whom? Why?
What is the message? What does it mean for us today?


God's word is light to those who live in darkness
– knowledge to those
in ignorance.

His words are the words of life for all human beings. He inspires each writer
at a particular historical time, in a real place for a specific purpose. The story
of the Bible is not myth or folklore or fantasy. It records the lives of actual people
in Western Asia and the Mediterranean world who lived from approximately
4,000 B.C. to 100 A.D. – Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans,
and the Jewish tribes who became the people entrusted with God's message
of a Savior for humanity.
 
History, archeology, science and literature confirm the reality of the peoples
and events. The central message of the Holy Bible, however, is that each of us
has broken the moral law God wove into the fabric of our universe. We have no
excuse – he wrote His law of right and wrong on our hearts. He placed inside us
a conscience – con is Latin for "with" and science is "knowledge." When we break
God's law, we do so with knowledge. What is His law?

After we leave this life through physical death, we will stand before Him
in the Courtroom of Eternal Justice. "It is destined for man to die once and then
face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The book of our life will be opened and He
will judge us for everything we have done – every thought, word and deed
by His standard of moral goodness, His law for all humanity –
the Ten Commandments.

Have we ever told a lie? Then we broke the 9th Command.
Have we ever taken anything in our whole life that did not belong to us, no matter
how small? Then we are a thief in God's eyes and broke His 8th Command. Have
we ever had sexual thoughts about another person? We broke His 7th Command.
Have we ever hated anyone in our heart? We broke His 6th Command. And those
are only four of His Ten Commandments.

The truth is that in our own eyes and by our human standards we think we are
pretty good. Maybe we have not committed mass murder or stolen a car. But God
will judge us by His standard – moral perfection. We will all be found guilty.
No one is perfect. His judgment is just. Our punishment will be death. We broke
his laws -- we deserve His justice. "The soul that sins will die" (Ezekiel 18:4).
 
But, He loves us – His special creation -- and wants to forgive us. He made
a way. It begins in Genesis and unfolds throughout the Bible story, culminating
in the death of Jesus. Jesus – God Himself in human flesh -- dies for us, so we
do not have to undergo the punishment we deserve. But forgiveness is not
automatic.

We must repent – confess and turn from doing wrong, and then put
our trust in Jesus.

We must obey His commands and live for Him. Then we pass from death to life.
He places His supernatural power inside us to live a new life with a new heart
and new desires.  He transforms us from the inside out.  He does what we cannot
do for ourselves -- gives us power to live holy, God-centered and other-centered
lives -- no longer selfish and self-centered.   
      
            
 
He does not want to condemn anyone, but to save every person who calls
upon His name. But if we don't believe, if we reject His free gift of eternal life,
if in our stubborn hearts we seek our own selfish ways rather than His way for us,
then He will give us justice – eternal death. But if we make Him our Savior and
Lord -- He will show us mercy.
 
The Bible explains all of this and more. No wonder it has been translated into
almost every language on earth. No wonder it is the most forbidden book
in the world. No wonder many people have given their lives to own a copy.

It is God's 66 love letters to us.                                                               Top