(1) In the beginning God… – Genesis 1:1

The Bible is the most popular book of all time. If sales of all the different versions were added together it would top the best seller lists. But what is special about this book?

The Bible opens with the words, “In the beginning God”. Right from the start is assumes that God exists. It doesn’t argue for the existence of God (although it provides much compelling evidence) but it comes from a deep conviction that God not only exists but is the most important character for us to understand and engage with. According to the Bible God created mankind, has constantly sought to relate to us and has ultimately revealed himself to us through the life of Jesus. Given God’s significance both in human history and today it is not surprising that the Bible, which tells us about him, remains a best seller.

But what sort of book is the Bible? To start with, it is not one book but a collection of books. The word “Bible” comes from the Greek word “Biblia” meaning books or library and it contains 66 books. These were written over a period of 1500 years in three different languages by a number of writers, including kings, civil servants, shepherds, priests, fishermen, a doctor and a tax collector. It contains the history of nations and intimate personal stories of individuals. It is written in a variety of styles including history, law, stories, poetry, drama and song.

Through this rich collection of writings there is one theme that runs from the beginning to the end and that is the love of God for the people he has created. The history shows us how God has dealt with nations and individuals, reaching out to them in love and intervening when they go astray, just as a loving parent disciplines a wayward child out of their love for them. The laws give us rules and guidance for living healthy and fulfilled lives, just as God intended so we could enjoy life to the full.

The poetry in the Bible engages our emotions as we read about God’s heart of love for us. Sometimes this includes his anger towards those who violate his commands to love one another because God, like us, has a strong sense of justice too, but this is always alongside expressions of his never ending love which reaches out to individuals despite their failures to obey his laws. There are songs in the Bible which help us to express our own emotions back to God, including our anger and frustration as well as our sense of wonder and gratitude.

The Bible is well aware of the weaknesses associated with being human and it gives us insight into the lives of individuals, including proud kings, humble shepherds, confused prophets, women desperate to have a child, men who were overconfident and others who had doubts.

Above all the Bible tells the story of a God who not only created us but also came to live among us in the person of Jesus, intimately sharing the knowledge of what it is to be human, showing us how to live and, through his death, making a way for men and women to have their relationship with God restored. The overall message is love, love on a scale far greater than we can ever experience in human relationships.

The Bible is God’s love letter to the world and, although written by a variety of men each with their own characteristic styles, has God’s imprint on every page. It is as relevant to men and women in the 21st century as it was when it was written. It has the power to change our thinking and impact our daily lives. Just from taking 80 small quotes from this amazing book we are going to follow God’s plan and purpose for each of us.

Follow @biblein80tweets to join the journey.

Note: To help us find our way round the Bible, it is divided into chapters and verses. So, the opening words of the Bible are known as Genesis 1:1, where Genesis is the book, and 1:1 means first chapter, first verse. Where Through the #biblein80tweets quotes from the Bible, the reference for the book, chapter and verse are shown in brackets after the quote.

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