What is the “basic framework” of the Bible?

Let’s go back to some basics about the bible and what it says about God, Jesus, religion, and other topics often criticized by the uninformed skeptic. In general terms what does the bible have to say in its historical and forthright pages?

The Bible recounts the interaction of God with his people. It is split into two sections, the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). The Old Testament is the record of God’s dealings with his chosen people, Israel, and covers the time period from the “Beginning”—whenever that was—to roughly 500 BC.

The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus (shortly before the AD 1 mark), tells of his life, teaching, death, and resurrection, and includes numerous texts written to the first generation or two of Christian believers, up to the end of the first century. A key thing to remember about how Christians read this big book is that they have always insisted on two simple things: first, that the Old Testament points forward to what Jesus would do in the New Testament; and, second, that we must therefore read the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament.

The Bible is a story that stretches from creation to eternity, giving everything in between a particular shape and substance. In Bible-speak, this is called “salvation history” or “biblical theology,” an account of how God planned, revealed, and executed his purposes for the world.

The message of both the Old and New Testaments is vertical and horizontal, partly about love for God and partly about love for neighbor. The Ten Commandments, which introduce all of Israel’s laws, consist of four commandments about what one does for God, followed by six commandments about the treatment of others. The rest of the Bible, this vast story, concerns God’s remedy—in biblical speak, “redemption.”

Redemption in the Bible is not just a spiritual rescue. It involves three dimensions: God intends to redeem our relationship with him, our connections with one another, and our enjoyment of creation itself. The Bible’s redemptive plan is not just about putting souls into heaven. God wants to redeem all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven—which doesn’t leave much else!


Do You Have A Big God in Your Life?

Most people have small thoughts about God. In an effort to see God as our friend, weve lost site of how big He is. In our desire to understand him, we want to put him in a box—a small box. But, the God of the Bible cannot be contained. With a word he called Adam out of dust and Eve out of a bone. He created the heavens and the earth. God consulted no committee, sought no counsel and has authority over the world.

God’s goodness is a major headline in the Bible. His love for us is never ending. Since He is merciful and mighty, we can approach Him with our petitions. If God is at once Father and Creator, holy—unlike us—and high above us, then we at any point in our lives are only a prayer away from His help!

Does He have authority over your world? He is never surprised. He has never, ever uttered the phrase, “How did that happen?”

The Power of a Simple Prayer

Prayer is something very personal to those who do it. Where they choose to do it is not of consequence except if they are doing it for the wrong reasons. Religious leaders in Jesus’ day loved to make a spectacle of their praying by praying in areas where they could be seen and heard. Their motivation for such prayer was the admiration and respect they received from those around them. I think you would agree their purposes fall short of what God really wants from us in our prayers.

In Matthew 6:6 Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who cannot be seen. Your Father can see what is done in secret, and He will reward you.” Jesus’ audience were simple farmers and trades people. They couldn’t enter the temple like the religious leaders described here but they did have access to Almighty God through their prayers.

What was the point that Jesus was making here about prayer? Simply this—Jesus is low on fancy but wants to be as accessible as possible to the believer. You don’t need to woo him with location or wow him with eloquence.

It’s the power of a simple prayer!


Compromise. A Flaw In Our Testimony.

As Christians our life style transmits a loud message to the unsaved. If we are constantly involving ourselves in things of the world, like I stated a couple of days ago, we make ourselves an enemy of God. And, our outward worldly actions are perceived as hypocritical by the unsaved. How did we get there to begin with? A series of compromises led us down the wrong path.

We compromise for a variety of reasons. Many do so from a fear of rejection or of being unappreciated. Some choose this route to avoid conflict. Still others may begin to doubt God’s trustworthiness or goodness; as a result, they give up on Him, compromising their basic beliefs and undermining their reason for assurance.

To be men and women who are strong enough to resist making concessions, we need to develop some essential armor. First, we must have strong convictions about the Bible and depend on it as a guide for daily living. Next, we need to have faith in God’s promise to supply all of our needs. Finally, we must find the courage to trust in Him, even when we are misunderstood, persecuted, or falsely accused.

When we surrender our life to God, He replaces enslavement to compromise with security in Him.


How Can I Know If Something Is Sin?

Have you ever had the experience of getting ready to do something but then get a check in your spirit or conscience? An example of this might be when you turn on your computer and you get ready to click on a link that you know will take you to a site with some questionable content. That is a pretty obvious example. What about those times when you’re not sure and you ask yourself the question, “How can I know if something is sin?”

The more difficult issue is in determining what is sinful in areas that the Bible does not directly address.

There are two issues involved in this question, the things that the Bible specifically mentions and declares to be sin and those the Bible does not directly address. Scriptural lists of various sins include Proverbs 6:16-19, Galatians 5:19-21, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. There can be no doubt that these passages present the activities as sinful, things God does not approve of. Murder, adultery, lying, stealing, etc.—there is no doubt the Bible presents such things as sin. The more difficult issue is in determining what is sinful in areas that the Bible does not directly address. When the Bible does not cover a certain subject, we have some general principles in His Word to guide us.

First, when there is no specific scriptural reference, it is good to ask not whether a certain thing is wrong, but, rather, if it is definitely good. The Bible says, for example, that we are to “make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). Our few days here on earth are so short and precious in relation to eternity that we ought never to waste time on selfish things, but to use it only on “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (Ephesians 4:29).

A good test is to determine whether we can honestly, in good conscience, ask God to bless and use the particular activity for His own good purposes. We must evaluate our actions not only in relation to God, but also in relation to their effect on our family, our friends, and other people in general. Even if a particular thing may not hurt us personally, if it harmfully influences or affects someone else, it is a sin.

Finally, remember that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and nothing else can be allowed to take priority over our conformity to His will. No habit or recreation or ambition can be allowed to have undue control over our lives; only Christ has that authority.


New Testament Authors and the 12 Disciples

Recently I was reading an article on a popular wordpress blog written by an individual I know to be a biblical scholar. In the article he mentions that Luke was not one of the 12 disciples. When I read that it threw me as I thought I had a handle on the written history of the bible and who the 12 disciples were. So, let me ask you a question. How confident are you that you know the authors and disciples within the New Testament?

I did some research on both topics and found the following. I present this information for your edification in hopes it will help you increase in your knowledge of God’s Word the bible.

The twelve apostles/disciples in no certain order were.

Simon Peter
James Zebedee
John Zebedee
Matthew Levi
Thomas Didymus
James and Judas Alpheus
Simon the Zealot
Judas Iscariot

After reading this list you will discover like I did that not all of the apostles mentioned above were responsible for writing the books of the New Testament. To help expand your knowledge in this area, the following is a list of the new testament books and their authors.

Matthew – Matthew the tax collector

Mark – Mark the evangelist and companion of Peter

Luke & Acts – Luke the evangelist (not an apostle)

John – John the son of Zebedee

Romans, First & Second Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon – all of these books are works by Paul.

Ephesians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians – there is some support among biblical scholars that the author was Paul.

First & Second Timothy and Titus – some historians think the author was Paul but there are some who think otherwise.

Hebrews – author is unknown

James – author is James

First & Second Peter – written by the apostle Peter

First, Second, & Third John – written by John the apostle when he was advanced in age.

Jude – written by Jude, who was a brother of James & also James the just.

Revelation – written by John, the apostle of Jesus

Any serious student of the bible probably already knew all of this information but as I said in the beginning I thought I knew this information but didn’t. Why do I think this is important? I believe having this knowledge is one more way of showing God how much we love Him and want to know Him through His word, its authors and the well-known disciples.

May I suggest you take some time to commit this information to memory as it will help you two ways. You will have a closer walk with the Lord and you will be prepared as an evangelist in telling others about God’s word, Jesus and the road to salvation.

May God richly bless you as you reach out to others in the name of Jesus Christ.


Developing A Fear of the Lord

In order to develop a fear of the Lord, we must recognize God for who He is. We must glimpse with our spirits the power, might, beauty, and brilliance of the Lord God Almighty. Those who fear the Lord have a continual awareness of Him, a deep reverence for Him, and sincere commitment to obey Him.

The Creator of the universe is intimately involved in our every move.

Until our hearts are in a right relationship with God, we are unable to have the “wisdom that comes from heaven” (James 3:17). Without the fear of the Lord, we may gain knowledge of earthly things and make some practical choices for this life, but we are missing the one ingredient that defines a wise person. In the parable of the rich farmer, the rich man had a “wise” and practical plan for his profits, but God said to him, “You fool!” because the farmer’s plans were made with no thought of God and eternity (Luke 12:16–21).

Without the fear of the Lord, we make final decisions based on our faulty human understanding (Proverbs 3:5–6). When we incorporate the fear of the Lord into every moment of our lives, we make decisions based upon His approval. We live with the knowledge that the Creator of the universe is intimately involved in our every move. He sees, knows, and evaluates all our choices, and we will answer to Him (Psalm 139:1–4).