The Bible is One Book
July 11, 2012
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There was one more thing I needed to do before I left for Manitoba — find a Bible. I knew where there was a small stack of nearly worn out Bibles, looked through them when no one else was around, selected one that seemed the right size and stashed it in my suitcase.
My employer was transferring me to Manitoba to run a grain elevator where the manager had suffered a heart attack. Something inside was pressing me to take a good look at the Bible to see if there was something there that I could believe was a message from God. A visit to the home of my parents before I left gave me the chance to obtain a Bible without the embarrassment of buying one or asking for one.
I really wasn’t sure anymore if there was a God, or, if He did exist, whether it was possible to know Him. I knew there were many things in the Bible that couldn’t possibly be true, that there were fatal contradictions between what the Bible taught as principles for life and what the Bible said God had called the Israelites to do in Old Testament times. I knew that people who said they had been born again were lying, they were as proud, arrogant and materialistic as anyone else.
Something inside was pressing me to examine the Bible again for myself and I didn’t want anyone else to know about it. I had heard the Bible read twice a day in my parents home, I knew all the familiar old Bible stories, I had been a devout and active church member in my youth. Finally I had come face to face with the fact that behind all the outward and visible forms in the churches and people that I knew who called themselves Christian, there was not any inward and spiritual reality.
As soon as I was settled in Manitoba I began to read and studied all the dubious passages in the Old Testament. I read and studied the teachings of the New Testament. Over the course of the following year, it began to dawn on me that I could not divide this book into divine teachings worthy of belief and man-made teachings and history that had been erroneously inserted. It was all one book! There seemed to be a meaning in the passages I wanted to reject that linked them to everything else in the book. Jesus and the Apostles cited many of them in the New Testament. Everything in the book was so interwoven into the whole tapestry that if I cut something out the whole book would fall to shreds.
I began to see that there could only be two ways to look at the Bible — either it was all true and worthy of belief, or it was all man-made nonsense. If it was true, there would be a reason for all the things that I had questioned. If it was false . . . But here I came up against an insurmountable obstacle. How could such a book, written by so many different writers over thousands of years be so tightly interwoven if it was only a work of fiction? Wouldn’t there have to be someone masterminding such a project?
The answer that pressed itself upon me was that it was indeed a conspiracy, and God Himself was the mastermind behind the conspiracy. All the things that I had known for a certainty to be false and unreasonable presented themselves to me as the foundational truths of the universe, the real meaning of life.
All this was prologue, preparing me for the moment when God would reveal to me my sinfulness and when a simple moment in time would permanently change the course of my life. It took me some time to realize that what happened to me in this moment of time was what the Bible calls the new birth. That is a story in itself.
Two more conclusions have remained with me from that first year of searching the Bible. First, there is no need to fear that a study of the Bible will lead me astray. I can be led astray by trying to insert my own ideas, or someone else’s ideas, into the Bible, but reading the Bible on its own terms will never lead me astray.
Secondly, the best way to prevent foreign ideas from slipping into my understanding of the Bible is to approach it as one book. I have read the Bible through from beginning to end four times, twice in English, twice in French. In my devotions, I always read a complete book of the Bible, breaking it up day by day into bite size portions. I am afraid of taking a portion of the Bible and trying to understand it as a stand-alone message. It was not meant to be understood that way. Every passage in the Bible is linked to all the rest of the Bible. It is one Book.