NOTE: The information shared in these lessons is not exhaustive but contains a sampling of the massive weight of evidence pointing to the authenticity and reliability of Scripture. Sources are posted to encourage private review and personal study into the evidence and concepts presented. As the lessons progress the sources will be updated.
Why Am I Talking About the Bible?
Some well-meaning Christians have asked why I want to share lessons about the Bible and not lessons from the Bible.
First, let me say what I am teaching is founded on God’s truth and, therefore; from the Bible. My heartfelt reason for these lessons lies in the belief that our Christian Nation (and I use that term loosely) is fast becoming biblically illiterate. Yes, Illiteracy is gaining a foothold in our western churches.
Illiteracy is deplorable.
I fell in love with reading early and began devouring children’s poetry books before entering kindergarten. In fact, during kindergarten I was assigned the privilege of sitting in the hallway helping first and second graders with their reading. This helped me grow in my understanding of the importance of learning both to read and write.
Nations are conquered, and government oppression runs rampant, in a society where the populace is largely handicapped with the inability to read and comprehend what they are reading. In 2013, the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) released a report finding 1 in 5 adults living in Quebec, Canada have “serious difficulty understanding and using a written text” (Literacy Foundation Words of Hope, 2017).
“Without the basic tools necessary for achieving their goals, individuals without an adequate level of literacy cannot be involved fully and on a completely equal basis in social and political discourse” (Literacy Foundation Words of Hope, 2017).
If you understand the effect of illiteracy on a nation, take a moment and think about the effect of biblical illiteracy on the universal church.
There is an ever-growing consensus among Americans that the Bible is not what it reports to be –God’s Word.
A 2016 study conducted by the Barna Group reveals this growing skepticism:
Trust in the Bible’s reliability is also dropping. Barna first asked American adults in 1991 if they agreed or disagreed that “the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.” Twenty-five years ago, 46 percent strongly agreed—close to half—but today, [only] one-third [33% strongly agree] … . And the percentage of those who strongly disagree has nearly doubled in six years. The national [downward] shifts in these three perceptions—the Bible is sacred literature, is sufficient as a guide for meaningful living and is reliably accurate (italics added for emphasis)—are the clearest indicators that skepticism about the Bible is gaining a stronger cultural foothold (Barna, 2016).
The circulating lies and misconceptions fueling this rise in skepticism include the Bible is full of inconsistencies and fails the test of real scientific analyses. The book is nothing more than an ancient book of fables put together by a handful of religious men and it holds no real relevance for today.
These are the arrows the wicked are hurling at the righteous to cast doubt on God and silence our influence in public forums.
The Bible is fundamental and foundational to our faith. It is through its pages that we learn the historical and spiritual truths of Christianity. It is through its pages our God speaks to us.
“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3, KJV)
To cast doubt on the authenticity and verity of the Bible is to chip away at that foundation.
I desire to raise awareness and combat this growing skepticism slinking into the hearts and minds of the church. Learning about the structure and history of the Bible, and understanding how it originated, will instill confidence and trust in the hearts of believers.
If you trust in God but somehow doubt the Bible, or are among those who do not read or understand the Bible, I ask you to shut out the voice of the skeptic and open your mind and heart to first investigate it for yourself. Take upon yourself the Berean heart and see “if those things be so” (Acts 17:11, KJV).
Though it may seem a daunting task to read and rightly divide (put the pieces together in proper order, with proper comprehension) the Bible, be assured it is being done by others and can be done by you.
I will take this a step further and say God desires for you to tackle the task. He will walk through the pages with you. He will guide and help you.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13, KJV).
These lessons are built on the bedrock of our faith: The Word of God. Through these lessons you will learn about the Bible’s construction and how it came together. It is important to learn of its origins because this will help shore up your faith and lay the groundwork as you build your knowledge.
First, it is important to understand the Bible is like no other book in the world. In fact, it is not a single book. It is a compilation of many books divinely ordered into the neat package which lays on your coffee table or sits on your bookshelf today.
If I pick up a novel and read it from cover to cover I can understand every word and comprehend its message without so much as hearing the author’s name. But it takes something more for me to understand the Bible. To comprehend its message, intent and spiritual significance I must know the author.
By know, I mean I must have an exclusive and intimate relationship with the author.
Who Wrote the Bible?
Some atheists would say the Bible was written by first century religious fanatics who simply wanted a way to accumulate wealth and gain control and power over the masses. But historical records reveal the absurdity of that claim. To grasp an understanding of the authorship you will need to know how the Bible is put together.
The Bible is a unique collection of many writings. These writings are compiled into 66 books which are divided into two major sections. The first section contains 39 books and is titled The Old Testament. The second section, titled The New Testament, contains the remaining 27 books.
Historical records reveal there were at least 40 different writers. Most of the biblical writers identify themselves within the text. Others are identified through history, style and tradition. These works were written over a period of approximately 1500 years, in three major languages and from three different continents.
(I will introduce this information at length over the next lessons.)
Please join me next month as I continue this section, How the Bible Came Together: Who wrote the Bible.
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Bandstra, Barry L. (1999). Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (2nd ed.). Belmont, Calif. Wadsworth Publishing Co.
Barna, 2016. The Bible in America: 6 Year Trends. Retrieved from https://www.barna.com/research/the-bible-in-america-6-year-trends/
Geisler, Dr. Norman. (2002). Systematic Theology, Volume One, Minneapolis, Minn. Bethany House Pub.
Hinson, Ed and Canner, Ergun. (2008). The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity, Eugene, Ore. Harvest House Pub.
Kennedy, D. James. (1997). Skeptics Answered, Sisters, Ore. Multnomah Books.
Literacy Foundation Words of Hope, 2017. Causes of Illiteracy, Surveys and Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.fondationalphabetisation.org/en/causes-of-illiteracy/surveys-and-statistics/
Literacy Foundation Words of Hope, 2017. Consequences of Illiteracy. Retrieved from https://www.fondationalphabetisation.org/en/causes-of-illiteracy/consequences-of-illiteracy/
Scofield, Rev. C. I. (1996). The Scofield Reference Bible, New York. Oxford University Press, Inc.
Zondervan. (1984). The Rainbow Study Bible New International Version, El Reno, Okla. Zondervan Bible Pub.