Knowing what the Bible is and what it teaches is essential to the personal ministry of those who would be Jesus’ disciples. When Yeshua was alive on earth, the New Testament did not exist. Jesus taught His first disciples to understand and apply the Tanak, the Hebrew Scriptures. Today, most of Jesus’ followers know this portion of Scripture as the Old Testament.
Acts 2 paints a vivid picture of the earliest Church. It’s people continually submitted to the Apostles’ teaching. The Apostles passed on to the new believers in Jerusalem what their Master had first taught them. They did not have the right to place their own “spin” on His teaching. They taught others exactly what He had taught. This created tremendous unity in the rapidly growing family of Jesus’ followers. Take a few minutes and read Acts 2:42-47. The unity of that first disciple making community was the proof of their testimony. Their transformed lives demonstrated that Jesus is the risen Son of God. He lives!
There are sixty-six books in the Bible generally recognized by the Church today. Thirty-nine are in the Old Testament. Twenty-seven books complete the New Testament. One of the amazing things about the Bible is the continuity of its theme and message from the first page to the last. It was written over a period of about 1,600 years by approximately 40 different people that God inspired for their work.
The over-arching theme of the entire Bible is God’s glory. Everything He has ever done or ever will do is for the purpose of glorifying Himself. There are a number of ways that He does this. One of the ways He is glorifying Himself is by restoring to perfection that which He created for Himself. The perfection of His creation was ruined because of rebellion against God by those He created to have fellowship with. This included angels and mankind. Rebellion against God’s will is called “sin.” Sin in heaven and on earth separated what was created from its Creator. To glorify Himself, God must restore all of creation to its original perfect state.
Revelation 22:21, the last verse of the Bible, reveals the antidote to Creation’s sin sickness. God’s “grace” restores this perfect state in those individuals who appropriate it through belief in what the Bible records. God’s grace is offered to all of humanity. This has always been true. Nothing has changed. That is the good news. While God’s grace is freely offered to all people at all times, only some claim God’s grace for themselves. That is the bad news.
So What About You?
Maybe you are asking, “What must I do today to receive God’s grace?” The answer is really very simple. In fact, it is so simple that most of humanity refuses to believe it. Sadly, even many who self-identify as followers of Jesus mistakenly think there is something else they must do to earn God’s grace.
There is only one thing that God requires of anyone for this grace giving transaction to take place. Just believe what the Apostles taught. Since the 1st Century, God has said that men, women, boys, and girls can receive His grace by believing that Jesus:
1. Died for their personal sins… according to the Scriptures,
2. Was buried,
3. And was raised again on the third day… according to the Scriptures. (1st Corinthians 15:3-8)
All you must do to receive God’s free gift of grace today is believe (have faith) in these three historical facts. This is not a fanciful fictional story. The arguments that these three facts are true can be validated if one will take the time to honestly investigate and evaluate them. Well, that’s it. We said it was simple, and it is! You now know what you must believe. What you decide to do with this information is your choice.
Once someone has changed their mind about Jesus and believed, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in their life. Only then is it possible for God to begin to speak to them through the Bible.
Learning to understand the Bible is somewhat like learning human anatomy. Human bodies are supported by a skeletal structure. This skeletal structure is pretty much the same for everyone. Our skeletal structure is not readily apparent because of the muscles and skin that cover it. But the inherent structure underneath is the same for everybody. Anyone who has an interest in studying it will discover this to be true.
By identifying the Bible’s skeletal structure, believers will begin to understand what it teaches and become equipped to train others how to do the same. Trust me, it is not as hard as it may seem.