Question: "What is the purpose of the Bible?"
Answer: The Bible is great literature and the all-time number-one best-seller. It contains history, entertaining stories, poetry, philosophy, and personal letters. But, more than that, the Bible is God’s Word. If we have to speak of a single purpose of the Bible, it would be to reveal God to us. There are many things that we could never know about God unless He told them to us. The Bible is God’s self-revelation to humanity. The Bible also tells us who we are. It tells us of our sin and of God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Second Timothy 3:15–17 may be one of the most comprehensive purpose statements found in the Bible. The apostle Paul writes to his young assistant Timothy, “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Some of the Bible is spoken directly by God Himself, and other parts are spoken by men whom He guided—but all of it is His Word, and all of it is beneficial and authoritative. Scripture shows us the way of salvation. Furthermore, it will teach us, rebuke us when we are wrong, and train us how to do right so that we may be ready to do God’s work.
Here are a few other verses from the Bible that speak of its own purpose in our lives:
Following it will keep us from sin: “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).
It gives us spiritual guidance: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Some of the Bible was written specifically to give us an accurate account of Jesus so that we might believe on Him and have eternal life: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30–31).
It assures the believer of his salvation: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
David delights in the Word of God and its purpose in his life:
“The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7–11).
When Jesus was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread, He responded, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). Not only does Jesus profess that the Word of God is more important than physical food, but He also refutes Satan’s temptation by quoting from God’s Word. One of the Bible’s purposes, then, is to provide all-important spiritual sustenance and help us defeat temptation.
The Bible can help us see ourselves in perspective and cut through the distractions of pop culture that would lead us away from God. “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
It is not human cleverness or will-power that will change lives. God accomplishes His purposes when His Word (the Bible) is faithfully proclaimed. He will take care of the result:
“As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10–11).
The Bible is not just a list of wise sayings that can be pulled out as if from a fortune cookie. Although we can benefit from all of the Bible, not all of it is written directly to us. The Bible is a unified work and must be carefully read and studied in context.
Christians who want to please God in their lives need to have a regular spiritual diet of God’s Word. Those who are not believers but who may be interested or even skeptical should read the Bible for themselves and see what it is all about.