1. The character and being of God

Firstly, the bible reveals to us the character and being of God. Letís mention a few. The bible teaches us that God is almighty or omnipotent (meaning that He is all-powerful and can do anything - 1 Chr 29:12; Jb 26:12; Ps 62:11; Isa 43:13; Mat 19:26; Luk 1:37); God is omnipresent (meaning that He is everywhere all the time - Deut 4:39; Ps 139:8; Is 66:1; Je 23:24; Ac 17:27); God is sovereign (meaning that He has an independent Will and makes His own decisions without influence or pressure from others - De 4:39; 1 Chr 29:12; Jb 9:12 Ps 29:10; Mt 6:13; Ac 17:24); God is the Creator and Maintainer of the universe - Ge 1:1; Ne 9:6; Jb 26:7; Ps 102:25; Ac 14:15). These characteristics of God are unique to Him.

God reveals Himself as a Trinity to man, SOUL - God the Father which is His character and personality; BODY - Jesus Christ, God revealed to man in a human body; and SPIRIT - the Holy Spirit.

However, the three characteristics of God that runs through the Bible like a golden thread and on which the entire message of the Bible hangs, are His righteousness, love and holiness. God is perfectly righteous (meaning that His judgement is based on Divine righteousness - Ps 48:10; Je 23:6; Rev 19:11), God is perfectly holy (meaning that He hates sin and makes no compromise with sin - Le 11:45; 1 Pe 1:16), and God is perfect love (meaning that He loves His creation and the human race with a perfect love - this love is referred to in the Bible in the original language as Agapť love which means Divine love - Je 31:3; Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 4:8)!

Remember that we said that Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. That means, amongst other, that they were created in Divine righteousness, love and holiness. These three characteristics are the characteristics that became corrupted in manís nature through the fall, and these three characteristics have to be restored through the Redemption for man to be restored in the image of God.

2. The origin of the world and human race, and God's ultimate plan and purpose in creation.

Secondly, the Bible reveals to us the origin of all things. (Genesis chapters 1 and 2.) The Bible teaches us that God created the universe and the earth together with all living creatures through the word of His mouth. The Bible teaches us that God created the human race different to all other creatures - He created us in His own image. That means that man was created a trinity - like God - soul, body and spirit. Man was created a sovereign being like God, with an independent Will, Intellect and Emotion of his own - like God.

The effect of this is that man may think, feel, believe and do independently, like God. Man was not created a robot to be manipulated by God like a puppet, and God never manipulates people - that is against His character! God desires to be worshipped, served and honoured by us through a voluntary act of our free Will!

God created the human race for a purpose. What purpose? God wanted an offspring, a posterity, in His own image! In other words, God wanted a personal family! For this reason God commanded mankind to become fruitful and multiply.
In the New Testament this offspring is called the Church and Body of Christ, and at completion it will become the Bride of Christ. Paul Billheimer describes this uniquely in his book Destined For The Throne, when he writes: ďThe authorís primary thesis is that the one purpose of the universe from all eternity is the production and preparation of an Eternal Companion for the Son, called the Bride, the Lambís Wife.Ē (DFTT Page 15)

Secondly, God appointed His family, the human race, with the authority to represent Him and to rule over the earth! The human race was created to be God's representative and to exercise His authority on earth.

3. Why the human race missed out on God's plan of creation.

In Genesis 3 we read about the fall. Sin entered the world and mankind became subject to Satan, his demons and sin. Mankind inherited a tarnished and fallen image of God; and Satan obtained legal authority on earth through the fall to rule the world instead of mankind, which he passionately executes to this day! The Bible describes to us why the world is in such a mess, why there are death, disease, disasters, accidents, suffering, pain, failure, war, crime, corruption, terrorism and hatred. The Bible teaches that the people of the world are born in sin and we live in a corrupt world because of the fall. (Gen chapters 3-11.)

The fall had several implications for mankind. Firstly, man's body became mortal and subject to decay, although he still had an immortal soul. Secondly, all humans inherited a sinful and fallen nature or soul from our father, Adam. Thirdly, man inherited a fallen spirit which died spiritually from communing with God.

The following things are consequences of the fall:
Foundational Word Enforcement
A Bible Study series in Christian growth
by Elmer Grobler

Lesson 2

How To Read And Understand The Bible
 
Bible reading:

Old Testament: Genesis chapters 6-9
New Testament: Revelation chapters 19-22

There are many really nice verses in the Bible that are widely used for motivation and encouragement in this world. Many of the important people in the world quote from the Bible in their speeches and addresses. In the home where I grew up, it was a custom to give someone a Bible verse on his or her birthday. In fact people all over the world share Bible verses with each other in greeting cards, through mobile phones and other means. It is also true that every story in the Bible has a spiritual application and can be applied as a valuable lesson in life for us to learn.

While there is nothing wrong with that, we must clearly understand that there is a lot more to the Bible than simply the sharing of nice verses and inspiring stories! The Bible is not primarily a book of motivation. The Bible is Godís revelation to man concerning His plan for this world and the universe. The Bible is first and foremost Godís revelation of Himself and His character to man. The Bible explains the origin and purpose of this world and life; Godís plan and destiny for the human race; the consummation of the world and all things; but most important of all, Godís plan of salvation for a lost humanity. There is no other book in this world that contains all this truth between two covers!

In order to understand the Bible correctly one must see and understand the entire and overall Bible picture from Genesis to Revelation. In fact this is one of the wonders of the Bible and one of the many reasons how we know that the Bible is the inspired Word of God - the 66 books of the Bible form a miraculous coherent whole that is simply amazing when you discover it! If you remove just one of these 66 books, this coherence is broken and the picture is incomplete!

How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?

There are a number of reasons how we know the Bible is the Word of God. I am only going to mention three.

Firstly, by revelation! One of the very first evidences that a person is born again, is the fact that he or she accepts the Bible without doubt as the Word of God! Why? Because when a person is born again the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within that personís spirit (or heart). If that has not happened, a person cannot be born again. It is not possible to be born again without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, because it is the Spirit that testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God! (Rom 8:16) It is the very same Spirit of God that also testifies that the Bible is the Word of God, because He is the Author thereof!

Secondly, because of the coherent wholeness of the 66 Bible books as we have mentioned earlier. The miracle of the Bible is that it contains 66 books, written by 40 authors over a period of 1500 years, containing 30,442 verses! What are the chances, do you think, that such a book will contain a coherent message, where the origin of life is explained in the first book and the consummation of all things are explained in the 66th book, and where every book - no, every verse! - is vital to, and compliments the overall message, and not one of the verses contradicts a single word written by the other? The chances are NIL! There is no other book in the world like this and if this fact alone does not convince you that the Holy Spirit of God is the Author of the Bible, no other reason will!

The third reason I want to mention why the Bible is the Word of God, is because not a single person in the world over all the ages who have seriously and sincerely sought to get to know the living God (note, not theology) through the pages of the Bible, have ever failed to do so! If there is such a person, I would like to hear from or about him or her, but I can guarantee you that if there is such a person, he or she will fail the sincerity test! That is also the reason why the Bible is the book with the highest circulation in the entire world!

What is the overall message of the Bible?

The Bible must be read from cover to cover as a whole and it is only when we do that, that the overall Bible picture unfolds. Every verse must be read in the context of its chapter and the book as a whole, and every book of the Bible must be read in the context of the Bible as a whole. Only when we read the Bible as such do we fully see and understand the complete Bible picture.

Another way of explaining this is by means of a jig-saw puzzle. Like the complete picture of a jig-saw puzzle is made up of a multitude of individual pieces, so is the Bible! Have you ever tried to build a large jig-saw puzzle without its picture? It is extremely difficult, not so? For the same reason many people donít understand the Bible because they donít have the big picture. This is why I am giving you the big Bible picture.

Below is a graphic illustration of the Bible picture as a whole:
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Satan rules over the world and itís peoples.
Sin manifested in all forms-which is the cause of crime, corruption, hatred, conflict, war, racism, prostitution, domestic violence, divorce and breakdown of the family, child abuse and trafficking, and all the social evils of our time.
Natural disasters and accidents
Disease
Poverty
Adversity and suffering
The rest of the entire Scripture is devoted to God's story of the restoration of creation from the fall.

4. The message and significance of the Old Testament - the dispensation of law.

The Old Testament is a prophetic message pointing towards, and which would be fulfilled in the New Testament. The Old Testament is the story of how God prepared a people in His own image through a man called Abraham, in order to pave the way for ultimate fulfilment of Godís purpose in creation.

The Old Testament is the story of how God produced and prepared a Messianic race that would in the maturity of time, give birth to the Messiah in perfect fulfilment of the law.

5. The message and significance of the New Testament - the dispensation of grace.

The New Testament and the Gospel tell us the story of man's redemption from the fall, from sin and Satan's rule. It tells us the story of how God, in the maturity of time, overturned Satan's legal authority over this world, and reclaimed the world and all the nations of the world for God and His Kingdom through the victory of the Cross of Calvary, the Blood of the Lamb, and Jesus' resurrection from the grave - over sin, Satan and the world!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Divine story of God's restoration plan of creation. The Gospel of Jesus Christ restored humanity's purpose and God's plan in creation. Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ the human race can once again take in his position and purpose for which God created him, namely:
1. To become part of the family of God through regeneration. Joh 1:12:  "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."  Ultimately, to become part of the Bride of Christ and to reign with Him in eternity. Rom 8:16,17: ďThe Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, ..Ē  Rev 21:9:  ĒThen one of the seven angels Ö came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."ď
2. To partake of the image of God, and to become more and more like Jesus through the crisis and process of heart purification and sanctification. Rom 8:29: "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
3. To reach and win the world for Christ, and to establish and expand the Kingdom of God on earth through the Church. Act 1:8  "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
4. To represent God in this world through our lives and our witness, through the indwelling and the control of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
5. To be conquerors, to rule and have dominion over sin, Satan, the world, and adversity. In Rom 8:2  we read: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." And Rom 8:31:  "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" And Rom 8:37: "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."
What we must understand very clearly is that the Gospel does not isolate or shut us off from the effects and consequences of the fall while we are still in this world, namely, Satan, sin, disasters, accidents, poverty, disease, suffering and adversity - but the Gospel empowers us to become conquerors and overcomers over Satan and sin, and to be victorious in adversity and suffering! Thatís why the Christian does not reach perfection this side of the grave.

This side of the grave we are still in training for eternity! ďFor I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. ÖĒ (Rom 8:18-23) When Jesus returns to fetch His bride and we are taken away from the earth, the effects of the fall will be fully restored and we will finally and fully be delivered from the consequences of the fall and Satan will be destroyed. (See next paragraph.)

We are currently living in the New Testament dispensation or dispensation of grace. What we must understand very clearly is that we are currently involved in a war until Jesus comes back! Satan is making a desperate attempt to hold onto his power and the Christian is not indemnified against his attacks. The content of the Gospel is not being isolated from, but being empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome sin, Satan and adversity in this world.

6. The consummation of all things and ultimate purpose of God in the universe.

The Bible reveals to us where everything is going to end and where this world is heading towards. The Bible promises a glorious destiny and ending for the child of God! ď And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.Ē (Rev 22:1-5)

The Bible teaches us that when Godís purpose in creation is fulfilled - when the Bride of Christ is complete and representative of every nation, tongue and people in this world - Jesus Christ will return to this world as Saviour to us who have accepted Him as Lord, but as judge to those who have rejected Him! This will be the end of the dispensation of grace and the beginning of the time of judgement.

The last trumpet will sound, the dead in Christ will rise and those who are still alive will be raptured away from the earth to meet Jesus Christ in the sky. This will be followed by the ďMarriage Supper of the LambĒ where all the believers through all the ages will be united with Christ in heaven.

During this time the judgements of God will be poured out on earth and those who have rejected Him will be subjected to the most terrible disasters and judgements this earth has ever known! (Read the book of Revelation.) Jesus Christ will finally conquer Satan and will reign supreme together with us who are saved. He will judge the world and those who have rejected Him as Saviour will be banished to eternal death, ďwhere 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.' ď (Mar 9:44)

Godís calendar in the ages

The question that may be on your mind is, where do we find ourselves on Godís calendar? Nobody knows the exact day or time of Christís return, but Jesus also said in Mat 24:32: "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near; at the doors!Ē  Because the Biblical prophecies of the end times are going into rapid fulfillment, we know that we are living right at the end of the dispensation of grace and very near to the second coming of Christ!

The doctrine of the end times is a huge subject on its own and we will not be covering it in depth in this module. This is also a difficult subject and Christians of different denominations differ slightly on their interpretation of some of the details. However, once again, donít allow yourself to be sucked into controversies and divisions with regard to the doctrine of the end times. None of us know everything because the Bible does not reveal everything. What is important is that Jesus Christ is coming again soon and that is the climax and ultimate goal of our faith!

Every Christian must have a second coming expectation! It is at the second coming of Jesus Christ that Godís purpose in the universe will be fully accomplished. It is at the second coming of Jesus Christ that we will be fully instated as princes and princesses of God, reigning with Christ in eternity! If a Christian does not have a second coming expectation, he or she is either unsaved, or apostate!

I greet you with the greeting of the first church, Maranatha! (meaning, come Lord Jesus) (1 Cor 16:22)
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