Bible Catechism: The Doctrine of the Bible

Question What is the Bible all about?

Answer The Bible is about God. It reveals His plan of redeeming us and bringing all things under the authority of His Son. From start to finish, it declares salvation and judgment through Jesus Christ alone.

Scripture John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.

ExplanationMost books have a theme, an organizing idea that all of the chapters then support in some way. Most stories have a story line, where, instead of a bunch of disconnected elements, everything written within somehow develops the story, bringing it to its completion at the end. And so it is with the Bible. But what is the Bible all about?

The Bible is about God. We’ve already seen that the Bible comes from God. It is His word to us. And, we’ve also come to understand that the Bible is not just from God, but about God. That is, God’s purpose in speaking to us is so that we might know and understand Him. As we think about what the Bible’s all about, we must start and end here—the Bible’s all about GodHe is the main character. To use a word that we often find in other books, He’s the Hero. The Bible is certainly a big book, not only filled with littles books but also many different people, places, events, instructions, and a whole lot more. But, in all of the big and little details that are included in the Bible, all of it is ultimately about God. This is putting it positively. Putting it negatively, the Bible is not primarily about you or me. Yes, it is for us and includes us. But we are not the main characters. God is. We are not the heroes of the story. God is. How do we know this, though? In a word, glory. Consistently, from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible tells us that what God does, He does for “His own sake,” that is, for His glory.1 Or, what God does He does to help us see and understand Him in His splendor, and in doing so, to praise Him for who He is and what He does. God has made all things. Why? For His glory.2 God has spoken to us in the Bible. Why? For His glory.3 Everything that’s written in the Bible ultimately goes back to God, in some way. Everything that’s written in the Bible is intended by God to reveal something about Him. And, everything that’s written in the Bible somehow helps us understand how to relate to Him. But let’s look at this more specifically. 

The Bible reveals God’s plan. As we saw with our previous question, what the Bible records it does so accurately. But, what it records isn’t simply “random stuff” that “just happened” in history. No, God has a plan for all things. His plan for all things is best, and He is actively working through all things to bring about His plan. It is the Bible which records what God wants us to know about the unfolding of His plan. So, God’s plan, more specifically, is the theme of the Bible. But, what is God’s plan? What is He doing? We can summarize it this way—God is working to redeem us and bring all things under the authority of His Son. We already know that He created all things. But, what is He doing with all things? What’s his plan for all things? First, the Bible, one way or another, reveals His plan of redeeming us. What does this mean? The basic idea of redemption means to set something free. Free from a difficult circumstance to a better one, and oftentimes at a significant cost. As it relates to God’s plan, the Bible uses redemption to refer to us being set free from sin and its consequences.4 From Genesis to Revelation, we learn from the Bible that all of us need this sort of redemption, and how God intends to bring this sort of redemption to pass.5 But, second—and very much interconnected with redemption—the Bible also reveals God’s plan to bring all things under Jesus’ authority. What does this mean? As God redeemsus, how does He do so? As God redeems us, what is His goal for our redemption? The answer to both of these questions is Jesus Christ, God’s Son. The phrase, ‘bring all things under Jesus’ authority,’ is true but it might be a bit tricky to understand. It may help us to use the concept that the Bible uses to describe what this means—kingdom. So, as it relates to God’s plan, He is working—in all things, across all of history—to bring about His kingdom, which will have ultimate authority over all the earth, and which will have as its king none other than Jesus Christ, His Son.6 From Genesis to Revelation, we learn from the Bible that all things are currently disordered against God’s authority because of sin, but also, how He will bring all things into their proper order under and through Jesus Christ.7

The Bible declares salvation and judgment. So, the Bible is about God. And more specifically, the Bible is about God’s plan of redemption and kingdom. But, let’s make this even clearer, still. The Bible is about salvation and judgment through Jesus Christ alone. By putting it this way, we are saying that all of the Bible is about salvation and judgment. And, we are saying that every book of the Bible contributes, in some way, in telling us about salvation and judgment. This is not to say that every book says everything about salvation and judgment, or that every book is equally clear about salvation and judgment, or even that every book emphasizes salvation and judgment equally. This is to say, however, that all sixty-six books are united, and work together to tell a unified message. That’s what I mean by, ‘from start to finish.’ To put this another way, what does Genesis have to do with Matthew, for example, or why were Jonah and Ephesians written? All sixty-six books of the Bible declare together—in different ways, at different times—God’s plan of salvation and judgment through Jesus Christ alone. Think about it. It is the Bible which wisely declares the only way of salvation.8 It is the Bible which faithfully declares God’s just judgment on all sinners.9 It is the Bible which beautifully declares Jesus Christ as the only sufficient Savior.10 And, it is the Bible which soberly declares Him as God’s righteous judge over all the earth.11 We’ll learn more about sin, judgment, Christ, and salvation later. But know this for now—this is what the Bible declares, and it declares it with a united voice for our good and God’s glory.

This is what the Bible teaches about…the Bible!

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1 Isaiah 4811 “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (See also, Isaiah 43:25)

2 Isaiah 43“Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

3 Isaiah 40“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

4 Hebrews 911 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (See also, Psalm 130:7; Luke 1:68; Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:7)

5 Genesis 4815 And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, 16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

Revelation 59  And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

6 Luke 132 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (See also, Daniel 4:34; 7:27; 2 Timothy 4:1; Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Revelation 11:15; 12:10)

7 Romans 820 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

Ephesians 122 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (See also, 1 Corinthians 15:27-28; Ephesians 1:10; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 1:17-18)

8 2 Timothy 315 And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (See also, John 14:6; Acts 4:12)

9 Romans 319 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. (See also, Romans 3:1-26)

10 1 John 414 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

11 Acts 1730 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”