INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE
†††† I do not know how familiar you are with the Bible or what you know of our Lord Jesus.† Thousands of books have been written about the Bible and about Christ.† In a short letter I can only give a brief outline and a few truths.† The Holy Bible is not like other books.† One can read it for a lifetime and never stop learning new lessons about God and ourselves.† God uses it as one of His ways to talk to us and as the primary method of protecting us from untruths and deception.
†††† The Bible is not a book of science, the history of the world, or the history of man's civilization.† The Bible is our guide to our understanding the nature of God (which He chooses to reveal to us at this time) and the true nature of all of mankind.
†††† God is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega; He created all that is and all that was before.† He created the heavens and the earth and all that is on the earth.† He created the angels and He created man.† All that is natural and all that is supernatural was created by God.† He is all powerful, all knowing, and is above all things.† He is infinite and beyond our comprehension, but He loves us and wants to develop a loving relationship with us.† It would not benefit God at all if we were forced to love him. God gives us freedom to choose or reject Him.† If we end up rejecting Him, we spend an eternity in separation from God and all that is good and loving.† If we choose God, we spend our eternity with God.
†††† God is perfect and His presence cannot tolerate actions which are not in harmony with Him.† Sin is an action or attitude that is separate and in opposition to God.† God cannot tolerate the presence of sin, but through Christ He will do the work of perfecting us.
Some critical points in the Old Testament:
†††† After God created the heavens and the earth, he created man - Adam and Eve were the first people.† At first they were living in harmony with God and had open communication with Him.† Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan (a fallen Angel who had rebelled against God).† If you read closely, you will find that the root of their offense was that they doubted God's word, acted in disobedience to God and wanted to be little gods unto themselves.† In doing so, they disobeyed God and this necessitated a separation from God.† God can only tolerate the presence of perfection (or perfect harmony with the will of God) and they were no longer perfect.† Since then, God has granted Satan and his forces authority over the earth.
†††† Being separated from God, Adam and Eve and their descendants no longer had the close relationship with God that was necessary to maintain a perfect harmony with God's creation - as a consequence man sought after what was pleasing to man.† By the time of the flood, Noah was the only man on earth who sought direction and what was pleasing to God more than he sought to satisfy his own wants.
†††† Much history passed and man made no progress in improving his relationship with God.† Left on his own, the nature of man is utterly destructive, self-serving and wicked - capable of all manner of evil.† God is not a respecter of persons.† This means that God loves all men equally.† If we seek to know God, He will reward our efforts by drawing us nearer to Him.† If we seek to hide from God or go our own way, He will allow us to suffer the consequences such that we may learn to regret our course of action and turn around to start seeking God.
†††† Abraham was righteous (he sought God and sought to be obedient to God).† God chose Abraham to be the father of a nation (the Israelites or Jewish people) who would be used to present the history of man's struggle with God and eventually open the door to all of mankind regaining an open relationship to God through Jesus Christ.
†††† The just punishment for sin (or disobedience to God) is death (or eternal separation from God).† Animal sacrifice with the shedding of blood was used by God as an example to show that a price had to be paid for sin.†† The animal sacrifices did not pay for the sin, but was merely used as a vivid example that men might understand the penalty for sin.
†††† From Abrahams descendants (through his wife Sarah) came the Jewish nation.† After Moses led the Jewish nation out of Egypt, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and many other laws and regulations under which the Jewish nation was expected to try to live.† The history of the Jewish nation shows that no matter how hard man tries of his own effort to live by a just set of laws - he fails.† On his own efforts, man can never hope to perfect himself.
†††† The study of the Old Testament gives us many examples of what we are all like.† A lifetime of study and learning can be had in the pages of the Old Testament.† But it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, who we obtain when we invite Jesus Christ to be Lord over our lives, which enables us to understand the truths and wisdom which are otherwise hidden in these books of the Old Testament.
Some critical points of the New Testament:
†††† The Old Testament clearly shows that rebellion against God causes a separation from God.† And separate from God, man is completely incapable of perfecting himself, no matter how hard he tries.† The only way to save man was to provide some way for man to regain open communications with God.† Being that man was in rebellion to God, he could not regain communications through his own efforts - man could not perfect himself enough to be allowed fully in the presence of God.† This seems like an impossible dilemma, but God had a solution.† A sacrifice was necessary to pay the price for man's rebellion (or sin).††
††† God Himself came to earth to pay the price for man's original sin of rebellion.† Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, lived a life in perfect harmony with God the Father.† Being also man, He could have lived according to the flesh and weaknesses of man, but He chose to live in perfect harmony with God the Father.† He lived his life in total obedience to God the Holy Spirit.
†††† Though innocent of any sin, Jesus allowed Himself to be sacrificed on the cross.† As a perfect sacrifice, an innocent lamb, God accepted His death as the full payment for the penalty of rebellion against God that started with the fall of Adam and Eve.
†††† All mankind can enjoy the fruit of this sacrifice through Jesus Christ:† We must acknowledge that we are sinners (living in rebellion to God) and under our own strength we will always be sinners in conflict with the harmony of God's creation.†† If we accept the sacrifice Jesus paid to ransom our lives, and acknowledge and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior - then we will be permitted a new open path to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.† The Holy Spirit will then be with us always, to direct us in a growing relationship with Christ.† God will forgive us our sins because of Christ's sacrifice.
†††† Christ overcame death and the power of darkness and evil.† As we submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our lives, we become joint heirs and sons (daughters) of God.† Our inheritance will be an eternity of communion and growth with God.
Hints and Suggestions:
†††† The truth and messages of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, are a mystery to man without the guidance and revelation that is provided by the Holy Spirit.† We need God to reveal the truth to us.† God has crammed a lot of information into one book - so do not expect to learn everything at once.† In a lifetime you will only have learned a little bit of all that it contains - even though you may have memorized every word.
†††† God treats us all as individual children, teaching us the particular lessons that are necessary for our growth at the proper time.† Pray as you turn to God's word.† New Christians should spend most of their time reading the New Testament until they are very familiar and clear as to the message of the Gospel.
†††† The book of Romans, Galatians and Colossians make it very clear that we are not to try to live our lives according to a set of laws as man tried to do and failed in the Old Testament.† As Christians we are to be led and directed by the Spirit of God.† Supernatural spirits (fallen angels called evil spirits and demons) exist that are in rebellion to God, we must test all spirits to make sure that they are in harmony with the Word of God (the Bible).† The Bible is our guide for maintaining our relationship to God and avoiding deception.
†††† In order to please God, we are to Love the Lord our God with all our strength, all our heart, all our minds - and we are to love our neighbors (all of mankind) as ourselves.† As He reveals Himself to you and you learn the truths of God's love, your love for God will grow.
†††† Our God is just, God is love.† We have much to learn and He will allow us to suffer only as is necessary for us to learn lessons necessary for our growth.† If we are hard of hearing or rebellious we may have to repeat lessons time and again until we learn - God is patient with us.† Just as we must suffer and persevere in order to learn lessons from our school teachers - we must suffer and persevere in order to learn the lessons that are necessary to teach us about the true nature of love and obedience to the harmony of God (through obedience to the Holy Spirit).
†††† God loves you very much.† He wants us to love Him and He wants us to develop a close relationship with Him.† Through Christ we have protection from Satanic attack.† But Satan and his spirits can still talk to us and try to deceive us.† They will try to convince you that God is not real, that God does not stand on the truth of His Word, that we are unsaved, that we lack the Holy Spirit - and all kinds of lies.† Don't believe lies or be discouraged, but stand strong and trusting in God and His Word.
†††† All Christians are born of the same Spirit and Christ wants us to grow ever closer in unity.† We are to fellowship and assemble together.† God does appoint authorities over us, but we are not to put our eternal trust and confidence in man or the institutions of man.† No man, not a pastor, friend, priest, evangelist or Bible teacher is perfect - put your trust only in God.† Test all things that you are taught by the word of God.† If you put your trust in man, God will always allow you to be disappointed.† When this happens, please do not judge and condemn the poor man that you first trusted and then disappointed you.† Just learn from it, forgive the poor man, and place your trust back in the only one you can trust forever - Trust in God.†
†††† Christians are not perfect, but we are forgiven and the children of God.† Love one another.† Do not judge Christians that think different from you or whose theologies differ.† Pray for them (and for all people).† Pray together, study the Bible together, and pray for each otherís needs.† Look to God to show the solution to the seemingly impossible.† Just as He can change your heart, He can influence judges, kings, and all of mankind - God is all powerful.†† God is a miracle worker.
†††† Submitting to the Lordship of Christ means just that.† He cares about every part of your life.† Depend upon God.† Ask God to teach you to pray, ask God to direct your prayers and your life - give your worries, cares and ambitions to God.† Submit every part of your life to God.† He knows all your darkest secrets, so hold nothing back from God as you talk with Him.† As you open up in honesty and trust to Him, He will do the work of cleaning your life for useful service.† You must become willing to give up your own wants and ambitions in life and allow God to move you in the direction that He has chosen to use you.
†††† It is the fervent desire of Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ (all Christians throughout the world) be brought to complete unity.† Throughout the history of Christianity, man has taken various sides on debatable issues that have no relevancy to the Truth God has for us.† Because of this there are many churches that differ on minor points of doctrine and countless squabbles result that are divisive.† Avoid foolish controversies, quarrels and arguments about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.† Ever try to learn and grow from the Word, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.† Love God first, and never forget that the over-riding message throughout the Bible is that we love our fellow man - such an attitude is in harmony Christ's desire that we grow in unity.
†††† God is gentle with us, taking all the time that is necessary to teach us properly.† Be patient with others, pray for them, be gentle and patient in your attempts to communicate.† Human efforts cannot convert others to a saving knowledge of Christ, so be content to practice your love, always eager to explain the reasons for your hope and faith in Christ.† The Spirit of God will convict man, and God the father will draw people to Christ.† Under all circumstances, TRUST and PRAISE God and He will guide you in all your ways.† Pray for wisdom and guidance, and then search the Bible to see if these words are true.