People of the Book
About a century ago, the great English author G.K. Chesterton was asked, “If you were marooned on a desert island and you could only have one book with you, which book would you choose?” Without hesitation, Chesterton responded, “Thomas’ Guide to Practical Shipbuilding“.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? If you were in a desperate situation, what kind of book would you want? Would you want one that would entertain you? Would you want one that would educate you? Or would you want one that would actually help you?
Obviously, you would want a book that would help by providing the solution for your predicament. You would want a book that would tell you how to be rescued. You would want a book that would get you home.
Essentially, this is the Christian view of the Bible—that it explains our predicament and how God has intervened in human history to rescue us. We consider the Bible to be God’s revelation of Himself to humanity and a road map to get us home.
Historically, Christians (as well as Jews) have been known as “People of the Book”, a term that shows the importance of the Bible to our faith. The Bible’s significance is highlighted by references to it as “Scripture” or “the Word of God.” The Apostle Paul further described its centrality to Timothy, saying, “There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us” (2 Timothy 3:15-17, MSG).
Christians believe that all Scripture is God-breathed, or inspired. While God did not literally write the Bible nor dictate it for others to write, He did guide the writers. Thus, while Elijah may have written one of the books of prophecy in the Old Testament, it was God empowering him and enabling him to know what to write. While the New Testament writings of Paul may have reflected Paul’s distinct style, God guided Paul’s writing to ensure that Paul wrote truth and did not promote heresy.
Furthermore, the biblical books can be trusted. Reflecting their credibility, the discoveries of modern archaeology and the science of textual criticism show how the texts have been accurately passed down through the centuries. Readers can be confident that the words they read today are faithful to the original writings.
The Bible reveals how we can know God as well as how we can live God-honouring lives. Because of its importance, believers read it regularly, study it in depth, and memorize it faithfully. They talk with one another about its teachings and seek to apply its lessons to their everyday lives. The Bible is not just a book; it is a useful book.