Published September 19, 2013
Skeptics scoff at it. Atheists denounce it. Agnostics question it. Scientists debunk it. Religion debates it. The faithful value it. Yet, all agree it has an impact on the world. The Bible.
There are many books in the world ranging from fiction to non-fiction. There are autobiographies of great men and women, wonderful bestselling fictional tales from Shakespeare to "Harry Potter," from "50 Shades of Gray" to "Lord of the Rings."
However, the Holy Bible continues to be sold more than any other book on the planet. The Bible is still the most widely published and distributed book in the world. It continues to be the world’s bestselling book, with billions being sold.
It is a book hard to ignore. It is filled with riveting stories about life and death, tragedy and triumph, war and peace, love and hate, fear and courage, sadness and joy, darkness and light, good and evil, heaven and hell, God and Satan, destruction and salvation; sin and redemption. It is a book that is never short on topics addressing our human existence.
In the Greek language, the root word for the Bible is “biblia,” meaning books. The Bible is comprised of sixty-six books, from Genesis to Revelation, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. It claims to be the word of God that provides God’s account about the dawn of the world, the creation of man, the fall of man, the redemption of man, the eventual end of planet Earth as we know it, and the ultimate creation of a new heaven and new earth.
Pope Francis recently discussed the significance and relevance of the Bible during an annual assembly of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. The theme was "Inspiration and Truth in the Bible.”
The Vatican Information Service reported the Pontiff explained; “Sacred Scripture is the written testimony of the divine Word, the canonical memory that attests to the event of Revelation. However, the Word of God precedes the Bible and surpasses it. That is why the center of our faith isn't just a book, but a salvation history and above all a person, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pastor of Potter’s House church in Dallas, describes the Bible as “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.”
He explains it is a book that goes beyond religion but studies relationships. In the T.D. Jakes Relationship Bible, Jakes writes; “Our relationship with God is the foundation for our lives. If we try to build on any other relationships or things, we are building on quicksand, because at some point all of our relationships will break down. It is from our earthly relationship with God that He gives us the privilege of having healthy relationships with our spouse, our families, our friends, and countless others. “
There are many people who question the Bible’s relevance to our modern world. And some of them do so with good reason. Consider this, through the ages; some have manipulated the Bible to use for their own selfish pursuits. They have unwisely advanced the drumbeat of wars, maligned people outside the faith of Judeo-Christianity, and even used it to make one feel superior over others because of race and ethnicity.
The abuse and misuse of the Bible prompted the great spiritual leader Billy Graham to wisely advise; “We are the Bibles the world is reading; we are the creeds the world is needing; we are the sermons the world is heeding.”
Graham added; “Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.”
Dr. Martin Luther King understood this concept. He relied heavily on the Bible to extend forgiveness and goodness to everyone, including those who were considered his enemies. The Bible was his foundational study guide for leading the historic non-violent struggle for civil rights and voting rights for Blacks in America.
King used the words of the prophet Micah to challenge those elected to serve in politics and public office to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with (their) God. His protest for being critical of the war in Vietnam stemmed from his hope that mankind would one day fulfill the prophet Isaiah’s vision that people would someday “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” To his critics who called him an extremist, he responded that he was an extremist of love like Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and other great leaders who found guidance from the Bible.
Pope Francis stood on biblical grounds when he urged world leaders to seek a peaceable solution to the chemical weapons crisis in Syria. He asked Christians and people of other faiths to join with him in a day of fasting and praying for peace. He even posted a message on Twitter; “The only war that we must all fight is the one against evil.”
Even Hollywood is finding inspiration from the Bible. Successful Hollywood power couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey recently produced the popular television series, “The Bible.”
They explained to me how they believe the Bible reaches beyond the Jewish and Christian faith. Roma explains; “The Bible is a book that changes lives. The Bible is the cornerstone of our culture.” Mark states; “We love the Bible and we believe.” Mark and Roma tell me the Bible has great influence on art, literature, history, science and human development.
No doubt, the Bible will continue to be a source of inspiration for millions around the world. Also, it will continue to be a source of controversy and debate for the skeptics. One thing is very clear; people who believe it or doubt it will continue to turn its pages searching for answers to support their faith or lack thereof.
But be advised, the Bible will cause you to think and to act. It gives a description of itself in Hebrews 4:12- “For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. “