To many who come to it with little knowledge of its background the Bible may at first seem remote and somewhat irrelevant. It is rather like reading a guidebook describing a country which the reader has never seen. Once the country has been visited, the book comes alive. The purpose of the Bible is not to teach as a book of geography or of history teachers, nor even as a handbook of theology teachers, but to make God a reality; … and this in spite of the fact that in its story of man’s early groping towards the light, inadequate and even misleading views of God are sometimes reflected. It has been said that “the knowledge of God is the key to all knowledge.” In a deeply true sense such a claim is no exaggeration.
In the stories of the Old Testament the reader will see as in a mirror his own struggles and failures and aspirations; he will discover how men have found strength in their weakness, consolation in adversity, and restoration after failure. In the teaching and life of our Lord in the Gospels he will be brought into the very heart of divine self-revelation; and in the other books of the New Testament he will find both the story of the church’s beginnings and the inspired interpretation of Christian truth, as well as much practical guidance for the conduct of life. He will receive answers to his questions about truth and about God, and he will learn that his search for God is itself his response to the divine initiative.
In its essence human nature shows little change. The human problem today is much what it was in the days during which, through many centuries, the Bible was being written. It is primarily through man’s experience that God reveals Himself. The Bible is the book of man, as it is the book of God; it is a revelation of man, as it is a revelation of God. In it man sees the mirror held up to nature, but he also sees, albeit “through a glass, darkly,” what God is like. As men have read this book, they have heard God speaking to them through the words and experiences of people like themselves. So, it has been for them the channel of the Word of God.
Christians have always spoken of the Bible as an inspired book. It is not easy to define its inspiration, but it can be recognized by those who submit themselves to its influence, who meditate upon it, who read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it. To him who comes to it with spiritual awareness and receptivity the Bible is a pearl without price. Its inspiration is verified in his own experience; it affords him strength and guidance; it leads him into the presence of God; and he may make his own the words of the Psalmist: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”