This past week I sent out a few text messages to my close friends and asked them to answer this question: what is the Bible? The answers I got were great and revealing.
One friend translated the word Bible and simply answered saying ‘a book.’ Another said the Bible is ‘inexhaustible and eternally relevant.’ Another said, ‘God’s Word, spelling out His forgiveness to all who repent of their sin and trust in His grace.’ Lastly, one of them said ‘truth, by which the Holy Spirit reveals God Himself.’
These are all correct and true answers that all get at the truth of one massive reality. What is the Bible? It is the Word of God.
When I say that I mean it, literally. The Bible is the Word of God. I don’t mean the Bible contains the word of God within it, or that by reading the Bible you can find the true Word of God in its teachings. No. The Bible doesn’t contain the Word of God within it. Rather, the entire Bible – the whole thing – is the Word of God. The Bible doesn’t merely bear witness to the truth it is the truth. Every word carries with it a divine weight. This is why the study of the original languages of Hebrew and Greek is so important. This is why such care is needed in translating the Scripture to other languages. This is why choosing a faithful translation for our daily Bible reading matters so deeply. Jesus held a similar view of Scripture and in Matthew 5:18 said that until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle, not one iota or dot of the Scripture shall pass away. The grass will wither, the flower will fade, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.
If this were a small devotion we could be done right now, for we’ve answered our question.
But we have time to go further, and should go further because when you say the Word of God is the Bible, a new question rises, how do we define and describe the Word of God? That is what we’ll now turn to. Historically this question has been answered using 8 terms. These terms are: inspired, infallible, inerrant, authority, necessity, clarity, sufficiency, and beauty.
Today we would be foolish to leave these terms behind and labor to discover a new way of describing the Bible. We can separate the first three terms from the second 5 terms, because the second 5 terms are consequences of or flow out of the first 3 foundational terms. Tomorrow we begin, with inspiration.