Lesson One: Who is God?
As we begin this study, we must begin at the very beginning. We cannot get to know God until we believe He exists. You may already believe God exists, but consider the following thoughts.
We Can See There is A God by Looking At Nature
No one is foolish enough to believe that a cyclone blasting through a salvage yard could create a jumbo jet. Why? Because making a jumbo jet is a complex project. It must have a designer and manufacturer. Complex organisms all around us also point to a Creator. Delicate flowers, tiny insects, the human brain, marsupials, and metamorphosis all point to a Designer and Creator. The Bible reminds us that nature points to God. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20)
We Learn About God in the Bible
God guided men to write His book accurately. Within the pages of the Bible, God describes for us how it was written. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
The Bible is unique to every other book. It is thousands of years old. We possess more ancient manuscript evidence for the Bible than any other book. The Bible differs from other religious books in that it is older and has one unique central theme. Though it is made up of 66 different books the Bible as a whole shows God’s love for man and His plan for man’s eternal life. For thousands of years, men have tried to discredit and destroy the Bible, but its life-changing message is readily available yet today. While some have corrupted its message by adding to it or taking from it, God’s true message can still be read in hundreds of languages world-wide.
The Bible is God’s Book to Reveal Himself to Man
God reveals Himself as the only eternal being. The very first verse in the Bible tells us this. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) In the beginning, before anything else existed, God did. Numerous times in the Bible we read that God has always been and will always be. For example, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8) “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” (Revelation 22:13). Alpha is the first Greek letter and Omega is the last.
In the Bible we find that God is holy. God has never said, thought, or done anything wrong. He is perfect. To man God writes, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16). This is difficult for our minds to comprehend because we have all done things that are wrong. Not only have we wronged our fellow man by lying, cheating, stealing, and being unkind, but we have wronged God by not perfectly obeying His wishes and always worshipping Him as our God.
The Bible also reveals God as our Creator. We already read Genesis 1:1, but consider also these verses.“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27) “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:11) “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalms 33:6) “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:” (Jeremiah 32:17) You may be thinking, “What about evolution? Didn’t we evolve?” Evolution is a theory, it is not fact. It defies the Second Law of Thermodynamics which declares that all matter is moving from order to chaos. Fossil records favour creation. The population of the earth favours creation. Historical records favour creation. No, we did not evolve, God created us.
The Bible reveals God as the highest sovereign. Because only God has always existed, and because He created all that exists outside Himself, He logically is the sovereign over all things. This means that He can do anything He wants to without getting anyone’s approval. “Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.” (Psalms 72:11) God is the Lord of all things. “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;” (Acts 17:24)
The Bible reveals God as a Trinity. God is one God in three persons, the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (Matthew 28:19) In Genesis 1:26, God speaks of himself as “us” and “our.” Yet at the same time God is one being. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” (Deuteronomy 6:4). We cannot comprehend the Trinity because we are only human. Example: An egg has three parts but all three form one egg.
The Bible also reveals that God is our Judge. It logically stands that since God is eternal, He is holy, He has created us, and He is ruler over us, then He has the right to be our Judge. The day is coming when all human beings from all ages will stand before God their Judge. We will all give account to Him for the way we have lived. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12)
Probably one of the most wonderful truths in the Bible is that God is love. Because God is love, He has provided a way for us to escape His damnation on judgment day. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died in our place. By believing this and receiving Christ as your Saviour, your sins can all be forgiven and God promises to give you a home in heaven. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, . . .” (Acts 3:19)
- What does nature tell us about God?
- How was the Bible written to insure that it was God’s accurate Word?
- What are some ways that the Bible is a unique book?
- What three phrases in Revelation 22:13 describe God’s eternality?
- In your words, define God’s holiness.
- How long did it take God to create all things?
- What do we mean when we say God is sovereign?
- What do we mean when we say “God is a Trinity?”
- What do you think it would be like to have God as your Judge?
- What did God do to show us His great love?
If you are not able to answer these questions by memory, review back over the lesson. Read the section again until you comprehend and can remember the answer.
Lesson Two: What Is The Bible All About?
In the last lesson we learned about who God is. We found that the Bible is God’s book, and that in the Bible God reveals Himself to us. Though God used men to write the Bible for Him, they wrote every word exactly as He wanted it to be. In this lesson, we will concentrate our study on the content of the Bible.
The Bible is Divided Into Two Main Sections
We call the first section the Old Testament. This is the largest section and deals with history and prophecy that was given prior to the birth of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament consists of 39 books. The second section we call the New Testament. It consists of 27 books and is about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the history of the early church, and prophecy. The entire Bible contains 66 books.
The Old Testament is arranged by subjects.
These subject divisions include: Law, History, Poetry, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets. While the books of Law and History are somewhat in chronological order, the remaining books are not.
- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
- Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
- Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes. Song of Solomon
- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
- Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
The Law, also called the Pentateuch or the Books of Moses, includes the first five books of the Bible. Genesis, the first book of the Bible, begins with the account of Creation. God, who has always existed, created all things. Genesis chapter 3 describes man’s fall into sin. Genesis 6-8 describe the global flood of Noah’s day. The rest of the book records history through Israel’s slavery in Egypt. The books of Exodus to Deuteronomy describe God dealing with His people and giving them His Law.
The History section contains twelve books. This section records for us Jewish history from the time of Joshua 1450 b.c. until Judah returned from captivity in Babylon about the year 445 b.c.
Poetry is five books of Hebrew poetry. This section is written in Hebrew poetry style. It contains many songs sung by the Jewish people and many proverbs.
Major Prophets are five, mostly longer, prophetic books written during the “History” era. They are known as “Major Prophets” because most of them are fairly long.
Minor Prophets are the last twelve books of the Old Testament. They are somewhat shorter prophetic books, also written during the “History” period. Some prophecies recorded in the Major and Minor Prophets have already been fulfilled, but many of them are yet future even today.
Between the Testaments
400 Silent Years followed the Old Testament period before the New Testament began. During this time God did not reveal any Scripture to His people.
The New Testament is also arranged by subjects.
The books of history are somewhat chronological but not the rest.
- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts
- Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon
- Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude
The first section is History. We call the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John the Gospels. These books record the greatest event in history – the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each book records the story from a different perspective. Written to different audiences, each author overlaps the other in some areas while filling in more details in other areas. The book of Acts begins after the resurrection of Christ and records events surrounding the spread of Christianity through most of the first century.
Next we have Paul’s Letters, Romans through Philemon. These books are epistles or letters written to churches, preachers and Christians in general. They are filled with doctrinal information and practical instruction for Christians. First and Second Timothy and Titus are known as Pastoral Letters because they were written to preachers.
The next section is known as Other Letters or General Epistles. Hebrews to Jude are letters also written by various men to Christians and churches to teach doctrine and give instruction.
The last book of the Bible is the Prophecy book of Revelation. The first three chapters of the book are instructional and written to seven churches of that era, but the remainder of the book is prophetic. These prophecies describe the judgment events that lie ahead.
The Overall Message of the Bible is God’s Plan of Salvation.
The Old Testament predicted God’s salvation. The Gospels describe the event. The rest of the New Testament builds on that event. God created man perfect (Genesis 1-2), but man disobeyed and sinned losing his perfection (Genesis 3). The central theme woven throughout the Bible is God’s love for man and His plan to pay man’s sin debt. The Lord Jesus Christ, who was God in the flesh, lived a perfect life for 33 years and then died as our substitute. He took our judgment so He could offer us forgiveness and eternal life. We can escape the judgment of hell if we will admit our guilt, believe that Christ died for us personally, and ask Him for His gift of forgiveness and eternal life. This is the only way to escape hell.
Best place to begin reading the Bible
Most books you begin reading on the first page and continue toward the end. Since the Bible is really 66 books in one binding, reading front to back isn’t necessarily the best option for a first-time reader. The book of John (right after Luke) in the New Testament is an excellent book to begin reading.
- What are the names of the two main sections of the Bible?
- How many books are in each section?
- Which section of the Old Testament contains the book that records man’s fall into sin?
- Which section of the Old Testament contains songs sung by the Jewish people?
- How many silent years were between the Old Testament and the New Testament?
- What books of the New Testament are included in the Gospels?
- Whose life is recorded in the Gospels?
- To whom were the Pastoral Letters written?
- What does the book of Revelation describe?
- What is the central theme of the Bible?
Lesson Three: What Is God Doing?
In the first lesson we learned about who God is. In the second lesson we learned what was in God’s Book. Now we are going to find out what God is doing and what He plans to do in the future.
Not only does the Bible tell us what God has done, but it also tells us what God plans to do.
God did not create all things and then walk off letting them run on their own. Since the creation, about six thousand years ago, God has been overseeing His creation. The power, unknown to science, that holds all things together is none other than God. Speaking of God, the Scriptures say, “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” (Nehemiah 9:6).
God is actively guiding and providing for those who love and worship Him.
Old Testament descriptions of God’s care for man are too numerous to list, but here are a few examples. God guided Abraham (Genesis 12). God protected and promoted Joseph (Genesis 37-50). The Lord led Israel out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus). God fed millions of His people with manna from heaven for 40 years (Exodus 16). God directed birds to feed Elijah the prophet for 3 ½ years (1 Kings 17). God protected Daniel from lions(Daniel 6). The Lord continued His care for His people in the New Testament period. He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for man’s sins (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).
Jesus Christ, the second person of God’s Trinity, is now preparing a home in heaven for those who put their trust in Him. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3).
Today, the Holy Spirit, the third person of God’s Trinity, lives inside every true believer. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9). He is their comforter and guide. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13).
What will God be doing next?
We now live in the period known as “The Church Age.” The next event on God’s calendar is Christ’s return to take true believers to heaven. God describes this for us in the following Bible verses. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Christians often refer to Christ’s return for the believers as the “Rapture.” God will reward believers while the rest of the world will endure seven years of the most terrible Tribulation the world has ever known (Revelation 5-19).Following the Tribulation, Christ will return, defeat evil, and reign as King of the earth for 1000 years.During that time, Satan (the Devil) will be bound in the bottomless pit so that he cannot tempt man to turn against God (Revelation 20:1-3). Following Christ’s Kingdom, Satan will be loosed for a time and millions of people will join him to fight against God, only to be quashed by God (Revelation 20:7-9). Satan then will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10). All of mankind will then stand before God’s Great White Throne for judgment. The Bible describes the event as follows. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15). The only ones to enjoy God’s presence for all eternity are those who while alive had received His salvation.
God makes it clear that He does not want anyone to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Thus, Christ has not returned in the Rapture yet. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). If you have not yet repented of your sin and received Christ as your Saviour, you still have time, but tomorrow may be too late. Why not receive Him now?
- What power holds all things together?
- Name three people from the Old Testament whom God guided and for whom He provided.
- Who is now preparing heaven for true Christians?
- Who lives inside every true believer?
- What period do we now live in?
- What term describes Christ’s return for true Christians?
- How long will the Tribulation last?
- What will happen to Satan while Christ reigns on earth for 1,000 years?
- Who will stand before God’s great white throne for judgment?
- What is God doing right now to keep as many people out of the Lake of Fire as possible? (2 Pe 3:9)
Lesson Four: How Can I Go To God’s Heaven?
Our first lesson answered the question, “Who is God?” The second answered “What is in God’s Book?” The third answered “What is God Doing?” In this final lesson we will answer the question “How can I go to God’s heaven?
How to go to God’s heaven is a question on the minds of many people. Unfortunately, all too often, inquirers turn to religion instead of the Bible to find the answer. Remember, the Bible is God’s Book. It alone will give us all the information we need to know for sure we are on our way to heaven. Religion confuses the issue. Let’s begin by looking at the difference between religion and Bible Christianity.
Religion tries to change people from the outside-in.
Most religions that call themselves “Christian” claim that the Bible is the basis of their beliefs, yet they rely heavily on other writings, teachings, prophecies, or traditions. They will claim that you can be saved by faith, but not faith alone. They say you must also do several things. The list of “things” you must do to be saved from your sin may include baptism, confirmation, communion, becoming a church member, giving to the church, being good, loving others, abstaining from forbidden things, knocking on doors to tell others of their religion, believing that their prophet’s writings are equal to the Bible, loyalty to their organization, etc. These are all outward works that they add to faith for salvation.
Biblical Christianity changes people from the inside-out.
Unlike religion, Biblical Christianity (as found solely in the Bible), begins on the inside. God created mankind to fellowship with Him eternally. However, sin interfered. Adam and Eve, the first humans, sinned when they disobeyed God. Their sin nature has passed on to all of their offspring. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12).Let’s pause for a moment and answer the question “What is sin?” Sin is more than murder, rape, and theft. Sin is coming short of God’s expectations. That means lying, dirty thoughts, cheating, swearing, bitterness, harming our bodies, lust, etc. are also sins. God, being holy, cannot fellowship with sinful people without polluting His perfect character.
The Bible tells us that sin begins in our hearts. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” (Matthew 15:19). “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23).
Because our hearts are sinful, when religion changes the outside, the inside where the heart is remains sinful. For this reason Biblical Christianity begins by changing the heart. Again the Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10). Once the heart is changed, the outside will naturally change.
Jesus described this heart change as a new birth.
Nicodemus, a very religious man, came to Jesus seeking assurance of eternal life. Though he was religious, his heart was still not clean before God. “Jesus answered and said to him, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) This troubled Nicodemus because he assumed Jesus was talking of a second physical birth. But Jesus said, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Some religious people confuse Jesus’ mention of water to mean baptism, however, verse six makes it clear that water referred to physical birth. The only way anyone can enter God’s kingdom of heaven is by being born spiritually. How can we do this? Later in the same chapter of John, Jesus explained. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18) Jesus Christ died on the cross, not for His sin for He was perfect, but for our sins. He took our punishment for us. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) Propitiation means “to appease God’s anger.” Because He paid for our sin, He can now forgive us. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7) Only Christ can redeem or set us free from sin’s punishment and totally forgive us. Not only did Christ die to pay for our sin and forgive us, but to give us eternal life with God in heaven. Jesus promised, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) All this is a gift from God. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
As with any gift, forgiveness and eternal life must be received. Speaking of Jesus, John said, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) You can be forgiven by receiving Christ. God’s salvation is not of blood (inherited), not of the will of the flesh (personal desire), nor of the will of man (another’s desire) but of God! If you will admit that your are a sinner deserving of hell, believe that Christ died in your place, and ask for His cleansing, you can be changed from the inside out and assured of heaven. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
- How does religion try to change people?
- What does religion say you must add to faith to receive salvation?
- How does Biblical Christianity change people?
- We receive our sin nature from whom?
- Give a clear definition of sin.
- Biblical Christianity begins by changing the . . .
- When talking to Nicodemus, Jesus described the heart change as a new . . .
- Jesus died on the cross for whose sins?
- What does propitiation mean?
- Who can set us free from sin’s punishment and forgive us?