Overview of the Bible
INTRO: Good morning to everyone, it's good to see you this beautiful, sunshiny morning. It is a blessed day to be here in the house of God with the saints of the Lord and look forward to another study of God's word with you.
I was listening to some old songs by the Chuck Wagon Gang the other day and one caught my attention. Now there are some here way to young to recall the Chuck Wagon Gang and likely not many recall the old song “Dust on the Bible”. Let me read a few verses.
I went into a home one day just to see some friends of mine
Of all their books and magazines, not a Bible could I find
I asked them for the Bible, when they brought it what a shame
For the dust was covered o'er it, not a fingerprint was plain
Dust on the Bible, dust on the Holy Word
The words of all the prophets and the sayings of our Lord
Of all the other books you'll find, there's none salvation holds
Get the dust off the Bible and redeem your poor soul
I thought it would be good to have for a lesson an overview of the Bible. It might be a good lesson to encourage us to look deeper into things in God's word, and to excite us about this wonderful book that directs us in the paths of righteousness so that our hope of heaven may one day be fulfilled. Mark had a wonderful sermon recently on the “The Prayer of Jabez” taken from something recorded in the middle of 9 chapters of genealogy in 1 Chronicles. It was a pearl in the middle of endless names that God saw fit to put there yet how many of us discovered it? As we have said many times, lessons often come from the desire to learn and so I hope this will encourage that desire. The title, Overview of the Bible, may sound as though we'll be here for the next couple of days, non-stop. But this is just going to be a very broad overview that hopefully will give us a taste for wanting to look deeper into the things of God's word.
The story of the Bible is a fascinating story and it is really a very simple story. In fact, sometimes it is perceived as being so simple that someone may think that they really don't have to spend much time in it because of the elementary principles. Such as having faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, confessing that faith, repenting of our sins, being baptized for the remission of sins and being saved by God's grace.
All of these things are found in the word of God, but in their own way they are more complex than we may believe at first. Once we dig in and read however, then the complexities of these issues quickly dissolve, but it takes some time and effort to do that. It sometimes seems to me that people lack an interest in the Bible itself.
People are fascinated with movies and with books to the point they'll watch a favorite movie over and over again. They’ll read novels over and over and they can tell you everything about those novels. Yet when it comes to the book that can guide us to an eternal heavenly home, it seems that there's a lack of understanding, a lack of knowledge. That’s a neglect that needs to be repaired.
Though it is a book that directs us to righteousness man neglects it, though its pages explain our existence, man rejects it, though the words reveal an act of love and compassion unparalleled in human history, when Christ, the son of God, gave his life on the cross so that we might have eternal life, man rejects the words of God. In John 1:10-13 John writes speaking of Jesus; “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
John writes that even though Christ was their creator, many people rejected him. I do not believe that this defines anyone present this morning, but rather we would be a people that are very interested in the word of God.
I. Before the Beginning: In our overview of the Bible this morning you might well think, we will start with creation, but the story of the Bible actually starts far before creation. In fact, it considers eternity.
A. When we think about God, we see One who is eternal, eternal in the heavens, a God that has always existed. In fact, we read in this Bible that His word always existed. I want to read to you from Proverbs Chapter 8. This is a fascinating reading and if you haven't read this or it's been a while since you've read it, follow along with me and think about the importance of these words in relationship to the story of the Bible. At the beginning of the chapter we read “ Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors: "To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.” Proverbs 8:1-4 tells us that the wisdom and understanding of God’s word is under consideration here.
B. Now Proverbs 8:22-31 – “"The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, When He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, Then I was beside Him, as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.”[NKJV]
1.The word of God has always been around. Even before one particle of dust or rock or drop of water was put upon this earth, there was the eternal word of God, complete in every way. The mind of God was there. We think about things eternal and that even before the world started, we see the word of God was.
2. Think about what it actually had to say even before each of us were put upon the face of this earth. The word of God tells us that before the world was even created, God had determined to save and elect people, a chosen people as Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:4 - “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,”
3. At Romans 8:29-30 the apostle Paul writes; “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. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
4. Before anything was even formed in this world, before the foundation of the earth, that doctrine, that precept was in place. God knew that there would be people who would serve Him, who would be considered His elect, His chosen people. God knew that there would be people to do that before He even formed the earth that we live on. Before one man, before the man Adam and the woman Eve were even created this was known by God.
C. David helps us to understand the concept or the doctrine of fore-destination or predestination. The King James Version uses the word predestination. It's a good word, it says what it says. David helps us to understand the idea of God's foreknowledge of people who would serve him and people who would not serve him. In Psalms 14:5 when David wrote; “... For God is with the generation of the righteous.” that word generation comes from a Hebrew word translated into the Greek not as a period of time but as characterized by “quality”, “condition” or “class” of men. Liddell and Scott said that it means a person in a family, race, or stock, of horses a breed or kind, a race.
1. What David is saying, what the Apostle Paul is saying, what God is saying, is that before the foundation of the world, God knew that there would be a class of people, there would be a breed of people, there would be a family of people, who would conform their lives to the image of Jesus Christ. They will serve the Lord come what may in this life, no matter what hardship, no matter what difficulty, no matter what they face, they're going to serve the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul.
2. These are going to be people who do not permit their opinions to stand in the way, to stand between them and the word of God. These are people that will not let their personal convictions stand between them and the word of God and their hope of heaven. They will not form preconceived religious ideas about truth.
3. They'll let the truths of God's word conform their thinking and their minds. They will be as one, not only with other people of that class or family or generation—they will be one with God. Conform to an image of God, and God has always known about these special people. Before any dust particle or any water was on the Earth, God knew that there would be those who submit to His authoritative, eternal word.
D. As we continue this morning, let’s keep that idea in our minds so that we can understand the Bible; understand its objectives, where it's headed and where it wants to take us. If I understand that before I was created, before I came into this world, before you came to this world, that the word of God already existed, then I will understand that it's up to me to catch up to it, it doesn't catch up to me.
II. The Beginning: Now let’s read Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In Psalms 33:6-9 tells us; “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”
A. Here we see the authoritative power, the omnipotence of God as He spoke words and things formed, the elements obeyed Him, and the world came to be as we now know it.
B. In Genesis 1:26 we find that God created man in His own image, He created male and female and because He created them in His own image He knows—we can conform to His image! We were made that way.
C. As we continue to read through the early pages of the word of God, we find that it was not long before man disobeyed these precepts, these eternal existing laws, that were in place before Adam and Eve even came upon the face of the earth. In Genesis 2:16-17, God said that; “16. ... "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17. "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.''”
1. In Genesis 3:1 Satan comes on to the scene. I know that you've heard this, most people have read through this so many times, but read through it with me and follow the line of thought. Genesis 3:1- “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?''” When I read that I wondered, why did he say that? At Genesis 2:16-17 God says; “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat”. This is given in the form of a command, a law. We recognize this.
2. Satan asks, “Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?” His approach is that of a question. The purpose of this query was to focus upon the restriction and prohibition which God had made regarding a certain tree. “And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; "but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
3. The glaring error on Eve's part is her mishandling of God's Word. She added to it saying; "nor shall you touch it". Thus, the groundwork for the fall was laid through adding to and altering the Word of God. “the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die” and you know the rest of the story.
D. The woman saw the fruit that it was good, and she ate it because she was tempted of Satan to do so. Then Adam followed suit and he also ate. Mankind fell from the very start, the very first two human beings to ever exist upon the face of the earth God created, sinned. They violated the commandment of God.
III. God’s Plan: God's plan at that point “kicks in” as we might say. Remember now, these words were in existence from all eternity.
A. Here we find God starts to reveal His plan to save man. In Genesis 3:15 we see the first ray of hope for Adam and Eve as they are cast out of the garden. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.''” As we continue to read through our Bible we find statements of hope, statements that reveal a plan to redeem these sinners, these sinful people that had violated God's command.
B. In Genesis 12:1-4 we find God making a promise to Abraham and God says in that promise that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
C. In Second Samuel 7:12-15 we find the prophet Nathan telling David that it would be through his seed, that God would establish an eternal kingdom that would never, ever end.
D. When we turn to the pages of the New Testament, we find the meaning of these promises that were made of Genesis Chapter Twelve and Second Samuel Chapter 7.
1. We read the Apostle Paul’s writing in Galatians 3:5-9 – “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'' Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing (foreseeing is significant here) foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed.'' So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”
2. We turn over to verse sixteen, the same chapter. “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds,'' as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed,'' who is Christ.” At that point, it is revealed to us that these promises that God made early on in the pages of Genesis, had to do with Christ. With Jesus Christ coming into the world and serving as a living sacrifice, so that man could have hope, because man sinned.
IV. The Law: Because of the revealed Word of God there would be generations upon generations upon generations of individuals who would come to see the need to be forgiven of trespasses. God is omnipotent, God is omniscient, God is the all knowing, all seeing God. He is creator of all things. He is all powerful, and man must come to see Him for what He is and meet His demands of absolute moral perfection.
A. “Therefore you shall be perfect”, Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “just as your Father in heaven is perfect”. In Leviticus 11:44 God says “...you shall be holy; for I am holy...”
1. The Apostle Peter quotes this in 1st Peter 1:15-16 – “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy.''”
2. To get man to the point where they understood God's expectation of holiness and moral perfection, and to help them to feel the remorse, the guilt, to have this mournful spirit that Jesus would talk about in the Beatitudes, to get them to that point He brought law to them, the eternal existing law.
B. He would reveal it to man first by the way of Moses in what is known as the Mosaic Law. Galatians 3:23 the apostle Paul writes; “But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” This law was to bring people to faith and help them to see the magnitude of their sins, the horrendous state of their soul, the desperate need they had for the forgiveness of their sins. It was to prepare us to understand the need, and without the laws of God we would not see the state of desperation we are in.
C. Exodus 20:1 Moses is at Mount Sinai and he receives the Ten Commandments. In Hebrews 8:4-6 the author of Hebrews tells us that these laws that God had given through Moses were a “shadow of the heavenly things”. In Hebrews 10:1 the author tells us “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things...”
1. They didn't represent the end where God wanted to bring men, but they were a step. They were a tutor to get man to where he needed to be.
2. Furthermore, he tells us at Hebrews 7:18-19 “For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”
3. The law lacked something. The Law of Moses was lacking in that he says it could not make a man perfect and that's what God was after. Perfection, absolute moral perfection and the Mosaic Law could not do this. This was its unprofitableness.
V. The Savior: God had always planned before the foundation of the world to bring Christ into the world. We can read about the Christ all throughout the Old Testament scriptures. There are many, many prophecies, words that speak about the coming of Jesus and what He would represent.
A. Maybe the most memorable statements which people recall are in Isaiah 9:6 where the Prophet of God said to us; “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
1. The Christ would come into the world and He would preach the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of peace with God. He would also be crucified by the very ones that He created, by the very ones that He taught, by the very ones that He loved, those He was trying to guide on the paths of righteousness so that they could attain eternal life. They would slay Him on a cross.
2. Three days later, Christ rose from the grave. He was resurrected and He ascended into the heavens. All of this was foretold, it was written. All this was in the mind of God before one particle of dust came together on the Earth, before we were created.
3. Think about this, before you stepped a foot onto this earth, before you took a breath of life, this was all in place. You grew from being a one moment old child to where you are right now, and you learn things from this book about God the Father and His eternal word which has been in existence before you ever were.
B. Christ ascended into the heavens and He brought a new law. We read from Galatians Chapter 3 that it was the object of the Mosaic Law to serve as a tutor, to bring us to Christ, to bring us to faith and help us to see our need to be forgiven of sin, to paint a picture of the horrendous nature of sin and the state that it puts one in to be separated from God, Isaiah 59:1-2.
C. Starting in Jeremiah 31:31ff we read; “"Behold, the days are coming,'' says the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah ”
1. Scripture foretold of this new law that would come. This new law would be different than the old law Moses delivered. The law that Moses delivered was unprofitable in that it could not prefect anyone, that is, forgiving people of their sins. But that would not be the case with the law of Christ.
2. Jeremiah tells us that through the law of Christ, the new covenant, men would be forgiven. Verse 34 says; “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,'' says the Lord. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
CONCLUSION: As we bring this mornings portion of our overview to a close let me go back to what led me to present this and that is “Dust on the Bible”. Why are people ignorant of the Bible? Some do not study it. Some do not want to understand it. Some have minds that are cluttered with other things. Some have not learned to rightly divide it. And unfortunately some are prejudiced against it.
It is impossible to have a saving scripture knowledge without regular study (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15). We do not expect to learn math, English, science, history or literature without cracking a book. The Bible is no different.
There are religious people that do not study Scripture. Instead they rely on the traditions of their parents and the views of their preachers. Many could not point to the Bible as authority for what they believe (cf. Colossians 3:17). Christ’s words are hauntingly real in our generation, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures” (Matthew 22:29). Some spend more time with Swindoll or Lucado than they do Peter and Paul. As strange as it sounds, we need to put the Bible back into our religious curriculum.
Scripture speaks of those who are willfully ignorant (2 Peter 3:5). The Bible condemns sins; therefore, sinners do not enjoy reading it. Deeds of darkness do not enjoy exposure to light. Woodrow Wilson said, “A man has deprived himself of the best there is in the world, who has deprived himself of a knowledge of the Bible . . . I have a very simple thing to ask of you. I ask every man and woman in this audience that from this day on they will realize that part of the destiny of America lies in their daily perusal of this great Book.”
Jesus spoke of thorny-ground where the seed of the Word was choked. One of those thorn bushes was the “cares of this world” (Matthew 13:22). Good, moral people sometimes get too busy with family, food, finances, and fun to give the Word space to grow. Even among Bible readers, ignorance can remain if they fail to meditate on the Bible’s precepts (Psalm 1:2). No knowledge on this earth, not now or ever, is as important as Bible knowledge.
We use sunglasses to dim the intensity of the sun. There are those that put shades on their mind’s eye to dim the Gospel light. They come to the Bible with their minds already made up as to what it says. Like the ancient Jews (Matthew 13:15), they make it fit their beliefs rather than fitting their life to it. This makes proper interpretation impossible.
If there somebody here who is not a member of the body of Christ and you have come to believe in your heart that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the son of the living God, and you're willing to confess that faith and repent of your sins we'd be glad to assist you as you are baptized into the body of Christ. You will then as a Christian take up your cross daily and follow by faith, studying His word and growing in understanding.
If you’re a child of God already and your faith has been weak to where you have gone astray, if there is sin between you and God, I would like to encourage you to deal with it.
God is gracious; God is willing to forgive you. We as your brothers and sisters in Christ will pray for you, pray with you and do the very best we can to encourage you.
If you are subject to the Gospel call in any way, you are invited to come forward and make your need known while we stand and sing the song of invitation.
Invitation song: # ??? Reference Sermon by: John RobertsonPrint
© Chardon Church of Christ
All right reserved