The Bible is the written result of God’s revelation of himself – it reveals who he is, what he is like, and how people have responded.
Most people know that the Bible is divided into two sections. The first part called the Old Testament, starts with a description of how the world came to be like it is, and goes on to tell the story of the Jewish nation through the Bronze and Iron Ages. The second part, or New Testament was written in Roman times and records the life of Jesus, the birth of the Church, and concludes with a vision of the end of time. In the Bible, there is a gap of about 400 years between the end of the Old and the start of the New Testament. While it is understandable that the life of Jesus was so extraordinary that it marked the start of a new chapter of history, the Bible’s old-new division has led some people to think that the God of the Old Testament is not the same as the God of the New. The writers of the New Testament, however, were certain that the God they wrote about was the same God that their ancestors knew.
Equally, it can be tempting to think that God must be like this or that. We take our convictions, standards, and experiences and use them to build an image of a god who fits our own hopes, expectations, and desires. Our god becomes interested in the issues we are passionate about, and is ‘on our side’ in the conflicts we engage in. Our god agrees with us that the most important things in life are to be safe and to be happy. But scientists tell us that this god, the one we have created for ourselves, does not exist, and I am sure that they are right. If our god is simply an extension of ourselves then actually that is who we worship.
It is God himself who tells us who he is, what he is like, and what pleases and displeases him. The writer of Exodus recorded the words God spoke when he revealed himself to Moses and his chosen people. God proclaimed that he is “Yahweh, Yahweh”, “I am who I am”. He defines himself by himself because there is no other way of describing him. It is this same unchanging God, who continues to reveal himself through every page of scripture. If the Bible is to be believed, then its representation of God must be consistent throughout all its pages, and if God is to be discovered, we must use every page of scripture to expand the image we have of him.
Many people will give testimony to the time that they encountered God. When he connected with them. God meets with us today, in the person of his son Jesus. Christians understand that in some amazing way, God can be present inside us, in the form of his Spirit. In this way his presence can be sensed and the strength it brings, experienced. But it is in the written word of scripture, the Bible, that God reveals himself most clearly. It cannot be overstated, that if you want to know God better, then there is no better way to do this than by reading and studying the Bible. With his power and presence in every page, I know of nothing more exciting and rewarding.