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Where in the Bible do I find a clear list of God's law?


You are expecting something from God's word that it is not. The Bible is not a reference book where you can look under the topic "Law" and find everything you need to know, nor is it a set of statutes found in the government where you can find related items filed under various rules.

The laws of God are contained within the covers of the Bible, but the laws are presented in different fashions. Some are told in the form of stories, making the information needed easily memorable. Others are told as parts of letters discussing problems and solutions. Still others are a record of history showing how the laws fit into the context of events. You can also find genealogical lists, poems, collections of wise sayings, and visionary descriptions.

It might strike you as an impractical way to relate information, but it is one that has existed since the beginning of time. When is the last time that you known someone who has the Webster's dictionary memorized? Or who knows the IRS tax code by heart? Better yet, who would want to memorize such boring things? Yet millions of people have memorize all or significant portions of the Bible. The presentation allows easy integration with our thoughts."Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:97-103).

The Bible tells us that it gives instruction concerning all of life and righteous living -- "as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (II Peter 1:3). That is a broad subject matter for such a relatively small book. I have dictionaries that are bigger than my Bible. I wonder how many rooms I would need to hold the rules and regulations of the United States government. Yet, God says He managed to tell me everything I need to know about life in one book that I can easily carry with me.

More than this, I have never ceased to be amazed at its error correcting abilities. Perhaps it is my computer science background that makes me aware of this. When information is stored, if there is only one copy of it, a small change can cause a significant loss of information. Imagine if God only mentioned once that stealing was wrong. What would happen if someone tried to tamper with the Book and alter the passage? People have attempted to do this in the past in numerous ways. Yet they are always caught because their altered Scriptures become self-contradicting. You see, in computers we encode check bits to detect alteration of memory and error-correcting information so that small changes can be repaired. The Bible is much the same. The same information is presented multiple times in multiple ways -- some blatantly obvious, but others subtly hidden amongst other things. Thus when we have denominations, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, rewriting John 1:1 to make it appear that Jesus is not God we are not mislead because the knowledge that Jesus is God is not confined to one verse. Numerous other passages, even the altered New World translation, can be used to prove the same point presented in John 1:1. Imagine that, a complete book about life with enough redundancy to deter alteration, and yet portable. I don't know of any work by man that can come close to this.

If you want to know what you need to do, start with the Gospels and read the teachings of Jesus. Not everything will be perfectly clear at first, but that will come in time. Then turn to Acts and see how people responded to the gospel message and the impact it had on the world. Next, read several of the letters written to the churches and see how people dealt with applying God's covenant into their day-to-day life. I would then turn back to the Old Testament, starting in Genesis, and start learning the history of God's dealing with man to see how we came to the point of the New Testament. Read through Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, Jeremiah, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Then start back over in the Gospels and suddenly you will notice things that you missed the first time you read the books. Read through the letters to the churches in detail. Study the books of wisdom: Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Psalms. Read Isaiah and then start again.

In each pass through the Bible expand on what you have learned by examining a few more books. If something doesn't make sense, make a note of it, but move on. Something that you read later will clarify what you didn't understand earlier. The Bible is one of those rare books that becomes more and more meaningful each time you read it. I vividly remember my grandfather in his early sixties stating that there wasn't a day that he took up his Bible to read it that he didn't learn something new -- and that was from a man who had been a preacher for forty years! Paul told Timothy, "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. ... Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you" (I TImothy 4:13, 15-16).


See also:

Questions and Answers regarding the Bible
Questions and Answers regarding Law