The Incredible Bible Chapter 1 - The Only One of its Kind

Abraham Lincoln said: "I believe the Bible' is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this Book."

George Washington said: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible ."

Charles Dickens said: "The New Testament' is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world."

BIBLE700000006.gifDaniel Webster said: "If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."

The Bible is definitely a very unique book. There has never been anything like it in the world. No book in history has affected the world like this book has. It is the most quoted, the most published, the most translated, and the most studied and criticized book in the history of mankind. It is one of the oldest books, yet it is still the world's best seller.

No one can deny the uniqueness of the Bible. The word "unique" means, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "being the only one of its kind." Everything about the Bible is unique because it is God's very Word to man. We will be looking at just four areas of uniqueness: Its unity, its content, its indestructibility, and its unique superiority to the sacred texts of other religions. As we study this please understand, we are not trying to prove that the Bible is God's Word, for the Bible never does this, we are simply establishing the credibility and believability of this wonder book. I heard it said once, "you don't have to defend a lion, just let it out of its cage".

a. Unique in its Unity

BIBLE700000010.gifThe Bible contains 66 books, written by about 40 different men, and covering a period of approximately 1600 years. It contains hundreds of themes, written in different countries, by men of various occupations. Yet, among all this diversity there is an amazing unity of all its teachings and subjects. It has one basic cause of all man's problems (sin), and one cure (Christ). It deals with controversial subjects such as: Heaven, Hell, Death, Sickness, God, Satan, Marriage,... etc. with such harmony, and this Book spans the culturally changing centuries. What is also amazing is that most of the authors never met each other. Yet they had the same unique experiences.

Jer 30:1-2 1 The word that came to Jeremiah' from the LORD, saying, 2 "Thus speaks the LORD God of Israel, saying: `Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you.

Lets examine briefly the lifestyles of some of the key writers of the old and new testaments: Moses , David , Solomon , Jeremiah , Matthew , Peter , & Paul .

Moses was raised in the Courts of Egypt as a princely Epyptian until the age of 40. Then, he spent another 40 years in the wilderness of Midian as a family man, shepherding his father-in-laws flocks, until finally he was called by God to lead His people Israel out of Egyptian slavery. (1400 BC)

David was a shepherd boy from a little city called Bethlehem. After years of running from king Saul he eventually became king. David did much of his writing while on the run. He grew into a valiant man of war and wrote also in times of war. He was from his youth a musician and songwriter. (1000 BC)

Solomon, the son of David, was also king. He reigned at a time when the kingdom of Israel was at its climax. It was so rich and beautiful that people came from all over the world to see it. Solomon was probably the wealthiest man in the world at the time that he did most of his writings. (950 BC)

Jeremiah, who was called "the man that hath seen afflictions" was a tenderhearted, affectionate son of a priest. He wept continually as he witnessed Judah's fanatical addiction to idolatry and apostasy. Jeremiah was often writing in a dungeon and courageously prophesying about the tragedies soon to come, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the people being deported to Babylon .

(600 BC)

Matthew, as we move to the New Testament , was a tax collector. Though he was Jewish, he was hated for serving Rome. Matthew was more than just a tax collector, he was the kind that would sit in a little Roman booth at seaports and trade routes. The Jews called them "beasts in human shape." (1st Cent. AD)

Peter was a simple fisherman with no formal education. He did most of his fishing at the Sea of Galilee where the society was greatly influenced by Greek culture. (1st Cent. AD)

Paul was a pharisee of pharisees, a student of Gamaliel who was a noted teacher in Israel. Paul was apparently wealthy as he had a Roman citizenship. Before he became a Christian he terribly persecuted the Christians from house to house, throwing both men and women into prison. He was the pride of the Jewish aristocracy until he became a believer in Christ. He also did much of his writing in prison. (1st Cent.).

These are just a few examples, but imagine these men, all from different walks of life, living centuries apart, with different personalities, different moods, and in different places, never having met each other, and writing books that they said were the word of God. And these books, though dealing with hundreds of controversial subjects, reveal such a startling continuity, that whoever reads these books must conclude that it is one book, with one purpose, one moral standard, one plan of salvation, one explanation for everything, one consummation for all the ages. I am happy to say that it is the embodiment of divine revelation. The Bible is definitely unique in its unity. It is also unique in its content.

b. Unique in its Content

The Bible contains so many awesome things including answers to all man's questions, an accurate history of mankind, miracles that reveal God, and prophecies about future events that we can look back on and conclude that it all happened just the way the Bible said it would. It even gives man hope for the future. Lets look briefly at each of these.

The Bible contains answers .

First of all, it teaches us about God, His personality, the fact that He's one God having a triune nature. It magnifies His holiness and love, as well as His sovereign rule in the universe. It reveals to us that we were created by Him in His image and our fall was a free revolt against His revealed will. It teaches in great detail sin as rebellion and under the judgment of eternal punishment as well as God's abundant mercies in providing salvation and the conditions on which it is experienced. The Bible sets up the highest ethical standards and teaches that these qualities can only be maintained by a changing of the inward nature through the Word of God. It answers questions about life, death, good, and evil.

The Bible also contains an accurate history of mankind.

It gives us reliable information about people, places, and events that other ancient books do not mention. It even tells about kingdoms that have disappeared from the face of the earth. The Bible begins with God's creation of BIBLE700000029.gif the world, and leads us through many centuries of ancient history, and points us toward the end of time. History is very important and does have a purpose. The ancient SumeriansBIBLE700000002.gif Babylonians, and Egyptians knew this and often wondered the meaning of history and where it was heading. BIBLE700000002.gif They carefully preserved the ways of their ancestors and treasured whatever they had of the past. But this sense of history was lost with the fall of Rome and the coming of the dark ages. Western society lost contact with its heritage. In fact, medieval art and literature had to illustrate Scripture with people who wore medieval clothing and lived in castles. Even today modern technology has blinded us from the depths of the past. BIBLE700000002.gif

Today, we are only concerned with the "now". It's very hard for us to put ourselves in the shoes of those who lived in the distant past. Who cares about their manners and customs, trade, money, law, warfare, etc.? Well, I'm happy to say that God does. God's Word reveals that ancient human beings were no less creative or intelligent than we are, and through these people, places, and events God has been working out an eternal purpose, as one writer put it:

"Behind 10,000 events stands God, the builder of history, the maker of the ages. Eternity bounds the one side, eternity bounds the other side, and time is in between---Genesis-origins, 'Revelation-endings, and all the way between God is working things out. You can go down into the minutest detail everywhere and see that there is one great purpose moving through the ages, the eternal design of the almighty God to redeem a wrecked and ruined world. The Bible is one book, one history, one story, His story."

The Bible contains Miracles that reveal God.

People say, "Well, if there just weren't any miracles in the Bible, more people would read it." But the very fact that the Bible does contain miracles, marks it out as a supernatural book. If there's a God, then He can do anything He wants to do, including things that our finite minds cannot understand. Surely, if He created the natural laws, then He could, at any time, set them aside to do whatever He purposed. When I read about the miracles in the Bible, it shows me that God is always present, and there's no limit to His power.

Is 40:25-26 25 "To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?" says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; he calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.

Miracles reveal that God is a God of infinite variety and He has millions of ways to respond to our needs. There's so much we can say about this, but let's just list a few of the Bible's miracles:

-The creation of the world (Gen 1)... "In the beginning God created..."

-The creation of life (Gen 2)... "The LORD's breath of life..."

-The great flood (Gen 6-7)... "I Myself am bringing the flood of waters.."

-The gathering of animals into the ark (Gen 7)... "They went in to Noah.."

-The tower of Babel (Gen 11)..."The LORD confused their languages..."

-The destruction of Sodom (Gen 18-19)... "The LORD rained fire..."

-The 10 plagues on Egypt (Ex 7-12)... "I will execute judgement..."

-The parting of the Red Sea (Ex 14)... "The LORD made the sea dry land..."

-Events under the ministry of Moses, Joshua, the Judges, the Kings, and all the prophets.

-Even the New Testament is filled with signs and wonders and healings performed by God through Jesus and the apostles.

Miracles are occasions on which God comes forth from His hiding place and shows to man that He is a living God, that He is still on the throne of the universe, and that He is sufficient for all of man's problems. The Bible is a Book about God. It has to have miracles. The only other option is that there is no God. Therefore there is no Bible, or salvation, or resurrection, or any kind of hope for mankind. But with this little Book, there is hope. We have God's Word that "everything is possible to him who believes."

The Bible contains prophecies about Future Events.

Prophecy here means the foretelling of events through direct communication from God. There is no other book in the world that foretells the future like the Bible does. All the way back to the beginning of time the Bible records predictions about people, situations, cities, nations, and empires with perfect accuracy to the very minutest detail.

Prophecies about ancient cities and empires such as Babylon, Egypt, Israel, Greece, Rome, Tyre, Ninevah, etc., as well as predictions about people such as Alexander the Great, Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus Epiphanes, and especially about Jesus Christ- His birthplace, lineage, first and second coming, type of death, His resurrection, and on and on. And these were all written so long before the actual fulfillments that no one could ever come close to claiming that they were forged after the events happened. Only God can give us the details of history before they happen.

Is 46:9-10 9 Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, `My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,'

The amazing accuracy leaves us with but one conclusion--the Bible is authored by God. It is obvious that the Bible is a product of someone who knows everything, and that someone is God. No man has ever been able to foretell the future with perfect accuracy.

c. Unique in its Indestructibility

BIBLE700000042.gifThe Bible was written over a period of about 17 Centuries and yet here it is still with us today. Even though the Bible was written on material that perished more quickly than what we have now, it has survived, and is proven to have been preserved beautifully in all its writings. How could this be? Even Shakespeare's writings are in total question, and they were written only a couple of centuries ago. There is definitely something supernatural about the indestructibility of the Bible. Throughout every century the Bible has been attacked. There have been many geniuses, philosophers, psychologists, scientists, historians, critics, and political leaders, who have criticized the Bible over and over again and here it stands. Many have even tried to do away with it completely or keep people from reading it, and yet even today almost every home in America has a Bible. There is certainly great truth in this scripture:

Is 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."

4. Unique in its superiority to Other Sacred Texts.

The Bible is infinitely superior and unique to that of any sacred, religious book in the world. The major religious literature of the world are as follows: The "Veda" of Hinduism , the "Tripitaka" of Buddhism , the "Zend-Avesta" of Zoroastrianism, the sacred texts of Confucianism, the "Koran" of Islam , and the "Bible" of Christianity. Lets compare with the Bible the three most influential sacred books: the Tripitaka , the Veda, and the Koran . I think this is important because there are, according to the World Almanac- over 950,000,000 Muslims (Koran), 700,000,000 Hindus (the Veda's), and over 300,000,000 Buddhists (Tripitaka) in the world today.

The "Tripitaka" of Buddhism

Buddhism began in India about 525 BC. The founder was Gautama Siddhartha (563-480 BC) who achieved enlightenment through intense meditation. The Tripitaka is a collection of Buddha's teachings, rules of monastic life, and commentaries. It is about 10 times larger than the Bible. The basic belief is that life is misery and decay, and there is no ultimate reality in it or behind it. The cycle of endless birth and rebirth continues because of desire and attachment to the unreal "self." Right meditation and deeds will end the cycle and achieve Nirvana, the Void, nothingness. The Bible makes it clear that a personal God does exist and He is to be the only object of worship. According to the Bible, man, though he has sinned against his maker, is not worthless but of infinite worth, therefore God in His love has provided salvation through Jesus Christ.

The Vedas of Hinduism

Hinduism also began in India, but much earlier than Buddhism, about 1500 BC. The Vedas are a collection of rituals and mythological and philosophical commentaries with a vast number of epic stories about gods, heroes, and saints. They were written over a period of about 2000 years, (approx. 1400 BC-500AD). To summarize the Hindu belief would be impossible because there are so many different ways to look at it. That is why there is so many different sects. But they all believe in Brahman (the three-in-one god), Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). Man is subject to fate since he is part of Brahman.

Karma, Reincarnation, and Nirvana are also believed as in Buddhism. Yogas cause one to control the body and emotions through intense discipline, and Dharma is the law of moral order which one must follow to reach Nirvana. It is the aim of every Hindu to avoid reincarnation and reach Nirvana through pure acts, thought, and devotion. It is interesting to note that it is the Hindu Vedas that worship the cow.

The Bible teaches God as a definable, infinite, and personal Supreme Being, who created man in His own image, whom he loves dearly. Sin is rebellion against a holy God, but the judgment for that sin fell on Christ. Salvation is freely given by God and cannot be earned. The Bible sees the universe as totally separate from God and not part of Him.

The Qur'an or Koran of Islam

Islam was founded in 622 AD by Mohammed (570-632 AD), the prophet, in Medina, Arabian peninsula. Today, the Muslim faith is the fastest growing religion in the world, spreading to over 40 countries on three continents. Its founder, Mohammed, was born in Mecca, Arabia (570 AD). He received his first revelation by the angel Gabriel at the age of 40. Though he could not read or write, his revelations were apparently written down by his secretaries for about 22 years until he died in 632 AD. He denied Polytheism and only worshipped Allah, the only God who sent his last and greatest prophet, Mohammed, to give the word of God, the Koran, to mankind.

The Qur'an or Koran are the holy scriptures in Islam. Almost as large as the New Testament, it contains 114 chapters. The Koran is superior to all other revelations because they have been corrupted beyond recognition. Only the Koran is infallible. There is no room for discussion of the historicity of the Bible because Mohammed said it was corrupt. The Koran was written in the Arabic language shortly after Mohammed's death. It teaches that the one true God's name is Allah. He is so far above man in His knowledge and power that no man could ever know him. In fact, it would be blasphemous to call Allah, "your father." There is no personal relationship with him. He is to be obeyed without question, therefore the name Moslem, or Muslim means "to submit." Allah has spoken through numerous prophets, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc.

But Mohammed was the last and most perfect prophet. The Koran teaches that mans good and bad deeds are being recorded by each man's two recording angels, and on the last day, Allah will weigh them in the balances. Some will go to paradise, where they will recline on soft couches with cups of wine, given to them by virgins, of whom each man may marry as many as he pleases. Others will go to Hell where there will be unmerciful torment. If a man dies in war, defending Islam, he is guaranteed eternal life in paradise.

The Bible teaches that God is not divorced from His creatures and loves man dearly. He is a God of love, grace, and mercy, and does call us children. Jesus was called the Son of God, repulsive to Islam. The Bible reveals that salvation can be certain, and sin has been provided for through the death of Christ, also repulsive to Islam for Allah would never permit the suffering of an innocent on behalf of others let alone one of his prophets who he could easily rescue. God motivates man through grace, not fear, through relationship, not legalism. According to the Bible, Christianity was founded by a risen Christ who said:

Jn 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends

In conclusion, the Bible is different than any other book ever written. These are just a few reasons among many. It is without question God's revelation of Himself and His purposes. The Bible is truly a wonder book. May we, as followers of Christ, believe it whole-heartedly, and seek to Know Him better, and may we increase in a desire to share the riches of God's love each day as He leads us.

Amen. BIBLE700000032.gif

1995 The Bible Knowledge Accelerator Created by Rusty Russell