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The Message of The Bible - Part One
by Dave MillerThis lesson begins a very special series of lessons entitled "The Message of the Bible". It's my intention to begin in the book of Genesis and to take us completely through the Bible, all the way to the end of our New Testament in the book of Revelation. Of course, we won't be able to cover every detail of the Bible, but we hope to cover the high points, and to give us a general feel for the entire Bible and the message that is central throughout.
Before we begin our study, let me suggest to you, that the entire Bible can actually be condensed, (en)capsuled and summarized down into essentially two points. All of the Bible deals with these two points. The first point is that the Bible teaches us who God is and what He has done for us, as human beings. We could summarize all that God has done for us in one word, GRACE. God's grace, God's plan of salvation, God's intention for the human race reached its pinnacle, its peak, its climax, in the death of Jesus Christ. God, Himself, came in the form of human flesh in order to atone for the sins of the human race. That is clearly the scarlet thread that runs throughout the Bible. That is the central theme of the Bible. What God has done for we human beings.
The second central doctrine or concept in our Bibles can be summarized in this expression, "What should be our response to what God has done for us?" That entire concept can be condensed down into one word, the word OBEDIENCE. Grace and obedience are what the Bible is about: what God has done for us and what should be the human response. As a matter of fact, most of the Bible as you read through the sixty-six books of the Bible, the bulk of the content of the Bible has to do with that second factor. Even though virtually every book of the Bible makes reference to God working out His redemptive will to bring Jesus into the world to atone for human beings and their sin, nevertheless, most of the Bible has to do with people's reactions to God. God chose, through the Holy Spirit, to report to you and me how various people throughout centuries, even thousands of years of human history have chosen to react to the God of the universe, to His will for their lives.
Much may be learned from how people have conducted themselves before the God of heaven prior to our own day. The Old Testament is filled with this kind of material. The New Testament affirms that the Old Testament, even though it was technically dealing with people who lived at another time period and under another legal system, was, nevertheless, written for Christians to learn from.
For example, in Romans 15:4 Paul said, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." In I Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul enumerates several incidents that occurred among the Israelites back in the Old Testament. He says, "These things happened unto them by way of example and are written down for our admonition upon whom the end of the ages has come". And whenever Paul made that tremendous statement to young Timothy in II Timothy 3:16, he said, "All Scripture is inspired of God and profitable…" and then he lists several ways in which it is profitable. He was speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures. So, even though the Old Testament Scriptures and the Law of Moses were addressed to the ethnic group, the Jews, prior to the cross of Christ, beginning in 1500 BC at Mt. Sinai, and though we are not under that law, we are not under the sacrificial system and all those legal details that were addressed to the Jewish nation, nevertheless, the Old Testament contains information for us to learn from by way of application and by way of example.
Now with that introduction to our study, let's commence our journey through the Bible in which we attempt to ascertain the message of the Bible. We begin in Genesis chapter one. The first verse says, "In the beginning God..." That statement pretty well summarizes the entire Bible. It really summarizes all of human existence. Because, you see, God is represented in our Bibles as the only Being in the universe that was not created. God is deity. God is represented as being eternal, no beginning and no end. He is represented as being self-existent. If someone asked you "Where did God come from", here is the answer to that question. God had no beginning, He had no end. He is self-existent, and He is the only eternal being in the universe. Keeping in mind that God in the Bible, one God, manifests Himself in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three distinct personalities, which we call the Trinity, or the term that is used three times in the New Testament, Godhead. God the Father, God Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit have always existed. They are eternal beings who are infinite in their attributes. So when we turn to Genesis chapter one, right off the bat we are informed that there is a God and there's only one God. People throughout human history have believed either in no gods or many gods. And yet the Bible affirms there is only one, and He is the creator of the entire universe.
As we read down through Genesis chapter one, we are informed that this great omnipotent God spoke the universe into existence in six literal days. That's clearly the impression that's given. As you read through those verses, repeatedly, at least eight times, the text says, "And God said, 'Let there be…' " and then whatever it was that He was creating the text says, "It was so..." As you read through Genesis one you get the distinct impression that God spoke the universe into existence. But you realize that the scientific community of our day, the world over, is dominated by the theory of evolution, the belief that all life and the universe itself, came into existence over billions and billions of years through the chance forces of nature. Mere mechanistic forces of nature, no divine creative power.
But the Bible affirms otherwise and, as a matter of fact, genuine scientific data supports the Bible's view. Many indications are given in the rest of the Scriptures that the impression that we got from Genesis one that God spoke the universe into existence is, in fact, a correct impression. For example, in Hebrews 1:3 we are informed that Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power. In Hebrews 11:3 the Hebrews writer said that by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.
Exodus 20:11 was spoken at the giving of the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, at Mt. Sinai. Do you remember Moses passing that information on which he'd received from God, telling the Israelites that they were to work for six days, and then on the seventh day, Saturday, they were to cease their work? That is the meaning of the Hebrew verb form translated rest. They were to rest on the seventh. That word means to cease, stop their activity. Then he gives the rationale for the observance of the Sabbath day. He says in Exodus 20:11, "For in six days God created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that's in them, and then ceased on the seventh day." Now did those Jewish individuals gathered at the base of Mt. Sinai, when Moses said, "I want you to work for six days and stop working on Saturday, and the reason for that is because God worked for six days in the creation of the universe and then stopped on the seventh", do you think that those Jewish individuals understood Moses to be talking about some indefinite long eons of time that amounted to millions and billions of years? Or did they understand the creation took place in six days? That's clearly what they would have understood. Therefore the Psalmist stated in Psalm 33:6, "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth". Psalm 33:9, "For He spoke, and it was done, He commanded and they stood fast."
So Genesis chapter one is a critical chapter of the Bible. It is critical because the word "Genesis", which means beginning, informs we human beings who we are and where we came from. It informs us as to the beginning of a number of things: the beginning of the universe, the beginning of this planet, the beginning of life on this planet, the beginning of the human race, the beginning of marriage. It's a critical book that orients human beings as to their existence. If people lose sight of this, then chaos will result in society. I suggest to you that is what we are seeing in America today. Because so many of the foundational doctrines of human existence articulated in the first book of the Bible have been largely repudiated and rejected by a large percentage of the American population.
Toward the end of chapter one of Genesis, we come to verses twenty-six and twenty-seven. We are informed that on the sixth day of creation, God completed His creative activities by creating the first human beings. The text says "male and female created He them". When we move into chapter two, we find an elaboration on chapter one, an expansion of that sixth day. We are informed that, as a matter of fact, God created the male first. Paul calls attention to this in First Timothy chapter two as his rationale for insisting that in Churches of Christ males lead in worship. He says, "For Adam was first formed". You go back to Genesis 2:7 and find out that's what happened. We are informed that God fashioned the first human being out of the dust of the ground, a male, and He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul. He gave him the name Adam, which is the word for "man". Notice no females existed at this point. Adam was permitted on that sixth day to scan the created order, to observe the animals. In verses fifteen through seventeen of Genesis chapter two, he was given specific information from God as to proper conduct in life. For example, God told him in this garden that He had fashioned there were many trees that produce various types of fruit. God said, "you can eat of all of these trees", except the one tree which He calls the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He says "you are not to eat of that tree". In fact, He says, "in the day that you eat of that tree, you will die".
Moving further into chapter two, the statement is made that it is not good for man to be alone. Isn't that interesting? That teaches that a male is not sufficient in and of himself. He was lacking something. Therefore God said, in the King James Version, "I am going to create an help meet for him". There are two words in the original language, an "help" is a helper, an associate, a counter-part, an assistant, that would be "meet", that is, fit or suitable for him. You remember how God put Adam to sleep and performed human history's first surgery. He made an incision in Adam's side, removed a portion of his body, resealed the incision, and from the portion that He removed, He fashioned a female of the species, a woman. God brought her to the man and Adam's reaction is recorded in Genesis 2:23, "This is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman because she is taken out of man." Isn't that fascinating? God created the man out of dirt, but He did not so create the woman. He created the woman out of the man, out of a part of the man. All of these details are intended to communicate God's intention in regard to gender and the relationship of the sexes. Read carefully first Corinthians chapter eleven where Paul speaks to this very point. He says, "The man is not out of the woman, the woman is out of the man". He uses that fact as justification for explaining the rationale of how the worship assembly is to be conducted in the church at Corinth, just as Paul had talked with Timothy regarding the church in Ephesus and their assemblies.
Now notice chapter two of Genesis, verse twenty-four. That chapter comes to a close with this tremendous, all encompassing foundational statement. There we are told, "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." Do you know Jesus quoted that very verse in Matthew 19:6? He added this statement after quoting it: "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." But I would like for you to pause for just a moment and face reality regarding the fact that in the United States of America more than fifty percent of all the marriages contracted end in divorce. Divorce is literally out of control in our society. Not only that, we are seeing alternative approaches to marriage relationships. Males marrying and females marrying each other is becoming prominent and vying for legal acceptance in our society. But notice God did not create Adam and Steve. God did not create Eve and Ellen. He created Adam and Eve. Genesis 1:27 says "male and female created He them". I don't mean to be unkind or offensive. I am simply pointing out that God set up the human race by creating gender. He expects us to observe that. He expects us to comply with His arrangement of the human race.
We move into chapter three. Satan appears as a talking snake. Wouldn't you like to have been there, heard that and seen that? He engages the woman in a conversation. She informs him as to what God had said they were permitted to do and what they were not permitted to do. Satan became the first religious false teacher. He said, "That is not true. God does not want you to eat from this tree because He knows when you do you will be like Him." She listened to that rationale, plus she looked at the fruit. It was visually seductive and desirable to her flesh. In I John 2:15-17, John tells us that the way Satan comes to human beings, the avenues through which he tries to lure us and appeal to us, is through the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life". Eve was subjected to all three of those. And that is how he comes after us. Rather than resisting Satan and fleeing Satan, who by the way is said in I Peter 5:8 to be like a "roaring lion that walks about seeking whom he may devour", notice the Bible indicates that she chose to do what Satan urged her to do: partake of the fruit.
Genesis 3:6 tells us where Adam was during all of this; he was right there with her. Instead of being the head of his home, the protector and guardian of his wife, the nurturer of her spiritual well being, when she turns and offers him the fruit he goes right along with it. Thus sin is introduced into the world and look at the terrible consequences. God confronts first the man, "What have you done?" And like typical men, he says, "Talk to my wife. It's her fault. It's your fault for giving her to me." Isn't that so typical of the male ego? God responds to each of them, and pronounces essentially judgments against them. Yet in spite of that, in chapter three verse fifteen, we find God telling us that the day would come when a rectification of this entrance of sin into the world would be made. I believe Genesis 3:15 is an illusion to the coming of Jesus Christ, who would one day atone for sin, and in the process deal a death blow to Satan himself.
In chapter four of Genesis we're introduced to two of the children of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. These boys had received sacrifice information, instruction about how to sacrifice appropriately, how to worship God. The boys offered their sacrifices and God accepted Abel's but He rejected Cain's. Why? Why would God accept worship from one person and reject worship from another? It is clear from Hebrews 11:4 that when these boys heard information from God -- faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17) -- we are informed "by faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain". So both boys received information about how to sacrifice, how to worship. But only Abel complied completely with God's instructions. Even though Cain was a religious man who was involved in worship and worshipping the right God, his adjustments to God's worship instructions caused him to be rejected. God gave him a pep talk, because he became angry. God said, "Why are you angry? If you do right, won't you be accepted? If not, sin crouches at the door." But despite that pep talk from God urging him to get his attitude right and his actions right, the Bible informs us that at the first opportunity, out in the open field one day, he rose up and murdered his brother. There is the beginning of murder in the human race. The first murder in human history committed by Cain, and look how many there have been since and continue to be every day. So God pronounced judgments against Cain and he was haunted the rest of his life because of his sin.
That brings us to chapter six of Genesis. Chapters six through nine are critical chapters, because they report to us how the world population had increased by that time. A lot of people were living on the planet by the time Genesis six takes place. The text tells us that the sons of God and the daughters of men intermarried. Those are Hebrew expressions. "Sons of God" refers to the good people and "daughters of men" refers to the wicked people. What happens when you mix people socially? I Corinthians 15:33 says "Evil companions corrupt good morals." So the world population grew increasingly wicked. In verse three of chapter six, God says, "I am going to tolerate this no more than one-hundred-twenty years." Verses five through seven show the moral and spiritual condition of that entire world of humans. "The thoughts and imaginations of their hearts were evil continually," the Bible says. Therefore God determined to destroy the entire human race, with the exception of Noah and his family.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord because he was trying to live a life in harmony with God's will. He had an opportunity to receive instructions from God to build a boat and to preach to the people of his day, which he did for over a century. Yet sadly enough, he was not able to convince anyone with the exception of his own family, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. The result was that God brought a cataclysmic global deluge upon this planet, which had never occurred before, or ever will again, completely destroying the human population. The flood created geological effects all over the world that the evolutionary community has yet to account for. This explains why there are sea shells on the tops of mountains all over the world. Evolutionists can't account for that, but the Bible does. So God condemned an entire generation of people, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions and billions of people, because they had grown wicked and were going away from God's will. But Noah stayed faithful to God.This item originally appeared in The Truth In Love Television Program
The Message of The Bible - Part One
The Message of The Bible - Part Two
The Message of The Bible - Part Three
The Message of The Bible - Part Four
The Message of The Bible - Part Five
The Message of The Bible - Part Six
The Message of The Bible - Part Seven
The Message of The Bible - Part Eight
The Message of The Bible - Part Nine
The Message of The Bible - Part Ten
The Message of The Bible - Part Eleven
The Message of The Bible - Part Twelve