Lesson 1:

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE

(New American Standard (NAS) Version)

(This is the first Bible lesson of a 16 lesson, Online Bible Study series. These studies provide Bible answers to Bible questions and will guide the student to God's truth as revealed by His Holy Word. These lessons are only available at this Internet site.)

The Bible is a book that can be found almost anywhere on the earth. It has been translated into more than 2000 different languages and dialects. It is also the world's most popular book. Every year more copies of the Bible are sold than any other publication, and the number of sales is increasing.

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce you to the Bible. The lesson will tell you where the Bible came from, why it was written, how it is organized, and how to find references to specific parts of it.

1. Origin of the Bible

The Bible is one of the world's oldest books. Its oldest sections were written about 1500 years before the birth of Christ. Even its newest sections were written about 1900 years ago.

Clearly, then, having been written over a period of about 1600 years, the Bible was not written by one person. No one knows precisely how many people contributed to the Bible. It is estimated there were about forty authors.

One of the most important facts about the Bible is that those who wrote it did not claim to be the source of the ideas they wrote about. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, the authors assert that what they were writing really came from God. For example, one of the writers, Paul, made this statement: All Scripture [i.e., the Bible] is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Another writer, Peter, wrote: ... for no prophecy was ever made by the act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Pet. 1:21). Other Bible writers confirm the statements of Paul and Peter.

NOTE
If you are not familiar with the form of the Bible references used in this and the lessons to follow, two helpful tables are included with this lesson. The first, entitled Bible References, explains a widely used system for specifying chapters and verses of the Bible. The second, entitled The Books of the Bible, is a list of the books of the Bible, along with their abbreviations, in the order in which they occur in the English Bible.

Through the years there were those to whom the writings of men such as Paul and Peter were sacred. They understood these writings originated with God Himself. Some of these people dedicated themselves to collecting, arranging, and preserving the Scriptures that existed in their day. Today the names of most of those who did this work are unknown to us. We do know that well before the time of Christ the Jews had already finished assembling the divinely inspired writings of the Hebrews. It is a collection of 39 books. In the list of Bible books appearing elsewhere in this lesson, it is called the Old Testament. Following Christ's life on earth, additional sacred books were written. Some of these books record historical events pertaining to Christ and His early followers. Others are letters written to explain Christ's teaching or to encourage the followers of Christ to practice the moral principles He taught. There are 27 books in this later collection. Together they form the New Testament.

2. Purpose of the Bible

Perhaps at some time you have said, "Nobody's perfect." You said it because you made a mistake others were aware of. You felt you needed to justify yourself but had no other explanation to offer. The Bible makes similar statements about every human being: The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one (Psa. 14:2-3).

Bible References
The Bible is divided into books, the books into chapters. and the chapters into verses. Several similar formats can be used to refer to specific chapters or to specific verses. The examples below illustrate the possibilities:
References to Chapters:
Gen. 1 Refers to chapter 1 in the book of Genesis.
Exo. 12-20 Refers to chapters 12 through 20 in the book of Exodus.
References to Verses:
Gen. 1:1 Refers to verse 1 of chapter 1 in the book of Genesis
Exo. 12:22a Refers to the first part of verse 22 of chapter 12 in the book of Exodus.
Exo.12:22b Refers to the second part of verse 22 of chapter 12 in the book of Exodus.
Lev. 25:8-17 Refers to verses 8 through 17 of chapter 25 in the book of Leviticus.
Num. 7:6,9 Refers to verse 6 and to verse 9 of chapter 7 in the book of Numbers.

Anything you do, or fail to do, that displeases God is called "sin." Whenever you sin, you drive a wedge between yourself and God: Behold, the LORD's hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear dull so that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear (Isa. 59:1-2). Unless something is done to erase your sins, you will remain separated from God forever. Paul compared committing sin to working at a job. He pointed out that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23a). He was not referring to mere physical death but to spiritual death. Elsewhere he describes spiritual death as eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thes. 1:9).

The Bible is very much concerned with sin--not just with your sin but with everyone's sin. The Bible reveals God's great plan for bringing about the forgiveness of our sins. When we follow the plan, God forgives our sins and will reward us with everlasting life: the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23b). The Bible is about changing from death to life, from destruction to salvation.

3. The Unity of the Bible

The theme of salvation from sin, which runs throughout the pages of Scripture, is one of the attributes of the Bible showing its harmony and consistency. It is remarkable that such unity could be maintained by so many writers, who lived at different times, at different places, and in different cultures. They did not all speak the same language and did not all write in the same literary form. It is as if the books of the Bible are the instruments in an orchestra whose diverse sounds blend harmoniously under the direction of the conductor. When we recognize that the writers themselves were not the original sources of the information and ideas they expressed but were acting under the direction of God, we can understand why the Bible forms a unit.

4. The Content of the Bible

"How To ..." books and articles are popular today. It is not hard to find information on how to train a dog, how to wire a house, how to lose weight, how to quit worrying, how to increase one's vocabulary, or how to improve one's marriage. When we read these publications, we expect them to give us a point-by-point plan for achieving a goal. If you expect to find that kind of recipe for salvation in the Bible, you will be disappointed. God has not chosen to unfold his plan for removing sin as a simple list of "Do's" and "Don't's".

Instead, God has chosen to unfold His plan by having us consider His dealings with certain groups of people over a long period of history. As we read the Bible we see how God interacted with these people. We learn more and more about the nature of God and about the kind of response He desires from us. From the Bible we learn how the human race began and how sin first entered the world and continued to be practiced. We learn about God's response to those who were wicked and to those who were righteous. Sometimes God's response involved miracles. More often than not, God's response was communicated through men He chose as His special agents. The record of what they said and wrote spans a variety of literary styles. Some parts of the Bible are simply the records of historical events. Other parts are prayers or thanks to God stated in poetic form. Still other parts are sermons that were preached, predictions that were made, or personal letters that were written.

As we read through the Bible, we begin to realize that we, like the men and women of the Bible, are guilty of displeasing God. We see that we are powerless to reverse the process by which we isolated ourselves from Him. We also begin to realize that God loves us, disobedient though we are, and that He has devised a way for us to be forgiven and saved.

The central feature of God's plan is Jesus Christ. Jesus left heaven to come to earth to live as one of us. He experienced the temptations, disappointments, and heartaches that we experience. Then He died for us as a perfect sacrifice for sin. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The aim of the lessons in this series is to help you read, study, and understand the Bible. If you decide to study all the lessons in this series, you will have made a choice that may have far-reaching consequences for you personally. The Bible can become a mirror that enables you to see yourself as God sees you and a messenger that tells you how to become what God wants you to be.

The Books of the Bible
O l d     T e s t a m e n t
Book Abbrev. Book Abbrev. Book Abbrev.
Genesis Gen. 2 Chronicles 2 Chron. Daniel Dan.
Exodus Exo. Ezra Ezra Hosea Hos.
Leviticus Lev. Nehemiah Neh. Joel Joel
Numbers Num. Esther Esth. Amos Amos
Deuteronomy Deut. Job Job Obadiah Obad.
Joshua Josh. Psalms Psa. Jonah Jon.
Judges Judg. Proverbs Prov. Micah Mic.
Ruth Ruth Ecclesiastes Eccl. Nahum Nah.
1 Samuel 1 Sam. Song of Solomon S.of S. Habakkuk Hab.
2 Samuel 2 Sam. Isaiah Isa. Zephaniah Zeph.
1 Kings 1 Kgs. Jeremiah Jer. Haggai Hag.
2 Kings 2 Kgs. Lamentations Lam. Zechariah Zech.
1 Chronicles 1 Chron. Ezekiel Eze. Malachi Mal.
 
N e w     T e s t a m e n t
Book Abbrev. Book Abbrev. Book Abbrev.
Matthew Matt. Ephesians Eph. Hebrews Heb.
Mark Mark Philippians Phil. James Jas.
Luke Luke Colossians Col. 1 Peter 1 Pet.
John John 1 Thessalonians 1 Thes. 2 Peter 2 Pet.
Acts Acts 2 Thessalonians 2 Thes. 1 John 1 John
Romans Rom. 1 Timothy 1 Tim. 2 John 2 John
1 Corinthians 1 Cor. 2 Timothy 2 Tim. 3 John 3 John
2 Corinthians 2 Cor. Titus Tit. Jude Jude
Galatians Gal. Philemon Phile. Revelation Rev.


Test Your Understanding

Lesson 1
Bible Study Question Sheet

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PART 1--Fill in the blanks:
Look up the following verses in the Bible, click on the blank and type your answer:

1. Gal.
1:11-12
For I would have you know, brethren, that the which was by me is not according to . For I neither received it from , nor was I it, but I received it through a of Jesus Christ.
2. Psa.
19:7
The of the LORD is , restoring the ; The of the LORD is , making the simple.
3. Rom.
5:8
But demonstrates His own toward us, in that while we were yet , Christ for us.
4. Rev.
21:8
But for the cowardly and and abominable and and persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all , their part will be in the lake that with fire and brimstone, which is the second .
5. 1 Pet.
1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great has caused us to be born again to a living through the of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an which is , and and will not away, reserved in for you.
6. 2 Tim.
3:14-15
You, however, continue in the things which you have and become of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the writings, which are able to give you the that leads to through which is in Christ Jesus.


PART 2--True or False:

Select "True" if the statement is correct or "False" if incorrect.
  7. True False The last book of the Bible was written about 1900 years ago.
  8. True False The Bible was written by about ten persons.
  9. True False All Scripture is inspired by God.
10. True False The Bible has two main parts--the Old Testament and the New Testament.
11. True False In the long run God will overlook everybody's sins.
12. True False The Bible is a collection of unrelated books.
13. True False The Bible exhibits a variety of literary forms.
14. True False The Bible reveals God's will primarily by giving lists of commands to obey.
15. True False The Bible teaches sinners how to have eternal life.


PARAGRAPH LINKS
Origin | Purpose | Unity | Content | References | Books


PART 3--Multiple choice
Select the phrase(s) that correctly complete each statement.
PLEASE NOTE: SOME statements have MORE THAN ONE correct completion.
16. The Bible a. Is primarily available in English-speaking nations.
b. Was written over a period of about 1600 years.
c. Consists of 27 books.
d. Teaches that sin has no lasting consequences
17. The Bible a. Is profitable for training in righteousness.
b. Is mainly a children's storybook.
c. Asserts that it is the product of God working through human writers.
d. Does not use historical accounts to reveal the character and will of God.
18. Sin a. Is a concept that was invented by religious leaders.
b. Is discussed only in the Old Testament.
c. Is limited to those who have never read the Bible.
d. Is a violation of the will of God.
19. God a. Has little interest in people who are guilty of sin.
b. Loves us too much to ever allow us to be alienated from Him.
c. Gave Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins.
d. Has no specific plan for our salvation.
20. Some parts of the Bible are a. Letters.
b. Newspaper clippings.
c. Magazine articles.
d. Poetry.
21. Jesus a. Does not understand what being human is like.
b. Does not understand what being in heaven is like.
c. Is an insignificant part of the God's plan of salvation.
d. Was sent to earth to be a perfect and complete sacrifice for sin.
22. From the Bible we learn a. Einstein's theory of relativity.
b. How sin entered the world.
c. The principles of psychoanalysis.
d. God's attitude toward those who strive to be righteous.
23. One of the ways to see the unity of the Bible is a. To give credence to allegations that the Bible frequently contradicts itself.
b. To begin with the assumption that it is solely a human product.
c. To see that the theme of sin and salvation runs throughout it.
d. To blindly accept it without further examination.
24. Some of the books in the Old Testament are a. Ruth, Proverbs, and Zephaniah.
b. Joshua, Isaiah, and Hezekiah.
c. Deuteronomy, Micah, and Jehoiakim.
d. Exodus, Jude, and Malachi.
25. Some of the books of the New Testament are a. Acts, Barnabas, and 2 Timothy.
b. Ephesians, Laodiceans, and Colossians.
c. Matthew, Titus, and Simon.
d. Mark, Hebrews, and Philippians.



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