The Bible Isn’t Just a Book
The Bible isn’t just a book. It’s a collection of books. 66 books: law poetry, history, narrative - all these things – written by over 40 men, on 3 different continents over a 1500-year period. 3 different languages. It’s an incredible book, just from the nature of how it was constructed. But what truly makes it incredible is that it has one theme that runs through all these books.
The overarching point of everything in the Bible is that God is holy. He is pure. He is good. He is just. He is fair. There is no evil within God. It’s because God is holy and not some evil dictator that I want to be with Him forever. And this introduces then – if we understand the holiness of God – the problem of sin.
Sin separates us from God. When we look at this situation, we’re separated from God by our sin. If I die in that situation I am separated from Him eternally. So what would be the price to be paid to satisfy God’s justice in this regard? What God essentially says is this: “Now that you understand my justice and the problem that sin has created, I want you to understand that there is a price to be paid for sin.” Just like if you go out and get caught speeding, you’re going to get a ticket, and when you get that ticket, it’s kind of like spiritual death. You’re separated from the system. You’ve got a problem on your hands. What do you do when you get that speeding ticket? You look at it and you say, “What is it going to cost me to pay for this thing?” There’s a price on there.
And so God has said, “Here is the price. Now that you understand what’s happened here, that you’re separated from me, there’s a price that needs to be paid for sin.” Hebrews 9:22 spells it out very clearly, harking back to the Old Testament period: “Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin.” So there you have it. The justice. The judicial price of sin is death. Life must be given.
You ask the question, “Who deserves to die for my sin?” Well, I do! I committed the sin. I’m the one who committed the offense. So death is the price for sin. Death is what must be paid. So now if we step back and look back at God’s justice, we are now introduced to the term of “mercy,” or “grace”.
How does God first teach us about that in the Old Testament? We understand about sinning and being separated from Him and death being the price on the head of every sinner, but how does God first demonstrate His mercy?
Well, that’s why we have all of this blood in the Old Testament. That’s what the introduction of animal sacrifice was supposed to do. It was to show the individual that you don’t deserve this, you deserve death. But I’m going let you take this animal that hasn’t sinned – because an animal couldn’t sin; an animal is innocent, it doesn’t owe that price – and I’m going to let you offer it on the altar. That animal’s death will represent your death. That animal’s death will represent the price you owe. That animal’s death is going to pay the price for you. When that animal dies on the altar, it’s as if you’re dying on the altar. This is how God demonstrated His mercy and his grace. By his grace, He gives us a life we didn’t deserve. Mercy is the flipside: He didn’t give us the death we did deserve.
Step back and look at it. All the Old Testament was demonstrating and showing God’s justice and mercy through the sacrificial system. And then we see Christ in prophecy in books like Isaiah. The time comes where Christ is announced publicly for the first time by John. He’s preaching to the Jews and sees Jesus coming, and he says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
To me, that statement right there summarizes the Old Testament. If you didn’t understand all of that stuff that had taken place through the Old Testament sacrificial system then you wouldn’t understand what he was saying when he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” By calling Jesus, “the Lamb of God,” he was saying, “Here is God’s sacrifice.”
The books of the Bible, in the Old Testament and the New, together tell the story of this gift of God's self-sacrifical love. It would have been impossible for men to have written these books that when combined into one narrative would all fit together. So when you step back and look at it from that context, from that perspective, you are able to get a context that you aren’t able to get any other way, and this also shows the incredible supernatural unity of this book, this set of books, that we call our Bible.
“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
- Romans 3:25-26
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