1. What difference would it make in your life if you did not have a Bible or know what the Bible teaches?
For most of us, life would be very different. We would not know where we came from, where we are going, or how we should be living in order to honor and please God. We would not have the peace and joy that come from knowing Jesus. We would not have the comfort of knowing that God loves us, cares for us, forgives us, understands our weaknesses, and is preparing an eternal home for us in glory. We would not have the blessing of knowing how God wants us to live or what he wants us to do. We would basically be wandering in a broken world with few trustworthy guidelines for the present and very little hope for the future.
2. Why is it important that we can trust what the Bible says?
If we cannot trust what the Bible says, we will continue to live in confusion and uncertainty. There would be no authoritative answer for any of our questions. We would always wonder whether our own thoughts and ideas are right or wrong. And we would have no sure way to judge or evaluate the thoughts and ideas of others. We would continue to live day after day wondering whether our thoughts and ideas were really true or simply the product of our own desires and imagination.
3. In what ways does the Old Testament help us understand the New Testament?
The Old Testament gives us the story of creation, the story of man’s fall into sin, God’s first promises of redemption, and the history of God’s people during the centuries before the coming of Jesus. The Old Testament gives us a clear picture of humanity’s sinful nature and inability to earn or merit salvation and forgiveness by keeping the laws God gave to his people. It gives us a very clear presentation of human weakness and God’s greatness, man’s unfaithfulness and God’s faithfulness. Without the Old Testament, we could not fully understand our sinfulness and our inability to obtain salvation on our own, nor could we as fully understand the majesty, power, mercy, and grace of God. Jesus was born into the family line of the Old Testament figures such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), Judah and David. Jesus fulfilled the wonderful promises God made to Adam at the dawn of human history, and he also met all the demands and requirements God presented in the Old Testament hundreds of years before. It is impossible to fully understand who Jesus was, why he came, and what he did unless we also know at least some of the teachings of the Old Testament.
4. Are the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible more trustworthy or more important than other parts of the Bible?
No. In some Bibles the words of Jesus are printed in red letters to set these words apart from others. And in some ways that may be helpful. To know what Jesus said and taught can be very helpful. However, it’s important to remember that EVERY word in the Bible has been inspired by the Holy Spirit and is therefore trustworthy. At the same time, it’s also important to recognize that some passages in the Bible are more significant than others in helping us learn the way of salvation and helping us learn how God wants us to live. For example, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and Paul’s teachings in Romans 12 are much more helpful for teaching us God’s will for our lives than some other passages are.
5. What is meant by “progressive revelation”?
“Progressive revelation” is the term used to describe the fact that God gradually gave people new information concerning himself and his laws and his plan of salvation. The information which he gave at every point was true and trustworthy, but later on he often gave additional information about himself, his will, his plans, and his purposes. So, for example, people in Old Testament times did not know that the God they served was a Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. Neither did they know that God would someday come to this earth in the form of a man (Jesus) who would die on the cross for the sins of the world. And they did not understand that someday both Jews and non-Jews would have an equal status before God as they were joined together in Jesus Christ. Because the Bible contains progressive revelation on many subjects, we should be very careful not to read an early passage in the Bible as God’s final and complete revelation on a subject.
6. Since the Bible is a very old book, shouldn’t we look to newer books for better and more accurate information about God and the world?
The fact that the Bible is very old is actually something positive and not negative. In spite of the fact that the Bible has existed for so many years, it continues to be printed and translated and sold around the world in very large numbers. This by itself is an indication that the Bible is a most unusual book and worthy of careful study. Though there are some people who may reject it, the Bible still is the most influential book in the world. It continues to be a source of comfort, challenge, inspiration, information and life-changing power. It does not claim to be a textbook on science or mathematics or other subjects of that kind, but it does teach eternal truths about God, salvation, and the way to eternal life. We should be careful not to use the Bible as a textbook on subjects (such as science) which we can explore ourselves, but we should recognize that the Bible goes beyond science to reveal that God is the creator and sustainer of our incredible world filled with all its marvels and mysteries.
7. What is the strongest reason for believing what the Bible says?
There are many strong reasons, but the most important reason is that the Holy Spirit impresses on your mind and heart that the Bible is truly the Word of God.
8. Is it confusing or is it helpful to have more than one translation of the Bible in your language?
Since no single translation is absolutely perfect, there are advantages in reading the Bible in different versions. Some early versions were not done especially well, so these older versions can be corrected by new and more accurate versions. Further, language changes somewhat over the years, so an older version may contain language which is no longer used among the common people and will not be easily understood. In addition, by reading a different version, students may be led to look at a passage in a new way which they had not thought of before. They may also find that a strictly literal translation does not always helpfully represent the original text. For example, because each language has figures of speech of one kind or another, a strictly literal translation could be misleading. On the other hand, by having only one version of the Bible in a given language, everyone has the advantage of learning and memorizing and quoting exactly the same words. And that can be a very significant benefit!
9. What is the best way to respond to people who believe and teach the Bible has been changed and corrupted over the years?
Perhaps the best way to respond is to begin by asking them some questions. For example: (1) Why do you believe that the Bible has been changed or corrupted? (2) Who do you think made the changes? (3) Why did these people decide to make these changes? (4) When were the alleged changes made? (5) What happened to the original manuscripts of the Bible? (6) What proof do you have that the alleged changes were made? (If the originals no longer exist, how do we know that the Bible has been changed or corrupted?)
There are differences in some of the thousands of Bible manuscripts in existence. Most of these, however, are very minor and of little significance. Besides, most scholars who have made it their primary work to study the ancient Bible manuscripts agree that we can be very confident that there is nothing in the original Bible manuscripts that has been lost—even though we no longer have the originals themselves. Without any legitimate doubt, the Bible is extremely accurate and completely trustworthy.
10. What are some of the most fruitful ways to study the Bible and learn what it teaches?
We should read a portion of the Bible every day. We should try to find a time and a place to read the Bible where we will not be interrupted. We should ask the Holy Spirit (the author of the Bible) to help us understand what we read. We should, if possible, memorize at least something each time we read the Bible. We should immediately seek to put into practice the truths we have learned. We should seek to share what we have read or learned with someone else. We should read the Bible systematically and not simply jump from one part of the Bible to another. (For example, we might choose to read through an entire book of the Bible before going on to other parts of the Bible.) We should read something from both Old and New Testaments on a regular basis. We should read from different parts of the Bible (such as Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospel accounts, the Epistles, etc.) on a regular basis rather than spending most of our Bible reading time in just one part of the Bible. We should seek to read with understanding rather than simply spending time reading the Bible without understanding it. In this connection, we may wish to read a Bible commentary (if available) to help us understand what we are reading. Or, if we do not have access to a commentary, we might choose to ask someone else to help us understand what we have read. We should also make a definite effort to put into practice the truths we have read rather than simply reading them and then forgetting them. It can be helpful to write down in our own words some of the truths we have learned through our reading of the day.