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They are letters—love letters. And I’ve kept every one of them. A few months after I met my husband-to-be, I had to return to college to finish my senior year. That meant we’d be separated by 400 miles. Without computers or cell phones for instant communication, we mostly relied on letters to get to know each other better.

Those letters taught me a lot about the young man I would later marry. They were his words in the place of his physical presence—words that showed me his character and were expressions of love.

The Bible is a lot like that. Because God isn’t here in human form, He’s given us the Bible—letters from Himself, as it were. And in that Book, we learn about His character and how much He loves us.

Although it was written many hundreds of years ago, the Bible is timeless. The Guinness Book of World Records states that “although it is impossible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book.” And, according to the Gideons, more than six billion Bibles have been printed.

Why is this? Why is the Bible still a bestseller? Because the Bible is relevant to every generation. It teaches us what God is like. It teaches us how we should live. It teaches us about salvation. And it teaches us about the future.

What is God like?

Marion never had believed that there was a God. The evolutionary theory was taught at her high school, and she accepted it. But years later, when her husband began reading the Bible, she became curious. So at the age of 31, she picked up a Bible for the first time.

“Something kept drawing me back,” she told me. And this is the text that helped her to discover what God is like: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

“Reading that just really touched me,” she said. “I couldn’t get it out of my mind that God was so loving that He wants everyone to be saved. It softened my heart, and I gave my life to Him.”

This woman, who had never touched a Bible in her life, now reads the Bible through every year from Genesis to Revelation. So if you want to know what God is like, read the Bible. It’s full of texts that describe Him. Texts like these:

  • “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
  • “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).
  • “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

How should I live?

A pastor I know once told me, “I often have church members come and ask my opinion on how they should live. They’ll say, ‘Pastor, what do you think about couples living together before marriage?’ or, ‘Pastor, what’s your opinion on the kinds of movies I should watch?’ ”

He replied, “I tell them that my opinion doesn’t matter, but I’ll show you what God says, and then I open my Bible.”

The Bible is full of instructions on how we should live, including the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. And there are many other texts that direct us. Texts like these:

  • “Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
  • “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:15, 16).
  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . [And] love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39).

Will I be saved?

“I chose to accept Jesus by faith,” Allen told me. “When I read stories about Jesus and decided to give my life to Him, I knew that I wasn’t worthy. I didn’t feel good enough to be saved. But the Bible gave me assurance, and I chose to trust what it told me. The text that really got to me was John 6:37, where Jesus said, ‘All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.’ ”

If you haven’t given your life to Jesus and worry about whether you can be saved, go to God’s Word. It will reassure you with texts like these:

  • “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
  • “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
  • “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17).

Is there any hope?

When Irene’s son was dying from terminal cancer, it was the Bible that saw her through. She searched it for hope that she would see her son again, and she underlined every text that promised she would. Her favorite passage was 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

The Bible is full of texts that give us hope, including the hope of a resurrection and hope that Jesus is planning to take us to a better place than our sin-torn planet. For example, He promised, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1–3).

Still relevant today

These texts are just a taste of the wonderful truths waiting for you in the Bible! The Bible holds the answers to life’s most important questions. When people ask me questions about God and life, it’s a joy to be able to open my Bible and show them the answers. Questions and answers like these:

  • Does Jesus care that I’m hurting? “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
  • Does God actually listen when I talk to Him? “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24).
  • Will Jesus really forgive me when I sin? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
  • I left God years ago. Will He still take me back? “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22).
  • Is there hope for a better life than this one? “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” The Bible lights our way through this sometimes dark world. It’s God’s letter to us—in His physical absence—until the day when He will communicate with us face to face.

God's Bestseller

by Nancy Canwell
From the January 2014 Signs