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Will there be Lasting Peace for Our World?
A free bible presentation was held at the Adelaide Town Hall. A recording of this presentation is available now for viewing.
When you have read this information you will know the answers to these questions:
1. Why should I accept the beliefs of 1st century Christians?
2. What did 1st century Christians believe?
3. If my church does not teach what 1st century Christians believed, what should I do?
1. WHY SHOULD I ACCEPT THE BELIEFS OF 1ST CENTURY CHRISTIANS?
It is very important that 21st century Christians have the same beliefs as those in the 1st century. Why? Because 1st century Christians lived closest to the time when Jesus Christ preached, “the Gospel of the Kingdom of God”.
If we want to drink the purest water from a stream we must get as close as we can to the water source. We know that further down the stream, pollution will have affected the purity of the water.
It is just the same with understanding Bible teaching. Jesus is the source of pure water. The closer we get to his teaching, the purer our understanding will be. The apostles Peter and Paul lived at the same time as Jesus. We cannot go wrong if we believe what they taught. Sadly, what they taught is rarely spoken about by modern preachers.
2. WHAT DID 1ST CENTURY CHRISTIANS BELIEVE?
We must examine the first speech made by Peter, after Jesus went to heaven. He tells us in Acts 2:14-47 what Christians should believe.
Acts 2:21,23 Jesus did not die by accident. It was part of God’s plan that Jesus, His sinless son, should give his life to save sinners. Because of Adam’s sin, a death sentence was passed by God on Adam, Eve and all the human race. Jesus, by his sinless life, made everlasting life possible for all who believe in him and keep God’s commandments.
Acts 2:24-28 Because Jesus lived a perfect life, God raised him from the dead. King David, who lived 1,000 years before Jesus, was also a prophet. He foretold the death and resurrection of Jesus. David said, of Jesus, God “will not abandon my soul to Hades (the grave), or let your Holy One see corruption.” (Psalm 16:10)
Jesus died and was laid in a tomb. God brought him back to life again (resurrection). God gave Jesus an immortal body (one that does not die). It is important to notice that the Bible does not say that Jesus had an immortal soul that went to heaven when he died. That is a Greek idea, not a Bible one. Jesus still had a body. He could eat, be handled and recognised, in his immortal state
Acts 2:29-36 King David was loved by God. Even so, Peter tells us that David “both died and was buried”. That is the natural end of all of us. Peter did not teach that David had an immortal soul. The Christian hope is that when Jesus returns from heaven, he will raise the dead. He will give his faithful followers an immortal body just like his own.
God promised that, “He would set one of his descendants on his (David’s) throne”. David was speaking of the “resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades (the grave), nor did his flesh see corruption”. So Jesus went to Hades (the grave) when he died, not to heaven. God raised his body from the tomb. Notice also that Jesus is to sit on David’s throne. Where was that? It will be in Jerusalem, in the land of Israel. Jesus will return to be a real king on earth. The Kingdom of God is to be on earth, not in heaven. Jesus is coming to claim his kingdom. His faithful saints (those who have believed in him) will live forever. They will reign with Jesus over the world’s mortal people in his kingdom.
Peter explains that David’s prophecy told us that Jesus would sit on God’s “right hand” (where he is now). However that is only until God makes the enemies of Jesus his footstool. Then God shall “send the Christ” to be king of the world (Acts 3:19-21).
Peter reminds the crowd, “that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” People in the crowd were very upset when they understood that they had helped to put Jesus, God’s son to death. They asked an important question, “what shall we do?” Peter told them, “Repent and be baptised everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”
Note that mature adults asked the question, “what shall we do?” Christian baptism is for mature people who choose to follow Jesus and repent of their sins. The sprinkling of babies (christening) is not taught in the Bible.
To summarise what Peter, Jesus’ disciple, believed and taught:
§ Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
§ He lived a sinless life and died for us.
§ He went to Hades (the grave) after death.
§ God raised Jesus from the dead.
§ In his immortal state, Jesus still had a body.
§ Jesus went to heaven, to sit on God’s right hand.
§ He will return to the earth to be king on David’s throne in Jerusalem.
§ Christians must believe in Jesus, repent of their sins and be baptised.
§ They should meet often to remember Jesus by “breaking bread”.
§ They must believe that the Old Testament was inspired by God.
If we are to call ourselves Christians, we should believe all the statements listed above.
The word “Christian” is only used three times in the New Testament. What do we learn about them?
Acts 11:19-26 Christians must “remain faithful … with steadfast purpose”. It is a serious commitment. They should also share their beliefs with all who are willing to listen.
Acts 26:19-28 Paul tells King Agrippa and the Roman Governor, Festus that:
§ Christians must “repent and turn to God.”
§ They must also believe in the Old Testament scriptures.
§ They should always speak “true and rational words.”
§ Jesus rose from the dead. He was the first to inherit everlasting life.
1 Peter 4:12-19
§ Christians may have to suffer for their belief in Jesus Christ.
§ Jesus will return to judge those who God decides are responsible to him.
All these statements add to our understanding of what Christians should believe and how they should behave. They are fully in tune with what Peter taught in Acts 2.
3. IF MY CHURCH DOES NOT TEACH WHAT 1ST CENTURY CHRISTIANS BELIEVED, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
In Acts 18:24-28, we learn about a Jew named Apollos. He was a keen preacher but he only understood some of the things that Christians should believe. Was that all right? No. Aquila and Priscilla, who had a fuller understanding, taught him “the way of God more accurately.” From this example, it would be wise of you to join a group of Christians who fully accept the beliefs of 1st century Christians. Christadelphians certainly do accept all those beliefs.
What can be more important than believing, and teaching, the true gospel as taught by Jesus, Peter and Paul? If you do, it will lead to everlasting life in the Kingdom of God.
When you have read this information you will know the answers to these questions:
Which day is really the Sabbath?
Did Jesus think the Sabbath was a special day?
Should Christians keep the Sabbath?
What is “the Rest” that God has promised to faithful Christians?
1. WHICH DAY IS THE SABBATH?
The answer to this question may surprise you. The sabbath in the Bible began at sunset on Friday and ended at sunset on Saturday. That is how the Jews observed it. The ‘day’ began when darkness fell. The reason for this is found in Genesis 1:5: “So the evening and the morning were the first day.” The evening came first.
The sabbath, and man’s duties on it, is first recorded 2,500 years later, in Exodus 20:9,10: “Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work … The LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.” Today, orthodox Jews still keep that sabbath. It was a wonderful rest for those who worked six days a week, and especially for slaves. For everyone, it was a release from busy days focussed on making a living. They could, on the sabbath, give their full attention to worshipping God.
2. DID JESUS THINK THE SABBATH WAS A SPECIAL DAY?
There is a marked contrast between the ideas of the Jewish leaders about the sabbath day, and those of Jesus. The leaders were very strict. They were hard on people who were not equally strict. In fact, they were more severe than God had intended. Jesus took a very different view. He understood the real meaning of the sabbath.
The leaders were concerned about the ” letter of the law”. Jesus cared about the spirit of the law. When Jesus healed men and women on the sabbath day, the leaders were against him. They even complained that a lame man who Jesus healed was “working” on the sabbath. All because he carried his mat after being healed! They also spoke against the disciples of Jesus for plucking ears of corn to eat, on the sabbath.
When Jesus healed on the sabbath, he saw it as a way in which God was glorified. Jesus must have been right, because he came to do his Father’s will, and he did it. God was pleased to call Jesus, “My beloved Son”. Jesus said: “The sabbath was made for man.” It was a day of rest and worship, and for honouring God by doing His will.
Even when Jesus healed a woman who had suffered for 18 years with a bent spine (Luke 13:11-13), and a man who had been paralysed for 38 years (John 5:1-9), the leaders still grumbled. But, the sabbath, through the work of Jesus, reached new heights. He offered more than physical rest when he said, “Come unto me all you who labour, and I will give you rest … learn of me … you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and by burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus could also lift their burden of sin. He could show them a path which would lead to everlasting life.
The example of Jesus helps us to understand the true meaning of the sabbath. He did his Heavenly Father’s work every day. His followers must do the same. Doing the will of God day by day is far more important than arguing about whether or not the sabbath should be kept as a special day.
3. SHOULD CHRISTIANS KEEP THE SABBATH?
There are many reasons why Christians should not be compelled to keep the sabbath day as a special one:
Nowhere in the New Testament are we told that Christians must keep the sabbath.
In Acts 15, Christian leaders concluded that, ” no greater burden” should be imposed on non-Jewish Christians, than “to abstain from thing polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood”. It was wise advice. This would “keep the peace between Jew and Gentile Christians. Notice that the sabbath was not included as something which Gentile Christians must keep.
The New Testament does not refer to Christians being condemned for not keeping the sabbath.
In Exodus 31:13-17, it is stated that the sabbath was a sign between God and Israel. There is no mention that it was ever made a sign between God and Christians.
Christians are not under the Law of Moses. Paul makes that very clear in Galatians 3:24,25: “The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Paul is telling us that there is freedom in Christ for Christian believers. In fact, Paul was upset when some Christians were going back to the law. He called them “foolish Galatians” for doing so (Galatians 3:1).
Christians are free to choose whether or not they want to regard the sabbath as a special day. Paul says: “Let no-one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16,17).
Jesus Christ himself is the substance. His words and actions must transform our lives. The law was only a shadow. To argue about whether or not we should keep the sabbath as a special day, is to argue about a shadow. It is missing the point. Understanding the life of Jesus Christ is much more important.
Paul tells us, in simple language: “One person esteems one day above another, another man esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). This means that no Christian, or Christian group, has the right to tell others how they should regard the sabbath. The Jews had to keep the sabbath because God commanded them to do so. Christians may choose to, but they don’t have to keep the sabbath. God has not given Christians a commandment to do so.
Our whole focus must be on Jesus Christ, his teaching, his perfect life and his sacrifice. This can lead to salvation and everlasting life. Christians need to realise that every day belongs to God. Because all our time belongs to God, Christians must live every day in a Godly way.
4. WHAT IS “THE REST” THAT GOD HAS PROMISED TO FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS?
“A promise remains of entering his rest … Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts … There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:1-9). Knowing Jesus brings us spiritual rest now. But even greater blessings are yet to come. They will begin when Jesus returns to the earth. He will raise the dead and give everlasting life to his faithful followers from every generation. He will come as “King of kings and Lord of lords”. It will be a time of peace and great joy.
The Bible calls this future time the “Kingdom of God”. At that time, the wonderful message will be “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and ye shall
reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Those who are saved will help Jesus to teach his message of salvation to the mortal population of the earth. What a prospect! What a blessing! If we worship God acceptably every day now, and not just on the sabbath, then everlasting life will be ours at the coming of our King. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
When you have read this leaflet you will know the answers to these questions:
1. What is the root of all evil?
2. What is a worldly attitude to money?
3. What should be the Christian’s attitude to money?
Money can be Good or Bad
“Money is the root of all evil”—many people think that this is Bible teaching. But they are wrong! Look up the quotation from 1 Timothy 6:10. This says that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. Jesus told us a similar thing: “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word” (Matthew 13:22).
In itself money is not a bad thing. Without it modern life would not be possible. It is money that pays for food and shelter, for clothes and education. Money can help the sick and support the aged. However, money can also do many evil things. It can give a person power over others, making them proud and cruel. It can become a terrible master, making people discontented with what they have, and eager to grasp more of this world’s perishable treasures. Money becomes a great evil when it is used wrongly.
The Worldly Attitude to Money
The worldly person has one aim: to get more money and the things money can buy, in the quickest and easiest way possible. This constant lusting after money and worldly things Jesus calls “covetousness”—a word which means ‘eagerness to get more’. Gambling, sweepstakes, raffles, avoiding income tax, giving short change, workers deceiving employers and stealing—all these are examples of covetousness. These evils are very common because unconverted men and women are naturally selfish.
A person who wants to be Godly and contented will resist this desire for worldly things. Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses” (Luke 12:15). There are many people who possess fine houses, motor-cars and many attractive things, and yet they are inwardly sick and without that true joy and contentment which Paul says are “great gain”. He also says that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). He means that the worldly man makes a god of the things he possesses, or wants to possess, and forgets the one true God.
Money is often used—or rather, misused—by people who want to impress others with their own importance. This is a dangerous form of pride. Some people spend far more than they ought to spend (more than they can afford to spend) on belongings just to show off. They get seriously into debt because they are not content with simpler, humbler things which they can afford. So they are never in a position to help others with their money. Just to show off, such people “fall into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9).
The Christian Attitude to Money
Money which a Christian possesses should be the result of honest labour. The Bible has not one good word for men and women who try to live off other people, or the Church, when they are capable of providing for themselves. “If a man will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Paul writes very sternly to the person who is idle and a busybody. Such a man must learn to “labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). The life of Paul is also a witness against those who live off others in the name of religion. Although he was an apostle, he worked hard with his hands as a tentmaker, so that he did not become a burden on those to whom he preached.
Money should first be used to provide food and other necessities for the family, and where necessary for the children’s schooling, and not on luxuries. Some children have to go hungry because their father spends too much on drink and tobacco, or because their mother spends on expensive clothes and hair setting. Such people sin against God.
Giving to God
The Jews of Old Testament days gave a tenth of their income for the temple service. This was a kind of income tax to pay the wages of teachers, judges and other necessary people. But over and above this, Godly Jews gladly offered “freewill offerings” when they went to worship. “They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which he has given you” (Deuteronomy 16:16,17).
This freewill offering is held up as an example to Christians. Paul urges each believer to set something aside for the service of God, according “as God has prospered him” (1 Corinthians 16:2). On the first day of the week the members of the ecclesia met together to “break bread” (Acts 20:7). It was then that they took up these offerings. This formed a very important part of the communion service. To give like this is one very small way of expressing our thanks to God for His great gift of forgiveness and salvation through Christ. The community cannot work without funds, but these should always be freewill offerings, not compulsory payments. They should be given gladly by the members, and not begged from those who are not members.
A true Christian must be absolutely faithful and trustworthy in money matters. Only to such men will Jesus entrust the “true riches”, that is, everlasting life in God’s Kingdom (Luke 16:11). If a payment is due to someone else, the true disciple will make that payment promptly, and will not conveniently ‘forget’. In regard to debts, the ideal is: “Owe no man anything” (Romans 13:8). The Christian will remember that failure to repay what is owed (unless hard poverty makes it impossible) is considered by God as robbery. A servant or employee is not to “purloin” his employer’s things—that is, take for his own use, without permission (Titus 2:10). It is often by a right attitude to money, both our own and other people’s, that we show how faithful to Christ we really are. It was the mishandling of money that led to the downfall of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11).
A Wonderful Example
When the Lord Jesus wanted to show us a supreme example of how to use money to God’s glory, whom did he choose? A millionaire spending huge sums to provide schools and hospitals and libraries? No, a poor widow who gave 2 mites (the smallest coins) as a freewill offering: so small, yet how great—greater than all the other offerings, for it was all that she had. She is a great example to us of someone with the right priorities in her life. She knew that service to God was far more important than worldly wealth.
When you have read this information, you will know the answers to these questions:
Can we be sure that Jesus died on the cross?
How does the Bible prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Where is Jesus now?
Can God give me an immortal body like that of Jesus?
CAN WE BE SURE THAT JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS?
There is no doubt that Jesus Christ died. Cruel Roman soldiers, expert killers knew a dead body when they saw one. Soldiers on duty at the crucifixion “came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead”. To be doubly sure, “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:33,34).Yes, Jesus was dead. Let the Apostle Paul have the final word, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
HOW DOES THE BIBLE PROVE THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS?
Just as there is no doubt that Jesus died, so also is there no doubt that God raised him from the dead. Look at the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection. They are all the more credible because none of them were expecting his resurrection. They were all amazed by it. Jesus had told them to expect it, but they had not understood his words. After all, nobody had been raised from the dead to everlasting life before Jesus. Many events took place before the apostles, (his closest friends) were convinced:
The dead body of Jesus was laid in a tomb. Faithful women saw the body and knew he was dead. When they returned later, the body of Jesus had gone! Two angels appeared with wonderful news, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!” They reminded the women that Jesus must “be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:5-7).
Suddenly the light dawned. The women remembered his words, and for the first time, they understood them. They returned and “told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest” (v9). What was their response? “These words seemed to them an idle tale (as nonsense), and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11). Doesn’t their response ring true? They were certainly not expecting the resurrection of Jesus.
Peter ran to the tomb. Jesus was nowhere to be seen! Could his resurrection be true?
The same day, two other disciples were walking to Emmaus. The risen Jesus joined them. Not recognising him, they spoke of Jesus being crucified, saying “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (v21). Surely, this was now impossible? Jesus told them the scriptures foretold that the Christ ” should suffer these things and enter into His glory”. “Their eyes were opened and they recognised him” (v31). Jesus vanished, and they rushed to find the eleven apostles, who also said “The Lord has risen indeed and has appeared to Simon!” (v34).
Jesus stood in the midst of the apostles, saying “Peace to you”. Did they welcome him? They did not! “They were startled and frightened, and thought they saw a spirit”. But the resurrected Christ was not a spirit. Jesus said, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (v36-39).
He ate in their presence, and reminded them, “it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead” (v46). Were the apostles convinced at last about the resurrection of Jesus? Yes, including ‘doubting’ Thomas! “They worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy”. (All quotes from Luke 24).
Paul tells us Jesus appeared after his resurrection to: Cephas (Peter); the twelve; more than five hundred brothers at one time; James; all the apostles; and himself (1Corinthians 15:5-8). Truly, Jesus “presented himself alive after His suffering by many proofs” (Acts 1:3).
There is one final, powerful proof. Only the physical resurrection of Jesus could have changed the apostles. Before his death, they feared for their lives. Sadly, “They all left him and fled”. Not any more! They became fearless preachers. Peter boldly spoke about Jesus on the day of Pentecost, “him you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up … God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:23,24,36).
Peter healed a lame man. He told Annas, the High Priest, Caiaphas and the rulers, “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified” the man was healed. The apostles had seen the risen Christ. Nothing was going to stop them telling everyone about him! Only the resurrection of Jesus could have caused such a profound change from being fearful to becoming fearless men.
The most striking evidence of the resurrection of Jesus is the Apostle Paul. Previously he was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples (Acts 9:1). Nothing less than seeing the risen Christ on the Damascus road could have caused such a dramatic change in him. Paul, the persecutor of Christians was now willing to be persecuted for the gospel’s sake.
To summarise this section:
Jesus had been killed. His body was laid in a tomb. That same body became alive again. It was seen and handled. It even showed the nail marks from the cross. Jesus, in his immortal state, had flesh and bones, and could not die again. He was not a spirit or an immortal soul.
WHERE IS JESUS NOW?
Jesus is in heaven. “He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight”. Two angels said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?
This Jesus … will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).
Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12). He is alive for evermore (Revelation 1:18). He is our mediator, and presents our prayers to our Heavenly Father.
The great news for us is that he will not stay in heaven. He is going to come back to the earth to set up God’s Kingdom and to be King of the world. Peter tells us God shall “send the Christ … whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke” (Acts 3:19-21).
When Jesus comes, Paul tells us he “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Jesus now has an immortal body. He is going to be a visible King. His faithful saints (followers) will all have immortal bodies, after they are “repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14).
They will teach God’s word to the mortal people living on earth. The Bible calls this time “The Kingdom of God”.
CAN GOD GIVE ME AN IMMORTAL BODY LIKE THAT OF JESUS?
Yes He can, and He will, if you take God at His word. Seriously, God offers you everlasting life, but on his terms. If you love God and keep His commandments, Jesus will be pleased to change your mortal body to be like his glorious resurrected body, when he returns. You will live and reign on earth with him forever.
When you have read this material you will know the answers to these questions:
How did the Jewish race begin?
Why were the Jews chosen as a special people?
What has happened to the Jews in history?
What is the future for the Jews?
I am not a Jew—can God save me?
Keys are essential to open locked doors. Here are five “golden keys” which will help you to unlock the Bible message about the Jews, and us:
· Understanding God’s promises to Abraham.
· Knowing about the promises God made to David.
· Looking at God’s relationship with the Jews.
· Understanding the work of Jesus Christ.
· Knowing about the coming kingdom of God on earth.
We need to use them all to understand “The Jews in God’s Purpose”.
1. HOW DID THE JEWISH RACE BEGIN?
The Jewish race began with a man called Abram. God knew his man. Abram’s faith is still a great example of trust in God and His promises. God brought Abram from Ur, near the Persian Gulf, to the land we now know as Israel.
God made special promises to Abram (his name was later changed to Abraham):
· “I will make you a great nation” (New King James Version).
· “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.”
· “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2,3).
· “All the land which you see I give to you and your descendants for ever.”
· “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth” (great in number, Genesis 13:16).
· “I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.”
· “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you … to be God to you and your descendants” (Genesis 17:6-8).
Abraham’s grandson Jacob had twelve sons. Over generations, they became a great nation—The Jews.
2. WHY WERE THE JEWS CHOSEN AS A SPECIAL PEOPLE?
God had a great regard for the faithfulness of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jews were chosen, “because he loved your fathers, therefore he chose their descendants” (Deuteronomy 4:37). God said: “Understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people” (9:6).
Nothing had changed centuries later, when they crucified God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Acts 7:51).
However, by working through one special people, God was able to draw attention to His character and purpose with the earth. He said to Moses: “For this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show my power in you, and that my name may be declared in all the earth” (Exodus 9:6).
This was vitally important, for God later said: “But truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD” (Numbers 14:21). This wonderful promise will be fulfilled after Jesus Christ returns to the earth.
3. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE JEWS IN HISTORY?
The history of the Jews is mainly a sad one. Although they had the great privilege of knowing about God, they were disobedient. God said that if they were obedient—”the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth”. But, if not, “you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the LORD will lead you” (Deuteronomy 28:1,37).
The Jews have suffered in many countries of the world: banished from Israel on pain of death (AD 135); expelled from England (1020) and France(1306); expelled from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1498); expelled from Russia and the Ukraine, many being killed and persecuted in the process (1918); and in the Second World War, six million died in the Holocaust” (1939-1945).
Yet, miracle of miracles, they have survivedas a nation! That is because God still has a purpose with them: “You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:28).
4. WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR THE JEWS?
The future for the Jews is firmly rooted in God’s promise to Abraham that they would possess the land of Israel for ever. God later promised King David: “I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body … and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12,13).
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is descended from David through Mary his mother. He died for our sins and rose from the dead to live forever. He will return to the earth to fulfil the promises made to David: “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32,33).
Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, reminded the Jews that, “The patriarch David … is both dead and buried,” but “God had sworn with an oath to him that … he would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne” (Acts 2:29,30). What God has promised, He will surely perform.
Though scattered and persecuted, the Jews still exist as a nation. That is because God promised: “I will save you from afar … I will not make a complete end of you” (Jeremiah 30:10,11).
In 1948, the State of Israel was established. The Jews returned from over 100 countries. They survived, in spite of wars with Arab nations. They will yet go through a time of great trouble (Zechariah 14:1,2). God will send Jesus Christ to save them, “and the LORD shall be king over all the earth” (verses 3-9). The message is clear: “Rejoice greatly … your King is coming to you … He shall speak peace to the nations; his dominion shall be … to the ends of the earth” (9:9,10).
Many Bible passages speak of Israel being regathered to their own land (Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 36:24-28). Many more talk about Jesus coming as king (Psalm 72; Acts 1:11). Our five “golden keys” work together to unlock God’s message about “The Jews in God’s Purpose”.
5. I AM NOT A JEW—CAN GOD SAVE ME?
Yes, God’s salvation is also offered to Gentiles (non-Jews). Jesus will rule the world from Jerusalem. “The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory” (Isaiah 62:2).
God does not just offer a good natural life to Jews and Gentiles when Jesus comes to be king. To individual Jews and Gentiles He offers everlasting life, if they believe, are baptized and follow His Son, Jesus Christ. His offer is open to everyone, including you.
Yes, you can live forever, joyfully helping Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God. The day will come when sin and death will be no more. God’s chosen ones will live with him forever. Faithful Jews and Gentiles will be there. Will you be with them?
“Let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
When you have read this material you will know the answers to these questions:
1. Is there a supernatural devil?
2. Why does the Bible talk about the devil?
3. Is a supernatural devil tempting you to sin?
4. How can you be saved from sin and death?
1. IS THERE A SUPERNATURAL DEVIL?
God makes one thing very clear in the Bible: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9, New King James Version). No superhuman power resists God’s will. The devil of popular opinion does not exist. If we want to know the source of evil, we have to look elsewhere.
The Bible leaves us in no doubt as to where the blame lies. Man is tempted from within himself. Hear what Jesus, the Son of God, said: “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18,19).
Jesus confirms what God had told Noah long ago: “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
James agrees with all these sayings. He concludes: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14,15).
Notice that no mention is made in any of these passages of a supernatural devil. We need to look no further than ourselves to see from where evil comes.
2. WHY DOES THE BIBLE TALK ABOUT THE DEVIL?
It is true that the Bible talks about the devil as if it had a real personality. We must remember, however, that the Bible is rich in using “picture language”. It gives personalities to other things also which are not people. In the story of Cain and Abel, blood is given a personality. Speaking to Cain, God said: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). It happens again with wisdom, which is spoken of as a woman: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom … she is more precious than rubies; and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her ” (Proverbs 3:13-15). In Matthew 6:24, Jesus himself speaks of money (“mammon”) as being a master. This should not surprise us. We often talk like
that ourselves. We say, “Fire is a good servant, but a bad master”. We don’t really believe that fire is a man.
In the same way, evil and sin are sometimes given a personality. This helps us realise just how big sin is, and how dangerous sins are to our salvation. This is proved by comparing two Bible passages. Listen to the “picture language” used in Hebrews 2:14: “… that through death he (Jesus) might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
What is this devil? What has the “power of death”? Romans 6:23 tells us: “For the wages of sin is death.” Sin is powerful and brings death. Your life is a constant battle against sin. Sin is your real enemy, not a supernatural devil.
Particularly in the Old Testament, theword “Satan” is often used for forces which stand in the way of God: “Satan” means ‘adversary’, but it is mostly left untranslated. In the New Testament, the Greek word diabolos occurs 38 times; 35 times it is translated “devil”. Its original meaning was ‘one who accuses’. In fact it is twice translated “false accusers” and once as “slanderers”, because in those passages, the translators of the Bible knew that it would not have made sense to use the word “devil”. In Titus 2:3, the advice given by Paul to older women was to be reverent in the way they lived, “not slanderers” (diabolos). And in 1 Timothy 3:11, Christian wives are told to be reverent, “not slanderers” (diabolos).
It would have been foolish for the translators to use the word “devil” in either passage. Older women and Christian wives are obviously not “the devil”. You must not picture a supernatural
devil every time you read the word “devil”. That would be a big mistake.
Jesus said in John 6:70: “Did I not chosen you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” But Judas was a man, not “a devil”. If the translators had said, “One of you is a slanderer”, the meaning would have been very clear. Judas later betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He was a false friend indeed, but he was not a supernatural devil.
We need to look carefully at the Scriptures to understand who or what is the devil. Think about Revelation 2:10, where believers at Smyrna were told: “The devil is about to throw some of you into prison.” Does it make sense to you that a supernatural devil literally put believers into prison? It cannot be so, because we know the Romans did that. It is an example of evil at work. Time and again we see the word “devil” used to symbolise evil.
Sin is at work because men, left to themselves, do not follow the ways of God. The terms “devil”, “satan” and “demons” do not refer to immortal tempters in their original meanings. There is no such being as a supernatural tempter.
3. IS A SUPERNATURAL DEVIL TEMPTING YOU TO SIN?
From what we have considered so far, the answer must be “No!” We must take full responsibility for our own sins. We have already seen that evil thoughts and actions come from the heart (Matthew 15:18,19). Paul says: “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). Do you think that God would blame us, if the fault lay with a supernatural devil? Surely not!
We are mortal because of Adam’s disobedience to God’s laws. But we each deserve our own death sentence. We have all earned “the wages of sin” for ourselves. Those wages are death (Romans 6:23).
Only when we are willing to admit that we are fully to blame for our own sins can God work with us. Only then shall we marvel that in spite of our weakness, Godis willing to save us.
4. HOW CAN YOU BE SAVED FROM SIN AND DEATH?
One thing is certain. You cannot save yourself. The Bible makes that very clear. However, you can be saved, thanks to God’s mercy. He has given us a way of escape from sin and death. By the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, He has opened the way to everlasting life. He invites you to share in the victory of Jesus over sin.
Jesus lived a perfect life and then he “died for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:10). Through faith in Jesus as your Saviour, God is willing to forgive your sins. By baptism into the name of Jesus (Mark 16:16) and by obeying His commandments (John 15:8-13), you can be saved from sin and death. Resurrection from the dead to live forever can be your hope. Jesus came to take both sin and death away, for, “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), and “the last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).
God asks you to take responsibility, not only for your sins, but also for your life. You have no need to fear a nonexistent supernatural devil. Rather you should listen to these words of wisdom: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
If you live like that now, the ultimate blessing of everlasting life will be yours, when Jesus returns to Jerusalem to establish God’s kingdom on earth: “For there the LORD commanded the blessing—life for evermore” (Psalm 133:3).
When you have finished reading this material, you be able to answer these questions:
1. What is the Bible?
2. Can we believe the Bible?
3. Why should we read the Bible?
4. How can the Bible help us?
5. What does the Bible say about the future?
THERE is no book anywhere that can compare with the Bible. Forty different writers were used—some were kings, prophets, priests, leaders, doctors, fishermen or shepherds. They wrote over a period of 1,600 years.
It is unique. It is the WORD OF GOD.
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19,20)
“All scripture is God-breathed.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
The Bible is no ordinary book; it does not contain man’s ideas. It is God speaking to us. Start to read the Bible, today.
WHY READ THE BIBLE?
Only from the Bible can we find out what God is like. Read these few verses. You are listening to God talking to you.
“You are kind and forgiving, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.” (Psalm 86:5)
“And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
“The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man.” (Psalm 115:16)
“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)
“The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.” (Psalm 34:16)
How many facts has God told you about Himself in these verses?
THE BIBLE GIVES US A PURPOSE TO OUR LIVES
As we read we are listening to God. We are learning what God wants us to do. We are learning how to make every day worthwhile.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet.” (Psalm 119:105)
“What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commandments and decrees … for your own good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12,13)
We ask God to help us each day.
“… lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13)
THE BIBLE ALWAYS PRESENTS THE SAME MESSAGE
As you read a little of the Bible every day you will see that God wants us to obey Him.
In the Old Testament we have the guidelines in Exodus 20:1-17, often called the Ten Commandments. Similar guidelines are found in the New Testament too, for example in Matthew 5:21-48.
To please God we try to keep to these guidelines. As you read more about the lives of the people in the Bible, you see that they find it hard always to obey God. Jesus, God’s Son, was the only person to obey God in every way. Jesus understood the same message. He remembered:
“Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
“Fear the LORD your God, serve him only.” (Deuteronomy 6:13)
Read Matthew chapter 4 to see how Jesus obeyed these commands.
HISTORY SHOWS THAT THE BIBLE IS RELIABLE
Jesus looked back at the prophecies about himself:
“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)
All of these were fulfilled. Here are some other examples of Bible prophecies which have proved to be true:
· Look at Jeremiah 51:37 and Isaiah chapters 13 and 14. What was to happen to Babylon? Did it happen? Yes!
· Read Ezekiel 26:4, 5, 12, 14. What would happen to the city of Tyre? This is another prophecy which has been fulfilled.
· Deuteronomy 28:64,65 tells us about the people of Israel. They would be sent to every part of the world. Sure enough, the people of Israel, the Jews, are to be found everywhere today.
· God said that He would bring the Jews back to Israel: “I will … restore them to the land I gave to their forefathers to possess” (Jeremiah 30:3). Today we can see the Jews in their own land — another prophecy fulfilled.
The Bible does not just tell us of the past, it also tells us of the future. We know that what it said in the past really happened. Bible prophecies were fulfilled. So we can confidently believe what God says about the future.
God never lies. He tells us about real places, real people and the nations of today. The Bible is true!
THE BIBLE TELLS OF FUTURE EVENTS
God tells us that these things will happen:
· He will not allow a wicked world to continue for ever. (2 Peter 3:10)
· He will send His Son, Jesus Christ, back to the earth to judge mankind. (Acts 17:31)
· He will make Jesus the king of the whole world. (Psalm 2)
· All who oppose the king will be destroyed. (2 Thessalonians 1:8)
· All who become followers of Jesus and wait for his coming will be saved and given a place in God’s Kingdom. (Romans 2:6)
· It will be a kingdom of peace and happiness with plenty of food for all. (Psalm 72)
Only the Bible tells you of all these things and of God’s great plan for the earth. Read the Bible today for yourself to find out more about your future. In it you can find how you can have a share in the peace and blessings of the kingdom of God. You can be there. Pray that God will guide you as you read and learn.