The Bible stands above all other books in the world. It is a unique
book. The sixteenth President of the Unites States of America,
Abraham Lincoln, once said that "the Bible is the best gift God has
given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is
communicated to us through this book." It is the world's most
widely read book and has been translated into over one thousand
languages, more than any other book in the world. Countless
people have turned to the Bible for comfort, hope, and guidance
during times of trouble and uncertainty. The word Bible
comes from the Greek word biblos, which means "the book."
This means that the Bible stands as the unique book among
all other books in the world. It is the highest among all the
classical writings in the West and in the East. The famous French
writer Victor Hugo once said, "England has two books, the Bible
and Shakespeare, but the Bible made England."
In this booklet we will explain to you the reason that
the Bible is so unique. We will give four reasons for its uniqueness.
The first fact is that the Bible stands alone among
all books in its record of authenticity. Many canons of other
religions are filled with myths and legends. But within the pages
of the Bible we find countless references to actual events, People,
and places. The science of archaeology, along with secular historical
records, confirms the precision of the references in the various
biblical books. The attention to minute detail observed by the
biblical writers is unparalleled in any other ancient literature.
The Bible tells of an all-powerful, eternal Creator who created the universe, including the heavens, the earth, and all created things, from nothing. The Genesis account of creation, while not a scientific narrative in itself, is completely harmonious with scientific evidence. According to ancient Greek mythology, the heavens were held up by a giant called Atlas, and the ancient Indian writings tell of the earth being a square and held up by four fish. But twenty-seven hundred years ago, before man discovered that the earth was round, the Bible said that the earth is a circle (Isa. 40:22) and that it hangs upon nothing (Job 26:7).
The Bible also records the origin of man. It tells us that man was made by God in His image (Gen. 1:26-27). Modern science on genetic structure, as well as the discovery of the wonders of the human body, have convincingly proven that, since man is such a complex being, there must be an intelligent Being behind man's creation. A computer cannot evolve from a mesh of wires, nor can a spacecraft be formed by a series of accidents and coincidences. Every intelligent object must come from a more intelligent creator. The Bible gives the origin of man in a simple and meaningful way: man is created in the image of God.
One of the amazing features of the Bible is the faithfulness with which it records human history. The Old Testament is an account of the history of mankind in the ancient world, especially of the history of the Jews, and the New Testament is an account of the history of the early church. All of the details recorded in both Tesetaments can be confirmed by modern-day archaeology.
In addition to being a record of the history of mankind in the past, the Bible contains prophecies concerning mankind in the future. Daniel, one of the writers of the Old Testament, wrote at the time of the Babylonian Empire about a dream that the Babylonian king had. In that dream the king saw an image with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, an abdomen and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. While the king was watching, a stone cut out without hands struck the image at its feet, and the entire image was crushed and was carried away by the wind like chaff from the summer threshing floors, so that no trace of it was found. The stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:1-45). This image was a picture of the succeeding human empires that appeared in human history. The head of gold signifies the Babylonian Empire, which lasted from 605 B.C. to 539 B.C. The breast and the arms of silver signify the Medo-Persian Empire, which under King Cyrus destroyed the Babylonian Empire and lasted from 539 B.C. to 330 B.C. The abdomen and thighs of bronze signify the Grecian Empire, which under Alexander the Great defeated the Medo-persian Empire and became the world power from 336 B.C. The legs of iron an dthe feet partly of iron and partly of clay signify the Roman Empire, which took over the land of the Grecian Empire. Its reign began in 30 B.C. and lasted for over four centuries, after which it was divided into the eastern part an dthe western part, signified by the two legs. All these correspond accurately with the historical records. The world today is a continuation of the Roman Empire and is part of the legs and feet of the image. The Bible predicts that at the end of this age "a stone cut out without hands" will destroy all human governments and will set up its own givernment over the entire earth. This "stone" is Jesus Christ, who will set up His kingdom on earth (Rev. 11:15). The image is a picture of human history that spans over twenty-six hundred years. Most of this prophecy has been fulfilled, and some of it will be fulfilled in the future. This is an axample that shows us the marvelous facts recorded in the Bible pertaining to human history.
The most amazing prophecies in the Old Testament concern the coming of the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ. The Old Testament contains at least three hundred direct references to Christ; it tells of the place he was to be born, the way He would grow up, and the way and the place He would die. All these prophecies were fulfilled.
Second, the Bible bears the super
wisom concerning man's relationship with God and his relatioinship
with his fellow man, his thought, his intention, his behavior,
and his daily living. At the time of the Old Testament, most of
the cultures on earth believed in polytheism, the belief in more
than one God. The majority of the so-called gods were depicted
as cruel, fierce, or at times even licentious. But the Bible
reveals one unique God who is infinite and personal, who cares
for human beings as a Father and a Husbanc, and who personifies
love, respect, justice, and mercy. This is in contrast to other
gods of the ancient world who were to be obeyed and served out of
fear rather than from loving respect.
The Bible also covers all kinds of knowledge, such as theology, the humanities, astronomy, geology, science, philosophy, sociology, government, education, culture, and eschatology. All science textbooks must be revised to a new editition after a certain number of years. But the Bible never changes; it always remains the same. The laws in the Old Testament take care of the proper relationship between man and his environment; for example, in besieging a city, the attackers were not to destroy the trees and thus devastate the environment (Deut. 20:19). These laws also take care of the proper balance of social wealth, through the institution of a year of jubilee every fifty years, in which all debts were forgiven and all lands returned to their original owners (lev. 25:8-17). The Ten Commandments (Exo. 20:3-17) form the basis of the western legal system in its humane and fair treatment of fellow human beings. The Lord's Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) forms the basis for a benevolent and just society. These and many other examples reveal the profound wisdom of the Bible in all aspects of the human life.
No other book contains as high a
standard of ethics and morality as the Bible. It describes
proper love as a human virtue, which suffers long, is kind, is
not jealous, does not brag, and is not puffed up (1 Cor. 13:4).
It defines love in the extending of forgiveness even to one's
enemy (Matt. 5:44). It exemplifies love in God's own act of
giving up His only son for man (John 3:16). Christians are those
who walk in love (Eph. 5:2), and the church is a community build
up in love (Eph. 4:16).
The Bible also speaks of righteousness in its highest form. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed (Gen. 9:6), and all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword (Matt. 26:52). God Himself renders to those who by endurance in good work seek for glory and honor and incorruptibility, life eternal, and He renders to those who are disobedient, wrath and fury (Rom. 2:6-8).
Throughout its pages the Bible describes to us a God who is holy and who separates Himself from all forms of unholiness. In the Old Testament He commanded that His people be separated from the sinful and idolatrous practices of the heathen nations (Deut. 18:9). In the New Testament He exhorts the believers to be separated from all fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, divisions, sects, envyings, bouts of drunkenness, carousings, and things like these (Gal. 5:19-21).
The Bible also speaks much about faithfulness. It exhorts men to be failthful to their spouse (1 Cor. 7:2), parents to be faithful to their children and children to their parents (Eph. 6:1-4), and each person to be faithful to his words (Matt. 5:37) and to his work (Luke 16:12); above all, one should be faithful to God, as God is faithful to him (1 Cor. 10:13; Rev. 2:10). The Bible speaks of sincerity and of humility, saying that one should not be double-tongued (1 Tim. 3:8) or use deceit (Rom. 3:13) an dthat one should count others more excellent than himself (Phil. 2:3) and should not be wise in himself (Rom. 12:16).
The Bible has much to say about the family, and the Christian standard differs greatly from modern philosophies and human ideologies. It advocates filial piety in honoring one's parents (Eph. 6:2), respecting the elderly (Lev. 19:32), and being subject to the elders (1 Pet. 5:5). History has proven that where the Bible is honored, the family is preserved and society is adjusted and uplifted.
The marital relationship is defined clearly in the Bible. Fornication and adultery are strictly prohibited, and divorce is not allowed on any ground of incompatibility. The husband is to love the wife, and the wife is to submit to the husband (Eph. 5:22-33). Furthermore, the husbands and wives are to honor each other (1 Pet. 3:6-7) and to take care of each other's relatives (1 Tim. 5:8). They should honor their marriage (Heb. 13:4) and should not take advantage of each other's weaknesses (1 Pet. 3:1, 7). parents should raise their children to be in subjection with all gravity (1 Tim. 3:4) and should nurture them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Proper discipline is necessary for the edification of children (Prov. 19:18), but such discipline must be carried out in tenderness and sensibility (Col. 3:21).
The last and most important factor
in ranking the Bible as the most distinctive book is its influence
upon men. Although the Bible is a great treasure as far as its
literary, philosophical, and historical contribution to humanity
are concerned, the greatest value of the book lies in its great
influence upon individuals. Through its pages man is exposed
concerning his true condition before God. The word of God is
like a two-edged sword that pierces through the reasonings and
natural excuses of man and convicts him of his sins before God
(Heb. 4:12). Saint Augustine was an undisciplined and licentious
man in his youth, but his mother prayed for him while he was
growing up. After living a wanton life for many years, one day
at the age of thirty-one he read the Bible under a fig tree and
came to the portion that says, "Let us walk becomingly as in the
day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in fornication and
licentiousness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord
Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its
lusts" (Rom. 13:13-14). These words convicted him of his sins,
and he repented to the Lord and became a great servant of Christ.
Throughout history many famous people have been inspired to believe in Christ through reading the Bible. The French emperor Napoleon, after being defeated and exiled to the island of St. Helena, confessed that though he and other great leaders founded their empires upon force, Jesus Christ built His kingdom with love. he also confessed that though he could rally men to die for his cause, he had to do so by speaking to them face to face, whereas for eighteen centuries countless men and women had been willing to sacrifice their lives for Jesus Christ with joy without having seen Him once. The reason that so many have been willing to give up everything to follow Christ and to be martyred for Him is that they have seen the Christ revealed in the Bible. The Bible has become the source of inspiration for many to believe in Christ. Although many kings, emperors, and governments have tried throughout the past two thousand years to stamp out the Bible, beginning from the Roman emperors of the first century and continuing down to the communists of this century, no power on earth has been able to take away man's attraction to this book and the wonderful person it contains. The Christ revealed in the Bible is as fresh today as He was two thousand years ago. No biography of any man on earth has changed as many lives as the life of Jesus Christ.
For Christians the Bible is a constant source of teaching and revelation. It convicts, corrects, and instructs the Christian in righteousness and equips him for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It affords him life-transforming power that changes his disposition and transforms his soul. It gives him power to overcome sin and Satan, and it feeds his spirit with the heavenly food. It is a believer's spiritual milk (1 Pet. 2:2) and his bread of life (Matt. 4:4). Many Christians at times experience tribulation and sickness, but when they read a portion or a sentence of the Bible, they have the enduring strength in their hearts, and they receive unspeakable comfort and thus obtain hope that is beyond their expectation.
The reason that the Bible is
different from all other books is that its nature is divine. The
Scripture is God-breathed (2tim. 3:16). The tells us that the
Scripture did not come out of man's thought, man's mind, but,
rather, it was God's breathing His thought and His word through
His Spirit into and out of the writers. Hence, the Bible contains
God's element and carries His flavor. A Christian's greatest joy
and blessing is to be able to contact God and taste Him daily
through the word of His breath.
Since the Scripture is God's breathing His word out from men through His Spirit, no word of the Scripture can be of man's will; rather, men were borne by the Spirit and spoke from God. The word "men spoke from God while being borne by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21) has a twofold meaning: first, men were borne by the Spirit; second, men spoke from God. In the original Greek, being borne by the Holy Spirit refers to being carried along like a ship by the wind. The writers of the Bible received God's inspiration, and they were under the power of the Holy Spirit, being borne and carried along by Him to speak out god's word. Furthermore, when they spoke, they spoke from within God. It was the spirit of God carrying men along to speak, and it was also men speaking from within God. In other words, it was God speaking His own word from within men through their mouth.
The canon of the Bible comprises
the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament, from
Genesis to Malachi, is composed of thirty-nine books. There are
at least thirty-two writers of these books. Among them there
were men of letters, statesmen, and military men; there were
priests, kings, and prophets; and there were common people,
shepherds, and farmers. The New Testament, from the Gospel of
Matthew to Revelation, is composed of twenty-seven books. It was
written in both Jewish and Gentile lands by a tax collector, a
doctor, and ordinary disciple of Jesus, two fishermen, two flesh
brothers of the Lord Jesus, and a scholar.
The scope of the Bible covers a wide span, from the beginning of the universe, through man's fallen history and Christ's salvation, to the end times. It gives details of the history of the first man, Adam, and his fall, and it traces his descendants down to the Lord Jesus Christ. It consummates with the end of this age, the coming of the next age, and the final new heaven and new earth.
In the subsequent booklets in this
series, we will explain to you some of the different subjects of
the Bible. Here we will briefly introduce the main subjects in
The first subject in the Bible is God with His plan. The God revealed in the Bible is a God of wisdom and purpose. Just as any person who is intelligent and purposeful is always full of plans, our God, who is most wise, has an eternal plan, which has much to do with man and the world.
The second subject is man and his destiny. The Bible tells us where man came from , how he was made, and where he is going. It also tells of God's plan for man.
The third subject of the Bible is Christ. Christ is the central figure of the Bible. The Old Testament is a prophecy concerning Him, and the New Testament is the fulfillment of this prophecy. The Bible tells us how this Christ accomplished redemption and salvation for mankind.
The fourth subject is the Hold Spirit, who is the third person of God. He is mentioned very much in relation to man's experience of God.
The fifth subject is the diving life, that is, the life of God, which a person receives when he believes in Christ. This divine life lives within those who believe in Christ and directs and transforms their living.
The sixth subject is the believers, who are in Christ. The New Testament tells us the meaning of being a believer in Christ an dthe way to live a proper Christian life.
The seventh subject is the church, which is God's community of believers on earth today. The Bible explains what the church is and how believers should meet as the church.
The eighth subject is the kingdom of God, which is the sphere where God exercises His rule and authority in this age and in the coming ages.
The last subject is the new heaven and the new earth, which speaks of the things that will happen in eternity in the future.
If you are a person who is seeking after the truth and would like to know the meaning of your life, you need to read the Bible, and you should call on the Christ who is presented to you in the Bible. God has given every person a spirit (Job 32:8) so that he can understand and receive the things of God. We hope that you will begin your reading of this wonderful book, the Bible, by reading the New Testament, and we also hope that you will begin a fruitful and abundant life today through meeting Jesus Christ in this book.
This article is taken from a series of gospel messages
given in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia in 1992. They have
been instrumental in bringing over 7,000 people to the knowledge
of God, the Bible, and the Christian salvation.
The entire series comprises six articles with the following topics: 1) The Bible, 2) There Is God, 3) Christ Is God, 4) Christ Is Spirit and Life, 5) Christ's Redemption and Salvation, and 6) The Meaning of Human Life.