For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (Amplified)
Over the decades as a Youth Pastor, I was always amazed at how difficult it was (and still is) to get students to bring their Bibles to church, much less study them. But, you and I have to be honest – our children come by their habits honestly. Many adult believers have, somewhere along the way, left the “awe & wonder” of the Bible to their childhood/VBS memories. It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture. The book widens and deepens with our years.”
On many occasions, when I teach students, I’ll ask them to hold their Bibles in front of them and repeat the following phrase: “This is my Bible. It is the Word of God. It is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. It brings me great courage. It brings Satan great fear. This Book will keep me far from sin – and sin will keep me far from this Book.” I simply want them to be reminded from the outset that what they hold in their hands – and what we’re about to study together – is unlike any other book in the entire world.
Since we’re flooded with the presence of churches and Christian bookstores in our comfortable North American church culture we tend to forget that the access to the Bible we enjoy today has not always been the case. In fact, according to pastor/author, John MacArthur, access to the Scriptures is the primary reason for the Protestant Reformation:
The greatest contribution of the Protestant Reformation was to give the Bible to the people in their own language. It was the truth of Scripture that brought light to the Middle Ages and consequently an end to the Dark Ages. It put God’s Word into the hands of God’s people.
You may consume the Word of God on a daily basis. But, just in case you’re in that vast category of believers who’ve lost his/her awe of the Bible, perhaps what follows will reignite your wonder and hunger for Scripture. Go find your copy. Dust it off if you need to (which is exactly what they had to do in 2 Chronicles 34) and keep it close by as you read the following facts about this most unique of books. (The Bible is, in actuality, a library of books.)
The content below was gathered from Josh McDowell’s excellent apologetic, Evidence for Christianity; Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick
Webster must have had the Bible in mind when he wrote the definition for unique: (1) one and only; single; sole. (2) different from all others; having no equal.
The Bible is unique, “different from all others,” in the following ways (plus a multitude more):
Unique in Its Continuity
Here is a book……
1. written over a 1500 year span
2. written over 40 generations
3. written by more than 40 authors, from every walk of life – including kings, peasants, philosophers, fisherman, poets, statesmen, scholars, etc:
a. Moses, a political leader, trained in the universities of Egypt
b. Peter, a fisherman
c. Amos, a herdsman
d. Joshua, a military general
e. Nehemiah, a cup-bearer
f. Daniel, a prime minister
g. Luke, a doctor
h. Solomon, a king
i. Matthew, a tax collector
j. Paul, a rabbi
4. written in different places:
a. Moses in the wilderness
b. Jeremiah in a dungeon
c. Daniel on a hillside and in a palace
d. Paul inside prison walls
e. Luke while traveling
f. John on the isle of Patmos
g. Others in the rigors of military campaign
5. written at different times:
a. David in times of war
b. Solomon in times of peace
6. written during different moods: Some writing from the heights of joy and others from the depths of sorrow and despair.
7. written on three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe
8. written in three languages:
a. Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament
b. Aramaic, the “common language” of the Near East until the time of Alexander the Great
c. Greek, the New Testament language
9. written in many different literary types:
a. History, law, religious poetry, didactic treatises, lyric poetry, parable and allegory, biography, personal correspondence, personal memoirs and diaries, to name a few.
10. Finally, its subject matter includes hundreds of controversial topics. Yet the biblical authors spoke with harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation. And, above all, there is one unfolding story: “God’s redemption of man.”
Unique in its Circulation
1. The Bible has been read by more people and published in more languages than any other book in history. More copies of its entirety and more portions and selections have been produced than any other book.
2. The first major book ever to be printed was the Latin Vulgate (Latin translation of the entire Bible) on Gutenberg’s press.
3. According to the Cambridge History of the Bible, “No other book has known anything approaching this constant circulation.”
4. The skeptic may rightly say, “This doesn’t prove the Bible is the Word of God.” It does show factually, though, that the Bible is unique!
Unique in its Translation
1. The Bible has been translated, re-translated and paraphrased more than any other book in existence.
2. According the United Bible Societies, the Bible (or portions of it) has been translated into more than 2,200 languages! Although this is only about 1/3 of the world’s 6,500 known languages, these languages represent the primary vehicle of communication for well over 90% of the world’s population.
Unique in its Survival
1. Survival through time:
a. Being written on material that perishes (papyrus) and having to be copied and re-copied for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press did not diminish the style, correctness, or existence of the Bible.
b. Compared with other ancient writings, it has more manuscript evidence than any ten pieces of classical literature combined.
2. Survival through persecution:
a. The Bible has withstood vicious attacks from its enemies as no other book has.
b. Many have tried to burn it, ban it, and “outlaw it,” from the days of the Roman emperors to present-day Communist-dominated countries.
3. Survival through criticism:
a. One person once said, “…the Church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.” So the hammers of people have been hammering away at the Bible for ages. But the hammers are worn out, and the “anvil” still endures.
b. Bernard Ramm said, “A thousand times over, the death bell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, and the inscription cut on the tombstone. But somehow the corpse never stays put.”
c. Ramm: “No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? Upon every chapter, line and tenet? But, the Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions and studied by millions.”
Unique in Its Influence on Surrounding Literature
1. Cleland B. McAfee writes: “If every Bible in any considerable city were destroyed, the Bible could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations on the shelves of the city public library. There are works covering almost all the great literary writers devoted especially to showing how much the Bible has influenced them.”
2. A professor once remarked to former atheist, Josh McDowell: “If you are an intelligent person, you will read the one book that has drawn more attention than any other, if you are searching for the truth.”
Consider the Bible. Read it. Meditate upon it. It is God’s written revelation of Himself to you and me.
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Colossians 3:16)
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
“Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of His steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever He will do next.” (Romans 15:4)