Contrary to the opinion of many the Bible is a popular book. More copies of the Bible and Scripture portions are being distributed throughout the world than any other material. Its popularity alone should cause inquiring minds to read it to find out why it is so popular.

Not only is the Bible so very popular it has always been considered a very powerful book. George Washington said, “It is impossible to righteously govern the world without God and the Bible.” Andrew Jackson called the Bible “The rock on which our republic rests.” In a poll taken, 223 corporate CEOs and college presidents named the Bible as the most influential book in their lives.

Therefore, what is the Bible? This is the single most important question one should ask in unlocking God’s word. Nearly all the problems people have in understanding the Bible start with misunderstandings of what the Book is. Only when you know what the Bible is and why it was written can you understand its message for your life.

First and foremost, the Bible is God’s book. It is important that we read this book, because the God of the universe wrote it. While God used men to do the actual writing, they were “carried along” by His Spirit. “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).

This fact leads us to our first guiding principle for reading the Bible: You can understand God’s word, because this is the intent of its Author. God gave you His word and He wants you to understand it. Those who charge Jesus with delivering a message which we cannot understand make one of the most serious possible mistakes: They judge that Jesus was an incompetent or an ineffective prophet (cf. Acts 3:22-23; Deut. 18:18-19). If that charge were true, then God either could not deliver a book we can all understand (which discredits His wisdom and power), or else He did not want to (which impugns His goodness and mercy). Which of these positions will you take? “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace” (I Cor. 14:33). Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32 KJV). You cannot know the truth unless you can understand it. Paul wrote, “that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; {to be specific} that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power” (Eph 3:3-7 NAS).

The second guiding principle for Bible Study: The purpose of reading and studying the Bible is to experience God. John made this clear when he said, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). Whenever you read and study the Bible, you have the opportunity to come into the presence of its Author. He did not give you His book to hide Himself but to reveal Himself to you.

God has revealed Himself to you because He wants you to know Him. If God gave us His word to reveal Himself to us, this raises a second question: How do we meet Him there? God’s word reveals to us our need for God, and then shows how He meets this need in Christ. Therefore, we need to read the Bible because it shows us how God meets our deepest needs today.

When we read the Bible, we come face to face with our sin problem and therefore, our need for God. An evangelist in the nineteenth century wrote in a Bible he gave to a friend, “This book will separate you from your sins, or your sins will separate you from this book.” The Bible reveals our sin problem by stating, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Not only does the Bible state man’s problem, it also states the result of our sins: “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). This death is the spiritual death one will suffer in eternal punishment, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).

God then continues by showing Jesus to be the only solution to our problem. The Bible says that God’s Son is our only hope: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The golden text of the Bible states it as follows: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Not only is Jesus Christ our way to the Father and the remission of our sins, He is the way to triumphant living: Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have {it} abundantly” (John 10:10 NAS).

God wants us to respond to this revelation by turning to Christ as Savior and Lord by our obedience to the gospel. When you do this, in Christ you experience God. The Bible is then designed to help us maintain a personal relationship with the Lord.

As we have found, there are two guiding principles for reading and studying the Bible: (1) God wants you to understand His book, the Bible (2) The Scriptures exist to reveal their Author so you can know and experience Him personally, receive the forgiveness of your sins, and experience triumphant living.