Are you looking for the truth, freedom? The world's greatest teacher, Jesus, said, "If you hold to my teaching,...you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
The Bible, your road map to follow for your adventure, is far more than a doctrinal guidebook. It is God's message to this world. God's Word generates life, creates faith, produces change, frightens the Devil, causes miracles, heals hurts, builds character, transforms circumstances, imparts joy, overcomes adversity, defeats temptations, infuses hope, releases power, cleanses our minds, brings things into being, and guarantees our future forever! Always remember that the Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.
The Bible is divided into two major parts. One major part is called the Old Testament and the other part is called the New Testament. These titles are often abbreviated as OT and NT. Parts of the OT apply only to the Hebrew or Jewish up to the time of Jesus. But the OT also contains many unchangeable truths that still apply today.
The OT is made up of 39 separate books and they begin by telling of the beginnings of our universe, of man, and of sin. The OT also predicts (or foretells) of God's way of salvation in Christ.
The NT part of the Bible is made up of 27 separate books. The first four books, often called the Gospels, tell us about the birth, life, teachings, death, and physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The next book, called the Acts of the Apostles, is about Jesus' return to heaven and the beginning of Christ's kingdom or church. When people become Christians, God adds them to his church. The very same faith in Christ and obedience to Christ that makes them Christians also makes them members of the church.
The rest of the New Testament is made up of actual letters ("epistles" mean letters), written under God's guidance, to individual Christians or to groups of Christians called churches. The New Testament closes with a book about the future of the church and this present world. It is called, Revelation.
Jesus Christ has now returned to heaven to be with God, his Father. God has made him the head of his church. He is now the king reigning over this church, his spiritual kingdom. The NT is especially for those interested in becoming Christians as well as those wanting to know more about Jesus Christ. It is a daily guide for those of us who live today.
YOU CAN ACCESS TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE IN SIMPLE TO UNDERSTAND ENGLISH AT www.biblegateway.com
Enjoy your study. Ask any questions you may have about this lesson. Your teacher-helper will reply. The other lessons will give more detail about Jesus and what he taught. He can meet and fill the needs of your life.
THE WORLD CANNOT MEET ALL OF MAN'S NEEDS
All Scripture quotes are from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.
1. Having Food, Clothing, Justice. The Bible says in the OT in Ezekiel 22:29: "The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice."
2. Having Happiness. The Bible says in the OT in Proverbs 14:12, 13: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief."
3. Being Loved and Cared For. The Bible says in the OT in Psalms 142:4: "Look to my right and see: no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life." Psalms 102:7: "I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof." Job 19:19: "All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me."
4. Feeling Good About What One Has Done. The Bible says in the OT in Ecclesiastes 2:11: "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun."
5. Having a Satisfying Purpose For Living. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 5:10 and 9:3: "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless? This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead."
6. Having Security. The Bible says in the NT in Matthew 6:31-32: "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things."
7. Having Deliverance. The Bible says in the NT in Romans 7:22-25: "For in my inner being I delight in God's Law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body . . . making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. . . . Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!" ( . . . means that part of the sentence or paragraph has not been printed)
8. To Overcome Failures. The Bible says in Psalms 40:12: "For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me."
9. Living a New Life of Hope and Acceptance. The Bible says in the OT in Psalms 142:4: "Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge, no one cares for my life." In the NT in Ephesians 2:11-13 it says: "Therefore, remember that you who are Gentiles by birth . . . remember that at that time you were separate...foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."
GOD'S GREATEST DESIRES ARE . . .
1. To have a personal relationship with all people.
2. To meet the deepest of our human needs completely and fully.
Question: "Who is this God that is being spoken of ?" He is best known
through his love letter called the Bible. Let us take a look at what it says:
a. He is the creator of the universe. At the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1:1, it says: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
b. He is a concerned God who is personally involved with us, his creation. Psalms 34:18 says: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
c. He is God, the only one, who has unconditional love for all of people, …whoever! John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
d. He gives us a choice. In Isaiah 1:18, God says through the prophet Isaiah, "Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
GOD DESIRES AND IS ABLE TO MEET AND FILL ALL HUMAN NEEDS
But he wants us to be more concerned about the spiritual and eternal than our present,
1. Food And Clothing - Matthew 6:25, 26 says: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
2. Real Happiness - Psalms 144:15; Psalms 16:11: "Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the Lord." "You (God) have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
3. Acceptance - God accepts all people but does not approve of the conduct of all people. Acts 10:34: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
4. Being Loved and Cared For -- Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:1 ("1 John" is a small book at the end of the NT.) "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
5. Having a Purpose For Living -- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
6. Having Security - Romans 8:35-39: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long: we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered!' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
7. Having Deliverance -- 2 Timothy 4:18: "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
8. Overcoming Failures -- Philippians 3:13-14: "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
9. Hope -- Romans 5:5: "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Ephesians 2:13: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."
IT'S YOUR CHOICE
Isn't is great that God himself would give you the opportunity to make your own choice about which way of life you prefer to live and experience. The world's way of life never completely fulfills nor offers a personal relationship with God our Creator and Father. If your choice is accepting and living for God, God explains through his Bible how you can come into this great relationship with him.
1. The way to live in unending fellowship with God has already been provided for you. You can't buy your way into it. You can not do enough good deeds to receive it. It is a GIFT, a gift from God he lovingly wants you to receive. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."
2. Receiving this wonderful new life of fellowship with God is simple but involves a FAITH in God that trusts him to save you from the penalty of your sins and to restore you to fellowship with him. Hebrews 11:6 says, "And without faith is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
It involves an inner change of mind called REPENTANCE--a change about God, ourselves, and our life on earth. The idea is to give up your will to do as you please and rebuild your life around doing what pleases God. Jesus said in Luke 13:3 and 5, "But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
It involves a change that must come from the center of our being and result in a changed way of life. Your publicly spoken CONFESSION of your faith in God and trust in Jesus Christ is a beginning part of making this total change. Romans 10:10 puts it this way: "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
This wonderful change process comes to its climax with what God calls BAPTISM in the Bible. Here our old life under sin's consequences ends and our new life that is eternal and everlasting begins. Here we demonstrate our faith, totally depending on God's offer of his FREE GIFT. We bury the past by being baptized (immersed in water) into Christ. We are now his and God's free gift of salvation from sin and God's personal fellowship with us begins. "Repent and be baptized, (immersed) every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:4). Now a life of personal Christian living in fellowship with God begins.
3. TODAY, you have studied a small portion of God's wonderful love letter, the Bible. God's desire is that you choose him as Lord of your life. Then he will come one day to take us home to heaven to be with him. We pray your choice today will be for the one true God and his son, Jesus Christ. Do not be left out of heaven when God through Christ returns to take his children home.
Isn't it great! But, God has left the choice up to you! Please let your teacher know if you would need further assistance in accepting and receiving God's free gift of salvation to you. When you have finished studying this Introductory Lesson, click on the link below to go to the questions.