What is the Bible? People have answered that question in a variety of ways:
The Bible is God’s love letter.
It’s a roadmap for life.
It’s the Word of God.
It’s not only a good question to ask; it’s perhaps the most fundamental and directional question we can ask. The reason why is because the way we answer that question determines our answers to most every other question. That’s because if we believe the Bible to be trustworthy and true then it means we can trust the way the Bible answers every other question about God, the world, and ourselves. But if we do not find it to be trustworthy and true, then we will inevitably look to other places to the very definition of reality as we know it.
The importance of this question is why Satan, in the very beginning, called the Word of God into question. Indeed, that was the source of his temptation of the first woman and man:
“Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1).
Once you bring the Word of God into question, then everything else is on the table. So what is the Word of God? Here’s what the Bible says about itself:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Paul, in writing to his son in the faith, Timothy, assures him of the nature of the Bible; he tells Timothy what it is. And it is, according to Paul, at least three things:
1. The Bible is inspired.
All Scripture is God-breathed. This means that though human beings wrote the actual text, those words were inspired by God. He is the ultimate author of Scripture. Now that doesn’t mean that the human authors of Scripture lapsed into a spiritual coma and woke up with a document in front of them and a cramping hand; these human writers were addressing specific issues and specific people during specific times.
But it does mean that in addressing those timely contexts, God was at the same time authoring His timeless Word. To say that the Bible is inspired, then, is to recognize this divine authorship and to know that when we rightly understand the timely message of the Bible, in its context, then we can know the timeless message and principles that are still true today.
2. The Bible is authoritative.
Paul provided Timothy with a list of what the Bible is used for – that is teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains. Because it does all these things, it means the Bible is authoritative.
To embrace the Bible’s authority means that it is our source of bedrock truth. We might have our own ideas, preferences, desires, or notions, but ultimately, we must bring those to bear under the authority of God’s Word. In short, we don’t come to the Bible with our own ideas looking for how the Bible agrees with them; instead, we come to the Bible as open-handedly as possible, willing to joyfully align ourselves with what it says.
3. The Bible is sufficient.
According to Paul, the Bible is also sufficient. It provides all we need for training in righteousness. That means we don’t need to look for another Word; another revelation; another source. God has given us all we need in His Word.
Now that doesn’t mean that we find the answer to every question in its pages. You won’t find, for example, a direct answer to what city you should live in or what job you should take. What you will find, however, is the Bible teaching and forming how we should think about these questions. Its sufficiency comes in that it shapes our minds and hearts as we marinate in the Word of God.
Put it all together, and you find this answer to the question of what is the Bible:
The Bible is the inspired, authoritative, and complete revelation of God to human beings.
Let us rejoice that we have such a Word.
This article originally appeared on thinke.org and is reposted here by permission.