Overview of The Bible
INTRO: Good evening. It’s good to see you back this evening.
This morning we started a lesson giving an overview of the Bible. We thought 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. We mentioned that although the story of the Bible is a fascinating story it is also a very simple story and that in reading it once over some people perceive it as being so simple they think that they really don't have to spend much time in it.
Indeed the principles of the Bible are very simple. But the supporting structure of those principles, the nature of God, His desires for us, and the requirements we need to meet are more complex. It is in the studying of God’s word that we find the answers to our questions and the complexity quickly dissolves with our understanding. But it takes some time and effort to do that.
Knowledge abounds in this world. People have more and more things to know about than ever before. Technology. Art. Health. Business. Music. Ecology. Accounting. Fitness. Relationships. Architecture. History. Math. Physics. Botany. Computers. Engineering. Films. Medicine. Economics. Genetics. To name a few. Yet it has been said people know less about the Bible than their great grandparents who followed a plow around a field for twelve hours a day.
Let us review what we studied this morning.
I. Before the Beginning: In Proverbs Chapter 8 we found that the story of the Bible actually starts far before creation. The eternal wisdom of God’s word existed;
• “Before His works of old.
• From everlasting, from the beginning,
• Before the earth was.
• When there were no depths, it was brought forth,
• When there were no fountains abounding with water.
• Before the mountains were settled,
• Before the hills;
• While as yet God had not made the earth, nor the fields,
• Nor the beginning of the dust of the world.
• When God established the heavens, it was there:
• When He set a circle upon the face of the deep,
• When He made firm the skies above,
• When the fountains of the deep became strong,
• When He gave to the sea its bound,
• That the waters should not transgress his commandment,
• When he marked out the foundations of the earth;
• Wisdom was by Him as a master workman;” [para]
A. The word of God tells us that before the world was even created, God had determined to save an 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,”
B. 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.
C. David explains that there were going to be a class of 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. These people would let God's word conform them.
II. The Beginning: We read in Genesis of the creation and there 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.
A. We find that God created man in His own image, and because He created them in His own image He knows—we can conform to His image! We were made that way.
B. We also learned that we were given a free-will. We are not programmed robots but are free to make choices, even bad ones as we saw in the story of Adam and Eve. Satan comes on to the scene and we see how easily we can change our understanding of God’s word if it suits our desires. Free-will allows us to disobey and bring about disaster.
III. God’s Plan: God knew all this and He has a plan to save man which we saw start to be revealed in Genesis 3:15. “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 have violated God's command.
A. If we had read on in Genesis 6:5-7 we would have seen this ability to choose almost ended our existence. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth” Fortunately were was one who did not make the wrong choices, his name was Noah and “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Here we learn of salvation through God’s grace.
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.”
1. We read from the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:5-9 – “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. It is revealed to us that these promises that God made early on in the pages of Genesis, had to do with Christ.
3. The Law: We learned that we are to strive for perfection, to be holy 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.''”
4. To get mankind 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.
C. God revealed this in what is known as the Mosaic Law. 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”. 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. The laws didn't represent the end where God wanted to bring men, but was a step. They were a tutor to get man to where he needed to be.
2. Furthermore, we are told in 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.
IV. The Savior: In God’s word we find that 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.
A. We read from 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 you know the rest.
1. The Christ would come into the world and He would preach the gospel of peace with God. He would also be crucified by the very ones He was trying to guide to righteousness so that they could attain eternal life.
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.
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 and to understand the need to be forgiven of sin so we might not be separated from God.
C. 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.
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.”
V. The Kingdom: Now let is continue in our Overview. We find Jesus at Matthew 4:23 preaching this Gospel of the Kingdom, this new covenant, this new law. It is referred to in Galatians 6:2 as the law of Jesus Christ. Not only is there a new law that was given, there is also a kingdom that was established. No longer would there be a man on earth as king over this kingdom that was ruled by the Mosaic Law. There would be a new kingdom, as God had promised all throughout the Old Testament scriptures. Daniel 2:44-45 is probably one of the more memorable ones where Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of his dream. “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.” During the days of the Roman kings, God will establish a kingdom that will never, ever be destroyed.
A. Jesus said in Mark 9:1 that “I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” Therefore they knew that during their lifetime, the kingdom of God would be established.
B. In Acts Chapter 2 we find the prophecy regarding the coming of the Kingdom of God fulfilled. Peter quotes from Joel in Acts 2:16-21. God speaking through Joel “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams and on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.”
1. Then in verse 21 still quoting from Joel; “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Then in Acts 2:33 Peter proclaims concerning Jesus; “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”
2. All those who would call upon God, now have the opportunity be saved. Now people can be forgiven. This is the perfect law of liberty. People can be saved from the consequences of their sins.
C. When we read the book of Acts, we find statements that help us to realize that after Acts chapter 2 the Kingdom of God had been established. At 1st Thessalonians 2:12 the apostle Paul speaks of people being called into His own kingdom. At 2nd Thessalonians 2:14 Paul tells us that it is the Gospel that calls people into His kingdom, the Church of our Lord and Savior.
1. He tells us at 2nd Thessalonians 2:13 that “...God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,” Again, we see the eternal wisdom of God, the eternal word of God.
2. Before the world was even created, before any of us even placed a foot on the earth, before you faced your first temptation, before you found yourself in the midst of great sin, before you had determined to justify things that you were doing as right, when in all reality, according to the eternal word of God, it was wrong. Before any of that took place in your life, this word stood firm where it always has been and always will be.
D. And as the kingdom was established, God gave the instructions as to how people could enter into that kingdom. The instructions are not, as some people may think. How are we to think about what the entrance to the kingdom of God is? Should I come up with some method on my own? Should I listen to some preacher out there tell me “just say the sinner's prayer” and you will have entrance into the kingdom of God? Nowhere do I find either of those in the Scriptures.
1. In Luke 3:8 we have a statement made by John the Baptist that helps us understand some things about this eternal word, about entrance into the kingdom of God. John said; “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”
2. The people thought in their minds that their relationship, their blood kinship to Abraham gave them an automatic ticket into the kingdom of God. John says; do not begin to say to yourselves. In other words, let's see what the Lord has to say about this.
3. Nicodemus in John Chapter 3 is a great example for us. Here is a man who is not only a Pharisee but is known as a "ruler of the Jews," a title reserved in Rabbinic literature “for a great man”. This is not a man who was deficient in understanding the Mosaic Law. Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:3 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4. Jesus says “unless” or in some translations “except”. That means if and only if, it is a conditional statement. There are conditions.
5. Jesus tells this Pharisee who is of the seed of Abraham, there's something that you are lacking. You're not in the kingdom of God. The Pharisee, the ruler among the Jews, the person of God who knows the Mosaic Law like the back of his hand, has not met the requirements of entering into the kingdom of heaven.
6. Remember as we started this sermon John 1:12-13 “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.”
E. These are the elect of God; the one's God had foreknowledge of before the foundation of the world. These will have a transformation of their thinking. They are people who will be born again, not literally from their mother's womb, but they will be transformed in their thinking into a new person. No longer will they cling to fleshly desires and all the things that come with this wicked world.
1. They will have a transformation of thinking that comes through an understanding of studying God's word. These are the ones that will be the elect generation, the righteous class, the breed of God's people, they are eternal people.
2. In Acts 2:38 when the church is established, the kingdom of God established, we see the people asking; “what shall we do?” That is, what must we do to be saved?
3. Peter gives them the answer, repent of your sins. Just as Adam and Eve broke the commandment of God, you also have broken God's commandments, in your living by your own convictions, by your own opinions, by your own pre-conceived religious ideas, repent of those things and turn to the riches of God's true word. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” Peter goes on; “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
VI. The Gospel Call: The gospel call, the plan of God before there were even people. In that gospel call on that day there would be some, 3000 people that would answer. But there were many more there that day. Now, as we look at the pages of the Book of Acts, we find the church growing. People heard that gospel, and they conformed their lives to it. They were born again. They were transformed and they stopped living the way that they had been living, and began to live a new life. They would be like the Apostle Paul, as he said in Galatians 2:20 – “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”.
A. In Acts 4 the Sadducees put the apostles in custody then it says in Acts 4:4 – “However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”
B. There are many things to see in the book of Acts. Let’s look at Acts chapter 8 where we find Phillip preaching to the Samaritans. There was a man called Simon who practiced sorcery in the city and in Acts 8:11 it says “And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.” Then in Acts 8:12-13 – “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.” These people, these Samaritans, did exactly what the people did on the day of Pentecost in order to be added to the kingdom of God.
VII. The Lessons: As you go through the pages of God's eternal word, you find not only instructions, not only laws, but the lives of individuals are revealed. Lives like those of Noah, Abraham, and Jacob. We find of the patriarchs, the prophets and the apostles, men like Barnabas, like Philip the Evangelist who we just read about in Acts 8. We read about these people, and these men and women who made a conscientious decision. They heard the words of God and they decided to put aside their “I think”, they decided to put away things that they had learned through the years from previous generations, traditions.
A. We read in God’s word about traditions don’t we? As you read through the early pages of the New Testament, we see many traditions. For example “Why don't your disciples wash their hands before they eat?” People had convictions within themselves about certain things like that. The righteous heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. They believe that message. They confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. They were willing to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.
B. They wanted to live faithfully all the days of their lives, because this is what the word of God taught and teaches today. The righteous. But as we go through the word of God, we read about other people. We read about people like Cain who killed his own brother. We read about men like Korah from Numbers 16 and how he wanted to have the authority and power that Moses and Aaron had. As we read through the early pages of the Bible and we see people like Korah who said things like he said to Moses and Aaron “Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation of the Lord” We wonder at their arrogance, and their thinking.
C. In the Old Testament, we find something going wrong and we find God coming down out of the heavens and filling His tabernacle. Moses would go into the tabernacle and commune with God about what went on. If I’m one of those stirring up trouble, I would be terrified, because when God is angry, His wrath is fierce. Even though God had done all of these things, all of these great blessings, all these wonderful miracles, Korah steps out of line and says, What makes you so special?
D. In the New Testament we see Diotrephes, another one. In 3rd John we find Diotrephes wanted to have the pre-eminence of men. He wanted the pre-eminence that belonged to Christ, putting himself between man and God as it were, repudiating the word of the apostles, making a man to be the head on earth of the church! There are examples all throughout history in the Bible where we see righteous people and unrighteous people.
CONCLUSION: Each of us should consider, where do I stand in this? Where do we see our self in the pages of this Word which existed before we even came into the world? I believe we all have some ideas, don't we? Ask yourself, are the religious things about you in line with God's word or are you doing this because it's what you think?
People get confused about love, the love of Jesus. People get confused about the grace of Jesus. People get confused about how peace works. People get confused about how faith works. People are confused about this book that's very plain, very clear. In all reality it's simple but it takes some time digging into it to understand it.
People are confused because they won't open God’s word and study it. They just keep saying, this is what I think, and I'm good! In the end, as Jesus said in Matthew 7, depart from me, you worker of iniquity. And they said, oh, wait a minute. But we did all these things in your name, Jesus, we loved you, and we did all of these things. He says depart from me I never even knew you. [para]
“You who practice lawlessness”. Why did He say that? Was Jesus an ugly guy who was just mean and nasty? No, He says this word existed before you even came into the world and you did not conform your life to it. I gave you opportunity, I loved you, I gave everything for you. But you wouldn't conform your life to My Word.
So the question is this evening for each of us, where are we? Have we deceived ourselves? In what way do we approach this word? If I approach this word, trying to prove some conviction I have, forget it. It's not going to work. This word is pre-existent and it transforms the way I think. That's the way I should approach it.
I learned how to read so I start reading it. I start learning from it. I start to conform my convictions around it. I don't try conform the Bible to my convictions, I conform my convictions to the Bible and I will be blessed eternally and my hope will be realized one day.
The Bible overview today was very short, very simple. I hope each of us is encouraged to look deeper into the things of God's word, to understand its principles. We have one life to live and that's it. We have the one chance of this life to get it right. He's given us the right way, right here in His word. I'm not going to die and be able to come back and say, can I have a mulligan? No. Too late. You had your chance.
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 Robertson
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