October 2011: How We Got The Bible

For years, many of my students and friends—and some in my family—have asked me to write my autobiography.  I did! And it’s now hot off the press and presently available for you to order from me or from amazon.com, both as a paperback and as an e-reader.    If you order it directly from me, I’ll autograph your copy.  Just think, in a few hundred years it might be a classic collector’s items worth hundreds of thousands of dollars . . .  Simply contact me by phone or e-mail for the price and to furnish me shipping instructions.  Published in August, (it even has photos!) it’s about my own journey through this mortal life from my conception to the present.  

Entitled Him ‘n me, I hope you’ll purchase a copy.    My prayer is that God will use it to draw many people closer to Himself  through Jesus.  It’s about Him, not me.   There are some encouraging parts, some poignant parts, some sad parts, some strange parts, some controversial parts, some weird parts, and some happy parts.  As mentioned, it’s got some photos of me.  They’re guaranteed to keep your home free from pests and rodents.  If you lay it on your coffee table using the latest feng shui placement, it’ll even ward off evil spirits . . .  Seriously, I do hope you’ll purchase a copy—for yourself, perhaps as gifts to others, etc.  None of my royalties are used personally; all royalties are contributed to our  ministry  in   order  to  reach  more   and  more people with the Good News about Jesus.

Ancient Aliens Give Bible To Moses! 

No doubt you’ve seen those or similar headlines in various supermarket tabloids from time to time.  By the way, I have a very misinformed friend who actually believes that headline statement!  All my teaching in person and in print is always based upon the Bible; some of my teachings are not directly from the Bible, but they are always Bible-based and Bible-related.  Let’s address a couple of basic issues about the Bible.  First, Why is the book we call the Bible called the Bible? Why isn’t it called the Grunzat,” “Yarnusk,” “Q’reen,” or some other name?

How We Really Got The Bible

The word “Bible” comes from the Greek word for the papyrus plant (biblos), since the leaves of that plant were used for “paper” in ancient times.  The Bible is a collection of 66 different “books” or letters written by 40 authors over a period of approximately 1,500 years.  It’s not just one book, but a collection of books.  Sure, they’re relatively short books and letters, some no lengthier than a small pamphlet, but they’re still called books, nevertheless.  Therefore, you don’t need to just pick up the Bible and begin reading it like you would a single novel, an autobiography, or a textbook.

When you first read the Bible (if you haven’t already) you don’t need to start by reading the first book, “Genesis.”  You could begin by reading one of the other books.  For those who have never read the Bible, I generally recommend they begin by reading “The Book of John” (also called “The Gospel of John”).  John is a pretty good introduction to the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth whom the entire Bible is really all about in one way or another.

Next, I recommend people read the “Book of Acts” (actually, its full title is “The Book of the Acts of Holy Spirit”), and then the rest of the books following Acts, clear to the book of Revelation.  Then go back and begin reading Genesis, continuing all the way to the end of the “library” of 66 books.  Here’s a relatively minor point, but one many people don’t know.  Originally, the books of the Bible were not divided into chapters and verses as we see them today.  Such divisions were made only relatively recently in history.  And, generally speaking, they were made by one man.  Although he did an excellent job of dividing the Bible into chapters and verses, such divisions were not in the original manuscripts of the Bible.

Brief History Of Writing

Writing in many forms has been around for a long, long time—for thousands of years.  When God first began to “reveal” Himself to humans and help them sort out the differences between all the false idols and handmade god-statues they had created for themselves, on one hand, and the one true and living God, on the other hand, He prompted various people to begin writing down His concepts, thoughts, and words. 

That began approximately 3,500 years ago. Oh, they weren’t written on word processors and faxed, e-mailed, or texted from place to place, but they were written down—on clay tablets, on special animal skins, on papyrus—writing surfaces like that.  God used 40 persons to write the Bible over a period of approximately 1,500 years. 

God caused people to write what He wanted them to write.  Keep in mind they were humans just like you and me; some were well-educated, some were not.  They came from various walks of life and occupations.  Some were kings, some were farmers and fishermen, but they were all literate and could write.

Don’t believe the naïve lies they were sort of ancient “cave people” who were ignorant and could only grunt—who couldn’t read or write.  That simply isn’t true.  From China, the Middle East, and various other sites all over the world, archaeologists, toponymists, epistemologists, and other experts about human history are constantly discovering more and more writing that is more and more ancient—going back many thousands of years.  Writing in many languages has been around for a long, long time, folks.

How God “Wrote” The Bible

Here’s how one reference in the Bible says God caused people to communicate what He wanted written.  2 Peter 1: 21 says as they were guided and directed by God’s  Spirit inside of them, certain people wrote what God wanted written.  Oh, they weren’t automatons, whom God just overpowered and forced them to speak or took control of their hands and made them write.  

No, God worked “behind the scenes” in their minds and spirits so they thought the thoughts God wanted them to think, and then wrote them down—using their own style of writing, their own languages, their own idioms, their own phrases.  Holy Spirit inside them acted as somewhat of an “overseer” to ensure that they wrote what God wanted them to write.  He didn’t override their personalities and “force” them to write; in fact, they probably didn’t know with any certainty at the time that what they were writing was the “word of God.”

They were simply writing down what they believed God was communicating to them—from inside them, for the most part; although some of them would occasionally “hear” God’s voice from out of the heavens, out of a cloud, or from some other “outside” source.  But for the most part they wrote what Holy Spirit guided them to write from where He lived inside their minds and spirits.  Another reference in the Bible (2 Timothy 3: 16) says the entire Bible is “inspired” by God.  Literally, the word “inspired” means all the Bible is “God-breathed.”  Well, what does that mean?  How did that work?

Look at the word “inspiration.” Let me write it this way:  “in-spirited-action.”  What that means is that God was inside certain people—inside their spirits—and He took action to cause them to think—in their minds—certain thoughts and to write whatever words He wanted written.  Some people question God’s “ability” to cause the Bible to be written in the manner I’ve described. 

Although the Bible claims that God did cause it to be written through various people, God didn’t “control” their every move.  The writers used their own minds, and their individual personalities show clearly in the different styles of writing found in the 66 books of the Bible.  God is God.  He can do that sort of thing, can’t He?  You decide.  Can I prove that’s how it happened?  Nope.  I wasn’t there.  But the Bible says that’s how it happened.  It’s a matter of choice.  Is God trustworthy?

Who Ya Gonna Believe?

Can I believe Him when the Bible says that’s how it happened?  I believe I can.  Can you?  That’s up to you.  It’s a matter of choice.  Who ya gonna believe?  Does this type of explanation seem farfetched to you?  It doesn’t to me—if I believe God is God:  a real “unbodied person” who exists in spirit “form” and who lives inside  people.  As stated previously, the Bible is not just one book; rather, it is a collection of 66 different books.  There are 39 books in the Old Testament (the part written before Jesus lived) and 27 books in the New Testament (the part written about Jesus when He was here on earth as a human, and for about 35 years afterwards).

The oldest book of the 66 books is the Book of Job (pronounced jobe), likely written about 2,000 years before Jesus.  The last book written is the Book of Revelation, written about 30 years or so after the time of Jesus.  Are all those books reliable?  Can they be trusted?  You have to answer such questions for yourself.

All I can tell you is that the Bible has been around for a long, long time.  People have tried to burn all the copies in existence, kill people who owned them, prove it’s false and full of myths and errors, prove that it wasn’t written by those who claim to have written it.  And it’s still here, still being printed, still being distributed, still being read by multitudes of people, still radically changing the lives of millions of people in each generation who believe and obey its teachings. 

What can I say?  It seems to me the real issue is something like this:  what is your own personal relationship to the Bible? You must use your own mind and spirit to read it.  Does the Holy Spirit live inside you?  If He caused it to be written—as the Bible claims—have you ever asked Him to “interpret” it for you and help you understand it?  What better person to ask to explain it to you than the Person who caused it to be written? 

God did not give us the Bible merely to inform us.  No.  No.  No!  God gave us the Bible to transform us, not merely to inform us.  It’s a living” book Holy Spirit uses from inside us to transform our lives more and more into the clear image of God as seen in Jesus.  You are missing out on the very intent, purpose, and meaning of the Bible if you’re merely reading it to amass information about the Christian religion.  Or if you’re merely reading it for its history, rich poetry or wise sayings.  

God gave you your Bible to transform your life.  And He does it little by little, day by day, week by week, month by month, year after year . . . as you read, study, and attempt to obey it.  God’s Spirit who lives inside you in your spirit takes what’s written on the printed pages of the Bible, makes it come alive inside you, and s-l-o-­w-l-y transforms your life from the inside out.  I hope it goes without saying that for your transformation to happen, you must actually get out your Bible and read, study, and attempt to obey it regularly and consistently.

         All meaningful and lasting change begins on the inside of us and works its way out into our thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and behavior!

“God’s Word is LIFE-giving and full of power. It pierces down inside us–to the very depths of our being–like a sharp, two-edged sword, clearly showing us what changes need to be made inside us with the inner power of Holy Spirit.” –adapted from Hebrews 4: 12

Thought For The Month     

                              “Self-filled, sin-full living will keep you from the Bible or the Bible will keep you from self-filled, sin-full living!”

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
Revised and Updated December 2020

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