Before we get started on today's subject, let's talk a little bit about the Bible.
The Holy Bible is the foundation of truth for most of the hundreds of different denominational churches that exist in the world today. If you think about it though, the reason for the existence of all of these different churches lies in the fact that they all interpret the Bible differently.
For example, let's take a look at the doctrine of salvation. According to the Bible, if we have salvation, we can look forward to some sort of a glorious afterlife. If we don't have salvation, all we can look forward to is a permanent death. So, it is obvious that there is no other doctrine that is more important to mortal man than that of salvation. But, if you examine the teachings of all of these various churches, you will find that they vary considerably when it comes to defining the path that we must follow in order to obtain this salvation. Some say that everyone is saved. Others teach that we must constantly work for our salvation and that the outcome of our efforts will not be known until
judgement day. There are also churches that require baptism and even some insist that salvation is
impossible if you don't belong to their church. And, perhaps the worst of all are those that require all of your money in order for you to be saved.
So, why all of the confusion? If the plan of salvation is laid out for us in the Bible, why is there so much disagreement among the churches? Usually the problem is this: much of the doctrine taught in the churches is made up of a blend of Bible truths and the "traditions of men". As an example, you would be surprised to find out how many of the doctrines are influenced by the philosophy of Plato, whose teachings are, in general, in total opposition to those found in the Bible. The Bible strongly condemns them, and we find that, if we follow them too strongly, we may be on the path to eternal death.
So, we know what the churches say. Now let's find out what the Bible says. The true Biblical path to salvation is very, very narrow but it is also very simple and straightforward. In
1Cor 14:33, it says that "God is not the author of confusion". You will find that this honor (or, dishonor) belongs
primarily to man.
In this series of talks, our only sourcebook of truth will be the Holy Bible. We believe the Bible, in it's original languages, to be 100% truth and, therefore, 100% without error. We know it to be totally written by God through the pens of it's human authors. Many of you probably have doubts about this but, in future talks, we will examine the many scientific proofs that separate this wonderful book from any other book that has ever been written. So, stick with us and discover the simple truths of the Bible, as opposed to the complex confusion of the "traditions of men".
During these talks, we will prove our points by giving you many Bible references. Please don't take our word for it. Be as the Bereans were in ACTS 17:11. They were considered more noble in God's eyes because: (1) they readily accepted God's word and (2) they searched the scriptures daily in order to determine whether or not the apostle Paul was telling them the truth. Only in the Bible do you find truth. Be more noble and let the scriptures interpret themselves. Don't use the scriptures to prove your pre-conceived ideas. This method can be very dangerous, since it was written in such a way that a man can use it to prove anything that he wants to prove.
So, here again, in the spirit of the Bereans, get a pencil and paper and write down the references as
we give them to you. Then, later on, look up these verses in your Bible and check us out. Don't let your Bible be a closed book. It only has value when it is opened.
As our textbook, we will be using the King James version of the Holy Bible. To avoid confusion and, in some cases, faulty interpretation, we suggest that you use the same.
Before the beginning of time, before God created the starry heavens and the earth and man and the other creatures that occupied these places, God's Glory was all in all. This word glory is used in several different ways in the Bible. But, when it is associated with the nature of God, glory seems to have substance and to have the characteristics of brightness and light and power and fire (REV 15:8, 18:1, 21:23, HEB 1:3). Since the fall of Adam, in the garden of Eden, we find that God's Glory has been hidden from His creatures. In fact, we find that God in all His Glory is presently located in a place that is far above the starry heavens (EPH 4:10). This place is called "heavenly places" in EPH 1:20-21 and it is called "Glory" in COL a:4. You will find that none of His creatures have ever set foot in this place where God is located (EPH 1:20-21). Anytime that God has revealed Himself to men, He has taken great precautions to prevent them from seeing His Glory. For example, in EX 33:20, He told Moses that "while My Glory passeth by, I will cover thee with My hand...". In JN 1:18, we are told that "no man has seen God at anytime".
Why has God hidden from His creation? Why has He taken all of these precautions to prevent man from seeing His Glory? The answer is found in ROM 3:23, "For all (all men) have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God". We must realize the nature of God. God is sinless. He is perfect and is pure love. It is the nature of God that He can not even look on sin, or iniquity
(HAB 1:13). And, for this reason, we find written in ISA 59:2 that "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you".
So, just what is sin? It is defined for us in 1JN 3:4. "Sin is the transgression of the law". In other words, anyone who has broken any of God's laws is a sinner. And God's laws are
summed up very neatly into 2 commandments in MT 22:37-40 by Jesus Christ. First, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And second, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Have you ever thought or done anything that wasn't done for God? Have you ever had a bad thought against your neighbor? Of course you have! Everyone has sinned. It says in 1JN 1:8, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us". Sin is sin. There are no lesser or greater sins. God has a memory of all of your sins. And all it takes is one sin during your lifetime to separate yourself from God.
So, what would happen if God were to suddenly appear in all of His Glory upon this earth? The truth is, you would simply be burned up! You would cease to exist, because sin is in you. We are told in
ROM 6:23 that "the wages of sin is death". God tells Moses in EX 33:20, that "no man shall see me and live". God is a "consuming fire" (HEB 12:29), and His fire consumes only one thing sin - the only thing deserving to be burned.
Up to this point, we've learned that:
(1) Everyone is a sinner.
(2) God, in all His Glory, has hidden Himself from us, because of our sins.
(3) If God were to expose His Glory to us, we would be consumed by His fire and therefore, we would permanently die.
Now, here's the rub. One of these days, God will expose Himself to mankind in all of His Glory (see HAB 2:14) and will again
become all in all (1COR 15:28). So, what will happen then? Will we all go up in smoke? God forbid! We won't, because it's
not God's will that we should. He created us for a purpose - to occupy His universe. And, because He created us, He loves us.
He wishes that all of us could live, so that He could walk and talk with us in the cool of the day, as He did with Adam before
Adam sinned .So God, in His infinite wisdom, has designed a perfect plan, in order to redeem His creation from death. We will find out next time what this plan is and what we must do in order to participate in it.
ACTS 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so.
REV 1 5:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God....
REV 18:1 ... and the earth was lightened with his glory.
REV 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it and the Lamb is the light thereof.
HEB 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory ....
EPH 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended. far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.
EPH 1:20--L1 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
COL 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him .in glory.
HAB 1:13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity...
HAB 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
1COR 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.