An Introduction to the Bible – Its Contents (2)7 min read
Key Events. While the Bible is full of narratives, all of which play a significant role in its purpose, there are a few key events which are spoken of more or are more impactful than other events.
- Creation. The first words of Scripture are these: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Creation is the setting of all God’s dealings with His creatures. By His own right as Creator, God holds all authority over the creation; this will be recognized fully when time is consummated.
- The Fall. When God created Adam, this man was sinless and innocent. Yet in Genesis 3, Adam, on the behalf of all his progeny, rebelled against God and plunged the human race into sin and death. This is called “the Fall,” and it explains the state of the world and the depravity of all mankind.
- The Flood. After the days of Adam, man multiplied on the earth exponentially. Sadly, where there is growth in population, there is usually growth in wickedness. Hence, Genesis 6 records, “When men began to multiply upon the earth… the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and… every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” As mentioned earlier, God brought judgment upon the whole world by means of a flood, only saving 8 people. The flood forever changed the physical earth and continually served as an example of God’s righteousness in His judgments.
- The Tower of Babel. When the population grew after the Flood, mankind again took up a course against God and built a religious center that contradicted God’s desire for them. They desired to congregate in Babel, rather than spread across the world as God commanded. Thus, God confounded the languages of the population so it could no longer work in unity. Hence, the different language groups spread across the globe, which explains the existence of different languages, cultures, people groups, and religions.
- The Call of Abraham. A number of years after Babel, God called a man named Abram (later changed to Abraham) to be the father of a new nation, Israel. God promised to Abram that he would be the source of blessing for many nations, ultimately through the Messiah.
- Exodus and Giving of Law. When Abraham’s descendants grew in number, they moved to Egypt because of the worldwide famine that occurred. As those descendants grew further, they were forced into slavery, bringing need for deliverance. God delivered them, gave them a written law code, and brought them into their land. This event explains the solidification and foundation of the nation of Israel.
- Babylonian Captivity. While in their land, the people of Israel constantly rebelled against God, leading to a nation-wide split between the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. Because of the nation’s repeated idolatry at this time, God sent a successful Babylonian invasion, which brought the whole nation under captivity. The nation never fully recovered from that.
- First Coming of Christ. This is the center of all Scripture: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” God was manifested in the flesh, for Christ is the Son of God. In His life on earth, He fulfilled the standards of perfect humanity. In His death, He satisfied God’s wrath and made way for the forgiveness of sins. After death, He resurrected, forever defeating death and guaranteeing the efficacy of His work. Then He ascended as the God-man into heaven to be glorified and exalted as Great High Priest for His people and as King waiting till His enemies are “put under His feet.”
- The Coming of the Holy Spirit and Formation of the Church. After Christ ascended, He sent the Holy Spirit, which initiated an entity called the Church, which is Christ’s Body. This happened on Pentecost in Acts 2. There will be a day when this entity will have reached completion, and Christ will join His Bride (the Church) unto Himself, in which day it will share with His glory.
- The Tribulation. Following God’s dealings with the Church, God will again take up dealings with Israel and the Gentiles in judgment, ultimately culminating in the restoration of Israel as God’s chosen nation.
- The Second Coming of Christ and Events Surrounding It. After God judges the earth, Christ will visibly return to deliver the nation of Israel from any persecution it received from the nations and cleanse Israel in an ultimate Day of Atonement. When Christ returns, He will establish his promised earthly Kingdom, in which He will rule with a rod of iron for 1,000 years. In this time, there will be perfect peace and perfect justice administered.
- Final Judgment. Following 1,000 of Christ’s reign on earth, God will sum up time by initiating the final judgment at the Great White Throne, after one last attempt of rebellion by the Devil. From this point, all who were enemies of God will be enemies of God eternally, and all who were made servants of God will eternally serve Him. Then God will create a New Heaven and New Earth, a creation in which all will be perfect eternally. This will be the eternal state of the believer, while the Lake of Fire will be the eternal dwelling of the sinner.
Time-Periods Emphasized. Scripture is also neatly understood when its different time-periods are outlined. Whereas Scripture can be understood by highlighted events, there are also distinct ages which are marked by a specific mode of divine administration. These are called dispensations. For instance, God dealt with man according to man’s innocence in the Garden of Eden. After the fall, God dealt with man according to his conscience, after the Flood according to human government. When God called Abraham, God interacted with man based on divine promises which had to be received by faith. After the nation of Israel was delivered from Egypt, God brought them under the time period marked by the Law, but only until Christ. When Christ came, a time period was initiated marked by grace administered through the gospel proclamation of the Church. After God’s purposes for the church are complete, He will initiate the earthly Kingdom of Christ, which will be 1,000 years of perfect rule, as mentioned already. Each of these time periods are marked by increased revelation of God’s nature and of man’s intrinsic wickedness.
Covenants Made. In Scripture, there are 5 covenants recorded, all of which have special significance to the overall message of Scripture, particularly when it comes to the Jews. Just for the sake of brevity, they will be listed as such:
- Covenant with Noah – God promises never again to destroy the earth by water.
- Covenant with Abraham – God promises to preserve the progeny and property of Abraham.
- Covenant with Moses – God prescribes the practices of Israel until Christ would come.
- Covenant with David – God promises the throne to David and his Son (Christ).
- The New Covenant – God gives, not a law for man to keep, but a completely new heart with which to obey. This covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ.
Subjects Surrounding the Topic of Scripture
While the contents of the Bible are the most important to understand, for an introduction to be complete, one should also know what issues and questions arise when discussing the topic of Scripture. These will be given in point form, for the sake of conciseness.
Questions Regarding the Nature of Scripture. (1) Revelation: How has God disclosed Himself in Scripture? (2) Inspiration: Is this book God-Breathed? (3) Sufficiency: Does this really contain the whole counsel of God for us today? (4) Infallibility: How reliable is it? (5) Authority: What authority does it hold over my life?
Questions Regarding the Origin of Scripture. (1) The Canon of Scripture: What books belong in the Bible? (2) The Language of Scripture: How do we translate and study the original languages? (3) The Transmission of Scripture: How did we get the Bible?
Questions Regarding the Interpretation and Application of Scripture. (1) Hermeneutics: How do we interpret a Bible passage? (2) Exegesis: What are we meant to get out of a passage? (3) Illumination: How does God enlighten my mind to Scripture? (4) Application: How does this affect my life today?