What does the Bible teach? Sad to say, most people have not read the Bible in its entirety, and many have no idea what it really teaches. Though much more detail could be provided, what follows is a brief summary of the Bible’s teaching.
1) That the Triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — created all things good, including man, as described in Genesis 1-2, and that He still preserves all things. It is as the Bible says in Nehemiah 9:6: “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.”
2) Though God created man to honor and respect God as his Maker, to love Him and to trust Him, the first man and woman fell into sin as described in Genesis 3 and, as a result, all of mankind is fallen and no longer loves, trusts and honors God above all things. Instead, people are born into this world turned in upon themselves and seeking their own will and ways, which are selfish and sinful. People do not and cannot keep all of God’s commandments as God requires.
It is as the Bible says in Genesis 8:21 and Jeremiah 17:9: “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” and “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Ecclesiastes 7:20 says: “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”
3) In order to redeem and save mankind from the just and eternal punishment we all deserve on account of our sinfulness and disobedience to God and to restore us to fellowship with Him, God sent His only-begotten Son into the world as a true man that He might fulfill all that God’s holy law requires of us and bear our sin and suffer our punishment by dying on the cross to atone for the sins of the world. This God did through the incarnation, birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed ahead to the promised Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), who would make atonement for the sins of all and undo the work of the devil when he tempted Adam and Eve and brought sin and God’s curse upon God’s creation.
John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says: “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … he was buried … he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
Hebrews 2:14-17 says: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
4) The forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God that Christ Jesus won for all when he suffered and died on the cross and then rose again on the third day becomes ours through faith in Jesus Christ and not by our own works or merits.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Romans 3:21-26 says: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
And, Romans 5:1-2 says: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
5) God desires all people to repent of their sinful and rebellious ways and trust in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and life everlasting. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). For that reason, He commands that His Word be preached to all people (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47), and His Holy Spirit works through the Word and Baptism to create saving faith in the hearts of hearers and to regenerate them, giving them new life in fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the people (Acts 2:38-39): “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
Titus 3:3-7 says: “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
6) As Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, we are saved by God’s grace alone and through faith alone in Jesus Christ, and even that faith is of the gracious working of God the Holy Spirit in us; but God also desires that we amend our ways and live for Him: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
2 Corinthians 5:15 says: “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
And, since the fruit of true faith in Christ is the desire to live for God and be pleasing to Him, those who refuse to amend their lives and willfully continue on in their sinful ways demonstrate their unbelief and lack of saving faith in Christ.
7) Christ Jesus will return to this world on the Last Day and carry out God’s just judgment upon all. Those who believe in Christ and are baptized into His name will be saved and those who do not believe will be damned (Mark 16:16). John 3:36 says: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Yes, much more can be said. And, indeed, it is said in the Bible. The Bible reveals the sad results of man’s sinfulness and how God judges sin even now, in this world. It tells how God carried out His plan to send His Son to be our Savior, and it reveals how God continually calls us to repent of our sinful and erring ways and look to Christ Jesus in faith. It points out the terrible judgment of God that will come upon all who remain impenitent, and it offers a glimpse of the glories of heaven which await all who believe. The Bible warns the impenitent and unbelieving and gives comfort to those who acknowledge their sins and look in faith to Christ and His cross for pardon and forgiveness.
Some parts are difficult for our sin-darkened minds to understand, but other parts are so simple the smallest child can, by God’s grace, grasp its message. So, don’t be discouraged. Pick it up and read it.
The Bible is a book of books (66 books and letters) and doesn’t have to be read in chronological order from Genesis to Revelation. I usually recommend reading the first chapters of Genesis and reading from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) before studying the detailed sections on Old Testament worship. It’s a book to study for a lifetime, and there is always more to learn and understand, so keep reading.
Writing to Timothy, a young minister, the apostle Paul said (2 Timothy 3:14-17): “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
The Bible was given us to teach us the way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and to guide us in living for Him. As such, reading and studying its message is the most important reading a person can ever do — indeed, your eternal destiny depends upon heeding the Bible’s message! I hope and pray you’ll read it.