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Archive for the ‘Bible Basics’ Category

The Bible consists of 66 separate books written by 40 different authors over 1,600 years.

The Bible is divided into two parts, known as testaments. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.

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The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew, with some portions in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek.

The Old Testament is divided into five sections, namely The Law, The History, The Wisdom and Poetry, The Major Prophets and The Minor Prophets.

The New Testament is divided into five sections, namely, the Gospels, the History of the early Church (the Book of Acts), the Pauline Epistles, the General Epistles and Prophecy (the Book of Revelation).

Knowing more about the Bible makes the Bible just a little bit easier to understand and study. This series of posts is designed to make the Bible smaller and more manageable for you to study day by day, line upon line and precept upon precept. (Isaiah 28:10)

1. What is the first book of the Bible?

2. What is the last book of the Old Testament?

3. What is the first book of the New Testament?

4. What is the last book of the Bible?

 

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The celebration of Christmas includes the understanding that the baby Jesus came to save, but that imbedded idea can be lost in the festivities.   Understanding why humanity needs a Savior can help us to keep our focus throughout the year on the Christmas message.

Why a Savior?

  • Because God is righteous and holy, and there are none who can meet His standard.  All men have turned their backs on God.  Romans 3:10-18.
  • Because all of humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23.
  • Because we are slaves to sin without Christ.  (Romans 6:6)
  • Because we lack the righteousness required to be in the presence of God, to dwell with Him for eternity.  2 Corinthians 5:21.

May you see clearly the darkness of your own soul and your total and utter helplessness to save your self, and therefore, your unquestionable need for a Savior – Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

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As discussed in yesterday’s post, some characters from the Christmas story , despite their close proximity to the miracle, miss Christmas entirely.

We can make a case that the chief priests and scribes missed Christmas.  As strange as it sounds, those whose life was dedicated to the scriptures, to God’s law and teachings, missed God’s arrival as foretold in prophecy.

In Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 2:1-2), Matthew tells us that after Jesus was born, Kings from the east came to Jerusalem looking for “the King of the Jews.”  Herod, when he heard this unsettling news immediately called for his experts in the field, the people most knowledgeable about such things.  He called the Chief Priest and the scribes, the experts in Jewish religion and writings.

As expected, these men knew exactly what the Kings of the east were referring to and where the “King” would be born.  Despite that knowledge, they had no presence in Bethlehem.  No one was monitoring the births of boys in town.  No one seemed to be watching for a Messiah in Bethlehem at all.

The words of the prophet Micah were no more than pen strokes on a parchment scroll.  The knowledge of God that these men had never translated into faith in God, so they missed Christmas.

We don’t want to judge them too harshly as this could happen to you or to me.  We might, like those men and others like them, mistake the mere knowledge of God, the knowledge of His Word and even a role as a religious leader as sufficient to satisfy God.  Beware, even the religious leaders, the most “Holy” men of their time, missed Christmas.  Knowledge of God doesn’t equal saving faith in God.

If you do not have a personal, intimate, saving relationship with God.  If you don’t know Him (not just of Him), you can change that today.  Pray the following prayer to change your status from outsider, to child of God.  Don’t miss Christmas.

Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner, and I have broken your law.
I need a Savior; I cannot save myself.  Please allow your shed blood to cleanse me of my sin. Forgive me and cleanse me.  I want to live for you, to submit myself to you, to be a child of God.

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In the Christmas story, characters lurk in the shadows.  They are present, but their roles are minor.  It is among these characters that we find some who missed Christmas.  If we are to avoid this fate, for surely it is possible for any of us to “miss Christmas,” we must learn from their mistakes.

We could make a case that the innkeeper missed Christmas.  The young couple arrive at the innkeeper’s door with the Messiah almost ready to be delivered (oh how rich the irony).  What a blessing for any Jewish family to have the long-awaited Messiah be born in their home.  Sadly, such an opportunity was lost.  The innkeeper was focused on financial gain – not a bad goal in itself, but devastating if it keep you from meeting God, from welcoming Him into your home, from seeing things according to His plan.

Not having a God-centered view of events and circumstances, the innkeeper missed Christmas.  But we don’t have to be like the innkeeper.  We can focus on the eternal and away from the temporal.  We can take our eyes from our finances and consider our inheritance in heaven.  We can embrace Christmas with its reminder that God, Holy and just, took on flesh to accomplish His great plan of salvation for us.

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In preparation for the coming celebration of Christmas, arguable the second most significant celebration in the year, Read Matthew 2:1-12 and see how many of the following questions you can answer.  If you have questions or are unsure of something, please post a comment.

  • What caused the Kings to come to find the Christ child?  Who did they say they were looking for?
  • What was Herod’s response to hearing what the Kings from the east had to say?
  • What is Herod’s plan with regard to this “king of the Jews” that has been born?
  • What was the reaction of the Kings to seeing the star (v. 10)?
  • What was the response of the kings from the east when they saw the Christ child according to Matt. 2:11?
  • What is your response to the Christ child?  Do you worship Him?  Tell others of what you have seen Him do in your life?  Perhaps this coming year, you want to make your response to the Christ child more evident
  • What gifts did they bring to Jesus, the King?  (v. 11)
  • What does each gift signify or foretell?

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In preparation for the coming celebration of Christmas, arguable the second most significant celebration in the year, Read Luke 2 and see how many of the following questions you can answer.  If you have questions or are unsure of something, please post a comment.
  • Why did Mary and Joseph have to go to Bethlehem?
  • Where was Jesus born?  Why?
  • What did Mary do with Jesus after He was born?
  • What happened out on the plains outside of Bethlehem that night?
  • To whom was the first recorded announcement of the birth of the Christ Child made according to Luke 2:8-14?
  • Why is it significant that the announcement of the Messiah was made first to the Shepherds?
  • What does Luke 2:15-16 tell us was the shepherd’s response?
  • What was the response of the shepherds to seeing Jesus in the manager?  (Hint: Luke 2:17-20)

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In preparation for the coming celebration of Christmas, arguable the second most significant celebration in the year, Read Matthew 1 and see how many of the following questions you can answer.  If you have questions or are unsure of something, please post a comment.
  • What horrible news does Joseph receive in Matt. 1:18?
  • How does Joseph come to terms with Mary’s pregnancy according to Matt. 1:19-25?
  • Read Luke 1.  According to Luke 1:26, who came as a messenger from God to Mary?
  • Where was Mary living at the time of this story?
  • To whom was Mary betrothed?  Of what lineage was her betrothed?
  • How does Gabriel greet Mary in verse 28?
  • What is her reaction in verse 29?
  • For what job has Mary been chosen according to verse 31?
  • How does Gabriel describe Jesus and what He will do in verses 32-33?
  • What is Mary’s very practical question in verse 34?
  • What is Gabriel’s response in verse 35?
  • What separate proof of the authenticity of his message does Gabriel offer in verse 36?
  • What is Mary’s response to the message from God through Gabriel in verse 38?
  • Who does Mary go to visit during her pregnancy according to Luke 1:36-41?  Why?
  • What happens to Elizabeth when she hears Mary’s voice?  Why is that significant?

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Consider the following verses from the New Testament that speak of what Christ has done for us who believe.  Thank Him!

• Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

• 2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

• Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ

• 1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

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Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.  And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”  This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.

But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.   So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

 She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  

John 8:2-11

OBSERVATIONS:

Where is it taking place?

  • In the temple, the center of religious teaching, the (only) place where the presence of God dwelt on earth

Who is involved in the story?

  • Scribes and Pharisees – religious leaders and experts in the law
  • Adulterous woman – found in the “very act of adultery” and so has violated God’s law  (Exodus 20:14)

Why do they bring her to Jesus?

  • Pharisees and scribes thought they could trap Jesus.  Either He was the Messiah, sent from God, or he was a fraud.  If He was soft on the law, it was proof He was not Messiah.  Jesus had been meeting with sinners, eating with tax collectors and thereby showing a very lax view of God’s law and those who violate it.
  • They were trying to discredit Him.

Who’s missing?

  • Adultery is a 2-person crime – Where’s the man?

Old Testament imagery?

  • Jesus writes with His finger (same way God wrote on the tablets at Mount Sinai)
  • Maybe He was writing out the 10 Commandments
  • Maybe He is writing their names next to the various commandments – the scripture says that they are convicted
  • Jesus proves that He is God by knowing secret sins of people whose sin is not well known
APPLICATION

Remarkably, Jesus could have, with His obvious knowledge of things, condemned her, but He chooses not to be a witness against her.

Similarly, God is not in the business of, nor does He desire to be a witness against you.  Rather, God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

This is not to say that Jesus (God incarnate) is soft on sin.  He knows the law.  He wrote the law.  Don’t be confused or misled, one day (maybe sooner than you planned) He is coming to judge.  Come to Him now, when His purposes towards you are forgiveness and restoration.  Later His purposes will be only judgment

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.  John 5:24


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The following is a collection of the recent posts in the Bible Basics series which focused on books of the New Testament:

Bible Basics – New Testament Overview

Bible Basics – Gospels and Early Church History

Bible Basics – Paul’s Epistles (Part 1)

Bible Basics – Paul’s Epistles (Part 2)

Bible Basics – General Epistles and Revelation

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