What Exactly is the Bible?
The Bible is a record of God’s interactions with man over the course of about 4,000 years. The record makes no attempt to embellish its heroes, revealing their weaknesses, sins, and strengths. Only two people as it were had no record of weaknesses or sins — Enoch who never really interacted with people (its easy to look perfect if you spend most of your time alone or with God, no pun intended to a holy man) and Jesus Christ.
Can this depiction of the Bible be extended to the Gospels?
Absolutely. The Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are a record of Jesus’ interactions with people while He was here on earth. All of the Books of the New Testament are a record of enlightenment provided by God — the Holy Spirit — to people such as Paul on what it means to be a Christian. Note, however, that there is nothing taught by Paul in his epistles that cannot be traced back to teachings of Jesus Christ as documented in the Gospels. The Gospels are so authentic they depict the disciples as not really understanding Jesus even up until His crucifixion (Matthew 16:21–23; Matthew 17:22–23; Matthew 26:56; John 12:16; Mark 9:32). It was not until Jesus’ resurrection that they began really to put things together (Luke 24:8).
When we read the Gospels, we are supposed to ask ourselves,
Do the character, life, teachings of Jesus Christ reveal a manifestation of God among men in whom we safely can repose faith?
God on Earth — A Means to an End
Part of the evidence in support of good motives in so far as Jesus Christ is concerned is He never demanded to be recognized as God. Jesus’ ministry was a means to an end. You see Jesus never would have gotten crucified if He remained as it would seem in His earthly father’s profession — carpentry.
It is impossible to vanquish an enemy with whom you do not engage in any form or manner.
In Jesus Christ, God took the fight to the enemy not the other way around.
If God were to pay the price for man’s sin, He had to come in human form. If God were to get Himself crucified, He had to get the enemy so angry at His truth, righteousness, and power (love and miracles) the enemy would be willing to put Him to death. So Jesus Christ came to earth to demonstrate God’s goodness and character on His way to paying the price for sin via His death, and guaranteeing power over sin via His resurrection. If Jesus Christ did not have to die for our sins, and resurrect to break the power of sin in our lives God never would have manifested Himself among men. Jesus on earth was not God self aggrandizing. Jesus’ ministry was the tool that would make His death and resurrection possible — the tool (truth, righteousness, and power — love and miracles) that would create the anger necessary for an unjust crucifixion.
God manifested Himself in person of Jesus Christ only to facilitate goal of paying the price for our sin and breaking the power of sin in our lives
Jesus called Himself Son of God, but that is exactly what Adam was (Luke 3:38) so there was nothing outlandish in that claim. In fact because God has given the earth to man, God says men are gods, gods with a small ‘g’ of course (Isaiah 41:23; John 10:34). Part of the evidence that Jesus is who He says He is lies in the fact that there was no self aggrandizement demand for worship. Jesus taught, healed, loved. Never demanded to be worshiped as God. Jesus lived as a man, healed as a man, taught as a man, loved as a man — never demanded recognition as God in exchange for His miracles.
In His time on earth, Jesus taught, healed, and loved, never demanded to be worshiped.
Why then do we worship Jesus now He is back in heaven?
That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them (2Corinthians 5:19)
That all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him (John 5:23)
If we ever get to see God, it is Jesus Christ we get to see. God is Spirit, invisible (1Timothy 1:17).
God has chosen, however, for our sakes (our salvation) to acquire a glorious body. You see then there is no idolatry here. God has put all of Himself — which is Spirit in entirety, no alternative body here — in a body so there exists a physical representation of Himself. He asks then we honor His physical representation exactly as we would honor Him. Seems pretty common sense to me.
If man had not sinned, God would not have needed to acquire a body in eternity.
Think of it this way. God is Spirit, Invisible, Immortal, Love, Uncorrupted with Evil. Man is spirit, soul, and body, with possibility soul and body operate disconnectedly from spirit. Man is visible, mortal, battles with himself to love, corrupted by sin. When God demands we relate with Him through Jesus Christ, He is saying wisely “we need a filter in this relationship so only what my Son declares as passing the test can have fellowship with Me”. If God allows us direct access to Himself He probably spends most of the time purging Himself of all of the baggage we bring along. The point is only those willing to tackle baggage they already are aware of can develop intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This way God is confident that when He enters into intimate relationship with us and points out baggage we never knew existed we would not balk at the prospect of tackling the baggage. We would not at that point draw back and spurn the grace we claimed to have received and celebrated. Jesus Christ makes our salvation possible and ensures God the Father never is tainted by our baggage and sins. Seems like a win-win to me.
Jesus Christ is not idolatry. Jesus Christ is wisdom of a true and wise God.
Jesus Outside of the Bible
Jesus is a fact of history. That He did wonderful miracles is a fact of history. Josephus the most respected of Jewish historians says as follows (Antiquities of the Jews Book 18, Chapter 3,3):
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.
In respect of James, brother of Jesus Christ Josephus writes (Antiquities of the Jews Book 20, Chapter 9,1)
So he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, and when he had formed some accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned
The Christian God still is revealing Himself to man in course of history. Given there cannot be any revelation of Himself more perfect than Jesus Christ, codification of core Christian truth had to end with record of person of Jesus Christ and meaning of His life, death, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven. Every new revelation claiming to be a Christian revelation must fit into what God has revealed in person of Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, the Bible is a record of God’s revelations of Himself in course of interactions with man over the course of about 4,000 years. Jesus Christ — the visible representation of God — is essence of those revelations because God has decided that physical beings — man — have to relate with Him through His physical representation — Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ represents a win-win for man and God.