Bible Matters, Tim Chester. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2017.
Summary: An introduction to understanding the Bible, exploring the nature of this collection of books, what Christians believe about it and why, and how God speaks to us today through the Bible.
Many people think the Bible is an important book to read, particularly if they identify as Christians. But sometimes, understanding parts of the Bible is difficult and reading it raises as well as answers questions. Tim Chester wrote this book to help anyone who resembles this description. He is motivated because he believes that the Bible is not only God’s communication to the first readers of scripture, but also to us. Most crucially, the Bible, from cover to cover, speaks Jesus to us.
He then explores the nature of this book, a vital discussion for making sense of this book. He asserts that the Bible is:
- Relational: its varying styles of communication are meant to lead us into relation with God.
- Intentional: the books of scripture are written with purpose, and thus asking “why” is vital in our reading and leads us to understand the covenant character of our relationship with God.
- Enough: all we need to know and obey God.
- Reliable: addressing some of the questions that arise about contradictions and inaccuracies, Chester demonstrates the Bible as a trustworthy account reflecting the trustworthiness of God.
- Accessible: Chester offers six principles for making sense of scripture.
Chester concludes this brief work first with a chapter on our disposition as we approach the Bible, which he believes the most important issue in making sense of the Bible. He contends we need to “be dying to read the Bible”–dying to ourselves, our ways of doing things, willing to turn from our sins and anticipating hearing from God. He concludes by writing of his love for the Bible:
“What’s the Bible? It is good, merry, and joyful tidings. Why? Because it tells how Christ has overcome sin, death, and the devil. It tells how Christ has overcome sin, death, and the devil. It tells how those in bondage to sin, wounded with death, and overcome by the devil have been set free by Christ. It tells how we’re restored to life, brought to liberty and reconciled to God.
How should we respond? We cannot but be glad and laugh from the very bottom of our hearts. We praise and thank God. We’re glad, sing and dance for joy. There are only two times when I dance: when I’m with small children, and alone in my study when God’s word grabs my heart.”
Through a conversational style, personal stories as well as clear explanations of things like “plenary inspiration,” Tim Chester contagiously shares his love for the Bible, and how this book, through which God speaks, can set our hearts and feet to dancing.
The book also includes a group study guide of seven studies including a “getting started” discussion, a scripture text and discussion questions on the text and questions to go deeper and apply its meaning. This book is a good resource for the person exploring faith, a young Christian just beginning to develop habits of reading scripture, or for a group who want to enrich their understanding of the Bible.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.