What are we? Were we put on earth for a purpose? If so, what is that purpose? Why are so many lives empty, discontented, unhappy? How may life become happy, abundant, successful, prosperous and filled with interest?
What is the real cause of wars, and the way to world peace? What lies beyond death – is there really a way to eternal life?
Are these questions important? One might ask, could anything else be more important? If you wanted to know the answers to these basic questions of life, where would you go?
THE FOUNDATION OF KNOWLEDGE
Stop and think! Would a Creator, having supreme intelligence, wisdom and love to think out, to plan, design, and bring about all creation, this earth, and all life and life-functions upon it have left His created beings in ignorance of His purpose, the purpose of their being here and the laws that would bring them the peace, happiness, joy and everything good that men have been striving to attain since the beginning?
God Almighty did not hide these all-important truths from human minds. He made them accessible to mankind. He committed His treasure-house of basic knowledge to writing. He revealed that knowledge in the Holy Bible, the very foundation of knowledge, His instruction book for mankind. Yet almost no one has ever found the answers so plainly written there!
The Bible is simply God’s divine revelation of basic needed knowledge which man is not capable of finding out for himself by any other means. God equipped man with the powers and abilities to discover and use the laws of science. But absolutely no tools or instruments of science can ever tell you if there is life after death, the purpose of your being alive, where you are going, or the way to a happy, abundant life and to universal peace here and now. Our scientists, our world leaders and our statesmen have failed utterly to tell us these answers or to lead us into the universally desired peace with happiness and abundant living.
The Bible reveals all this – and more. This course shows you where to find that revealed knowledge.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
One natural and proper starting place to begin our study of the Bible would be at the very beginning – with God as Creator – at the very first chapter of Genesis and compare the Bible account of creation with the modern theory of evolution; to study the creation of man, the origin of Satan, the first sin, and to continue on from there through the Old Testament.
Another natural starting point is with the beginning of the New Testament. While the very first words of the entire Bible are “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), yet the real beginning of the New Testament, in actual time sequence of events, is John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word.” So the account of the pre-existence, the birth, and work of Jesus Christ – who is called “the Word” or Spokesman of God – also begins with the words “In the beginning.”
And there is still another natural starting point – the one we have adopted. That is to begin with this very present age in which we live – this time of upset world conditions – this time when science and technology have produced the destructive forces that threaten the extinction of all life on this planet – this “time of the end” just before the end of this age and the second coming of Jesus Christ!
But before we begin this fascinating study, we need to know why so few really understand the Bible, and how you can understand it.
WHY SUCH CONFUSION?
Why do we find such confusion – such disagreement as to what the Bible says? Why don’t the hundreds of differing church denominations and sects agree on what their acknowledged text book says? Why do so many individuals, capable of understanding almost any other book, say, “I just can’t understand the Bible”?
Take a recognized textbook on biology. Show this book to ten different biology professors from ten different colleges and universities. Ask them what it says. They’ll all give you basically the same answer. People seldom disagree as to what recognized textbooks say – except when it comes to the one book of all books – the Holy Bible!
But take the Bible to ten different professors of theology, or ministers of religion, and you’ll probably receive ten different answers to just about any question you might ask about it. Do you know why?
Here certainly is the enigma of the ages. The most important, yet the least understood book of all books is the world’s best seller, the book owned by more people than any other. It is the one book that has lived in spite of every effort to stamp it out down through the ages.
The Bible is the only book which has foretold, centuries in advance, the chaotic conditions of our world, the only book that explains the meaning of confused world conditions – that opens before us to understand in advance the wonderful, peaceful, happy New World to come. It is the one book that predicted, in advance, the rise and fall of specific nations and governments – that reveals the destiny of the world. No mere humanly inspired book could have revealed these amazing events. Such prophecies must have been divinely inspired.
The Bible is the most misunderstood book in history. The most twisted, distorted, misrepresented, maligned and lied about. Why?
The answer is found in II Timothy 3:16-17. The apostle Paul was inspired by God to write: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God man be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” So the Scriptures are profitable for the purpose of reproving and correcting us!
But how many people do you know who are even willing to be corrected when they are in error, to be reproved for the wrong things they do? People simply do not like to be reproved and corrected. They love praise, they like flattery, but reproof and correction they surely hate!
Now do you see why it is so difficult for people to understand the Bible, and to agree on just what it says? The Bible is God’s great spiritual mirror. It shows up every flaw in our thinking, reveals every spot on our characters. It pictures us as we really are, as God sees us, not as we like to think we are, or as we like to have other people look upon us.
“For the word of God,” we read in Hebrews 4:12, “is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword” – it cuts deep, and it cuts both ways – “and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Yes, it opens up and exposes our innermost thoughts.
When little children do things that are wrong, that have been forbidden, do they usually admit it freely and frankly? Or do they usually deny it as long as possible, and then try to cover it up, excuse it, justify it, or place the blame on somebody else?
We are all only little children grown up. When our heavenly Father speaks to us, through His Holy
Scriptures, and reproves, or corrects us, we usually do not like to admit our errors, our faults, our wrong ways. And so men began, centuries ago, to interpret the Bible. As a result, the Word of God has become twisted, wrested, perverted, with almost every false and counterfeit meaning imaginable being read into it. Instead of teaching and expounding the plain, simple, intended meaning, we now have hundreds of human interpretations of the Bible!
Instead of acknowledging the truth, men seek to justify their own ways by perverting the sacred and holy Word of God!
The apostle Paul was inspired to write in II Timothy 4:1-4 that the time would come when men would not endure sound doctrine. People have turned away their ears from the truth and have turned to fables palmed off as the truth of God’s Word. Isaiah prophesied that in these latter days men would demand: “Prophesy (preach) not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:8-10).
We can clearly see why people do not understand the Bible. They are not yielded to the Eternal’s will; they are filled with the fear of men instead of God. They tremble at the thought of what people say, instead of what the Word of the Living God has to say!
We read in Psalm 111:7-8, 10: “All his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.”
David had understanding. And David said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).
Today’s generation is like that of Jesus’ day, of which He said: “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Yes, the Bible is light, a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path. But the world is surely in gross darkness.
YOU CAN BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND
How, then, can you begin to really understand the Bible? Here is how you may begin this exciting adventure. Study the Bible to find truth. Be careful to “prove all things” (I Thess. 5:21).Then believe God, believe His Word as you would accept any other book in which you have confidence.
And above all – do not try to interpret the Bible by trying to read your own understanding into it. Remember that the Bible basically interprets itself!
So study your Bible without prejudice, but be careful, prove all things, and as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11) search the Scriptures whether those things be so! Read and study your Bible daily, check up for yourself and see what it really does teach. Don’t just assume that what you have always heard and believe is the truth. Do not take another man’s interpretation of the Bible as truth.
WHAT IS THE “END OF THE WORLD”?
Was Jesus ever questioned about the “end of the world” and the signs that would point to His return? Matthew 24:3. Notice what Christ’s disciples were really talking about when they asked Him about the “end of the world.”
COMMENT: The New Testament, as originally inspired by God, was written in the Greek language. The Greek word translated “world” here in Matt. 24:3 is aion, meaning age – not the physical planet on which we live. Jesus, then, was questioned about the end of an “age” and about His scheduled return, rather than the destruction of the terrestrial globe we call earth. The end of man’s present society would mean the end of an age, but the earth itself would continue to exist!
A TIME OF GREAT TROUBLE
Did Jesus prophesy that a time of great trouble would occur on the earth just before His return (Matt. 24:21)?
What did Jesus declare would happen if these days of tribulation were allowed to continue (Matt. 24:22)?
COMMENT: The Moffatt translation renders this verse clearer as “not a soul would be saved alive.” This verse, then, is not referring to spiritual salvation at all, but to being saved from physical destruction, from premature death!
Did Jesus prophesy that only the inhabitants of Jerusalem would be threatened by total destruction? Or did He plainly say that no one would be safe from the threat of annihilation? Same verse.
COMMENT: The Revised Standard Version says “no human being would be saved.”
Who will intervene in world affairs to cut short this time of trouble and thus prevent the annihilation of all humanity (Mark 13:20)?
COMMENT: These verses do not mean that God will alter the time of Christ’s scheduled return, but that just as He planned originally, He will intervene at the very moment humanity would otherwise destroy itself. By His scheduled intervention He will cut short the days of man’s rule over man, which would otherwise lead to the destruction of all human life.
NO TIME LIKE IT!
Has there ever been a time of trouble such as will occur just before Christ’s return (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19)?
Were any of the Old Testament prophets inspired to foresee this same time of worldwide peril (Jer. 30:7; Daniel 12:1)?
COMMENT: Since each of the preceding four prophecies reveal that the future period of crisis will have no equal; they can only be referring to one great climactic period of worldwide trouble!
How did the prophet Joel symbolically describe the horrible events to take place at the close of this age (Joel 2:1-3)?
COMMENT: Joel’s God-inspired prophecy pictures the very same time of trouble prophesied by Christ, Jeremiah, and Daniel. This prophecy refers to events soon to occur at the close of this age, for only in this age of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons has such widespread destruction and the extermination of human life been possible!
Could the symbols in Revelation 9:2-10, 16-19 indicate the torment and mass murder resulting from the use of modern weaponry?
COMMENT: John described what he saw in a vision God had miraculously revealed to him. It was a mysterious, frightening spectacle. The creatures he saw were obviously symbolic of weapons God knew man would be capable of inventing in the end time.
Let us momentarily consider a time, over 4300 years ago, when God intervened in human affairs to postpone what we see threatening the world today. What did human beings decide to do (Gen. 11:4)? Was this for the purpose of keeping themselves united? Same verse. What did God do to frustrate their plans (vs. 5-9)? Why? Verse 6.
COMMENT: Verse 6 clearly indicates that God confused the languages and scattered the people at Babel in order to restrain the misguided inventive genius of man! When human beings come to freely speak one another’s languages, and share scientific and technological knowledge as they are doing today, then virtually anything man’s mind can conceive of would be possible for him to achieve, even to exploring the moon and inventing weapons capable of destroying all life.
By confusing the language and scattering the people at Babel, God prevented man from accomplishing long ago what he has done today. It was not yet within God’s plan to allow man to advance that far that soon! Could anything be clearer? Can you see that we are living in the time Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24? – The time when men would have at their disposal the power to erase all life from this earth?
THE CAUSE OF WAR
God promises He will intervene in world affairs to prevent the annihilation of humanity, and to bring us world peace. And in order to insure continual peace, He will also prevent future wars by changing that which causes war. Let’s understand.
Does the Bible clearly show that war is a result of acting according to the inordinate lusts within man (James 4:1-2)?
COMMENT: Unrestrained human nature, with its pride, vanity, jealousy, lust and greed is plainly the cause of war!
Does knowledge tend to increase pride (I Cor. 8:1)? Since we live in an age of mushrooming scientific knowledge which makes it possible for few men to possess tremendous power, will the inordinate lusts of men cause them to become better and better, or worse and worse (II Tim. 3:13)?
What is the end result of decisions and actions that seem right to great leaders and people in general (Prov. 14:12)?
What deceives man into believing that actions which end in death will bring peace (Jere. 17:9)? (Remember that in Scripture the heart is often spoken of proverbially as the center or seat of human thoughts and emotions.) Then can rulers be deceived by their own lusts into believing that their evil deeds are right and good for the world? Same verse.
COMMENT: The governments of this world promise peace, but men have only brought us more wars and have now led humanity to the brink of annihilation!
Do rulers even know the way to peace (Rom. 3:17)? What did God inspire Isaiah to write concerning man’s real understanding of the way of peace (Isa. 59:8)?
What will happen to human plans for peace (Isa. 33:7-8)? When ambassadors of peace weep bitterly, when the land is laid waste, will God then intervene (v. 10)?
COMMENT: Throughout the Bible, war is pictured as the result of lust or covetousness. Lust is a basic characteristic of human nature. But can the heads of government of this world change human nature? Of course not! Nearly 6,000 years of human history have proved that man, left to himself, is totally incapable of effecting this change. Throughout history, negotiations for peace have always been accompanied and supported by the most vigorous preparation for war! The story is no different today.
Can any human government, therefore, permanently stop war? Obviously not. When you look at it that way, the answer becomes clear: Only God can permanently stop all wars, because only God has the power to change human nature! But exactly how will God create and maintain world peace once Jesus Christ returns?
The only real and logical solution to the problems of world peace has already been planned. And the entire plan is revealed in your Bible.
WORLD GOVERNMENT TO BRING PEACE
Does God intervene in world affairs without first revealing it to His prophets (Amos 3:7)?
Thousands of years ago, did God’s prophet, Isaiah, foresee a time when God would establish His Kingdom here on earth (Isa. 2:1-3)? It is to be a literal world-ruling kingdom (Dan. 2:44; Ps. 67:4)?
Will there be warfare then as there is now among nations (Isa. 2:4)? Will people be taught the way to peace and productivity; same verse?
COMMENT: The very One who created man is coming to establish the Government of God on earth, and to show us how human nature can be changed and why we’ve had such a nature. Instead of being taught how to create instruments of destruction, people will then be taught to exercise control over human nature. They will be given the power to discipline human nature, to guide inventive genius into peaceful channels.
Did Micah also foretell the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth (Micah 4:1-4)?
Notice who Isaiah prophesied would rule over the earth (Isa. 11:1-4). Is David the “stem,” or son of Jesse (Acts 13:22)? Then is the “rod” or shoot plainly Jesus Christ (v. 23)? Is the “branch” growing out of Jesse’s root also referring to Christ (Jer. 23:5-6)?
COMMENT: The prophesy in Isaiah 11 predicted, centuries in advance, that Jesus Christ would one day rule the earth!
Before Jesus was born, did an angel tell Mary, His mother, that His destiny was to take over an actual throne and rule on this earth (Luke 1:32-33)?
Did Daniel foresee the time when the saints – spirit-born Christians will be given rulership over the earth with Christ (Dan. 7:18, 21-22, 27)?
WHAT IS THE TRUE GOSPEL?
Was Jesus sent to this earth nearly 2,000 years ago to proclaim the words of the Father (John 12:49; 14:24).What message was included (Mark 1:14; Matt. 9:35)? Did Jesus say one must believe that “gospel” (Mark 1:15; 16:15-16)?
COMMENT: The word “gospel” means good news, or glad tidings. Jesus went about preaching the good news of the coming Kingdom of God! The gospel of Jesus Christ is simply the very same gospel He preached. Jesus’ gospel is not primarily a message about Himself personally, or about “receiving Jesus.” It is not primarily a message about the events in His life and of His becoming the Savior of the world, although it most certainly does include all that.
Notice the four things necessary to constitute a kingdom: (1) territory, (2) a king or ruler, (3) subjects or citizens, (4) laws and government. In the coming Kingdom of God, the territory will be this earth; the king will be Jesus Christ; the subjects will be this earth’s peoples; and the laws will be God’s Ten Commandments and spiritual principles administered by the Divine government of God.
Did Jesus send forth His apostles and true ministers to preach that same gospel (including all His teachings) to the world (Luke 9:1-2; Matt.28:19-20)? Was His gospel of the coming Kingdom of God to be preached in all the world just before the “end” and His second coming (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10)?
What gospel did Philip preach (Acts 8:12)? And Paul (Acts 19:8; 14:22)? Did he preach the same gospel among the Gentiles at Ephesus (Acts 20:25)? What gospel did he preach to both Jews and Gentiles at Rome (Acts 28:23, 28-31)?
Did some false ministers in Paul’s day try to pervert the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6-7)? What condemnation does he pronounce on any who would try to preach any other gospel (v. 8)? Was it in reality a double curse (v. 9)?
COMMENT: Your Bible shows there is only one true gospel! We hear many “gospels” about Christ today, but how many do you hear preaching the “gospel of Christ” – the gospel He preached, the gospel of the Kingdom of God?
TIME TO WAKE UP!
God’s little-understood 7,000 year plan for mankind began nearly 6,000 years ago. The pattern for this plan is given in the first two chapters of Genesis. It is the week of seven days.
What does a thousand years seem like to God (II Peter 3:8)?
In Hebrews 4:4, 11, the seventh day is pictured as a type of the peaceful “rest” on earth which will follow Christ’s return. Is the time of Christ’s rule over the earth which will follow this present age of human misrule and senseless warfare, especially called a thousand years (Rev. 20:4)?
COMMENT: Since the last “day” of God’s plan is 1,000 years, then it logically follow that the preceding six “days” would amount to 6,000 years, a total of 7,000 years.
When the disciples asked Jesus if He would restore the Kingdom of God in their day, what was His reply (Acts 1:6-7)?
COMMENT: The apostles did not fully understand the plan of God while Christ was with them. They thought the Kingdom of God would be established in their day. But before they died, they understood Christ was to return at a much later date. Peter said: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise (of coming again) but is longsuffering” (II Peter 3:9).God is patient. He has refrained from intervening in world affairs for nearly 6,000 years. Why? Because God has allotted mankind 6,000 years in which to learn that the ways of man bring nothing but suffering and death!
Many Bibles contain tentative chronological dates showing that human life may have begun on this earth about 4,004 B.C. (Other evidence indicates it may have been a little earlier.) Nearly another 2,000 years have elapsed since Christ’s birth, totaling just about 6,000 years of human civilization to date.
How awe-inspiring and significant that in our generation, at the very time the world is threatened with the extinction of all life, 6,000 years has almost elapsed. How exciting that Jesus Himself said that when we would see all the events He foretold taking place, He would come again, this time to rescue humanity from annihilation, to set the Kingdom of God, and to bring us peace at last!
You have seen in your Bible a brief summation, a “thumbnail sketch” of God’s solution to this world’s problems. You have begun to understand the urgent necessity for Christ’s promised return. In Lesson two, you will learn more about Jesus Christ’s intervention in world affairs as revealed in the amazing, detailed prophecies of your Bible.
If you would like to learn more about God’s Master Plan of Salvation enroll today in our Mini-Correspondence Course. Also, enroll in our Traditional Christian Doctrine series today.