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Understanding the Bible: First in the series on 'Sunday Dialogue'

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First of all let us make it clear what the word B.I.B.L.E. means.

When we were children we used to sing a little song called the B.I.B.L.E and would spell out the word. It continued with ….”that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, the B.I.B.L.E.”

Notice the word, Word, is with a capital letter as it is often used in the Bible. In Genesis 1:26 (Old Testament) we find these words: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Notice the plural usage of “us” and “our.” Note that even in the beginning of the Word, God refers to Himself with plurality.

Also, in John 1:1 (The New Testament) it says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Note the capitulation of W…ord.” This tells us that God was already present in the form of God, the Father….and God, the Son. The third in the trinity would be manifested after Christ’s ascension into heaven.

This tells us that we have never been without God. He was there when we were created, He was there when we struggled as mankind, and He was there as Jesus to bring about His plan of salvation. And He is present today in the form of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While He has always been and always will be, He has also promised that He would never leave nor forsake His own. And God does not break promises.

Many years ago as a young Sunday School teacher one of my pupils asked me how God could be three people in one? I was only nineteen years old and really didn’t know how to answer that question. But I promised I would try and find out and to share it with her.

I prayed and asked God to help me understand this in terms that both she and I could understand. And this is what God taught me: “Water comes in three forms and yet it is still water. Water can be liquid; freeze it and it becomes ice; and boil it and it becomes a vapor; but it is still water.” He answered the prayer of my heart and that increased my faith by leaps and bounds.

Since that time so many years ago, I have never doubted what God can do; what He can be; or act as He wants. God can take on any form He chooses. And after creating the world, all the aspects of it and the animals, He created people in His own image. Nothing else He created was created in His image.

When He created mankind we read: Genesis 17-28: “Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

“God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Everything that God created that has life from the tiniest seed to the most complicated human being; He intended that they should multiply.

The Word, Bible, from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, tà biblía, means "the books.” And that is an accurate description - for the Bible is not just one book; but sixty-books all bound together in one cover. The New Testament – mainly used in the Christian faith, contains forty-two books of the Bible. These are usually divided as: Gospels, Acts, Paul's Epistles, Hebrews, General Epistles and Revelation. Epistles is translated as meaning a writing or letter.

The Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh, contains twenty-four books divided into three parts: the five books of the Torah ("teaching" or "law"), the Nevi'im ("prophets"), and the Ketuvim ("writings").

Many have difficulty understanding the Bible at face value and sometimes get confused and frustrated. That is mainly because we try to interpret the Bible words based on our own meanings of words. The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language and the New Testament was written in Greek. And today we speak many different languages where the same word can have different meanings to us.

But there is a beautiful mystery attached to the Bible. While it was written for the whole of mankind in context, it was also written for those who lacked great Biblical studies. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, anyone who picks up a Bible (and reads it with a good and open mind) can understand what God is saying to that particular individual.

In all the centuries since the Bible was written, it has never been outdated. It is as new and pertinent as the daily newscast; and has been since it was originally penned. Today, it remains number one as the bestselling books ever written.

King James of England decided in 1611 that the Bible should be translated into the English of the day. Therefore we see, all of the Thee’s, Thou’s, and Ye’s. Those have been left out in the modern translations; like the New International Bible. That was the way they spoke in 1611. Just think about it. This was the time frame when colonists were coming to America. Most people could not understand the Bible and therefore, had to depend upon what the church, the preacher or rabbi said.

Before that you had to be an educated scholar in both Hebrew and Greek to fully understand or even get a glimpse of what the Bible was saying to individuals.

Hebrew words can differ from today’s modern language.

We see written there: “On a frequent basis we attach a meaning of a word from the Bible based on our own language and culture to a word that is not the meaning of the Hebrew word behind the translation.”

Take the word “Atonement” for example: The Hebrew word kaphar means "to cover over" such as a lid and is the word for the lid of the ark of the covenant (though many translations translate this as mercy seat for no etymological reason). This word is translated as pitch (tar) which was spread over the ark in order to make it water tight (Genesis 6:14.)

“If an offense has been made, the one that has been offended can act as though the offense is covered over and unseen. We express this idea through the word of forgiveness. Atonement is an outward action that covers over the error.”

Atonement is not something we do; but what God does.

When Jesus died on the cross He covered our sins.

While some Christians only consider the writings of the New Testament – it is pertinent to understand the New Testament in the light of the Old Testament. However, the smallest child understands love… for God is love. And without God there would be no love.

Dwight L. Moody (February 5, 1837 – December 22, 1899) a prominent messenger of the Bible in his time (and even now through Moody Bible Institute which he founded), had this written in the fly leaf of his Bible:

“The Bible sets forth two things. The Old Testament points toward the cross. The Gospels tells the story of the cross.

The Epistles point toward the Throne.

The Revelation tells the story of the Throne.

The Old Testament tells us what sin leads to and ends with the words, “Lest I come and smite the Earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:6.

The New Testament shows us the way out of sin and ends with this:

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Rev 22:21. “

The Bible has been attacked in every generation; but still remains the best-selling book ever written. Evil men have attacked the Bible for centuries; but the Bible still stands and always will. The Bible is the anvil and the naysayers are the hammers of this world.

The Anvil of God's Word
“Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
How many anvils have you had,’ said I,
To wear and batter all these hammers so?
Just one,’ said he, and then with twinkling eye,
‘The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.

You may wish to continue with this series of understanding the Bible in weeks to come by subscribing to this page by using the tab above. It is free. You won't have to wonder what the next in the series will be as you will receive the next article as it is published in your inbox.

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