Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Story of the Bible, Part 7

The gospels tell us about Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection. The book of Acts continues the historical narrative from there. In its opening verses we read of Christ's ascension back to heaven. In Chapter 2 we see the beginning of the "church age" with the Holy Spirit coming down at Pentecost. On this great day upwards of 3,000 were saved and subsequently baptized. The growth of the church is rapid in these months after Pentecost, and persecution by both the religious and civil authorities grows. Saul, a Pharisee, is miraculously saved on the road to Damascus on an errand to persecute Christians (Acts 9). His name changes to Paul and he becomes the focus of the second half of the book of Acts. Acts 13-28 give details of his various missionary journeys and activities, ending in Rome, where he was imprisoned c. 60 A.D.

The books of the New Testament from Romans through Jude teach us the bulk of biblical doctrine. Most disputes among Protestant denominations have their roots in disagreements over the interpretation and/or application of the teachings of these books. This blog post is not intended to delineate those differences or to take sides; the list below merely gives some of the most critical doctrinal truths (with references, which I encourage you to read for yourself).

  • Man is a sinner (Rom. 3:10, 23), and sin brings death (Rom. 6:23). Jesus' death paid the price we deserved to pay (Rom. 5:8) and opened the door to salvation to anyone who puts his faith in Jesus and repents of his sins (Rom. 10:9-10, 13). Salvation is by grace through faith, and cannot be obtained by working for it (Eph. 2:8-9).
  • The Bible is the Word of God, inspired (lit., "God-breathed") by Him, and intended for our benefit (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It was written down by "holy men of God" who were led by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
  • Those who accept the gift of salvation are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12, 1 John 4:13-14).
  • Man is to live a holy lifestyle obedient to God's commands (1 Pet. 1:14-16; 1 John 2:3-5), and is to love his fellow man (1 John 3:10-11, 23, 4:7-8), and not the things of this carnal world (1 John 2:15-17).
It is also worth noting that the human authors of the New Testament and the apostles all uniformly believed that Jesus Christ was God, as He had said when He was on earth. No salvation is possible apart from Christ (Acts 4:12). If Christ had not arisen from the grave, we would be without hope (1 Cor. 15:12-20).

The book of Revelation is the final book of the Bible. Its first chapter gives us the background—a revelation from God to the aged apostle John, while he is imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos. The second and third chapters contain messages to seven specific local churches of John's day. The remainder of the book prophecies of things which have not yet come to pass. A loose outline of these events would look like this:
  • The "rapture" of the church, taken up from this earth directly to heaven (see 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
  • Seven years of tribulation, which will include an assortment of plagues and pestilence unprecedented in human history
  • The physical return of Jesus Christ to earth, where he will defeat his enemies at a great battle [Armageddon] and commence a 1000-year reign
  • After that millennium, one final rebellion by Satan, which will promptly be defeated (Rev. 20:7-10); Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire forever
  • The eternal reign of Jesus Christ in heaven, where all the saved will be with him forever.
Those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Savior (i.e., all those who have not accepted Him) during their lives on earth will be judged and also be cast into the lake of fire forever (Rev. 20:11-15).

These seven posts are just an overview of the Bible. Many thousands of books have been written about the Bible, but the best way to know what the Bible says is to read it yourself. I encourage you to do so. If you have not accepted God's gift of salvation, I especially encourage you to do just that.

The Story of the Bible, Part 6
The Story of the Bible, Part 5
The Story of the Bible, Part 4
The Story of the Bible, Part 3
The Story of the Bible, Part 2
The Story of the Bible, Part 1

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