The most popular spiritual questions answered.
Question One. What is the Bible?
The Bible is a large collection of unique sacred writings. 66 books in all are collected. They were compiled over a period of 1600 years and are collected together into a single volume. The first works date from 1513 BCE and the later works from the end of the first century CE. Over 40 writers were involved. All of the writers believed in one almighty God called in English Jehovah and had faith in His purpose to help mankind out of its period of difficulties.
This is the ultimate guide to God and His connection to the human family. It explains why we see so much stress and anxiety today and reveals that the period that we are in will conclude when the human family has the opportunity to learn from mankind’s earliest mistaken decisions and rid itself of its false god known as Satan the devil. The actual account starts after a statement that God created all things, with the beginning of creation on the earth and with mankind enjoying a personal connection to God. Then there is a long period of independent history in which mankind has stepped away from God. The work prophetically concludes in the future with mankind enjoying a utopian life after being reunited with their Heavenly Father Jehovah.
Question Two. How do we know that the Bible is reliable?
The Bible at its source manuscripts is incredibly accurate. It’s accuracy is confirmed from comparing many manuscripts written over many centuries. At present there are approximately 6000 reference manuscripts in whole or mostly part for the Hebrew portion of the bible and approximately 5000 for the Greek portion of the Bible – called such with reference to the principle language of record for each section. All originals and copies for approximately up to 3400 years [depending on which part being referenced] were hand copied. Yet such was the reverence that copyists had for the books being copied that they were painstakingly accurate in their work. They recognized that the words being copied were incredibly important and spent the time and effort to get it right. Some small textual errors did creep in with the transposing of words [such as Jesus Christ becoming Christ Jesus] but not to the extent of altering meanings. [REFERENCES Principle manuscripts include the Codex Sinaiticus (Sinaitic Manuscript) and the Codex Vaticanus (Vatican Manuscript No. 1209) of the fourth century C.E]
The largest threat to the accuracy of the Bible has come from religious groups who have sought to alter or delete texts to convey and support a meaning that fits their interpretation of scriptures. Thankfully there are more Bibles available with scholarly accuracy than those with attempts at altered texts and this has resulted in Bible translations that are especially accurate.
Because Bibles are translated from other languages there are not always corresponding words in the target language and this results in some differences between copies of the Bible and scholars are forced to make a selection of the closest word or words to fit the meaning and intent of the verses. It is good practice to consult at least two Bibles when reading a passage to make sure of a meaning if it isn’t entirely clear.
Question Three. Is the Bible accurate on matters of science?
The Bible is unique in being very accurate on matters of science. When cultures taught that the earth was flat, the Bible taught that it was a sphere. When many believed the earth must rest on something the Bible taught that the earth floated on nothing. While DNA and gene sequencing were unknown the Bible spoke of the fact that all of mans details were down in writing or code. The Bible details such things as migration, the water cycle and the transforming of the earth in remarkable detail getting the order and detail accurate. Many subjects are mentioned in the Bible that caused skeptical comments on the part of some, however scientific discoveries in more recent times have confirmed their accuracy. [REFERENCES Isaiah 40:22 ‘The sphere [orb/circle] of the earth..’ Psalm 139:16 ‘Yours eyes saw my embryo, all its parts were down in writing.’ See the Genesis account for the order of creation which is scientifically accurate.]
Question Four. Who is the author of the Bible?
While there were over 40 different writers of the Bible accounts, they do not claim credit for their works. In fact in his letter to Timothy the Apostle Paul confirmed a truth about the Bible accounts. In 2 Timothy 3:4,5 ‘All scripture is inspired by God and beneficial to us for teaching and correcting so that the the man of good may be fully trained and complete and ready for all good works.’ So the Author of the Bible is Jehovah God.
Not every word is inspired. Just as a secretary may take notes and turn these into a letter so Bible writers were inspired and yet allowed to use their own words. In this way the words reveal human frailties and portray people struggling with their imperfections and yet manifesting trust in God. This makes the thoughts and personality of God much more readily understood. His patience and understanding are seen from the viewpoint of a heavenly fathers whose children have been mislead and sold into slavery to sin. He will do whatever it takes to save His children.
On the one hand we see David fighting Goliath and yet later we see his sin with Bathsheba. We see Noah building an Ark and yet later succumbing at times with alcohol. We see Peter manifesting faith and yet struggling with fear of man. We see prophets facing off against huge opposition groups and yet running for their lives. The human fight against sin is captured in a wonderful way. And we see the need for Jehovah to take His actions to restore perfection to mankind. It is just as Paul explains in Romans 15:4 ‘For whatever was written before was written for our instructions in order that through the steadfast examples and encouragement in the scriptures we might have hope. We can learn from the Bible and we are clearly encouraged to do so.
Question Five. What is the Bible’s central idea and theme?
The Bible opens with a brief account showing how Jehovah God organized life and conditions on what was a dead planet and prepared it for the human family. Man is new to the universal family and are given life and rights in accordance with their life as humans. Man is placed in a paradise garden and initially given the job of naming the animals. After this man is given an assignment to have children, to fill the earth and to care for the earth by extending the borders of paradise to encompass the earth. Man at this stage is perfect and does not experience sickness or death. To any onlooker it would appear that the food that man eats in this paradise garden is sustaining his life indefinitely. While animals died, humans were different and to this time had not experienced death.
The Bible puts in simplified form God’s explanation of how He sustained mans life. Having given man free will to make many of their own choices God was concerned that they wouldn’t cause themselves harm. God explained that as long as they relied on Him for guidance in complex situations they would benefit themselves. In turn God would sustain their lives indefinitely in much the same manner as God sustains the life of the Angels, spirit creatures who the Bible describes as messengers.
At the point when the commission was given to fill the earth and extend the borders of paradise, one angel challenges the arrangement. This angel is in opposition to God and now his position is openly stated. He encourages man to consider God not as a father and a helper but as someone who is lying to the human family. Man can sustain his life simply by eating the food the earth provides. He can fill the earth and exercise control over it without need to depend on God. This angel can easily guide mans affairs without the need for an Almighty God to be involved.
This angels implication [known as Satan] is to the effect that God is withholding freedom from mankind. That something is wrong with the way that Jehovah is handling matters as far as the earth is concerned. The Bible explains that the Angels were looking on and especially interested in the new creation in the material realm and therefore the suggestion that God was somehow doing the wrong thing challenged Gods way of ruling. No one questioned God’s power: It was the way that God was ruling that was questioned. Was Jehovah God being loving with mankind or was he implying that He was needed in ways that he wasn’t. If God lied to the human family then was He lying in other areas? It was a moral question of monumental proportions.
How this question would have been otherwise settled we do not know because man’s choice forced the issue. The representatives of the human family made their choice. They chose to take an independent course. They would continue without God’s guidance. They would have children and fill the earth. They would demonstrate what could be done independent of God. Satan influenced other angels to support his position and these also meddled in mans history in disastrous ways.
Question Six. What two positions does man’s history test?
Two positions were clear.
Satan contends that man can live forever without any extra provisions from God. That man can fill the earth and make the earth a paradise without God. Independence from God is a good thing. That Satan and his angelic associates can offer guidance to mankind whereas God is a liar.
Jehovah explained that man would die without His intervention essentially having a life span like an animal. That man will make bad decisions that cause harm to others. That man will ruin the earth. That Satan is a liar.
Question Seven. What major issue did Satan’s challenge raise?
Satan’s question called into question Gods Sovereignty and especially His way of rulership. If God could be demonstrated to have been lying about mankind then this would call into question every aspect of His sovereignty. God said that man needed His guidance. Was God lying? If man had been able to live forever without God and successfully manage their history to the point of a filled earth with a paradise everywhere, then God would have been seen to be a liar.
God allowed a fixed period to pass. Sufficient to allow mankind to fill the earth and exercise control over it. At the conclusion of the fixed period God’s representatives including Jesus and all the angels will return and judge the results. Thus in the eyes of the whole universe God will have been shown to have been right and Satan will have been shown to be in the wrong.
Then God will demonstrate the justness of His sovereignty by righting all the wrongs, resurrecting the dead and giving mankind their choice again. This time it will be without the interference of the fallen angels. Christs return will be glorious. [REFERENCES Genesis 3 outlines Satan’s charges and interference. Matt 25:31 ‘When the Christ returns with all his holy angels then he will judge all.’ Acts 1:11 ‘this Jesus who you saw ascending with the clouds will return in the same manner’]
Question Eight. What does the Bible show about the long term effects of the time of test?
The Bible shows that God was grieved by the situation but that being a God of justice He is bound to respect mans choice. He gave mankind both life and rights as individuals and as the human family. Man has a period of time to fill the earth and show that he can live forever, make the earth a paradise and make a success of independence.
Knowing the consequences of the decision, God made provision for the human family to make the choice again but this time with the benefit of the knowledge of mans history. The Bible repeatedly speaks of Judgement day. At this time the answer to the question of whether man can live forever without God, fill the earth and exercise beneficial dominion over the earth will be totally clear.
All intelligent living creatures including all angels will be able to see the results. All of mankind’s history and choices are brought into the picture.
At that time there will be a grand resurrection from the head. All will be invited to judge personally whether independence from God has been a success. Then they will be invited back into a close relationship with Jehovah God and enjoy life as never before. Everlasting life in perfect health. It is an amazing conclusion to a difficult period. All the damage caused by the choice of independence and Satan’s lies is wiped away.
God will wipe away all sadness and bless mankind. God will also wipe away all the angels who supported Satan through the years and meddled with mankind’s history. Once the earth is fully restored Satan will be allowed to view the earth and see the difference. The whole universe will be fully satisfied that everything Satan said was untrue and that God’s ways are solid. After this Satan is destroyed. [The Bible paints a picture of how Satan would delight in wrecking the earth even after this but this is a picture for the benefit of creation rather than a comment on reality.] Clearly the earth and mankind have been damaged by following Satan. But this can be corrected by an all powerful, loving and just God.
Question Nine. How and why does Jesus fit into the Bible account?
The Bible describes a distinction between perfection and imperfection. One who follows God’s safety direction as opposed to one who doesn’t. Adam the first of mankind was perfect and followed God’s safety directions. Then he chose to ignore them and when he stepped away from them he took the whole human race with him. His children were born into a family that had chosen independence and were committed to a challenge to God’s sovereignty.
Since that time man has come to view life that ends after a few years as normal.
Jesus and Adam are similar in many ways. Jesus was God’s first spirit son and Adam was God’s first human son.
To give mankind, including the resurrected ones, the opportunity to live forever, man has to be restored to perfection so that identical conditions [albeit with more knowledge] are in place. The question was, How to get mankind to that point? Jesus is part of the solution.
Question Ten. How does Divine Sovereignty enter the picture?
We must remember that mankind is new to the universe. The Universe is many billions of years old. God as its creator has ruled it for immeasurable times. Like any child born into a society must recognize, there are existing norms and rules that long pre-date its arrival. It is not up to the child to change the rules but to learn them.
The same is true with this universe. God Jehovah already has in place rules and values. He works within His rules to address the situation on earth. If God were simply to change the rules whenever he chose to, the peace and stability of the entire universe and untold other creation would be in jeopardy.
Question Eleven. What is the ransom and how do God-given rights help us to understand it?
The ransom is a central teaching of the Bible. Adam took mankind away from God’s family and chose independence from God. As a result, all mankind live a short life and then die. Life is difficult. Adam had the authority to make this decision. The human family has rights that are God given. Jehovah does not just give and take without showing proper respect. Included in these are free will and the assignment to care for the earth and fill it.
In order to restore mankind God chose the send His spirit son to earth as a perfect man. He too had rights. His right included the right to live forever. He chose to stay in God’s earthly family and he never sinned despite many pressures otherwise. God knew that Adams descendants would kill his son and that is exactly what they did. After his death Jehovah resurrected Jesus who still retains the legal right to perfect human life. However instead of keeping this right, Jesus presented it to Jehovah to be used in adopting all of those of mankind into Jesus family.
Thus while all mankind inherit imperfection from Adam, when they are adopted as sons of Jesus they can inherit perfection from him as the value of his life, the legal rights, are given to them.
To illustrate. A boy may belong to a poor family that has squandered wealth and therefore has nothing as such to inherit from his parents. But if he is adopted into a wealthy family then he can enjoy much and inherit much. Adam the first human was wealthy in terms of his life and could have passed on perfection and life to his children. He chose the poor course: he squandered his perfection and passed on imperfection to his children. But Jesus, did not squander his perfection. So, when he adopts children they receive that same perfection.
We can see that God works within His own long-established legal framework to restore the human family.
Question Twelve. So how does the Bible conclude?
The Bible concludes with all mankind restored to perfection and living everlasting lives. The human family now know and understand the truth about what has been happening. God is vindicated and the security of all creation his been assured.
Question Thirteen. Why the poetry, history, gospels, prophecy and psalms?
The Bible does contain all of these. The history shows mans attempt to rule himself both with and without God’s direction and demonstrates how imperfection always makes men stumble. The poetry introduces us the deep meditation on Jehovah and helps us see how men and women feel in life. The gospels introduce us to the personality of Jesus and the heartwarming Christian message. The prophecy demonstrates Bible truth as over 90% of the prophecy has been fulfilled with incredible accuracy. The Psalms both show the heartfelt prayers of the writers as well as showing how close they felt to God.
The combination helps us to get to know God and His purposes and assures us of a future that is without doubt good.
Question Fourteen. What is the Bible’s message about Christianity?
Christianity was not started as a religion but as a way of life. It is not a matter of having this faith or that faith. It is a matter of having faith in Christ and his return. It is living to the values taught by the Christ. It is being honest and fair in our dealings with others and yet neutral to conflict. In the gospel accounts we see how Jesus dealt with situations. To the extent possible we prove ourselves ready for Christ’s return by imitating Jesus.