The Bible: Its Wonderful Unity
Dudley Ross Spears
The Bible is more than just a book. It is a library of books. The books of the Bible are united in such a wonderful way that one is forced to the conclusion that it is more than a random collection of literary works. There is behind the Bible a hand that guides and controls it from its revelation to its preservation. The Greek term biblia originally meant "books." The prophet Daniel was reading the prophetic writings of Jeremiah and the Scripture says that Jeremiah was included in "the books" (Dan. 9:2). Over the years, the plural came to be a singular and "the books" simply became the book. That is the Bible, a book of wonderful unity.
To appreciate the wonderful unity of the Bible, one should look at its diversity first. The Hebrew writer tells us, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his son. . ." (Heb. 1:1-2a). The tense of "hath spoken" means that all that God has revealed to man has been revealed. It is complete. Down through centuries of revelation, these diverse ways were blended together by a common thread. The Bible is a record of the revelations of God to man in various times or ages, by different men and methods. The truth that God spoke through Christ is also affirmed by this statement. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him" (Eph. 1:7-10).
The blending of variety one discovers in the Bible distinguishes it from all other books, both secular and "sacred." The so-called sacred writings of the Moslem religion, Hinduism and other such religions have no unity. They are collections of sayings, legends and cultic phenomena. The Bible, on the other hand, is a book wherein variety is blended into unity. Writers from a variety of backgrounds wrote with a single purpose and with only one theme. Writings of different time periods, various countries, and different personalities, wrote a single book without consulting with one another. Of no other literary production could such be said. This alone demonstrates the uniqueness and divinity of the Bible.
The Bible is a book with unity of purpose. That purpose is the revealing of God's great scheme of redemption of fallen humanity. Genesis begins the story by furnishing the basis on which redemption is necessary. The garden of Eden is withdrawn from mankind in Genesis because of sin and offered again in Revelation. A great drama is unfolded in all the books between the first and last books of the Bible. James Orr wrote, "The opening chapters of Genesis have their counterpart in the `new heaven and new earth' and paradise restored of the closing chapters of Revelation" (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 468). The plan that is developed in the Bible does not vary from book to book; rather it culminates in a perfect plan. The Old Testament law, with its sacrifices and rituals, anticipates something in the future that will be much better. A New Testament writer wrote, "For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh" (Heb. 10:1). The offering of the body of Jesus Christ on the cross provided a full and sufficient atonement for the redemption of sinful men.
The prophetic books of the Old Testament unite the Old with the New Testament. They not only provide a bridge between the Testaments, they also furnish factual evidence that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God, the Messiah. The prophecies of His virgin birth, His life on earth, His death and suffering are all fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, "These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me" (Luke 24:44). All of the prophecies about Christ and His work on earth are fulfilled. Another quotation from James Orr is fitting here. He wrote, "How truly all that was imperfect, transitional, temporary, in the Old Testament was brought to realization and completion in the redemption and spiritual kingdom of Christ need not be dwelt upon. Christ is the prophet, priest and king of the New Covenant. His perfect sacrifice, `once for all,' supercedes and abolishes the typical sacrifices of the old economy" (Ibid.).
The different writers and books of the Bible all have one basic theme. It is, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The theme of God's love for mankind runs like a golden thread throughout the Bible. His love made it possible for sinful men to be reconciled to God, through Christ. As an expression of His love, God not only gave His son, He also revealed the plan of salvation. With the gift of Jesus Christ as God's part of that plan, there came also the procedural requirements which men must obey in order to be saved. Here again, one finds perfect unity. Jesus began to speak the terms of the great salvation and confirmed it to His apostles (Heb. 2:3-4). When Jesus told His disciples to go teach all nations by preaching the gospel, He told them also that those who believe the gospel and are baptized would be saved from sin. In each case of conversion in Acts of the Apostles, the uniform procedure was the same. The preaching of Christ was followed by believers repenting of their sins and on a confession of Christ as their Lord, were baptized. There is no variation. The question naturally arises in an open and honest mind, how such a unity is possible. How could such a unity exist with so many different writers from all walks of life? The only satisfactory answer is that a master weaver guided the golden thread of His own will throughout the entire fabric of the Bible.
One also observes the marvelous unity of the Bible in its progressive revelation that culminates in a terminal of perfection. During the ministry of Christ on earth, He told His disciples, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now" (John 16:12). In the next verse He promised to send them an infallible guide, the Holy Spirit, who would bring them to "all truth" (John 16:13). Once "all truth" was revealed, revelation was completed and ceased. It is marvelous to behold - the final word of revelation blended perfectly together to furnish us with all truth. A divine guiding hand, the Holy Spirit, searched the mind of God and taught the writers of the Bible how to reveal that to all men for all time (1 Cor. 2:8-13). A thing that is complete and perfect as is the Bible admits no addition nor subtraction. One cannot alter a perfect thing in any way without destroying its perfection. Those who do so incur the wrath of God and will pay the penalty (Rev. 22:18-20; Gal. 1:8-9).
The following illustration from W.H. Griffith Thomas summarizes the unity of the Bible and shows how God is behind it all.
"All this inevitably compels the question as to how a unity of this kind is possible, and there is only one answer. Some years ago while a tunnel was being constructed in London, five shafts were sunk, and ten sets of men worked toward each other from opposite directions. Ultimately the sets met in the middle of the tunnel at the depth of one hundred feet. They were working practically in the dark, but they fitted so well together when the tunnels met each other that every one could see there was a master-mind who had planned the whole thing. And so the various writers of the Old and New Testaments were working separately, as it were, in a tunnel in the dark, and the apostle Peter tells us they did not know exactly the meaning of their own words (1 Pet. 1:11). But by and by they met, and now that we have the Bible complete, the writers are seen to have worked together and to have dovetailed into one another, thus showing the presence and power of a mastermind, which is none other than that of the Holy Spirit of God" (How We Got our Bible, Moody Press, p. 72).
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 1, pp. 5-6