Previous Bible Questions and Answers

 

Did Jesus Really Exist?

HE WAS neither rich nor powerful. He did not even have a home that he could call his own. Yet his teachings have influenced millions. Did Jesus Christ really exist? What do both modern and ancient authorities say?

  • Michael Grant, a historian and an expert on ancient classical civilization, noted: “If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus’ existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned.”

  • Rudolf Bultmann, a professor of New Testament studies, stated: “The doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community [of Christians].”

  • Will Durant, a historian, writer, and philosopher, wrote: “That a few simple men [the Gospel writers] should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels.”

  • Albert Einstein, a German-born Jewish physicist, asserted: “I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.” When asked if he viewed Jesus as a historical person, he responded: “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

“No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus.”​—Albert Einstein

 WHAT DOES HISTORY REVEAL?

The most detailed record of Jesus’ life and ministry is recorded in the Bible accounts known as the Gospels​—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John​—named after the men who wrote them. In addition, a number of early non-Christian sources name him.

TACITUS

(c. 56-120 C.E., or Common Era) Tacitus is considered to be one of the greatest of the ancient Roman historians. His Annals deal with the Roman Empire from 14 C.E. to 68 C.E. (Jesus died in 33 C.E.) Tacitus wrote that when a great fire devastated Rome in 64 C.E., Emperor Nero was considered responsible. But Tacitus wrote that Nero accused the Christians in order to “scotch the rumour.” Then Tacitus said: “Christus, the founder of the name [Christian], had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus.”​—Annals, XV, 44.

SUETONIUS

(c. 69–a. 122 C.E.) In his Lives of the Caesars, this Roman historian recorded events during the reigns of the first 11 Roman emperors. The section on Claudius refers to turmoil among the Jews in Rome that was likely caused by disputes over Jesus. (Acts 18:2) Suetonius wrote: “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Christus], he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.” (The Deified Claudius, XXV, 4) Although wrongly accusing Jesus of creating disturbances, Suetonius did not doubt his existence.

PLINY THE YOUNGER

(c. 61-113 C.E.) This Roman author and administrator in Bithynia (modern Turkey) wrote to Roman Emperor Trajan about how to deal with the Christians in that province. Pliny said that he tried to force Christians to recant, executing any who refused to do so. He explained: “Those who . . . repeated after me an invocation to the [pagan] Gods, and offered adoration, with wine and frankincense, to your image . . . and who finally cursed Christ . . . , I thought it proper to discharge.”​—Pliny—​Letters, Book X, XCVI.

 FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS

(c. 37-100 C.E.) This Jewish priest and historian states that Annas, a Jewish high priest who continued to wield political influence, “convened the judges of the Sanhedrin [the Jewish high court] and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.”​—Jewish Antiquities, XX, 200.

THE TALMUD

This collection of Jewish rabbinic writings, dating from the third to the sixth centuries C.E., shows that even Jesus’ enemies affirmed his existence. One passage says that on “the Passover Yeshu [Jesus] the Nazarean was hanged,” which is historically correct. (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a, Munich Codex; see John 19:14-16.) Another states: “May we produce no son or pupil who disgraces himself in public like the Nazarene”​—a title often applied to Jesus.​—Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 17b, footnote, Munich Codex; see Luke 18:37.

EVIDENCE FROM THE BIBLE

The Gospels give us a comprehensive account of Jesus’ life and ministry, including specific details about people, places, and times​—the hallmarks of authentic history. An example is found at Luke 3:1, 2, which helps us to establish the exact date when a man named John the Baptist, a forerunner of Jesus, commenced his work.

“All Scripture is inspired of God.”​—2 Timothy 3:16

Luke wrote: “In the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was district ruler of Galilee, Philip his brother was district ruler of the country of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was district ruler of Abilene, in the days of chief priest Annas and of Caiaphas, God’s declaration came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” This detailed, precise list enables us to establish that “God’s declaration came to John” in the year 29 C.E.

 The seven public figures Luke names are well-known to historians. That said, for a time certain critics did question the existence of Pontius Pilate and Lysanias. But the critics spoke too soon. Ancient inscriptions bearing the names of those two officials have been discovered, confirming Luke’s accuracy.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Jesus taught people about the Kingdom of God, a world government

The question of Jesus’ existence matters because his teachings matter. For example, Jesus taught people how to live happy, fulfilling lives.He also promised a time when mankind will live in true peace and security, united under a single world government called “the Kingdom of God.”​—Luke 4:43.

The designation “the Kingdom of God” is appropriate because this world government will express God’s sovereignty over the earth. (Revelation 11:15) Jesus made that fact clear when he said in his model prayer: “Our Father in the heavens, . . . let your Kingdom come. Let your will take place . . . on earth.” (Matthew 6:9, 10) What will Kingdom rule mean for mankind? Consider the following:

  • Warfare and civil strife will cease.​—Psalm 46:8-11.

  • Wickedness, including greed and corruption, will be gone forever, along with ungodly people.​—Psalm 37:10, 11.

  • The Kingdom’s subjects will enjoy meaningful, productive work.​—Isaiah 65:21, 22.

  • The earth will fully recover from its present sick state and produce bountiful crops.​—Psalm 72:16; Isaiah 11:9.

Some people may consider those promises wishful thinking. But is it not wishful thinking to trust in human efforts? Consider: Even in spite of spectacular advances in education, science, and technology, millions today feel deeply insecure and uncertain about tomorrow. And daily we see evidence of economic, political, and religious oppression, as well as greed and corruption. Yes, the reality is that human rule is a failure!​—Ecclesiastes 8:9.

At the very least, the question of Jesus’ existence merits our consideration. * As 2 Corinthians 1:19, 20 states: “No matter how many the promises of God are, they have become ‘yes’ by means of [Christ].”

 

Jesus’ Resurrection  - Did It Really Happen?

In the spring of 33 C.E., Jesus the Nazarene was executed. He had been falsely charged with sedition, savagely beaten, and nailed to a stake. He died in excruciating pain. But God raised him back to life, and 40 days later, Jesus ascended to heaven.

This extraordinary account comes to us from the four Gospels of the Christian Greek Scriptures, commonly called the New Testament. Did those things really happen? That is a pertinent and serious question. If they did not, Christian faith is valueless and the hope of eternal life in Paradise is nothing more than a wishful dream. (1 Corinthians 15:14) On the other hand, if those events really did happen, then there is a bright future for mankind, one in which you can share. So, are the Gospel accounts fact or fiction?

WHAT THE FACTS SHOW

Unlike fanciful legends, the Gospel writings reflect painstaking accuracy and attention to detail. For example, they abound with names of real places, many of which can be visited today. They tell about real people, whose existence has been corroborated by secular historians.​—Luke 3:1, 2, 23.

 Jesus himself is mentioned by secular writers of the first and second centuries. His manner of death, as described in the Gospels, agrees with Roman execution methods of the time. Moreover, events are related in a factual and candid manner​—even portraying some of Jesus’ disciples unfavourably. (Matthew 26:56; Luke 22:24-26; John 18:10, 11) All these factors strongly indicate that the Gospel writers were honest and accurate in what they wrote about Jesus

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WHAT ABOUT JESUS’ RESURRECTION?

While it is generally accepted that Jesus lived and died, some would question his resurrection. Even his apostles did not believe the initial report of his having returned to life. (Luke 24:11) All doubt was removed, however, when they and other disciples saw the resurrected Jesus on separate occasions. In fact, in one case, there were more than 500 eyewitnesses present.​—1 Corinthians 15:6.

At the risk of being arrested and killed, the disciples courageously proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection to all​—even to the very ones who had executed him. (Acts 4:1-3, 10, 19, 20; 5:27-32) Would so many disciples have been so bold if they were not absolutely sure that Jesus had really been resurrected? In fact, the reality of the resurrection of Jesus is the driving force behind the impact that Christianity has had on the world both then and now.

The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection bear all the necessary marks of an authentic historical record. Carefully reading them will convince you that these events really happened. Your conviction can be further strengthened when you understand why they took place. The next article will explain

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Why Is There Not More Secular Support?

Given the profound influence that Jesus had on the world, should we expect more in the way of contemporary non-Biblical corroboration? Not necessarily. For one thing, the Gospels were written almost 2,000 years ago. Few other writings of that time have survived. (1 Peter 1:24, 25) Then, too, it is unlikely that the many who opposed Jesus would write anything that would lend credibility to the reports about him.

Regarding Jesus’ resurrection, Peter, one of his apostles, explained: “God raised this one up on the third day and allowed him to become manifest, not to all the people, but to witnesses appointed beforehand by God, to us, who ate and drank with him after his rising from the dead.” (Acts 10:40, 41) Why not to all the people? Matthew’s Gospel tells us that when the religious enemies heard reports of Jesus’ resurrection, they schemed to suppress them.​—Matthew 28:11-15.

Does this mean that Jesus wanted his resurrection to be kept secret? No, for Peter went on to say: “He ordered us to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness that this is the one decreed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.” True Christians have done and are doing just that.​—Acts 10:42.

 

What Is the Holy Spirit?

The Bible’s answer

The holy spirit is God’s power in action, his active force. (Micah 3:8; Luke 1:​35) God sends out his spirit by projecting his energy to any place to accomplish his will.​—Psalm 104:30; 139:7.

In the Bible, the word “spirit” is translated from the Hebrew word ruʹach and the Greek word pneuʹma. Most often, those words refer to God’s active force, or holy spirit. (Genesis 1:2) However, the Bible also uses those words in other senses:

These meanings all share the sense of something invisible to humans that produces visible effects. Similarly, the spirit of God, “like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful.”​—An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine.

The Bible also refers to God’s holy spirit as his “hands” or “fingers.” (Psalm 8:3; 19:1; Luke 11:20; compare Matthew 12:28.) Just as a craftsman uses his hands and fingers to do his work, God has used his spirit to produce such results as the following:

The holy spirit is not a person

By referring to God’s spirit as his “hands,” “fingers,” or “breath,” the Bible shows that the holy spirit is not a person. (Exodus 15:​8, 10) A craftsman’s hands cannot function independent of his mind and body; likewise, God’s holy spirit operates only as he directs it. (Luke 11:13) The Bible also compares God’s spirit to water and associates it with such things as faith and knowledge. These comparisons all point to the impersonal nature of the holy spirit.​—Isaiah 44:3; Acts 6:5; 2 Corinthians 6:6.

The Bible gives the names of Jehovah God and of his Son, Jesus Christ; yet, nowhere does it name the holy spirit. (Isaiah 42:8; Luke 1:​31) When the Christian martyr Stephen was given a miraculous heavenly vision, he saw only two persons, not three. The Bible says: “He, being full of holy spirit, gazed into heaven and caught sight of God’s glory and of Jesus standing at God’s right hand.” (Acts 7:​55) The holy spirit was God’s power in action, enabling Stephen to see the vision.

Misconceptions about the holy spirit

Misconception: The “Holy Ghost,” or holy spirit, is a person and is part of the Trinity, as stated at 1 John 5:​7, 8 in the King James version of the Bible.

Fact: The King James version of the Bible includes at 1 John 5:​7, 8 the words “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth.” However, researchers have found that those words were not written by the apostle John and so do not belong in the Bible. Professor Bruce M. Metzger wrote: “That these words are spurious and have no right to stand in the New Testament is certain.”​—A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament

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Misconception: The Bible personifies the holy spirit, and this proves that it is a person.

Fact: The Scriptures do at times personify the holy spirit, but this does not prove that the holy spirit is a person. The Bible also personifies wisdom, death, and sin. (Proverbs 1:​20; Romans 5:​17, 21) For example, wisdom is said to have “works” and “children,” and sin is depicted as seducing, killing, and working out covetousness.​—Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:​35; Romans 7:​8, 11.

Similarly, when the apostle John quoted Jesus, he personified the holy spirit as a “helper” (paraclete) that would give evidence, guide, speak, hear, declare, glorify, and receive. He used masculine personal pronouns such as “he” or “him” when referring to that “helper.” (John 16:​7-​15) However, he did so because the Greek word for “helper” (pa·raʹkle·tos) is a masculine noun and requires a masculine pronoun according to the rules of Greek grammar. When John referred to the holy spirit using the neuter noun pneuʹma, he used the genderless pronoun “it.”​—John 14:16, 17.

Misconception: Baptism in the name of the holy spirit proves that it is a person.

Fact: The Bible sometimes uses “name” to stand for power or authority. (Deuteronomy 18:​5, 19-​22; Esther 8:​10) This is similar to its use in the English expression “in the name of the law,” which does not mean that the law is a person. A person who is baptized “in the name of” the holy spirit recognizes the power and role of the holy spirit in accomplishing God’s will.​—Matthew 28:19.

Misconception: Jesus’ apostles and other early disciples believed that the holy spirit was a person.

Fact: The Bible does not say that, nor does history. The Encyclopædia Britannica states: “The definition that the Holy Spirit was a distinct divine Person . . . came at the Council of Constantinople in ad 381.” This was over 250 years after the last of the apostles had died.

 

Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?

Yes, Jesus is the only way to heaven. Such an exclusive statement may confuse, surprise, or even offend, but it is true nonetheless. The Bible teaches that there is no other way to salvation than through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is not a way, as in one of many; He is the way, as in the one and only. No one, regardless of reputation, achievement, special knowledge, or personal holiness, can come to God the Father except through Jesus.

Jesus is the only way to heaven for several reasons. Jesus was “chosen by God” to be the Saviour (1 Peter 2:4). Jesus is the only One to have come down from heaven and returned there (John 3:13). He is the only person to have lived a perfect human life (Hebrews 4:15). He is the only sacrifice for sin (1 John 2:2; Hebrews 10:26). He alone fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). He is the only man to have conquered death forever (Hebrews 2:14–15). He is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the only man whom God has “exalted . . . to the highest place” (Philippians 2:9).

Jesus spoke of Himself as the only way to heaven in several places besides John 14:6. He presented Himself as the object of faith in Matthew 7:21–27. He said His words are life (John 6:63). He promised that those who believe in Him will have eternal life (John 3:14–15). He is the gate of the sheep (John 10:7); the bread of life (John 6:35); and the resurrection (John 11:25). No one else can rightly claim those titles.

The apostles’ preaching focused on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Peter, speaking to the Sanhedrin, clearly proclaimed Jesus as the only way to heaven: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul, speaking to the synagogue in Antioch, singled out Jesus as the Saviour: “I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin” (Acts 13:38–39). John, writing to the church at large, specifies the name of Christ as the basis of our forgiveness: “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name” (1 John 2:12). No one but Jesus can forgive sin.

Eternal life in heaven is made possible only through Christ. Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). To receive God’s free gift of salvation, we must look to Jesus and Jesus alone. We must trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as our payment for sin and in His resurrection. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22).

At one point in Jesus’ ministry, many of the crowd were turning their backs on Him and leaving in hopes of finding another saviour. Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:67, ESV). Peter’s reply is exactly right: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68–69, ESV). May we all share Peter’s faith that eternal life resides only in Jesus Christ.

 

Does God exist?

Whether God exists is the most important question any person can consider. Opinions on God are everywhere, but answering the question does God exist? demands more than a few seconds of attention and involves a wide range of ideas and evidence. Ultimately, what we see in human experience, science, logic, and history leads to a confident answer: yes, God exists.

Often, this question is posed as “Can you prove  God exists?” The problem is that, while truth itself is absolute, there are virtually zero instances of absolute proof outside of pure logic and mathematics. Courtrooms don’t require absolute proof, for that reason; rather, they seek to dispel “reasonable doubt” and consider what’s “most probable.”

It’s equally flawed to demand “proof of God” that no person could ever reject. Neither evidence nor people function that way in the real world. “Encountering” facts and “accepting” them are profoundly different. Airtight, sound arguments are still “unconvincing” to those determined to disbelieve. For that person, it’s not “proof,” even if it would convince almost anyone else. A person’s intent is more influential than any evidence encountered.

That means “faith” is necessary—and not just regarding God’s existence. Perfect knowledge is beyond our ability. Bias and prejudice cloud our views. There will always be a gap between what we can “know” and what we “believe.” This applies equally across the spectrum from skeptics to believers. We cannot possibly know every detail involved every time we sit in a chair, eat food, or climb stairs. Such actions all express a measure of faith. We act, despite what we don’t know, because of what we do know. That’s the essence of biblical faith, including faith in the existence of God. We trust in what is known, leading us to action, despite a less-than-absolute understanding (Hebrews 11:6).

Whether or not one acknowledges God, the decision involves faith. Belief in God does not require blind faith (John 20:29), but neither can it overcome malicious resistance (John 5:39–40). What is fair is to point to human experience, logic, and empirical evidence to inform the answer.

Does God exist? – Human Experience

Discussing the existence of God usually starts with logical arguments. That makes sense, but it’s not how human beings normally operate. No one starts devoid of all perspective, waiting to follow a robotically rational path before forming an opinion. People interpret life based on the world around them. So looking at the existence of God ought to start with experiences. Afterwards, we can use logic to assess those views.

Evidence of God exists in daily human experiences (Romans 1:19–20; Psalm 19:1; Ecclesiastes 3:11). This includes our innate sense of morality. It applies to the apparent design of the universe around us. Human life compels belief that truth, deception, love, hate, goodness, evil, etc., are real and meaningful. The overwhelming majority of people throughout history were inclined to believe in a reality greater than the physical.

Those experiences are not conclusive, of course. Instead, God uses general revelation as an invitation (Revelation 3:20). Common experiences are meant to emphasize that we ought to seek further answers (Matthew 7:7–8). Those who ignore or disdain that invitation don’t have the excuse of being ignorant (Romans 1:18; Psalm 14:1).

Does God exist? – Human Logic

Three of the more powerful logical suggestions of God’s existence are the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments.

The cosmological argument considers the principle of cause and effect. Each effect is the result of some cause, and each cause is the effect of a prior cause. However, that chain of causes cannot go on infinitely into the past, or else the chain would never actually start. Logic demands something eternally existent and not itself the effect of anything else. Our universe, clearly, is not eternal or uncaused. Logic points to God: the uncreated, eternal measure of all other things, the First Cause of our reality.

The teleological argument examines the structure of the universe. The largest galactic scales, our solar system, our DNA, subatomic particles—everything gives the appearance of having been purposefully arranged. This trait is so strong that even hardened atheists are constantly fumbling to explain away the appearance of design.

Nothing about subatomic particles or forces indicates they must be arranged the way they are. Yet, if they were not exactly as they are, complex matter—and life—would be impossible. Dozens of universal constants coordinate with mind-boggling precision just to make life possible, let alone actual. Science has never observed or explained life arising from non-life, yet it also shows a sudden onset of complex organisms. Archaeologists who see the words I am here on a cave wall would universally assume intelligent action. Meanwhile, human DNA represents a coding structure beyond the ability of the best human engineers. The weight of this evidence, logically, favours the idea of an Intelligent Designer—God—as an explanation.

The moral argument takes note of concepts like good and evil, ethics, and so forth. It’s notable that these are discussions of “what should be,” not merely “what is.” Moral principles are drastically disconnected from the ruthless, selfish reasoning that one would expect of a creature randomly evolved to survive at any cost. The very idea that human beings think in non-physical, moral terms is striking. Beyond that, the fundamental content of human morals across cultures and history is identical.

Further, discussion of moral ideas leads inevitably to a crossroads. Either moral ideas are completely subjective, and therefore meaningless, or they must be grounded in some unchanging standard. Human experience doesn’t support the conclusion that morals mean nothing. The most reasonable explanation for why people think in moral terms and share moral ideals is a real moral law provided by a Moral Lawgiver, i.e., God.

Does God exist? – Human Science

The logical arguments above are inspired by observations. Concepts such as the Big Bang Theory demonstrate, at the very least, the scientific validity of a created, non-eternal universe. Likewise for the structure of DNA. Empirical data lends credibility to the idea of a biblical Creator and contradicts alternative explanations, such as an eternal universe or abiogenesis.

Archaeology also lends support to the Bible. People, events, and places depicted in Scripture have repeatedly been confirmed by secular discoveries. Many of these came after sceptics implied the Bible’s accounts were fictional.

History and literature, for their part, also support the existence of God. The preservation of the Bible is one example. Tracing the existing text so closely to the original events makes it more reliable. Judeo-Christian influence on culture, morality, human rights, and the birth of modern science also strongly indicates an approach aligned with truth.

Does God exist? – God in Us

Each of the prior categories is an entire field of study and the subject of thousands of books. Yet the existence of God is demonstrated most profoundly, for most people, in personal experience. It may be impossible to “prove” to others that you’re happy, for instance, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are. That’s not to say internal perspective outweighs objective truth, but complex truths are often powerfully supported by individual experiences. Changed lives, reformed attitudes, and answers to prayer are all part of our personal perception that God exists.

A personal sense of truth is the most compelling way we know God exists, and it’s God’s intent for all people to experience that sense. God came to earth personally, as a human being (2 Corinthians 4:6), so we could have a personal relationship with Him (John 14:6). Those who sincerely seek God will find Him (Matthew 7:7–8), resulting in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26–27).

The question does God exist?, therefore, cannot demand an answer using absolute proof, but we can point people to where the weight of evidence leads. Accepting the existence of God is not a blind-faith leap into the dark. It’s a trusting step out of the dark into a well-lit room where many things are made clear.

 

Is the Bible truly God’s Word?

Our answer to this question will not only determine how we view the Bible and its importance to our lives, but also it will ultimately have an eternal impact on us. If the Bible is truly God’s Word, then we should cherish it, study it, obey it, and fully trust it. If the Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself.

The fact that God gave us the Bible is an evidence and illustration of His love for us. The term “revelation” simply means that God communicated to mankind what He is like and how we can have a right relationship with Him. These are things that we could not have known had God not divinely revealed them to us in the Bible. Although God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible was given progressively over approximately 1500 years, it has always contained everything man needs to know about God in order to have a right relationship with Him. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, then it is the final authority for all matters of faith, religious practice, and morals.

The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word? These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible’s claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. There can be no doubt that the Bible does claim to be the very Word of God. This is clearly seen in Paul’s commendation to Timothy: “… from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

There are both internal and external evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word. The internal evidences are those things within the Bible that testify of its divine origin. One of the first internal evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word is seen in its unity. Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. This unity is unique from all other books and is evidence of the divine origin of the words which God moved men to record.

Another of the internal evidences that indicates the Bible is truly God’s Word is the prophecies contained within its pages. The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies relating to the future of individual nations including Israel, certain cities, and mankind. Other prophecies concern the coming of One who would be the Messiah, the Saviour of all who would believe in Him. Unlike the prophecies found in other religious books or those by men such as Nostradamus, biblical prophecies are extremely detailed. There are over three hundred prophecies concerning Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Not only was it foretold where He would be born and His lineage, but also how He would die and that He would rise again. There simply is no logical way to explain the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible other than by divine origin. There is no other religious book with the extent or type of predictive prophecy that the Bible contains.

A third internal evidence of the divine origin of the Bible is its unique authority and power. While this evidence is more subjective than the first two, it is no less a powerful testimony of the divine origin of the Bible. The Bible’s authority is unlike any other book ever written. This authority and power are best seen in the way countless lives have been transformed by the supernatural power of God’s Word. Drug addicts have been cured by it, homosexuals set free by it, derelicts and deadbeats transformed by it, hardened criminals reformed by it, sinners rebuked by it, and hate turned to love by it. The Bible does possess a dynamic and transforming power that is only possible because it is truly God’s Word.

There are also external evidences that indicate the Bible is truly the Word of God. One is the historicity of the Bible. Because the Bible details historical events, its truthfulness and accuracy are subject to verification like any other historical document. Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true. In fact, all the archaeological and manuscript evidence supporting the Bible makes it the best-documented book from the ancient world. The fact that the Bible accurately and truthfully records historically verifiable events is a great indication of its truthfulness when dealing with religious subjects and doctrines and helps substantiate its claim to be the very Word of God.

Another external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the integrity of its human authors. As mentioned earlier, God used men from many walks of life to record His words. In studying the lives of these men, we find them to be honest and sincere. The fact that they were willing to die often excruciating deaths for what they believed testifies that these ordinary yet honest men truly believed God had spoken to them. The men who wrote the New Testament and many hundreds of other believers (1 Corinthians 15:6) knew the truth of their message because they had seen and spent time with Jesus Christ after He had risen from the dead. Seeing the risen Christ had a tremendous impact on them. They went from hiding in fear to being willing to die for the message God had revealed to them. Their lives and deaths testify to the fact that the Bible truly is God’s Word.

A final external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the indestructibility of the Bible. Because of its importance and its claim to be the very Word of God, the Bible has suffered more vicious attacks and attempts to destroy it than any other book in history. From early Roman Emperors like Diocletian, through communist dictators and on to modern-day atheists and agnostics, the Bible has withstood and outlasted all of its attackers and is still today the most widely published book in the world.

Throughout time, skeptics have regarded the Bible as mythological, but archaeology has confirmed it as historical. Opponents have attacked its teaching as primitive and outdated, but its moral and legal concepts and teachings have had a positive influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. It continues to be attacked by pseudo-science, psychology, and political movements, yet it remains just as true and relevant today as it was when it was first written. It is a book that has transformed countless lives and cultures throughout the last 2000 years. No matter how its opponents try to attack, destroy, or discredit it, the Bible remains; its veracity and impact on lives is unmistakable. The accuracy which has been preserved despite every attempt to corrupt, attack, or destroy it is clear testimony to the fact that the Bible is truly God’s Word and is supernaturally protected by Him. It should not surprise us that, no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed. After all, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). After looking at the evidence, one can say without a doubt that, yes, the Bible is truly God’s Word.

 

If there is no God, from Rev. Roy Almquist

A minister recently spoke with a person who is facing a personal crisis through the illness of a loved one. She shared with him the challenges she is experiencing from friends, who, like Job’s friends, are asking her how she can believe in God when someone she loves is so ill. She said she did not know how to respond.

As is often the case in life, the minister did not have much time to prepare an answer for her. He did remind her that God never promised us that life would be perfect or that faith would assure us that we would be under a plastic shield of protection.

 

But we do believe in a God whom we have come to know through Jesus Christ and this God has promised to hold us in loving arms.

The minister encouraged her to ask her friends: If there is no God, to whom will they turn in a moment of crisis? Will they find greater comfort in entrusting themselves to emptiness or a void? At the time of death will they find consolation in nothing?

 

Frankly, I would prefer the promise: …”though you pass through the waters, I will be with you, through the flame it will not consume you.” [Isaiah 43] …”neither power from above or power from below will be able to separate us from the love of God.” [Romans 8] … “in my Father’s house there are many rooms. I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again to take you where I am.” [John 14].

 

What Does the Holy Spirit Do for Us?

To grasp how God’s Spirit works in our lives, we must understand what God's Spirit is. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is described as the power and essence of God at work in our lives. This divine power enables us to follow Him, being "led by the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14).

By the Spirit dwelling within us we are the children of God. What does God's Holy Spirit do for us as Christians?

 

● God's Spirit doesn't drive, drag or push us around; it leads us. It will not prevent us from sinning, nor will it force us to do what's right. It leads us, and we must be willing to follow.

 

● The Holy Spirit keeps us in contact with God's mind. God's Spirit works with our mind.

 

● Through the Holy Spirit, we can be influenced by God for the good. This is in contrast to the evil

influence from the world around us and our own corrupt human nature.

 

● The Holy Spirit provides a deeper understanding of God’s Word and His will for humanity (1 Corinthians 2:9-11). Without the Spirit, a person cannot understand God’s divinely expressed Word and will, “for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (verse 14).

 

● The Holy spirit makes overcoming sin possible. There is nothing too difficult for us with the power of God working in our lives.

 

● God's Spirit helps us in our weakness. The apostle Paul, speaking for all of us, said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).

 

●The Holy Spirit convicts our conscience and helps us see sin as it really is. Jesus Christ said it would “convict the world of sin” (John 16:8). God’s Spirit within us, working with our conscience, helps us to recognise and avoid sin. It “will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (same verse).

 

●The Holy Spirit produces godly fruit in our lives. Just as an apple tree produces apples, God’s Spirit produces a particular type of fruit in the life of a Christian – love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

●The Holy Spirit comforts and encourages us. Jesus Christ promised to send His followers “another Comforter” (John 14:16-17). True comfort and reassurance come from the Spirit of God dwelling in us. We need not be unduly worried about the future or what may happen to us. God’s Spirit gives us the assurance that whatever happens will ultimately work out for the good “to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

What are the attributes of God?

The Bible, God’s Word, tells us what God is like and what He is not like. Without the authority of the Bible, any attempt to explain God’s attributes would be no better than an opinion, which by itself is often incorrect, especially in understanding God (Job 42:7). To say that it is important for us to try to understand what God is like is a huge understatement. Failure to do so can cause us to set up, chase after, and worship false gods contrary to His will (Exodus 20:3-5).

Only what God has chosen to reveal of Himself can be known. One of God’s attributes or qualities is “light,” meaning that He is self-revealing in information of Himself (Isaiah 60:19; James 1:17). The fact that God has revealed knowledge of Himself should not be neglected (Hebrews 4:1). Creation, the Bible, and the Word made flesh (Jesus Christ) will help us to know what God is like.

Let’s start by understanding that God is our Creator and that we are a part of His creation (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1) and are created in His image. Man is above the rest of creation and was given dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28). Creation is marred by the fall but still offers a glimpse of God’s works (Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 1:19-20). By considering creation’s vastness, complexity, beauty, and order, we can have a sense of the awesomeness of God.

Reading through some of the names of God can be helpful in our search of what God is like. They are as follows:

Elohim - strong One, divine (Genesis 1:1)
Adonai - Lord, indicating a Master-to-servant relationship (Exodus 4:10, 13)
El Elyon - Most High, the strongest One (Genesis 14:20)
El Roi - the strong One who sees (Genesis 16:13)
El Shaddai - Almighty God (Genesis 17:1)
El Olam - Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28)
Yahweh - LORD “I Am,” meaning the eternal self-existent God (Exodus 3:13, 14).

God is eternal, meaning He had no beginning and His existence will never end. He is immortal and infinite (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17). God is immutable, meaning He is unchanging; this in turn means that God is absolutely reliable and trustworthy (Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 102:26, 27). God is incomparable; there is no one like Him in works or being. He is unequalled and perfect (2 Samuel 7:22; Psalm 86:8; Isaiah 40:25; Matthew 5:48). God is inscrutable, unfathomable, unsearchable, and past finding out as far as understanding Him completely (Isaiah 40:28; Psalm 145:3; Romans 11:33, 34).

God is just; He is no respecter of persons in the sense of showing favouritism (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30). God is omnipotent; He is all-powerful and can do anything that pleases Him, but His actions will always be in accord with the rest of His character (Revelation 19:6; Jeremiah 32:17, 27). God is omnipresent, meaning He is present everywhere, but this does not mean that God is everything (Psalm 139:7-13; Jeremiah 23:23). God is omniscient, meaning He knows the past, present, and future, including what we are thinking at any given moment. Since He knows everything, His justice will always be administered fairly (Psalm 139:1-5; Proverbs 5:21).

God is one; not only is there no other, but He is alone in being able to meet the deepest needs and longings of our hearts. God alone is worthy of our worship and devotion (Deuteronomy 6:4). God is righteous, meaning that God cannot and will not pass over wrongdoing. It is because of God’s righteousness and justice that, in order for our sins to be forgiven, Jesus had to experience God’s wrath when our sins were placed upon Him (Exodus 9:27; Matthew 27:45-46; Romans 3:21-26).

God is sovereign, meaning He is supreme. All of His creation put together cannot thwart His purposes (Psalm 93:1; 95:3; Jeremiah 23:20). God is spirit, meaning He is invisible (John 1:18; 4:24). God is a Trinity. He is three in one, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. God is truth, He will remain incorruptible and cannot lie (Psalm 117:2; 1 Samuel 15:29).

God is holy, separated from all moral defilement and hostile toward it. God sees all evil and it angers Him. God is referred to as a consuming fire (Isaiah 6:3; Habakkuk 1:13; Exodus 3:2, 4-5; Hebrews 12:29). God is gracious, and His grace includes His goodness, kindness, mercy, and love. If it were not for God’s grace, His holiness would exclude us from His presence. Thankfully, this is not the case, for He desires to know each of us personally (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 31:19; 1 Peter 1:3; John 3:16, 17:3).

Since God is an infinite Being, no human can fully answer this God-sized question, but through God’s Word, we can understand much about who God is and what He is like. May we all wholeheartedly continue to seek after Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

 

What is Christianity and what do Christians believe?

The core beliefs of Christianity are summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and thereby offers salvation to all who will receive Him in faith. Unique among all other faiths, Christianity is more about a relationship than religious practices. Instead of adhering to a list of “do’s and don’ts,” the goal of a Christian is to cultivate a close walk with God. That relationship is made possible because of the work of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Beyond these core beliefs, there are many other items that are, or at least should be, indicative of what Christianity is and what Christians believe. Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired, “God-breathed” Word of God and that its teaching is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Christians believe in one God that exists in three persons—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

Christians believe that mankind was created specifically to have a relationship with God, but sin separates all men from God (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man (Philippians 2:6-11), and died on the cross. Christians believe that after His death, Christ was buried, He rose again, and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the believers forever (Hebrews 7:25). Christianity proclaims that Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to completely pay the sin debt owed by all men and this is what restores the broken relationship between God and man (Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:10; Romans 5:8; 6:23).

Christianity teaches that in order to be saved and be granted entrance into heaven after death, one must place one’s faith entirely in the finished work of Christ on the cross. If we believe that Christ died in our place and paid the price of our own sins, and rose again, then we are saved. There is nothing that anyone can do to earn salvation. We cannot be “good enough” to please God on our own, because we are all sinners (Isaiah 53:6; 64:6-7). There is nothing more to be done, because Christ has done all the work! When He was on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning that the work of redemption was completed.

According to Christianity, salvation is freedom from the old sin nature and freedom to pursue a right relationship with God. Where we were once slaves to sin, we are now slaves to Christ (Romans 6:15-22). As long as believers live on this earth in their sinful bodies, they will engage in a constant struggle with sin. However, Christians can have victory in the struggle with sin by studying and applying God’s Word in their lives and being controlled by the Holy Spirit—that is, submitting to the Spirit’s leading in everyday circumstances.

So, while many religious systems require that a person do or not do certain things, Christianity is about believing that Christ died on the cross as payment for our own sins and rose again. Our sin debt is paid and we can have fellowship with God. We can have victory over our sin nature and walk in fellowship and obedience with God. That is true biblical Christianity.

 

What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Saviour?

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour? To properly understand this question, you must first understand the terms “Jesus Christ,” “personal,” and “Saviour.”

Who is Jesus Christ? Many people will acknowledge Jesus Christ as a good man, a great teacher, or even a prophet of God. These things are definitely true of Jesus, but they do not fully define who He truly is. The Bible tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh, God in human form (see John 1:1, 14). God came to earth to teach us, heal us, correct us, forgive us—and die for us! Jesus Christ is God, the Creator, the sovereign Lord. Have you accepted this Jesus?

What is a Saviour, and why do we need a Saviour? The Bible tells us that we have all sinned; we have all committed evil acts (Romans 3:10-18). As a result of our sin, we deserve God’s anger and judgment. The only just punishment for sins committed against an infinite and eternal God is an infinite punishment (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:11-15). That is why we need a Saviour!

Jesus Christ came to earth and died in our place. Jesus’ death was an infinite payment for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the price so that we would not have to. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proved that His death was sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. That is why Jesus is the one and only Saviour (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)! Are you trusting in Jesus as your Saviour?

Is Jesus your “personal” Saviour? Many people view Christianity as attending church, performing rituals, and/or not committing certain sins. That is not Christianity. True Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Accepting Jesus as your personal Saviour means placing your own personal faith and trust in Him. No one is saved by the faith of others. No one is forgiven by doing certain deeds. The only way to be saved is to personally accept Jesus as your Saviour, trusting in His death as the payment for your sins and His resurrection as your guarantee of eternal life (John 3:16). Is Jesus personally your Saviour?

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, say the following words to God. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. Only believing in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross for you can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. “God, I know that I have sinned against You and deserve punishment. But I believe Jesus Christ took the punishment I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I receive Your offer of forgiveness and place my trust in You for salvation. I accept Jesus as my personal Saviour! Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness—the gift of eternal life! Amen!”

 

Who or What Is “the Alpha and the Omega”?

The Bible’s answer

“The Alpha and the Omega” refers to Jehovah God, the Almighty. This term occurs three times in the Bible.​—Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13

 

Why does God call himself “the Alpha and the Omega”?

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the alphabet in Greek, the language used to write the part of the Bible commonly called the New Testament, which includes the book of Revelation. The respective positions of these letters in the Greek alphabet are used to illustrate that Jehovah alone is the beginning and the end. (Revelation 21:6) He was Almighty God in the infinite past, and he will continue to be Almighty God forever. He is the only one who is “from everlasting to everlasting.”​—Psalm 90:2.

 

Who is “the first and the last”?

The Bible applies this term both to Jehovah God and to his Son, Jesus, but with different meanings. Consider two examples.

  • At Isaiah 44:6, Jehovah says: “I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but me.” Here Jehovah highlights that he is the everlasting true God; besides him, there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:​35, 39) In this case, then, the expression “the first and the last” has the same meaning as “the Alpha and the Omega.”

  • Additionally, the term “the First [pro’tos, not alpha] and the Last [e’skha·tos, not omega]” occurs at Revelation 1:​17, 18 and 2:8. In these verses, the context shows that the one referred to died and later returned to life. Thus, these verses cannot refer to God because he has never died. (Habakkuk 1:​12) However, Jesus died and was resurrected. (Acts 3:​13-​15) He was the first human to be resurrected to immortal spirit life in heaven, where he now lives “forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:​18; Colossians 1:​18) Jesus is the one who performs all resurrections thereafter. (John 6:​40, 44) Therefore, he was the last one to be resurrected directly by Jehovah. (Acts 10:40) In this sense, Jesus can properly be called “the First and the Last.”

 

Does Revelation 22:13 prove that Jesus is “the Alpha and the Omega”?

No. The speaker at Revelation 22:13 is not specifically identified, and there are various speakers in this chapter. Commenting on this section of Revelation, Professor William Barclay wrote: “Things are set down without any apparent order; . . . and it is often very difficult to be sure who is the actual speaker.” (The Revelation of John, Volume 2, Revised Edition, page 223) Thus, “the Alpha and the Omega” at Revelation 22:13 can be identified as the same Person given this title elsewhere in Revelation​—Jehovah God.

 

Why do Good People Suffer?

There has been a long standing question, human question that dates back for centuries and one which probably all of us ask from time to time. I hear that quite often. And I heard it this week and it's where people ask: “Why do good people suffer?” While people we may call wicked seem to survive and even survive well. This is an age old question often called the question of good and evil.

I was faced with it again during the week. When a lovely young father died it reminded me of my good friend Sandy Locke back in Scotland, one of the world's best. So this was a loving family man loved by family and friends, playing his part in making his home, his work, his community and even his world a better place. Why did he get cancer, why did he have to suffer, why did he have to die? The world is worse off for his passing. Someone spoke to me at his funeral asking questions along these lines and saying “there are other people in the world that we could all live without, other people whose own mother wouldn't miss them. Other people who are downright wicked. Why are they still alive and he's gone?” The age old question.

There are times when we may think like this. Personally I don't like to encourage talk like this. I don't want to think that anyone intends hating them and wishing them dead over another person but I have to say that I'm only human too. I actually asked that question myself when I had the funeral of this lovely young man. I didn't like the question.

Jesus did good like many others. Jesus bridged the gap between hating and warring parties; between Jews and occupying Romans; between Jews and the much despised Samaritans, he bridged the gap between the healthy and the sick, reaching out to touch them when others wouldn't give them the time of day. He loved all the people that he met, the unlovable. He loved all the people that he met and left everyone feeling better. He just brightened up people's days; brightened up people's lives. And boy did he suffer.

Why would someone like him suffer? People even called him evil. What's wrong with them? How could you call him evil? This week's Bible reading around the world church is from the gospel of Mark chapter 3 verses 20 to 35. What people were saying is that Jesus and all his good work was possessed by an evil spirit; it was their way of thinking in that time but what a thing to claim of someone like Jesus.

Those of faith are somewhat comforted by the faith response to the question of good and evil: “why do good people suffer while the wicked seemingly prosper”. Faith responds by saying and, it maybe not the best answer but this is the answer: It won't always be this way. There is a day coming when everyone will be rewarded for their deeds. Some will not like their reward for their wicked acts. But blessed will they be who have done good. I kind of hold on to that. And hope for that. We all hope there's recompense that someone will be rewarded. I know it's not a great answer. In this life especially we want to see it here and now. We don't want to wait but for those who believe there is life beyond this existence that is some comfort in that response. The balance there is reward for those have been good and died young.

 Besides which those who do good in their world wouldn't have it any other way. Not even by turning wicked if their years could be lengthened. They just wouldn't. Some people are happy to spend their life; literally spend their life; their own life doing good no matter the cost. And they would do it again. They wouldn't change paths. And so I'd like to encourage you all to persevere in doing good; the good that you do. And whatever measure it is, whatever small amount that you do.

Those who follow the Jesus way will never render evil for evil. But will always follow his example in love for their enemies no matter the cost. Go on doing your good deeds. Make this world a better place no matter what the cost.

And blessed are the good makers.

Rev Kenneth Brown – from the spoken message 6th June 2021

 

What Is the Meaning of Life?

The Bible’s answer

The question of the meaning of life may be asked in many ways, such as Why are we here? or Does my life have a purpose? The Bible shows that our purpose in life is to build a friendship with God. Consider some of these fundamental truths that the Bible reveals:

God is our Creator. The Bible says: “It is [God] that has made us, and not we ourselves.”​—Psalm 100:3; Revelation 4:11.

 

God has a purpose for everything he creates, including us.​—Isaiah 45:18.

 

God created us with a “spiritual need,” which includes the desire to find meaning in life. (Matthew 5:3) He wants us to satisfy

        that desire.​—Psalm 145:16.

 

We fill our spiritual need by building a friendship with God. Although the idea of being God’s friend might seem far-fetched to

        some, the Bible gives us this encouragement: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”​ —James 4:8; 2:23.

 

To become God’s friend, we must live in harmony with his purpose for us. The Bible states this purpose at

        Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that we were created for.”

                 ​—Good News Translation.

 

In the future, we can experience in full God’s original purpose for us when he eliminates suffering and grants everlasting

        life to his friends, those who worship him.​—Psalm 37:10, 11.

 

What Is the Will of God for My Life?

 

The Bible’s answer

God’s will is that you come to know him as a Person, draw close to him, and then love and serve him with your whole heart. (Matthew 22:37, 38; James 4:8) You can learn how to do God’s will from the life and teachings of Jesus. (John 7:16, 17) Jesus didn’t just talk about the will of God—he lived it. In fact, Jesus said that his purpose in life was “to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.”—John 6:38.

Do I need a special sign, vision, or calling to know what the will of God is for me?

No, because the Bible contains God’s message to mankind. It has what you need to be “completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) God wants you to use the Bible along with your “power of reason” to learn his will for you.—Romans 12:1, 2; Ephesians 5:17.

Can I really do God’s will?

Yes, you can, for the Bible says: “God’s commands are not too hard for us.” (1 John 5:3, Easy-to-Read Version) That’s not to say that obeying God’s commands is always easy. But the benefits you will gain far outweigh the effort you must put forth. Jesus himself said: “How happy are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”—Luke 11:28, Good News Translation.

 

Love – start to know the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

 

These 9 fruits are major fruits and qualities that are coming direct from God Himself – and every Christian should do the best they can to work with the Holy Spirit in getting all 9 of these fruits worked into their personality.

Note the following:

  1. The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves.

  2. What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality.

  3. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing us to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality!

 

This is why God the Father is specifically telling us in this verse that these 9 fruits are coming directly from His Holy Spirit – so that we can all fully appreciate the magnitude of such an experience.

Love – 1st fruit of the Spirit.

Here are some of the different definitions on what love is from the different Bible Dictionaries and Commentaries:

  • Unselfish, benevolent concern for another; brotherly concern; the object of brotherly concern or affection

  • The self-denying, self-sacrificing, Christ-like love which is the foundation of all other graces

  • Unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the well being of another

  • The high esteem which God has for His human children and the high regard which they, in turn, should have for Him and other people

  • To love, to have affection for someone; to like; to be a friend; the love of brothers for each other.

 

One of the main messages that comes through loud and clear from studying our Bible is the extreme importance that God the Father is placing on everyone to learn how to love Him, love ourselves, love one another, and to even go as far as to be able to love our enemies and those who will try and hurt us.

It is so important for each and every Christian to work very closely with the Holy Spirit to get this fruit worked up into the core of our personalities.

 

It is only when the love of the Holy Spirit starts to flow and enter into our personalities can we even begin to love God, love ourselves, and love one another to the degree and to the intensity that God would really like to see from each one of us.

 

This quality should be listed as the #1 quality you should really attempt to put on into the core of your soul and personality.

 

The Holy Spirit will be moving on you very early and very quickly to get this quality imparted into your mind, soul, and emotions due to the extreme importance of it in your walk with the Lord.

 

You can be the greatest man of God and have some of the greatest gifts of God flowing through you – but if you are not walking with all of this in the spirit of love and humility, it will have all been for naught.

 

Joy – continue to know the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

These 9 fruits are major fruits and qualities that are coming direct from God Himself – and every Christian should do the best they can to work with the Holy Spirit in getting all 9 of these fruits worked into their personality.

Note the following:

  1. The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves.

  2. What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality.

  3. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing us to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality!

 

This is why God the Father is specifically telling us in this verse that these 9 fruits are coming directly from His Holy Spirit – so that we can all fully appreciate the magnitude of such an experience.

Joy

In the rough and tough world we live in with all of the crime, disorder, and bad things that can happen to anyone of us at anytime, many Christians have lost a lot of their joy in the Lord as a result of some of the beatings they have taken in this life.

Again, with the imperfections of our own fallen nature, and then you combine that with how people react differently to adversity – some Christians have literally had most, if not all of their joy in the Lord, knocked right out of them.

One of the things that God can fully restore in you is your joy in Him. And not only can the Lord fully restore what joy you used to have in Him, but He can also increase it to a much greater degree and intensity due to the wording in the above verse – with the quality of joy being one of the 9 specific fruits of His Holy Spirit!

Here are some of the different definitions of what real joy is all about:

  1. Great delight; gladness of heart

  2. The happy state that results from knowing and serving God

  3. That deep, abiding, inner rejoicing in the Lord

  4. To rejoice, to be glad

  5. Happy, joyful, cheerful, rejoicing, festive

 

Realize that God can transmit this divine quality right up into your personality – and this will be His joy, not your joy, once it starts to flow up into you.

Without God’s joy operating in your life, things can begin to dry up. Nothing is ever fun anymore. Everything can start to become a chore. Before you know it, you will want to start to withdraw from others and life in general.

Once God starts to release His joy into your system, you won’t be able to help but feel it. And once you are able to start feeling it again, it will become much easier for you to learn how to walk in joy in your own daily walk with the Lord.

The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is your strength.

The joy of the Lord can really give you an incredible surge of strength when you have to take on some really tough situations.

This is why each Christian should work very closely with the Holy Spirit in not only getting Him to put His joy into their lives, but to also keep it running through them on a very regular and consistent basis.

 

Peace – continue to know the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

These 9 fruits are major fruits and qualities that are coming direct from God Himself – and every Christian should do the best they can to work with the Holy Spirit in getting all 9 of these fruits worked into their personality.

Note the following:

  1. The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves.

  2. What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality.

  3. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing us to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality!

 

This is why God the Father is specifically telling us in this verse that these 9 fruits are coming directly from His Holy Spirit – so that we can all fully appreciate the magnitude of such an experience.

Peace

This is another major quality that we all need operating in our lives, especially with all of the uncertainty of this life and never knowing what is going to happen next.

Jobs are no longer as secure as they used to be. You never know when the company you work for may be bought out and your job will be gone in a flash.

Half of all marriages are still ending up in divorce.

With all of this kind of heightened activity that we are all forced to deal with on a daily basis, it becomes very easy to lose your sense of peace, especially your peace in the Lord.

Again, this is one of the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit can really help you pick up the slack if you start losing your own sense of peace over some of the storm clouds that could come against you in this life.

Realise that the Holy Spirit has His peace to give to you and that He can give it to you in great abundance.

Once His peace starts to flow up into your mind, soul, and emotions, it really is as the Bible says – a peace that surpasses all human understanding – especially when that peace comes in right in the middle of a severe storm cloud that you may be going through

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Here is how the quality of peace is described in some of the different Bible Dictionaries and Commentaries:

  1. The presence and experience of right relationships

  2. The tranquillity of soul

  3. Sense of well-being and fulfilment that comes from God and is dependent on His presence

  4. The inner tranquillity and poise of the Christian whose trust is in God through Christ

  5. Tranquillity, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord

 

The quality of peace should be one of the main qualities that you should try and get worked up into your soul through the Holy Spirit. Without the peace of God operating in your life, you could become very easily rattled, shaken, tormented, and knocked right off your game in the Lord the first time any kind of adversity should ever come your way.

Long suffering – continue to know the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

These 9 fruits are major fruits and qualities that are coming direct from God Himself – and every Christian should do the best they can to work with the Holy Spirit in getting all 9 of these fruits worked into their personality.

Note the following:

  1. The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves.

  2. What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality.

  3. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing us to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality!

 

This is why God the Father is specifically telling us in this verse that these 9 fruits are coming directly from His Holy Spirit – so that we can all fully appreciate the magnitude of such an experience.

Long suffering

One of the main definitions of the word long suffering is that it is referring to patience. And patience is another sorely needed quality in the fast paced world in which we live in today.

Just watch people standing in line at the grocery store or at your local fast food restaurant and watch how short some people’s fuses are today.

Road rage is still a major problem on some of our highways. Look at someone the wrong way and they will want to try and take your head off.

With the fast-paced ways of our society, many people have had their fuses shortened up and it thus takes very little to set them off. As a result, many people have very little patience operating in their personalities today

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For Christians, this poses a major dilemma. One of the ways of our God is that He is a very patient and long suffering God. His ways are not our ways.

And one of the things you will find out very early on about His ways is that He works on a much slower time frame than we do. And unless you learn to adjust to His slower way of working things out, you will find yourself easily losing your patience with Him and how He wants to work things out in your life.

You will really have to work with the Holy Spirit on this particular quality to get it properly worked up into your personality.

The reason for this is that your own impatience will start to act up and try to override the patience and long suffering that the Holy Spirit will try and transmit to you. At times, it may become of battle of wills – your will against His will.

But once the Holy Spirit starts to try and manifest this quality up into your personality, then you have to try and move with it and allow it to get worked into your mind and emotions. If you do, then His patience will start to override your impatience, and before you know it, your fuses will start to lengthen and you will not lose your patience like you used to do.

Here are the different definitions for the word long suffering:

  1. Forbearance, patience

  2. Patient endurance and steadfastness under provocation

  3. Forbearance under ill-will, with no thought of retaliation

  4. Patience, endurance, steadfastness and forbearance

  5. Forbearance under suffering and endurance in the face of adversity

  6. Ability to endure persecution and ill-treatment

 

With the way all of these definitions are reading, you can really see why we all need the patience and long suffering of the Holy Spirit to start operating in our souls and personalities – especially when we are forced to face any kind of adversity. Sometimes it will be the patience and long suffering of the Holy Spirit that will be the only thing that will give you the ability to last the entire length of a bad trial.

Learn how to ride and flow with the patience of the Holy Spirit in your daily life and walk with the Lord – and you will then be able to enter into a much more restful, peaceful state within your mind and emotions.

 
 

Kindness – continue to know the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

These 9 fruits are major fruits and qualities that are coming direct from God Himself – and every Christian should do the best they can to work with the Holy Spirit in getting all 9 of these fruits worked into their personality.

Note the following:

  1. The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves.

  2. What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality.

  3. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing us to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality!

This is why God the Father is specifically telling us in this verse that these 9 fruits are coming directly from His Holy Spirit – so that we can all fully appreciate the magnitude of such an experience.

Kindness

As a result of more people being impatient, having short fuses, and with everyone always being in a hurry – many people have lost the ability to treat others with kindness and respect.

A kind word, a kind action to another person can really do wonders for them.

When you really study the life of Jesus in the New Testament, you can really tell how kind He always was with other people in His dealings with them.

Jesus is without question, the ultimate role model for all of us of someone who was fully walking and operating in all 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The quality of kindness will go hand in hand with the quality of love. Once the Holy Spirit starts to transmit His love up into you, the quality of kindness will follow right along with it. It will then become much easier for you to be able to be kind to others once the love of God starts to flow more into your personality.

Here are some of the different definitions of what real kindness is all about:

  1. Quality or state of being kind

  2. The steadfast love that maintains relationships through gracious aid in times of need

  3. Goodness of heart, serviceable, good, gracious, pleasant

  4. Love for mankind, hospitality, acts of kindness, readiness to help, human friendship, benevolence, taking thought of others

  5. Goodness in action, sweetness of disposition, gentleness in dealing with others, affability

  6. The ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience

 

As you can see from some of these different definitions, this is a very beautiful quality to have transmitted up into your soul and personality by the Holy Spirit. Not only will you be able to touch others with this godly quality, but you will also be able to touch yourself – because you will feel so much better about yourself if you can learn how to treat others with much more kindness and respect in your daily dealings and affairs with them.

 

Goodness – continue to know the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

These 9 fruits are major fruits and qualities that are coming direct from God Himself – and every Christian should do the best they can to work with the Holy Spirit in getting all 9 of these fruits worked into their personality.

Note the following:

  1. The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves.

  2. What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality.

  3. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing us to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality!

 

This is why God the Father is specifically telling us in this verse that these 9 fruits are coming directly from His Holy Spirit – so that we can all fully appreciate the magnitude of such an experience.

Goodness

Spirit-filled saints who are walking about with many of these fruits operating through them are like a magnet.

Many people who have been saved through an individual believer say that what drew them in was the love and goodness they saw shining through.

Jesus says that we are to carry His light and let that light shine before men and not attempt to hide it.

There is something extra special about the quality of goodness. Many Christians can effectively witness to others by just living right and being a good example and role model for others to follow.

Many nonbelievers carefully watch and study some Christians because they know there is something really different about them.

One of the key qualities a nonbeliever will pick up on in a solid Christian is this quality of goodness. This quality has an ability to really get down deep into the core of a believer’s personality.

As a result of seeing this God-like goodness deeply ingrained into their personalities, there is an immediate drawing towards them. Children are quick to sense and pick up on this quality in people who really have it. These types of Christians draw children and adults to them like magnets.

You feel totally safe being around them because you know you can totally trust them, and you know they would never deliberately hurt you.

And the goodness of God can be transmitted and worked up into your personality through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now here are some of the different definitions of what this quality is all about:

  1. Beneficence, ready to do good, love in action

  2. Kindness in actual manifestation, virtue equipped for action, a bountiful propensity both to will and to do what is good, intrinsic goodness producing a generosity and a Godlike state or being

  3. The word beneficence means the fact or quality of being kind or doing good

 

This particular quality is a very powerful fruit to have operating in your personality because of the drawing power it has in it.

And the beautiful part about this fruit is that this quality is so pure in its goodness – it does not have any manipulative qualities within it.

In other words, a truly good person could not even begin to try and use you or manipulate you for their own personal gain because they are too good and righteous to even begin to think along those lines.

This is why these kinds of people are so trustworthy and why so many people are drawn to them – because you feel so safe by just being around them.

 

Faithfulness – continue to know the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

 

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

 

These 9 fruits are major fruits and qualities that are coming direct from God Himself – and every Christian should do the best they can to work with the Holy Spirit in getting all 9 of these fruits worked into their personality.

Note the following:

  1. The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves.

  2. What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality.

  3. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing us to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality!

 

This is why God the Father is specifically telling us in this verse that these 9 fruits are coming directly from His Holy Spirit – so that we can all fully appreciate the magnitude of such an experience.

Faithfulness

 

In the times we live in with half of all marriages ending up in divorce, and with many people getting back-stabbed in the workplaces with people they thought they could initially trust – this particular quality is one that is really needed in our day and age

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This quality is not only needed in our own personal relationship with God, but it is also needed in our own personal relationships with our friends and our families.

God the Father really holds this particular quality in high esteem, and this is one quality that He will really expect you to operate very strongly in – not only in your own personal relationship with Him, but also in your other personal relationships with your family and friends.

In other words, He wants you to be faithful and loyal to your spouses, to your children, to your parents, and to your good friends.

If God brings you a wonderful mate, wonderful children, and good and wonderful friends – then He will expect you to stay loyal and faithful to all of them in your own personal relationships with them. A true friend will stay by your side for life – through thick and thin and for better or for worse.

Just as God will stay faithful to you in His own personal relationship with you – He will expect you to stay loyal and faithful in your own personal relationships with the other people in your life.

Now here are what some of the different Bible Dictionaries and Commentaries have to say about this particular quality:

  1. Fidelity which makes one true to his promise and faithful to his task

  2. Steadfast, dedicated, dependable and worthy of trust

  3. Steadfast, unchanging and thoroughly grounded in relation to the other

  4. Dependability, loyalty and stability

 

With the self-centred and materialistic world in which we now live in, where many people’s only goals and ambitions are to get as much as they can out of this life while they still can – this is one quality that is in very short supply.

Most people are lucky if they manage to make 2 or 3 good, loyal, and faithful friends in this lifetime.

This is one quality that God the Father is really watching all of us on. He is watching who is going to stay true, loyal, and faithful to Him – and who will stay true, loyal, and faithful to the friends and family that are brought into our lives.

The flesh is strong – especially in the area of wanting to satisfy its lust for the material things of this life. This is why faithfulness is one of the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit.

We all need the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit worked into us to help us keep loyal to God, family, and friends.

 

Gentleness – continue to know the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

These 9 fruits are major fruits and qualities that are coming direct from God Himself – and every Christian should do the best they can to work with the Holy Spirit in getting all 9 of these fruits worked into their personality.

Note the following:

  1. The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves.

  2. What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality.

  3. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing us to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality!

 

This is why God the Father is specifically telling us in this verse that these 9 fruits are coming directly from His Holy Spirit – so that we can all fully appreciate the magnitude of such an experience.

Gentleness

Many men may draw back a bit from the quality of gentleness. However, Jesus was fully incarnated into a human flesh body – but this incarnation was done as a man – fully Man and fully God.

Since Jesus walked our earth as a man – the Son of Man – study His actions very carefully when you read the gospels and how He handled different types of people.

There were times that He would engage and set people straight, like He did with some of the Scribes and Pharisees. But there were other times that He dealt with people very gently, with kindness and love.

Jesus is the perfect role model for all of us to study and learn from – especially with how He handled people while He was walking down here on our earth. His actions and behaviour towards others should be a major study for all of us and we should seek to pattern our own daily walk after Him.

And one of the divine qualities that Jesus had operating in Him with great abundance was the quality of gentleness.

The quality of gentleness is another major quality needed in our world today. So many people have been beat up and hurt in their dealings with other people – that just a gentle word, a gentle touch from another Christian can really open up the door for that person to be able to receive Jesus and His healing, saving, and deliverance power into their lives.

Once you really start walking in the Holy Spirit with His divine fruits operating and flowing through you – you will really be able to feel and sense when you should handle a certain person or a certain type of situation with more of a touch of gentleness rather than with any kind of stern rebuke or condemnation.

There is a time for tough love – but there are also times that just a gentle and loving touch is all that is really needed to properly handle a certain situation.

The Holy Spirit will guide you in all of this. Just realise that the quality of gentleness is one of the 9 fruits of the Spirit, and this is one of the fruits that He would really like to get worked into your personality, especially in being able to use it when dealing with and helping others.

Now here are some of the different definitions on the quality of gentleness:

  1. Mildness combined with tenderness

  2. Gracious, kindly disposition, controlled strength

  3. A disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious and that has passions under control

  4. A character that is equitable, reasonable, forbearing, moderate, fair and considerate

  5. Power and strength under control

  6. Willing to pardon injuries, correct faults. One who rules his spirit well

 

Not only will other people love and gravitate towards you more if you learn how to walk in this quality – but you will be at much more peace with yourself since you won’t always have to be fighting and striving with others when trying to help them out.

 

Self Control – continue to know the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

These 9 fruits are major fruits and qualities that are coming direct from God Himself – and every Christian should do the best they can to work with the Holy Spirit in getting all 9 of these fruits worked into their personality.

Note the following:

  1. The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves.

  2. What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of our personality.

  3. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing us to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into our soul and personality!

 

This is why God the Father is specifically telling us in this verse that these 9 fruits are coming directly from His Holy Spirit – so that we can all fully appreciate the magnitude of such an experience.

Self Control

The Bible tells us that our spirits and our flesh will war against each other in this life. Our flesh wants immediate self-gratification at all costs and will stop at nothing to try and get it.

Our spirits know that some of our fleshly desires are not right for us and as a result, there will be a tug of war between the two – and sometimes it will be a major tug of war. And the only thing that will be able to control and curb some of the desires of our flesh is the quality of self-control

Since we all live in a very self-centred and materialistic world today, many people have very poor impulse control. If they see something they immediately want, they will do anything they can to try and get it. They will not be denied until they get what they are going after. These people are obviously very weak in the quality of self-control.

This is why the Bible tells us that if we can learn how to really walk in the Holy Spirit, then we will not fulfill the passions of our flesh.

We all need God’s self-control operating in our lives and in our personalities.

If you do not have God’s self-control operating through you – you will have very little victory over such things as bad tempers, judgmental and critical spirits, an unforgiving spirit, and vices such as smoking and the abuse of alcohol.

But if you are willing to yield to Him and allow Him to start to work all 9 of the fruits of the Spirit into your personality – then you will find yourself starting to grow in ways and in areas that you never thought were possible in this life.

His supernatural power in this area will blow you away once you see how far He can really take you to become the person that God would like you to become in Him in this lifetime.

Here are some of the definitions of what the quality of self-control is all about:

  1. Temperance, rational restraint of natural impulses

  2. Sober, temperate, calm and dispassionate approach to life, having mastered personal desires and passions

  3. Calls for a self-disciplined life following Christ’s example of being in the world but not of the world

  4. Restraint or discipline exercised over one’s behaviour

 

The above definitions perfectly describe what God is looking for once He starts to work and transmit this quality up into our personalities. This specific quality is one of the major keys in being able to get any kind of victory over some of the passions and desires of our flesh.

Is there life after death?

The existence of life after death is a universal question. Job speaks for all of us by stating, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure....If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:1-2, 14). Like Job, all of us have been challenged by this question. Exactly what happens to us after we die? Do we simply cease to exist? Is life a revolving door of departing and returning to earth in order to eventually achieve personal greatness? Does everyone go to the same place, or do we go to different places? Is there really a heaven and hell?

The Bible tells us that there is not only life after death, but eternal life so glorious that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to the earth to give us this gift of eternal life. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus took on the punishment that all of us deserve and sacrificed His life to pay the penalty for our sin. Three days later, He proved Himself victorious over death by rising from the grave. He remained on the Earth for forty days and was witnessed by hundreds before ascending to heaven. Romans 4:25 says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

The resurrection of the Christ is a well-documented event. The apostle Paul challenged people to question eyewitnesses for its validity, and no one was able to contest its truth. The resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we can have faith that we, too, will be resurrected. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate proof of life after death. Christ was only the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. Physical death came through one man, Adam, to whom we are all related. But all who have been adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ will be given new life (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). Just as God raised up Jesus’ body, so will our bodies be resurrected upon Jesus’ return (1 Corinthians 6:14).

Although we will all be eventually resurrected, not everyone will go to heaven. A choice must be made by each person in this life, and this choice will determine one’s eternal destination. The Bible says that it is appointed for us to die only once, and after that will come judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Those who have been made righteous by faith in Christ will go into eternal life in heaven, but those who reject Christ as Saviour will be sent to eternal punishment in hell (Matthew 25:46). Hell, like heaven, is not simply a state of existence, but a literal place. It is a place where the unrighteous will experience never-ending, eternal wrath from God. Hell is described as a bottomless pit (Luke 8:31; Revelation 9:1) and a lake of fire, burning with sulphur, where the inhabitants will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10). In hell, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, indicating intense grief and anger (Matthew 13:42).

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires them to turn from their wicked ways so that they can live (Ezekiel 33:11). But He will not force us into submission; if we choose to reject Him, He accepts our decision to live eternally apart from Him. Life on earth is a test, a preparation for what is to come. For believers, life after death is eternal life in heaven with God. For unbelievers, life after death is eternity in the lake of fire. How can we receive eternal life after death and avoid an eternity in the lake of fire? There is only one way—through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die...” (John 11:25-26).

The free gift of eternal life is available to all. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36). We will not be given the opportunity to accept God’s gift of salvation after death. Our eternal destination is determined in our earthly lifetimes by our reception or rejection of Jesus Christ. “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). If we trust the death of Jesus Christ as the full payment for our sin against God, we are guaranteed not only a meaningful life on earth, but also eternal life after death, in the glorious presence of Christ.

 

Is Jesus God?

"Is Jesus God? Why should I believe that Jesus is God?"

Some who deny that Jesus is God make the claim that Jesus never said that He is God. It is correct that the Bible never records Jesus saying the precise words, “I am God.” This does not mean, however, that Jesus never claimed to be God.

Is Jesus God? — Jesus claimed to be God.

Take for example the words of Jesus in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” We need only to look at the Jews’ reaction to His statement to know He was claiming to be God. They tried to stone Him for this very reason: “You, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33, emphasis added). The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming—deity. When Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one,” He was saying that He and the Father are of one nature and essence. John 8:58 is another example. Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth … before Abraham was born, I am!” This is a reference back to Exodus 3:14 when God revealed Himself as the “I AM.” The Jews who heard this statement responded by taking up stones to kill Him for blasphemy, as the Mosaic Law commanded (Leviticus 24:16).

Is Jesus God? — His followers declared Him to be God.

John reiterates the concept of Jesus’ deity: “The Word [Jesus] was God” and “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1, 14). These verses clearly indicate that Jesus is God in the flesh. Acts 20:28 tells us, “Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.” Who bought the church with His own blood? Jesus Christ. And this same verse declares that God purchased His church with His own blood. Therefore, Jesus is God.

Thomas the disciple declared concerning Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus does not correct him. Titus 2:13 encourages us to wait for the coming of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ (see also 2 Peter 1:1). In Hebrews 1:8, the Father declares of Jesus, “But about the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” The Father refers to Jesus as God, indicating that Jesus is indeed God.

In Revelation, an angel instructed the apostle John to only worship God (Revelation 19:10). Several times in Scripture Jesus receives worship (Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). He never rebukes people for worshiping Him. If Jesus were not God, He would have told people to not worship Him, just as the angel in Revelation did. Beyond these, there are many other passages of Scripture that argue for Jesus being God.

Is Jesus God? — The reason Jesus must be God.

The most important reason that Jesus must be God is that, if He is not God, His death would not have been sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). A created being, which Jesus would be if He were not God, could not pay the infinite penalty required for sin against an infinite God. Only God could pay such an infinite penalty. Only God could take on the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21), die, and be resurrected, proving His victory over sin and death.

Is Jesus God? Yes. Jesus declared Himself to be God. His followers believed Him to be God. The provision of salvation only works if Jesus is God. Jesus is God incarnate, the eternal Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8; 22:13), and God our Saviour (2 Peter 1:1).

 

What are the four spiritual laws?

The Four Spiritual Laws are a way of sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a simple way of organizing the important information in the Gospel into four points.

The first of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." John 3:16 tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 10:10 gives us the reason that Jesus came, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." What is blocking us from God’s love? What is preventing us from having an abundant life?

The second of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "Humanity is tainted by sin and is therefore separated from God. As a result, we cannot know God’s wonderful plan for our lives." Romans 3:23 affirms this information, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 6:23 gives us the consequences of sin, "the wages of sin is death." God created us to have fellowship with Him. However, humanity brought sin into the world, and is therefore separated from God. We have ruined the relationship with Him that God intended us to have. What is the solution?

The third of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin. Through Jesus Christ, we can have our sins forgiven and restore a right relationship with God." Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 informs us of what we need to know and believe in order to be saved, "...that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." Jesus Himself declares that He is the only way of salvation in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." How can I receive this wonderful gift of salvation?

The fourth of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "We must place our faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour in order to receive the gift of salvation and know God’s wonderful plan for our lives." John 1:12 describes this for us, "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." Acts 16:31 says it very clearly, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!" We can be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If you want to trust in Jesus Christ as your Saviour, say the following words to God. Saying these words will not save you, but trusting in Christ will! This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. "God, I know that I have sinned against you and deserve punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of eternal life! Amen!"

 

What does it mean to be a born again Christian?

The classic passage from the Bible that answers this question is John 3:1-21. The Lord Jesus Christ is talking to Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling body of the Jews). Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night with some questions.

As Jesus talked with Nicodemus, He said, “‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again”’” (John 3:3-7).

The phrase "born again" literally means "born from above." Nicodemus had a real need. He needed a change of his heart—a spiritual transformation. New birth, being born again, is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the person who believes (2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-4, 18). John 1:12, 13 indicates that being "born again" also carries the idea of "becoming children of God" through trust in the name of Jesus Christ.

The question logically comes, "Why does a person need to be born again?" The apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1 says, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (NKJV). To the Romans he wrote, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Sinners are spiritually “dead”; when they receive spiritual life through faith in Christ, the Bible likens it to a rebirth. Only those who are born again have their sins forgiven and have a relationship with God.

How does that come to be? Ephesians 2:8-9 states, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." When one is saved, he/she has been born again, spiritually renewed, and is now a child of God by right of new birth. Trusting in Jesus Christ, the One who paid the penalty of sin when He died on the cross, is the means to be "born again." "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

If you have never trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, will you consider the prompting of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to your heart? You need to be born again. Will you pray the prayer of repentance and become a new creation in Christ today? "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13).

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour and be born again, here is a sample prayer. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Christ that can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. "God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness—the gift of eternal life! Amen!"

 

What does the Bible teach about the Trinity?

The most difficult thing about the Christian concept of the Trinity is that there is no way to perfectly and completely understand it. The Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any human being to fully understand, let alone explain. God is infinitely greater than we are; therefore, we should not expect to be able to fully understand Him. The Bible teaches that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also teaches that there is only one God. Though we can understand some facts about the relationship of the different Persons of the Trinity to one another, ultimately, it is incomprehensible to the human mind. However, this does not mean the Trinity is not true or that it is not based on the teachings of the Bible.

The Trinity is one God existing in three Persons. Understand that this is not in any way suggesting three Gods. Keep in mind when studying this subject that the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture. This is a term that is used to attempt to describe the triune God—three coexistent, co-eternal Persons who are God. Of real importance is that the concept represented by the word “Trinity” does exist in Scripture. The following is what God’s Word says about the Trinity:

1) There is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5).

2) The Trinity consists of three Persons (Genesis 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16, 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). In Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew plural noun "Elohim" is used. In Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8, the plural pronoun for “us” is used. The word "Elohim" and the pronoun “us” are plural forms, definitely referring in the Hebrew language to more than two. While this is not an explicit argument for the Trinity, it does denote the aspect of plurality in God. The Hebrew word for "God," "Elohim," definitely allows for the Trinity.

In Isaiah 48:16 and 61:1, the Son is speaking while making reference to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Compare Isaiah 61:1 to Luke 4:14-19 to see that it is the Son speaking. Matthew 3:16-17 describes the event of Jesus’ baptism. Seen in this passage is God the Holy Spirit descending on God the Son while God the Father proclaims His pleasure in the Son. Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 are examples of three distinct Persons in the Trinity.

3) The members of the Trinity are distinguished one from another in various passages. In the Old Testament, “LORD” is distinguished from “Lord” (Genesis 19:24; Hosea 1:4). The LORD has a Son (Psalm 2:7, 12; Proverbs 30:2-4). The Spirit is distinguished from the “LORD” (Numbers 27:18) and from “God” (Psalm 51:10-12). God the Son is distinguished from God the Father (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9). In the New Testament, Jesus speaks to the Father about sending a Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). This shows that Jesus did not consider Himself to be the Father or the Holy Spirit. Consider also all the other times in the Gospels where Jesus speaks to the Father. Was He speaking to Himself? No. He spoke to another Person in the Trinity—the Father.

4) Each member of the Trinity is God. The Father is God (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2). The Son is God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).

5) There is subordination within the Trinity. Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son, and the Son is subordinate to the Father. This is an internal relationship and does not deny the deity of any Person of the Trinity. This is simply an area which our finite minds cannot understand concerning the infinite God. Concerning the Son see Luke 22:42, John 5:36, John 20:21, and 1 John 4:14. Concerning the Holy Spirit see John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, and especially John 16:13-14.

6) The individual members of the Trinity have different tasks. The Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11); divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus’ human works (John 5:17; 14:10). The Father initiates all of these things.

The Son is the agent through whom the Father does the following works: the creation and maintenance of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17); divine revelation (John 1:1, 16:12-15; Matthew 11:27; Revelation 1:1); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:42). The Father does all these things through the Son, who functions as His agent.

The Holy Spirit is the means by whom the Father does the following works: creation and maintenance of the universe (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30); divine revelation (John 16:12-15; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:21); salvation (John 3:6; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2); and Jesus’ works (Isaiah 61:1; Acts 10:38). Thus, the Father does all these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There have been many attempts to develop illustrations of the Trinity. However, none of the popular illustrations are completely accurate. The egg (or apple) fails in that the shell, white, and yolk are parts of the egg, not the egg in themselves, just as the skin, flesh, and seeds of the apple are parts of it, not the apple itself. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not parts of God; each of them is God. The water illustration is somewhat better, but it still fails to adequately describe the Trinity. Liquid, vapour, and ice are forms of water. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not forms of God, each of them is God. So, while these illustrations may give us a picture of the Trinity, the picture is not entirely accurate. An infinite God cannot be fully described by a finite illustration.

The doctrine of the Trinity has been a divisive issue throughout the entire history of the Christian church. While the core aspects of the Trinity are clearly presented in God’s Word, some of the side issues are not as explicitly clear. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God—but there is only one God. That is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Beyond that, the issues are, to a certain extent, debatable and non-essential. Rather than attempting to fully define the Trinity with our finite human minds, we would be better served by focusing on the fact of God’s greatness and His infinitely higher nature. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his councillor?” (Romans 11:33-34).

 

What is the bad news / good news approach to sharing the gospel?

Many things in life have good news and bad news associated with them. The entire truth is generally found in a combination of both. Emphasizing one side to the exclusion of the other is not the whole truth. The same is true of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The bad news, spiritually speaking, is that we are all sinners deserving of hell for our sin against a holy God (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Our sin has kept us from His presence and eternal life (John 3:15–20). No one can earn his or her way into the presence of God because there is “no one righteous” (Romans 3:10). Our best human efforts to please God are “as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Some evangelists and street preachers focus exclusively on this aspect of God’s truth, which could be considered the “bad news approach.”

The good news is that God loves us (John 3:15–18). He wants a relationship with His human creation and has communicated with us in a variety of ways such as nature (Romans 1:20), the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16), and Jesus coming in human form to live among us (John 1:14). God does love us. He does want to bless us. He wants a relationship with us and desires to teach us His ways so that we can become all He created us to be (Romans 8:29). Teachers who focus only on the good news are leaving out a vital part of God’s plan of salvation, which includes repentance (Matthew 3:2; Mark 6:12) and taking up our cross to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).

Until we know the bad news, we can’t truly appreciate the good news. You would not appreciate a stranger bursting into your home and dragging you outside, unless you first understood that your house was on fire. Until we understand that we are destined for hell because of our sin, we cannot appreciate all that Jesus did for us on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we don’t realize how hopeless we are, we won’t recognize the great hope Jesus offers (Hebrews 6:19). Unless we recognize that we are sinners, we can’t appreciate a Saviour.

The best approach is to present what the apostle Paul called the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). God’s whole counsel includes both the bad news about our natural state and the good news about God’s plan to redeem us. Jesus never eliminated either of these when He brought “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14). His peace is available to everyone who is brought to repentance by the “bad news” and joyfully accepts the “good news” that He is Lord of all (Romans 10:8–9).

 

What is Good Friday / Holy Friday?

Good Friday, also known as "Holy Friday," is the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday. It is celebrated traditionally as the day on which Jesus was crucified. If you are interested in a study of the issue, please see our article that discusses the various views on which day Jesus was crucified. Assuming that Jesus was crucified and died on a Friday, should Christians remember Jesus’ death by celebrating Good Friday?

The Bible does not instruct Christians to remember Christ’s death by honouring a certain day. The Bible does give us freedom in these matters, however. Romans 14:5 tells us, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Rather than remembering Christ’s death on a certain day, once a year, the Bible instructs us to remember Christ’s death by observing the Lord’s Supper. First Corinthians 11:24-26 declares, “...do this in remembrance of me...for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good! Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” First Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”

Many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday with a subdued service, usually in the evening, in which Christ’s death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanksgiving, a message centred on Christ’s suffering for our sakes, and observance of the Lord’s Supper. Whether or not Christians choose to “celebrate” Good Friday, the events of that day should be ever on our minds because the death of Christ on the cross—along with His bodily resurrection—is the paramount event of the Christian faith.

 
 

Where  Will You Spend Eternity?

 

IS THERE SOMETHING MISSING?

 

Have you ever wondered why the things of this life never satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts? No matter what we do to find lasting satisfaction and true happiness, we inevitably find that something is missing.

 

Why is this? Many people unwisely believe that they are the only ones who experience this restlessness and hopelessness. They don’t mention this disappointment to others for fear of being considered negative, or even depressed. Is this emptiness and meaninglessness indicative of an emotional issue, or is it something even deeper? Could it be a God given warning that we have a serious spiritual problem? Is it possible that we feel this way, (as if something vital is missing from our lives) because something vital and eternal is actually missing?

 

‘Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.’ (John 6:27)

 

WE ARE CREATED WITH ETERNITY IN OUR HEARTS.

God said in Genesis 1:26-27 ‘... Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.’ That, my friend, is the simple, yet profound explanation for the abiding emptiness in the hearts of men and women without Christ. God created us as eternal beings with the capacity to enjoy temporal pleasures, but not to be satisfied with them apart from Him.

 

The Bible puts it like this: ‘Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.’ (Proverbs 27:20). King Solomon, the wealthiest and wisest man that ever lived, said, ‘All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:8)

 

Though many people reject the Bible today, and dismiss its message and eternal wisdom as irrelevant, their very own experience bears witness and testimony to its truth. Man without God cannot, and will not, ever be satisfied.

 

WHAT WENT WRONG?

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that there is something seriously wrong with life as we know it and experience it today. The emptiness and frustration that everyone experiences (but few talk about) is a direct result of SIN - yes, SIN! Sin is many things; but fundamentally, sin is man choosing to live without God, or in disobedience to God.

 

Attitudes like “I don’t know God” or “I don’t need God” and especially “I don’t want God” or “I don’t love God” - these lie at the root of our feelings of alienation and emptiness. Deciding to not know, need, want, or love God explains why our lives are without meaning. Add to this emptiness our willful disobedience and our disregard of God’s Holy Law, and - there you have it - no wonder our lives are seriously chaotic and out of order! This is why the Bible calls us sinners; and it is also the Biblical explanation for why we all die. ‘F or the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23).

 

 The famous philosopher, scientist, physicist & theologian, Blaise Pascal, stated it like this: ‘There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that can only be filled with God's own Son, Jesus Christ.‘

 

ETERNITY IS FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER and .... ..

As we have already mentioned, this emptiness and dissatisfaction with life we all experience is actually a God-Given motivation to seek out the truth concerning our eternal destiny. Regardless of our thoughts concerning this subject, the truth of God’s Word is eternal and unchangeable. We will live on forever in one of two places, Heaven or Hell. The Bible states it like this: ‘For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ (Romans 6:23). We are eternal creatures, but we don’t have eternal life abiding in us until we are born again of the Spirit of God. Jesus said in John 3:3, ‘Except a man be born again, He cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ It was for this very purpose that God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ (John 3:16).

 

There it is again, my  friend - Everlasting Life! This is why you were born and why you were brought by God’s goodness into this world, that you might BELIEVE this message ' and be saved. However, to be personally experienced, this gift must be received by repentance and faith. ‘Repent ye, and believe the gospel’ (Mark 1:15). Why not pray to God right now and ask Him to save you from your sin and Hell. ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Romans 10:13).

​Is God an Impersonal Force?

 

The Bible’s answer

 

God exercises unsurpassed force throughout the universe. Regarding the way he created the countless billions of stars, the Bible says: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he [God] calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.”—Isaiah 40:25, 26.

But God is much more than a powerful force. The Bible says that he has feelings, such as love and hate. (Psalm 11:5; John 3:16)

 

It also reveals that the way humans act can affect God’s emotions.—Psalm 78:40, 41.

 

Does God Change His Mind?

The Bible’s answer

Yes, he does, in the sense that he changes his attitude when people change their behaviour. For example, when God sent a judgment message to the people of ancient Israel, he said: “Perhaps they will listen and each one will turn back from his evil way, and I will change my mind concerning the calamity that I intend to bring on them because of their evil deeds.”​—Jeremiah 26:3.

Many Bible translations render this verse as saying that God would “repent” over the intended calamity, which could be understood to mean that he had made a mistake. However, the original Hebrew word can mean “change of mind or intention.” One scholar wrote: “A change in man’s conduct brings about a change in God’s judgment.”

Of course, just because God can change his mind does not mean that he must change it. Consider some situations where the Bible says that God has not changed his mind:

  • God did not allow Balak to make Him change His mind and curse the nation of Israel.​—Numbers 23:18-​20.

  • Once King Saul of Israel became firmly set in badness, God did not change his mind about rejecting him as king.​—1 Samuel 15:28, 29.

  • God will fulfill his promise to make his Son a priest forever. God will not change His mind.​—Psalm 110:4.

 

Doesn’t the Bible say that God never changes?

Yes, the Bible records God as saying: “I am Jehovah; I do not change.” (Malachi 3:6) Similarly, the Bible says that God “does not vary or change like the shifting shadows.” (James 1:​17) This, however, does not contradict what the Bible says about God changing his mind. God is unchangeable in that his personality and standards of love and justice never alter. (Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 John 4:8) Still, he can give different instructions to people at different times. For instance, God gave opposite instructions to King David for fighting two consecutive battles, yet both methods succeeded.​—2 Samuel 5:​18-​25.

Is God sorry that he created humans?

No, although he does regret that most people ignore or reject him. Describing conditions before the global Flood of Noah’s day, the Bible says: “Jehovah regretted that he had made men on the earth, and his heart was saddened.” (Genesis 6:6) In this verse, the word “regretted” comes from the Hebrew word that can mean “change of mind.” God changed his mind about most of the people who lived before the Flood because they had become wicked. (Genesis 6:​5, 11) Even though he was saddened that they chose to follow a bad course, he did not change his attitude toward the entire human race. In fact, he preserved mankind through the Flood by means of Noah and his family.​—Genesis 8:​21; 2 Peter 2:​5, 9.

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Has Anyone Ever Seen God?

 

The Bible’s answer

No human has literally seen God. (Exodus 33:20; John 1:​18; 1 John 4:​12) The Bible says that “God is a Spirit,” a form of life that is invisible to the human eye.​—John 4:​24; 1 Timothy 1:​17.

God can be seen directly by angels, though, because they are spirit creatures. (Matthew 18:10) Moreover, some humans who die will be raised to life in heaven with a spirit body and will then be able to see God.​—Philippians 3:​20, 21; 1 John 3:2.

How to “see” God now

The Bible often uses the idea of seeing figuratively, to represent enlightenment. (Isaiah 6:​10; Jeremiah 5:​21; John 9:​39-​41) In this sense, a person can see God now with “the eyes of [his] heart” by having faith so as to know Him and appreciate His qualities. (Ephesians 1:​18) The Bible describes steps to build this kind of faith.

  • Learn about God’s qualities, such as his love and generosity as well as his wisdom and power, through his creation. (Romans 1:​20) After being reminded of God’s creative works, the faithful man Job felt as though God were right before his eyes.​—Job 42:5.

  • Get to know God by studying the Bible. “If you search for [God], he will let himself be found by you,” the Bible assures us.​—1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 119:2; John 17:3.

  • Learn about God through the life of Jesus. Since Jesus perfectly reflected the personality of his Father, Jehovah God, he could rightly say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father also.”​—John 14:9.

  • Live in a way that pleases God, and see how he acts in your behalf. Jesus said: “Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God.” As noted earlier, some who please God will be resurrected to heaven and will thus “see God” there.​—Matthew 5:8; Psalm 11:7.

 

Did not Moses, Abraham, and others actually see God?

 

In accounts where it might seem that the Bible says that humans literally saw God, the context shows that God was represented by an angel or appeared by means of a vision.

Angels.

In ancient times, God sent angels as his representatives to appear to humans and to speak in his name. (Psalm 103:20) For example, God once spoke to Moses from a burning bush, and the Bible says that “Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at the true God.” (Exodus 3:​4, 6) Moses did not literally see God, though, for the context shows that he actually saw “Jehovah’s angel.”​—Exodus 3:2.

Similarly, when the Bible says that God “spoke to Moses face-to-face,” it means that God conversed with Moses intimately. (Exodus 4:​10, 11; 33:11) Moses did not actually see God’s face, for the information he received from God “was transmitted through angels.” (Galatians 3:​19; Acts 7:​53) Still, Moses’ faith in God was so strong that the Bible described him as “seeing the One who is invisible.”​—Hebrews 11:27.

In the same way that he spoke to Moses, God communicated with Abraham through angels. Granted, a casual reading of the Bible might give the impression that Abraham literally saw God. (Genesis 18:​1, 33) However, the context shows that the “three men” who came to Abraham were actually angels sent by God. Abraham recognized them as God’s representatives and addressed them as if he were speaking directly to Jehovah.​—Genesis 18:​2, 3, 22, 32; 19:1.

Visions.

God has also appeared to humans through visions, or scenes presented to a person’s mind. For instance, when the Bible says that Moses and other Israelites “saw the God of Israel,” they really “saw a vision of the true God.” (Exodus 24:​9-​11) Likewise, the Bible sometimes says that prophets “saw Jehovah.” (Isaiah 6:1; Daniel 7:9; Amos 9:1) In each case, the context shows that they were given a vision of God rather than a direct view of him.​—Isaiah 1:1; Daniel 7:2; Amos 1:1.

 

What Does the Bible Say About Free Will? Is God in Control?

The Bible’s answer

God dignifies us with free will, the power to make decisions of our own rather than having God or fate predetermine what we do. Consider what the Bible teaches.

  • God created humans in his image. (Genesis 1:26) Unlike animals, which act mainly on instinct, we resemble our Creator in our capacity to display such qualities as love and justice. And like our Creator, we have free will.

  • To a great extent, we can determine our future. The Bible encourages us to “choose life . . . by listening to [God’s] voice,” that is, by choosing to obey his commands. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) This offer would be meaningless, even cruel, if we lacked free will. Instead of forcing us to do what he says, God warmly appeals to us: “O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river.”—Isaiah 48:18.

  • Our success or failure is not determined by fate. If we want to succeed at an endeavour, we must work hard. “All that your hand finds to do,” says the Bible, “do with your very power.”(Ecclesiastes 9:10) It also says: “The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage.”—Proverbs 21:5.

 

Free will is a precious gift from God, for it lets us love him with our “whole heart”—because we want to.—Matthew 22:37.

 

Doesn’t God control all things?

The Bible does teach that God is Almighty, that his power is not limited by anyone other than himself. (Job 37:23; Isaiah 40:26) However, he does not use his power to control everything. For example, the Bible says that God was “exercising self-control” toward ancient Babylon, an enemy of his people. (Isaiah 42:14) Similarly, for now, he chooses to tolerate those who misuse their free will to harm others. But God will not do so indefinitely.—Psalm 37:10, 11.

 

How Can You Know God Personally?

The Bible’s answer

You can get to know God personally by learning about him and taking steps to please him. God will then “draw close to you.” (James 4:8) The Bible assures us that “he is not far off from each one of us.”—Acts 17:27.

Steps to knowing God

Read the Bible

  • What the Bible says: “All Scripture is inspired of God.”—2 Timothy 3:16.

  • Meaning: God is the Author of the Bible. He put his thoughts into the minds of the Bible writers. By means of this unique book, God has revealed his will for us. He has also revealed facets of his personality, including his love, justice, and mercy.—Exodus 34:6; Deuteronomy 32:4.

  • What you can do: Read the Bible daily. (Joshua 1:8) Reflect on what you read, asking yourself: ‘What does this teach me about God as a Person?’—Psalm 77:12.

As an example, read Jeremiah 29:11, and then ask yourself: ‘What does God want for me—peace or calamity? Is he a vengeful God, or does he want me to have a good future?’

Observe creation

  • What the Bible says: “[God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made.”—Romans 1:20.

  • Meaning: God’s physical creations reveal aspects of his personality, just as a work of art can reveal much about the artist or a complex machine can say much about the inventor. To illustrate, the capacity and complexity of the human brain reveal God’s wisdom, and the controlled energy in the sun and other stars demonstrates his power.—Psalm 104:24; Isaiah 40:26.

  • What you can do: Take time to observe and learn about our natural world. As you do, ask yourself, ‘What do the amazing designs manifest in nature reveal about God?’ Of course, there are many things that nature cannot tell us about our Creator. That is why he gave us the Bible.

 

Use God’s name

  • What the Bible says: “I will protect him because he knows my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him.”—Psalm 91:14, 15.

  • Meaning: God, whose name is Jehovah, gives special attention to those who know his name and use it respectfully. * (Psalm 83:18; Malachi 3:16) By telling us his personal name, God has introduced himself to us. “I am Jehovah. That is my name,” he says.—Isaiah 42:8.

  • What you can do: Use Jehovah’s name when referring to him.

 

Talk to Jehovah in prayer

  • What the Bible says: “Jehovah is near to all those calling on him.”—Psalm 145:18.

  • Meaning: Jehovah draws close to those who pray to him in faith. Prayer is an aspect of worship that shows our deep respect for God.

  • What you can do: Pray to God often. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Tell him your concerns and how you feel.—Psalm 62:8*

 

Build faith in God

  • What the Bible says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God well.”—Hebrews 11:6.

  • Meaning: To draw close to God, we must have faith in him. In the Bible, having faith means more than simply believing that God exists. It also means having complete trust in him, including his promises and standards. Trust is crucial to a good relationship.

  • What you can do: Genuine faith is based on knowledge. (Romans 10:17) So study the Bible and prove to yourself that you can trust God and his advice. Jehovah’s Witnesses would be happy to study the Bible with you. *

 

Do what pleases God

  • What the Bible says: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.”—1 John 5:3.

  • Meaning: Jehovah is close to those who show their love for him by doing their best to obey his commandments.

  • What you can do: As you study the Bible, note what God likes and dislikes. Ask yourself, ‘What adjustments can I make in order to please my Creator?’—1 Thessalonians 4:1.

 

Is God to Blame for Our Suffering?

 

​The Bible’s answer

 

The Bible emphatically answers no! Suffering was not part of Jehovah God’s purpose for mankind. However, the first human couple rebelled against God’s rulership, choosing to set their own standards of good and bad. They turned away from God and suffered the consequences.

Today we are experiencing the effects of their bad choice. But in no way did God originate human suffering.

The Bible says: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13) Suffering can afflict anyone—even those who are favoured by God.

 

Is the Bible a Book of Human Wisdom?

The Bible’s answer

The Bible, also known as the Holy Scriptures, does contain many wise sayings. However, note the claim that the Bible makes for itself: “All Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) There is much evidence to back up that claim. Consider the following:

  • No one has ever successfully challenged the historical accuracy of the Bible.

  • The Bible writers were honest men who wrote with openness of heart. Their candour gives their writing the clear ring of truth.

  • The Bible has one central theme: the vindication of God’s right to rule mankind and the fulfilment of his purpose by means of his heavenly Kingdom.

  • Although written thousands of years ago, the Bible is free of mistaken scientific ideas that had gained wide acceptance in ancient times.

  • Documented historical evidence proves that Bible prophecies, or predictions, have come true.

 

Can Anyone Know Who Really Wrote the Bible?

 

The Bible’s answer

Many people are told that we can’t be sure who wrote the Bible. But the Bible is often clear about who penned its contents. Some parts begin with such phrases as “the words of Nehemiah,” “the vision of Isaiah,” and “the word of Jehovah that occurred to Joel.”—Nehemiah 1:1; Isaiah 1:1; Joel 1:1.

Most Bible writers acknowledged that they wrote in the name of Jehovah, the one true God, and that they were guided by him. Prophets who wrote the Hebrew Scriptures proclaimed more than 300 times: “This is what Jehovah has said.” (Amos 1:3; Micah 2:3; Nahum 1:12) Other writers received God’s message through angels.—Zechariah 1:7, 9.

The Bible was written by some 40 men over the course of 1,600 years. Some men were used to write more than one book of the Bible. In fact, the Bible is a miniature library of 66 books. It consists of the 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures, called by many the Old Testament, and the 27 books of the Christian Greek Scriptures, often called the New Testament.

 

Is the Bible a White Man’s Book?

The Bible’s answer

The Bible wasn’t written by Europeans. All of the men that God used to write the Bible were from Asia. The Bible doesn’t promote one race as being superior to another. In fact, it states: “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:34, 35.

 

Understanding the Bible—What Are the Keys?

 

The Bible’s answer

 

The Bible itself provides many of the keys to understanding it. Regardless of your background, God’s message in the Bible “is not too difficult for you, nor is it far away.”—Deuteronomy 30:11.

Keys to understanding the Bible

1.      Have the right attitude. Accept the Bible as God’s Word. Be humble, since God opposes the proud. (1 Thessalonians 2:13; James 4:6) However, avoid blind faith—God wants you to use your “power of reason.”—Romans 12:1, 2.

2.      Pray for wisdom. “Do not lean upon your own understanding,” the Bible says at Proverbs 3:5. Instead, “keep on asking God” for wisdom in understanding the Bible.—James 1:5.

3.      Be consistent. You will benefit much more from Bible study if you do it regularly rather than sporadically.—Joshua 1:8.

4.      Study by topic. A topical study, in which you analyse what the Bible says about a particular topic or subject, is an effective way to learn what the Scriptures teach. Start with “the beginning lessons,” as it were, and then “go forward to more mature (advanced) teaching.” (Hebrews 6:1, 2, Easy-to-Read Version) You’ll find that you can compare scripture with scripture and learn that various parts of the Bible explain each other, even the parts that are “hard to understand.”—2 Peter 3:16.

5.      Get help from others. The Bible encourages us to accept help from others who understand the Bible. (Acts 8:30, 31) Jehovah’s Witnesses offer a free Bible study program. Like the early Christians, they use Scriptural references to help others discern what the Bible really teaches.—Acts 17:2, 3.

Things you don’t need

1.      High intellect or education. Jesus’ 12 apostles understood the Scriptures and taught them to others, even though the apostles were considered by some to be “unlettered and ordinary.”—Acts 4:13.

2.      Money. You can learn what the Bible teaches without cost. Jesus told his disciples: “You received free, give free.”—Matthew 10:8.

 

Transformed into His Nature

Once, I found myself alone in a dark, quiet neighbourhood—standing next to a car that refused to run. I had been driving home after our weekly prayer meeting when the engine in my 1962 VW Bug simply stopped. I felt helpless, frustrated and sorry for myself. I called some of our GFA co-workers to come help me. As I waited for them to arrive, I began thinking about how Jesus would respond to a situation like mine. As I reflected on His attitude toward inconvenience and suffering, the Lord met me there on that dark street corner. He reminded me once again of the importance of Jesus' example—and of His life, not my own, lived through me.

Beyond Obedience

Many Christians make the mistake of thinking that obeying the Bible makes them spiritual. Mahatma Gandhi obeyed the Sermon on the Mount quite literally—yet he never became a follower of Christ. The Pharisees knew their Bible well, yet Jesus told them, "You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them. And these [very Scriptures] testify about Me!" (John 5:39, Amplified, emphasis added).

 

Under the Old Covenant, the people of Israel gave themselves to obey the letter of the Law. There were plenty of do's and don'ts to follow. But now, under the New Covenant, we are called to be partakers of His nature (2 Peter 1:4).

Do you see the difference?

If the Bible is for us only a book to obey, we go back to living under the Old Covenant. We become legalistic like the Pharisees as we seek our own righteousness. But God intends for His Word to touch and transform our lives as it reveals Jesus to us.

The Word of God tells us that Jesus' life was "the light of men" (John 1:4). A set of instructions or doctrines will never show us the way or give us power to live. Only Jesus can do that. His very life, His example, is what gives us understanding, discernment and clarity for living in the perfect will of God at all times and in all situations. He is not only our Saviour, but also the One who goes before us—our forerunner (Hebrews 6:20).

God Gave Us Jesus

The Apostle John reminds us that "anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did" (1 John 2:6, Living Bible). When we search for true humility, where can we find it? It is incarnated and embodied in Christ. If we talk about passion for others to know God, even to the extent of losing one's appetite, we witness it absolutely in Jesus. When we try to understand love, we see it personified in the Son of God.

From whom can we learn how to pray in faith or agonize and weep in prayer all night long? The answer is Jesus. What about obedience to the Word of God? We find it demonstrated in Christ. If we look for someone who lived His life as a model for a different world, we encounter it in Jesus, who said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

God in His mercy didn't leave us to figure out how to live by a book full of instructions. No, He gave us Jesus and asked us to follow in His footsteps.

Each time we read through the Gospels we see Jesus—who He is and what He does. We find no inconsistency in Him, no double standards and no difference between His public and private life. The words He speaks, the ministry He does, the prayers He prays, the decisions He makes and the lifestyle He lives are all a true reflection of who He is in His heart.

Becoming What We See

2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that as we look into the Word of God, we see the very nature of Jesus—and the Holy Spirit changes us into His likeness day by day, transforming us on the inside to become just like what we are seeing.

Practically, what does this mean? We must seek Jesus daily by reading God's Word and comparing our hearts with His. We must measure our humility, obedience, love and passion for others' redemption by what we see in Him.

True godliness is not just following some rules and regulations; rather, it is allowing the Lord Jesus to live through our earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7). It becomes "no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). And as we long to live as Jesus lived and learn to die daily to ourselves, we will watch in wonder as He makes us more and more like Him!


Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Founder & Director of GFA World

 

Are There Contradictions in the Bible?

 

The Bible’s answer

 

No, the entire Bible is harmonious. While some passages might seem to show the Bible contradicting itself, they can usually be understood correctly by applying one or more of the following principles:

1.      Consider the context. Any author can appear to contradict himself if his words are taken out of context.

2.      Consider the writer’s viewpoint. Eyewitnesses might describe an event accurately but not use the exact same wording or include the same details.

3.      Take into account historical facts and customs.

4.      Distinguish between the figurative and the literal uses of a word.

5.      Recognize that an action may be attributed to someone—even if he did not personally carry it out.

6.      Use an accurate Bible translation.

7.      Avoid trying to reconcile what the Bible says with mistaken religious ideas or dogma.

 

The following examples show how these principles can explain some seeming inconsistencies in the Bible.

Principle 1: Context

If God rested on the seventh day, how has he continued working? The context of the Genesis creation account shows that the statement that God “began to rest on the seventh day from all his work that he had been doing” refers specifically to his work of physical creation respecting the earth. (Genesis 2:​2-4) Jesus did not contradict this, however, when he said that God “has kept working until now,” because he was talking about other works of God. (John 5:​17) God’s works include the inspiration of the Bible and his guidance and care of mankind.​—Psalm 20:6; 105:5; 2 Peter 1:​21.

Principles 2 and 3: Viewpoint and history

Where did Jesus heal the blind man? The book of Luke says that Jesus healed a blind man as Jesus “was getting near to Jericho,” while the parallel account in Matthew mentions two blind men and says that the incident occurred when Jesus was “going out of Jericho.” (Luke 18:35-​43; Matthew 20:29-​34) These two accounts, written from different viewpoints, actually complement each other. Regarding the number of men, Matthew is more specific as to there being two, while Luke focuses on the one man to whom Jesus directed his remarks. As for the location, archaeologists have found that in Jesus’ time Jericho was a double city, with the old Jewish city situated about one and a half kilometres (1 mi) away from the newer Roman city. Jesus may have been between the two cities when he performed this miracle.

Principle 4: Figurative and literal terms

Will the earth be destroyed? At Ecclesiastes 1:4, the Bible says that “the earth remains forever,” which to some apparently conflicts with its statement that “the elements will be destroyed by heat​—with the earth.” (2 Peter 3:​10, Beck) In the Bible, however, the word “earth” is used both literally, referring to our planet, and figuratively, referring to the people who live on it. (Genesis 1:1; 11:1) The destruction of the “earth” described at 2 Peter 3:​10 refers, not to the burning up of our planet, but to the “destruction of the ungodly people.”​—2 Peter 3:7.

Principle 5: Attribution

In Capernaum, who brought the centurion’s request to Jesus? Matthew 8:​5, 6 says that the centurion (army officer) himself came to Jesus, while Luke 7:3 says that the centurion sent older men of the Jews to make his request. This apparent Bible contradiction can be understood in that the army officer initiated the request, but he sent the older men as his representatives.

Principle 6: Accurate translation

Do we all sin? The Bible teaches that we all inherit sin from the first man, Adam. (Romans 5:​12) Some translations seem to contradict this by saying that a good person “does no sin” or “sinneth not.” (1 John 3:6, The Bible in Basic English; King James Version) In the original language, though, the Greek verb for “sin” at 1 John 3:6 is in the present tense, which in that language normally indicates a continuous action. There is a difference between inherited sin, which we cannot avoid, and the deliberate, continuous practice of disobeying God’s laws. Thus, some translations clear up this seeming contradiction by accurately using phrases such as “does not practice sin” or “does not habitually sin.”​—New World Translation; Phillips.

Principle 7: The Bible, not dogma

Is Jesus equal to God or lesser than God? Jesus once said: “I and the Father are one,” which seems to contradict his statement that “the Father is greater than I am.” (John 10:30; 14:28) To understand those verses correctly, we must examine what the Bible really says about Jehovah and Jesus rather than try to harmonize the verses with the Trinity dogma, which is not based on the Bible. The Bible shows that Jehovah is not only Jesus’ Father but also Jesus’ God, the One whom even Jesus worships. (Matthew 4:​10; Mark 15:34; John 17:3; 20:17; 2 Corinthians 1:3) Jesus is not equal to God.

The context of Jesus’ statement “I and the Father are one” shows that he was talking about the oneness of purpose that he shared with his Father, Jehovah God. Jesus later said: “The Father is in union with me and I am in union with the Father.” (John 10:38) Jesus shared this unity of purpose with his followers as well, for he prayed to God about them: “I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one. I in union with them and you in union with me.”​—John 17:22, 23.

 

Who or What Is the Word of God?

The Bible’s answer

The expression “the word of God” usually refers to a divine message or to a collection of those messages. (Luke 11:28) In a few places, “The Word of God” or “the Word” is used as a personal title.​—Revelation 19:13; John 1:​14.

A divine message. The prophets often stated that the messages they delivered were God’s word. For example, Jeremiah introduced his prophetic messages with the expression “the word of Jehovah came to me.” (Jeremiah 1:​4, 11, 13; 2:1) Before telling Saul that God had chosen him as king, the prophet Samuel said: “Stand still now, so that I may let you hear the word of God.”​—1 Samuel 9:​27.

A personal title. “The Word” also appears in the Bible as a title for Jesus Christ, both as a spirit in heaven and as a human on earth. Consider some reasons for this conclusion:

●         The Word lived before all other creation. “In the beginning was the Word . . . This one was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:​1, 2) Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation . . . He is before all other things.”​—Colossians 1:​13-​15, 17.

●         The Word came to earth as a human. “The Word became flesh and resided among us.” (John 1:​14) Christ Jesus “emptied himself and took a slave’s form and became human.”​—Philippians 2:​5-7.

●         The Word is God’s Son. After stating that “the Word became flesh,” as quoted above, the apostle John continued: “We had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father.” (John 1:​14) John also wrote: “Jesus is God’s Son.”​—1 John 4:​15.

●        The Word possesses godlike attributes. “The Word was a god,” or “was divine.” (John 1:1; An American Translation) Jesus is “the reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of his very being.”​—Hebrews 1:​2, 3.

●        The Word rules as a king. The Bible states that on the head of the Word of God are “many royal headbands.” (Revelation 19:12, 13; footnote) The Word is also named “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:16) Jesus is called “the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords.”​—1 Timothy 6:​14, 15.

●        The Word serves as God’s spokesman. The title “the Word” apparently identifies its bearer as one whom God uses to convey information and instructions. Jesus said that he performed this role: “The Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. . . . So whatever I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”​—John 12:49, 50.

 

What Does “an Eye for an Eye” Mean?

The Bible’s answer

The rule of “an eye for an eye” was part of God’s Law given by Moses to ancient Israel and was quoted by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:​38, King James Version; Exodus 21:24, 25; Deuteronomy 19:21) It meant that when dealing out justice to wrongdoers, the punishment should fit the crime.

 

The rule applied to deliberate injurious acts against another person. Regarding a willful offender, the Mosaic Law stated: “Fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, the same sort of injury he inflicted should be inflicted on him.”​—Leviticus 24:20.

 

  -        What was the purpose of the “eye for an eye” rule?

  -        Does the “eye for an eye” rule apply to Christians?

  -        Misconceptions about the “eye for an eye” rule

  -        Jesus corrects a wrong idea

 

What was the purpose of the “eye for an eye” rule?

 

The “eye for an eye” rule did not authorize or sanction vigilante justice. Rather, it helped appointed judges to impose punishments that were appropriate, being neither too harsh nor too lenient

.

The rule also served as a deterrent to any who would intentionally harm others or scheme to do so. “Those who remain [those who observed God’s justice being carried out] will hear and be afraid,” explained the Law, “and they will never again do anything bad like this among you.”​—Deuteronomy 19:20.

Does the “eye for an eye” rule apply to Christians?

No, this rule is not binding on Christians. It was part of the Mosaic Law, which Jesus’ sacrificial death abolished.​—Romans 10:4.

Even so, the rule provides insight into God’s way of thinking. For example, it shows that God values justice. (Psalm 89:14) It also reveals his standard of justice​—namely, that wrongdoers should be disciplined “to the proper degree.”​—Jeremiah 30:11.

 

Misconceptions about the “eye for an eye” rule

Misconception: The “eye for an eye” rule was excessively harsh.

Fact: The rule did not authorize a heavy-handed, cruel application of justice. Rather, when properly applied, it meant that qualified judges would impose retribution for an offense only after first considering the circumstances involved and the extent to which the offense was deliberate. (Exodus 21:28-​30; Numbers 35:22-​25) The “eye for an eye” rule thus acted as a restraint against extremes in punishment.

Misconception: The “eye for an eye” rule authorized an endless cycle of personal vengeance.

Fact: The Mosaic Law itself stated: “You must not take vengeance nor hold a grudge against the sons of your people.” (Leviticus 19:18) Rather than promoting personal vengeance, the Law encouraged people to trust in God and in the legal system that he had authorized to right any wrongs.​—Deuteronomy 32:35.

Jesus corrects a wrong idea

Jesus knew that some had misinterpreted the rule of “an eye for an eye.” He corrected them when he said: “You heard that it was said: ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ However, I say to you: Do not resist the one who is wicked, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also to him.”​—Matthew 5:​38, 39.

Note Jesus’ expression “you heard that it was said.” He was apparently referring to some Jewish religious leaders who taught retaliation. Bible scholar Adam Clarke noted: “It seems that the Jews had made this law [an eye for an eye] . . . a ground for authorizing private resentments, and all the excesses committed by a vindictive spirit.” By encouraging vindictiveness, those religious leaders distorted the intent of God’s Law.​—Mark 7:​13.

In contrast, Jesus emphasized that love is the dominant spirit of God’s Law. He said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God . . .’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs.” (Matthew 22:37-​40) Jesus taught that love, not vindictiveness, would identify his true followers.​—John 13:34, 35.

 

What Are the Ten Commandments of God?

The Bible’s answer

The Ten Commandments are laws that God gave to the ancient nation of Israel. These laws are also known as the Ten Words, which is a literal translation of the Hebrew expression ʽaseʹreth had·deva·rimʹ. This expression occurs three times in the Pentateuch (Torah), the first five books of the Bible. (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 4:​13; 10:4) The equivalent expression in Greek, deʹka (ten) loʹgous (words), gave rise to the term “Decalogue.”

God inscribed the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets and gave them to his prophet Moses on Mount Sinai. (Exodus 24:12-​18) The Ten Commandments are listed at Exodus 20:​1-​17 and Deuteronomy 5:​6-​21.

  •  List of the Ten Commandments

  •  Why do lists of the Ten Commandments differ?

  •  What was the purpose of the Ten Commandments?

  •  Must Christians keep the Ten Commandments?

  •  Are the Ten Commandments relevant today?

  •  Principles from the Ten Commandments reflected in the New Testament

 

List of the Ten Commandments

  1. Worship only Jehovah God.​—Exodus 20:3.

  2. Do not practice idolatry.​—Exodus 20:​4-6.

  3. Do not take up God’s name in a worthless way.​—Exodus 20:7.

  4. Keep the Sabbath.​—Exodus 20:​8-​11.

  5. Honour your parents.​—Exodus 20:12.

  6. Do not murder.​—Exodus 20:13.

  7. Do not commit adultery.​—Exodus 20:14.

  8. Do not steal.​—Exodus 20:15.

  9. Do not testify falsely.​—Exodus 20:16.

  10. Do not covet.​—Exodus 20:17.

 

Why do lists of the Ten Commandments differ?

 

The Bible does not assign a number to each commandment. Consequently, opinions differ on how the commandments should be arranged. The list above is a common arrangement of these laws. However, some list the Ten Commandments differently. The differences in grouping involve the first, second, and last commandments.

What was the purpose of the Ten Commandments?

The Ten Commandments were part of the Mosaic Law. That Law code included over 600 commandments and formed the terms of an agreement, or covenant, between God and the ancient nation of Israel. (Exodus 34:27) God promised the people of Israel that they would prosper if they obeyed the Mosaic Law. (Deuteronomy 28:​1-​14) However, the main purpose of the Law was to prepare the Israelites for the promised Messiah, or Christ.​—Galatians 3:​24.

Must Christians keep the Ten Commandments?

No. God gave his Law, including the Ten Commandments, specifically to the ancient nation of Israel. (Deuteronomy 5:​2, 3; Psalm 147:19, 20) The Mosaic Law is not binding on Christians, and even Jewish Christians were “released from the Law.” (Romans 7:6* The Mosaic Law was replaced by “the law of the Christ,” which includes all that Jesus instructed his followers to do.​—Galatians 6:2; Matthew 28:19, 20.

Are the Ten Commandments relevant today?

Yes. Because the Ten Commandments reveal God’s thinking, we can benefit from studying them. (2 Timothy 3:​16, 17) The Ten Commandments are based on reliable principles that will never go out-of-date. (Psalm 111:​7, 8) In fact, many of these principles underlie the teachings of what is commonly called the New Testament.​—See “ Principles from the Ten Commandments reflected in the New Testament.”

Jesus taught that the entire Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments, rested on two fundamental commandments. He said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs.” (Matthew 22:34-​40) So although Christians are not expected to observe the Mosaic Law, they are commanded to love God and their fellow humans.​—John 13:34; 1 John 4:​20, 21.

Principles from the Ten Commandments reflected in the New Testament

Principle                             New Testament Reference

Worship only Jehovah God Revelation 22:​8, 9

Do not practice idolatry       1 Corinthians 10:14

Honour God’s name            Matthew 6:9

Worship God regularly        Hebrews 10:24, 25

Honour your parents           Ephesians 6:​1, 2

Do not murder                     1 John 3:​15

Do not commit adultery       Hebrews 13:4

Do not steal                         Ephesians 4:​28

Do not testify falsely            Ephesians 4:​25

Do not covet                        Luke 12:15

 

What Is Prophecy?

The Bible’s answer

A prophecy is a message inspired by God, a divine revelation. The Bible says that prophets “spoke from God as they were moved by Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:​20, 21) So a prophet is one who receives God’s message and transmits it to others.​—Acts 3:​18.

How did prophets receive information from God?

God used several methods to transmit his thoughts to his prophets:

 

●         Writing. God used this method in at least one case by directly supplying to Moses the Ten Commandments in written form.​—Exodus 31:18.

 

●         Oral communication through angels. For example, God used an angel to instruct Moses about the message he was to deliver to Pharaoh of Egypt. (Exodus 3:​2-4, 10) When precise wording was crucial, God directed angels to dictate his message, as he did when he told Moses: “Write down these words, because in accordance with these words, I am making a covenant with you and with Israel.”​—Exodus 34:27.

●         Visions. These were sometimes given while the prophet was awake and fully conscious. (Isaiah 1:1; Habakkuk 1:1) Some were so vivid that the recipient participated in them. (Luke 9:​28-​36; Revelation 1:​10-​17) At other times, visions were conveyed while the recipient was in a trance. (Acts 10:10, 11; 22:17-​21) God also transmitted his message by dreams while the prophet slept.​—Daniel 7:1; Acts 16:​9, 10.

●         Mental guidance. God guided the thoughts of his prophets to convey his message. This is the sense of the Bible’s statement: “All Scripture is inspired of God.” The phrase “inspired of God” can also be rendered “God-breathed.” (2 Timothy 3:​16; The Emphasised Bible) God used his holy spirit, or active force, to “breathe” his ideas into the minds of his servants. The message was God’s, but the prophet selected the wording.​—2 Samuel 23:​1, 2.

Does prophecy always involve foretelling the future?

No, Bible prophecy is not limited to foretelling the future. However, most messages from God relate to the future, even if only indirectly. For example, God’s prophets repeatedly warned the ancient Israelites about their evil ways. Those warnings described the future blessings if the people would heed the warning, as well as the future calamity if they refused. (Jeremiah 25:​4-6) The actual outcome depended on the course that the Israelites chose to follow.​—Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.

Examples of Bible prophecies not involving predictions

●         On one occasion when the Israelites asked God for help, he sent a prophet to explain that because they had refused to obey God’s commands, He had not helped them.​—Judges 6:​6-​10.

●         When Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman, he revealed things about her past that he could have known only by divine revelation. She recognized him as a prophet even though he had made no predictions about the future.​—John 4:​17-​19.

●         At Jesus’ trial, his enemies covered his face, hit him, and then said: “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” They were not calling for Jesus to foretell the future but for him to identify by divine power who had hit him.​—Luke 22:63, 64.

 

Do Messianic Prophecies Prove That Jesus Was the Messiah?

The Bible’s answer

Yes. While on earth, Jesus fulfilled numerous prophecies about “Messiah the Leader,” the one who would be the “Saviour of the world.” (Daniel 9:​25; 1 John 4:​14) And even after his death, Jesus continued to fulfill Messianic prophecies.​—Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:​34-​36.

 

What is the meaning of “Messiah”?

 

 

The Hebrew term Ma·shiʹach (Messiah) and the equivalent Greek word Khri·stos (Christ) both mean “Anointed One.” Therefore, “Jesus Christ” means “Jesus the Anointed One,” or “Jesus the Messiah.”

In Bible times, a person was often anointed by having oil poured on his head when he was appointed to a special position of authority. (Leviticus 8:​12; 1 Samuel 16:13) Jesus was appointed by God to be the Messiah​—a position of great authority. (Acts 2:​36) However, rather than anointing Jesus with oil, God anointed him with holy spirit.​—Matthew 3:​16.

Could more than one person fulfill the Messianic prophecies?

 

No. Just as a fingerprint identifies just one person, the fulfillment of Bible prophecies points to just one Messiah, or Christ. However, the Bible warns that “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones.”​—Matthew 24:24.

Could the Messiah appear in the future?

No. The Bible foretold that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David of Israel. (Psalm 89:​3, 4) However, the Jewish ancestral records going back to David have been lost, apparently having been destroyed when the Romans conquered Jerusalem in 70 C.E. Since that time, it has not been possible for anyone to prove that he is of the royal family of David. In contrast, though those ancestral records did exist in Jesus’ time, not even his enemies successfully challenged his claim of being a descendant of David.​—Matthew 22:41-​46.

How many Messianic prophecies are there in the Bible?

It is not possible to specify a definitive number of Messianic prophecies. For example, the method of numbering prophecies can vary even for passages that are clearly Messianic. The passage at Isaiah 53:​2-7 mentions several prophetic features regarding the Messiah. Some might count this entire passage as one prophecy, while others might view each feature as a separate prophecy.

Some Messianic prophecies fulfilled by Jesus

Prophecy                                                 Found at                         Fulfillment

Offspring of Abraham                               Genesis 22:17, 18           Matthew 1:1

Descendant of Abraham’s son Isaac       Genesis 17:19                  Matthew 1:2

Born of the Israelite tribe of Judah           Genesis 49:10                 Matthew 1:​1, 3

From the royal line of King David             Isaiah 9:7                         Matthew 1:1

Born of a virgin                                         Isaiah 7:​14                       Matthew 1:​18, 22, 23

Born in Bethlehem                                   Micah 5:2                         Matthew 2:​1, 5, 6

Called by the name Immanuel                Isaiah 7:​14                        Matthew 1:​21-​23

Humble beginning                                   Isaiah 53:2                        Luke 2:7

Young children killed after his birth         Jeremiah 31:15                 Matthew 2:​16-​18

Called out of Egypt                                  Hosea 11:1                       Matthew 2:​13-​15

Called a Nazarene                                  Isaiah 11:1                        Matthew 2:​23

Preceded by a messenger                      Malachi 3:1                       Matthew 11:​7-​10

Anointed as Messiah in 29 C.E.              Daniel 9:​25                       Matthew 3:​13-​17

Acknowledged by God as His Son          Psalm 2:7                         Acts 13:33, 34

Zealous for God’s house                         Psalm 69:9                       John 2:​13-​17

Proclaimer of good news                        Isaiah 61:1                        Luke 4:​16-​21

Public ministry in Galilee a great light     Isaiah 9:​1, 2                      Matthew 4:​13-​16

A miracle worker like Moses                   Deuteronomy 18:15          Acts 2:​22

Like Moses, he spoke God’s thoughts    Deuteronomy 18:18, 19   John 12:49

Cured sicknesses of many                      Isaiah 53:4                       Matthew 8:​16, 17

Did not draw attention to himself             Isaiah 42:2                       Matthew 12:17, 19

Showed compassion for the afflicted      Isaiah 42:3                       Matthew 12:​9-​20; Mark 6:​34

Revealed God’s justice                           Isaiah 42:​1, 4                   Matthew 12:17-​20

A Wonderful Counsellor                          Isaiah 9:​6, 7                    John 6:​68

Declared Jehovah’s name                      Psalm 22:22                    John 17:6

Spoke in illustrations                              Psalm 78:2                       Matthew 13:34, 35

A Leader                                                Daniel 9:​25                       Matthew 23:10

Many did not believe in him                   Isaiah 53:1                       John 12:37, 38

Stone of stumbling                                 Isaiah 8:​14, 15                 Matthew 21:42-​44

Rejected by humans                              Psalm 118:22, 23             Acts 4:​10, 11

Hated without cause                              Psalm 69:4                       John 15:24, 25

Triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey    Zechariah 9:9        Matthew 21:​4-9

Praised by children                                Psalm 8:2                         Matthew 21:15, 16

Came in Jehovah’s name                      Psalm 118:26                   John 12:12, 13

Betrayed by a trusted associate            Psalm 41:9                      John 13:18

Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver             Zechariah 11:12, 13         Matthew 26:14-​16; 27:​3-​10

Friends abandoned him                        Zechariah 13:7                 Matthew 26:31, 56

False witnesses testified against him    Psalm 35:11                     Matthew 26:59-​61

Silent before accusers                           Isaiah 53:7                      Matthew 27:12-​14

Spat upon                                              Isaiah 50:6                      Matthew 26:67; 27:27, 30

Struck on the head                                Micah 5:1                        Mark 15:19

Flogged                                                 Isaiah 50:6                      John 19:1

Did not resist those who struck him      Isaiah 50:6                      John 18:22, 23

Government leaders conspired against him   Psalm 2:2              Luke 23:10-​12

Nailed to a stake through his hands and feet Psalm 22:16          Matthew 27:35; John 20:25

People cast lots (gambled) for his clothing     Psalm 22:18         John 19:23, 24

Counted in with sinners                        Isaiah 53:12                    Matthew 27:38

Reviled, insulted                                   Psalm 22:​7, 8                  Matthew 27:39-​43

Suffered for sinners                              Isaiah 53:​5, 6                  1 Peter 2:​23-​25

Seemed forsaken by God                    Psalm 22:1                      Mark 15:34

Given vinegar and gall to drink            Psalm 69:21                    Matthew 27:34

Thirsty just before death                      Psalm 22:15                   John 19:28, 29

Entrusted spirit to God                         Psalm 31:5                     Luke 23:46

Gave up his life                                    Isaiah 53:12                   Mark 15:37

Provided the ransom to remove sin     Isaiah 53:12                   Matthew 20:28

Bones not broken                                Psalm 34:20                  John 19:31-​33, 36

Pierced                                                Zechariah 12:10            John 19:33-​35, 37

Buried with the rich                              Isaiah 53:9                    Matthew 27:57-​60

Raised from the dead                          Psalm 16:10                  Acts 2:​29-​31

Betrayer replaced                                Psalm 109:8                  Acts 1:​15-​20

Seated at God’s right hand                  Psalm 110:1                  Acts 2:​34-​36

 

What Do Numbers Mean in the Bible? Is Numerology Biblical?

The Bible’s answer

Numbers in the Bible can often be taken literally, but they are sometimes used as symbols. The context usually indicates whether a particular number is used as a symbol. Consider these examples of the symbolic meaning of numbers in the Bible

:

●         1 Unity. For instance, Jesus prayed to God that his followers “may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you.”​—John 17:21; Matthew 19:6.

●         2 In a legal setting, two witnesses verify the truth of a matter. (Deuteronomy 17:6) Similarly, the repetition of a vision or a statement confirms the matter as sure and true. For example, when Joseph interpreted a dream given to Pharaoh of Egypt, he said: “The fact that the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice means that the thing is firmly established on the part of the true God.” (Genesis 41:32) In prophecy, “two horns” can represent dual rulership, as the prophet Daniel was told regarding the Medo-Persian Empire.​—Daniel 8:​20, 21; Revelation 13:11.

●         3 Just as three witnesses would firmly prove a matter to be true, a threefold repetition seems to establish it firmly or emphasize it.​—Ezekiel 21:27; Acts 10:​9-​16; Revelation 4:8; 8:​13.

●         4 This can represent completeness in form or function, as in the expression “the four corners of the earth.”​—Revelation 7:1; 21:16; Isaiah 11:12.

●         6 Being one less than seven, which often represents completeness, six can stand for something incomplete or imperfect or something associated with God’s enemies.​—1 Chronicles 20:6; Daniel 3:1; Revelation 13:18.

●         7 This number is often used to represent the idea of completeness. For instance, the Israelites were commanded by God to march around Jericho on seven successive days and to march around seven times on the seventh day. (Joshua 6:​15) The Bible contains many similar examples of such a use of the number seven. (Leviticus 4:6; 25:8; 26:18; Psalm 119:164; Revelation 1:​20; 13:1; 17:10) When Jesus told Peter that he should forgive his brother “not, Up to seven times, but, Up to seventy-seven times,” the repetition of “seven” conveyed the thought of “without limit.”​—Matthew 18:21, 22.

●         10 This number can stand for the entirety or aggregate of something.​—Exodus 34:28; Luke 19:13; Revelation 2:​10.

●         12 This number seems to represent a complete, divine arrangement. For example, the vision of heaven given to the apostle John included a city with “twelve foundation stones, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles.” (Revelation 21:14; Genesis 49:28) Multiples of 12 can have a similar meaning.​—Revelation 4:4; 7:​4-8.

●        40 Several judgment or punishment periods were linked with the number 40.​—Genesis 7:4; Ezekiel 29:11, 12.

 

Numerology and gematria

These symbolic meanings of numbers in the Bible are different from numerology, which involves looking for an occult meaning in numbers, their combinations, and numerical totals. For example, Jewish Cabalists have analysed the Hebrew Scriptures using a technique called gematria, which looks for a hidden code in the numerical equivalents of letters. Numerology is a form of divination, which God condemns.​—Deuteronomy 18:10-​12.

 

The Book of Revelation​—What Does it Mean?

The Bible’s answer

The Greek name of the Bible book of Revelation, A·po·kaʹly·psis (apocalypse), means “Uncovering” or “Disclosure.” This name indicates the meaning of Revelation​—it uncovers matters that had been hidden and discloses events that would happen long after it was written. Many of its prophecies are yet to be fulfilled.

Overview of the book of Revelation

●         Introduction.​—Revelation 1:​1-9.

●         Messages from Jesus to the seven congregations.​—Revelation 1:10–​3:​22.

●         A vision of God on his throne in heaven.​—Revelation 4:1-​11.

●         A series of visions, each one leading into the next:

-    Seven seals.​—Revelation 5:1–​8:6.

-    Seven trumpets, the last three of which introduce three woes.​—Revelation 8:7–​14:20.

-    Seven bowls, each containing a plague representing a divine judgment to be poured out on the earth.​ Revelation 15:1–​16:21.

-    Visions of the destruction of God’s enemies.​—Revelation 17:1–​20:10.

-    Visions of blessings from God for heaven and earth.​—Revelation 20:11–​22:5.

●         Conclusion.​—Revelation 22:​6-​21.

 

Keys to understanding the book of Revelation

1.      Its meaning is positive, not fearful or terrifying to those who serve God. While many associate the word “apocalypse” with great disaster, the book of Revelation begins and ends by saying that those who read, understand, and apply its message would be happy for doing so.​—Revelation 1:3; 22:7.

 

2.      Revelation uses many “signs,” or symbols, that are not to be understood literally.​—Revelation 1:1.

 

3.      Many major entities and symbols in the book of Revelation are introduced earlier in the Bible:

-    Jehovah​—“the true God in the heavens” and Creator of all things.​—Deuteronomy 4:​39; Psalm 103:19; Revelation 4:​11; 15:3.

-    Jesus Christ​—“the Lamb of God.”​—John 1:​29; Revelation 5:6; 14:1.

-    Satan the Devil​—God’s adversary.​—Genesis 3:​14, 15; John 8:​44; Revelation 12:9.

-    Babylon the Great​—like ancient Babylon (Babel), an enemy of Jehovah God and his people and a source of religious lies.​—Genesis 11:​2-9; Isaiah 13:​1, 11; Revelation 17:​4-6; 18:​4, 20.

-    “The sea”​—wicked mankind opposed to God.​—Isaiah 57:20; Revelation 13:1; 21:1.

-    Features corresponding to the ancient tabernacle used for God’s worship​—including the ark of the covenant, the glassy sea (basin for washing), lamps, offerings of incense, and an altar of sacrifice.​—Exodus 25:10, 17, 18; 40:24-32; Revelation 4:​5, 6; 5:8; 8:3; 11:19.

-    Wild beasts​—symbolizing human governments.​—Daniel 7:​1-8, 17-​26; Revelation 13:​2, 11; 17:3.

-    Numbers used symbolically.​—Revelation 1:​20; 8:​13; 13:18; 21:16.

 

4.      The visions apply to “the Lord’s day,” when Jesus begins ruling as King. (Revelation 1:​10) We can expect the main fulfillment of Revelation to be in our time.

 

5.      To understand the book of Revelation, we need the same things that help us to understand the rest of the Bible, including wisdom from God and assistance from those who already understand it.​—Acts 8:​26-​39; James 1:5.

 

Who or What Is “the Alpha and the Omega”?

The Bible’s answer

“The Alpha and the Omega” refers to Jehovah God, the Almighty. This term occurs three times in the Bible.​—Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13.

 

Why does God call himself “the Alpha and the Omega”?

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the alphabet in Greek, the language used to write the part of the Bible commonly called the New Testament, which includes the book of Revelation. The respective positions of these letters in the Greek alphabet are used to illustrate that Jehovah alone is the beginning and the end. (Revelation 21:6) He was Almighty God in the infinite past, and he will continue to be Almighty God forever. He is the only one who is “from everlasting to everlasting.”​—Psalm 90:2.

Who is “the first and the last”?

The Bible applies this term both to Jehovah God and to his Son, Jesus, but with different meanings. Consider two examples.

●         At Isaiah 44:6, Jehovah says: “I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but me.” Here Jehovah highlights that he is the everlasting true God; besides him, there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:​35, 39) In this case, then, the expression “the first and the last” has the same meaning as “the Alpha and the Omega.”

●         Additionally, the term “the First [pro’tos, not alpha] and the Last [e’skha·tos, not omega]” occurs at Revelation 1:​17, 18 and 2:8. In these verses, the context shows that the one referred to died and later returned to life. Thus, these verses cannot refer to God because he has never died. (Habakkuk 1:​12) However, Jesus died and was resurrected. (Acts 3:​13-​15) He was the first human to be resurrected to immortal spirit life in heaven, where he now lives “forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:​18; Colossians 1:​18) Jesus is the one who performs all resurrections thereafter. (John 6:​40, 44) Therefore, he was the last one to be resurrected directly by Jehovah. (Acts 10:40) In this sense, Jesus can properly be called “the First and the Last.”

Does Revelation 22:13 prove that Jesus is “the Alpha and the Omega”?

No. The speaker at Revelation 22:13 is not specifically identified, and there are various speakers in this chapter. Commenting on this section of Revelation, Professor William Barclay wrote: “Things are set down without any apparent order; . . . and it is often very difficult to be sure who is the actual speaker.” (The Revelation of John, Volume 2, Revised Edition, page 223) Thus, “the Alpha and the Omega” at Revelation 22:13 can be identified as the same Person given this title elsewhere in Revelation​—Jehovah God.

 

What Is New Jerusalem?

The Bible’s answer

“New Jerusalem,” an expression that appears twice in the Bible, is a symbolic city that represents the group of Jesus’ followers who go to heaven to rule with him in God’s Kingdom. (Revelation 3:​12; 21:2) The Bible shows that this group can also be called the bride of Christ.

Keys to identifying New Jerusalem

1.      New Jerusalem is in heaven. Each time the Bible mentions New Jerusalem, it is said to come down from heaven, where angels guard the city’s gates. (Revelation 3:​12; 21:​2, 10, 12) Also, the city’s great size proves that it could not be on earth. It is a cube measuring “12,000 stadia,” or “furlongs,” around.  (Revelation 21:16; King James Version) Its sides would thus be almost 560 kilometres (350 mi) high, extending into space.

2.      New Jerusalem is made up of a group of Jesus’ followers, the bride of Christ. New Jerusalem is called “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” (Revelation 21:​9, 10) In this symbolic description, the Lamb refers to Jesus Christ. (John 1:​29; Revelation 5:​12) “The Lamb’s wife,” Christ’s bride, represents Christians who will be united with Jesus in heaven. The Bible likens the relationship between Jesus and these Christians to that of a husband and wife. (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:​23-​25) In addition, the foundation stones of New Jerusalem are inscribed with “the 12 names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14) This detail helps to confirm the identity of New Jerusalem, since Christians who are called to life in heaven are “built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.”​—Ephesians 2:​20.

3.      New Jerusalem is part of a government. Ancient Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, the place where King David, his son Solomon, and their descendants ruled “on Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chronicles 29:23) Jerusalem, called “the holy city,” thus represented God’s rulership in the family line of David. (Nehemiah 11:1) New Jerusalem, also called “the holy city,” is made up of those who join Jesus in heaven “to rule as kings over the earth.”​—Revelation 5:​9, 10; 21:2.

4.      New Jerusalem brings blessings to people on earth. New Jerusalem is depicted as “coming down out of heaven from God,” showing that God uses it to affect matters outside of heaven. (Revelation 21:2) This expression links New Jerusalem with God’s Kingdom, which God uses to accomplish his will “as in heaven, also on earth.” (Matthew 6:​10) God’s purpose for people on earth includes these blessings:

       o    Removal of sin. “A river of water of life” flows from New Jerusalem and supports “trees of life” that are “for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:​1, 2) This physical and spiritual healing will remove sin and enable people to gain perfect life, as God originally intended.​—Romans 8:​21.

       o    Good relations between God and humankind. Sin has alienated humans from God. (Isaiah 59:2) The removal of sin will allow for the complete fulfillment of this prophecy: “The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them.”​—Revelation 21:3.

       o    The end of suffering and death. By means of his Kingdom, God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”​

 

What Does 666 Mean?

The Bible’s answer

According to the last book in the Bible, 666 is the number, or name, of the wild beast with seven heads and ten horns that comes out of the sea. (Revelation 13:​1, 17, 18) This beast is a symbol of the worldwide political system, which rules over “every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” (Revelation 13:7) The name 666 identifies the political system as a gross failure in God’s sight. How?

More than a label. Names given by God have meaning. For example, God gave the man Abram, which means “Father Is High (Exalted),” the name Abraham, which means “Father of a Crowd (Multitude),” when God promised that He would make Abraham “a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5, footnotes) Likewise, God named the beast 666 as a symbol of its defining attributes.

The number six implies imperfection. Often, numbers are used as symbols in the Bible. Seven typically represents completeness or perfection. Six, being one short of seven, can denote something incomplete or flawed in God’s eyes, and it can be associated with God’s enemies.​—1 Chronicles 20:6; Daniel 3:1.

Three times for emphasis. The Bible sometimes stresses a matter by stating it three times. (Revelation 4:8; 8:​13) So the name 666 powerfully emphasizes that God views human political systems as gross failures. They have been unable to bring lasting peace and security​—things that only God’s Kingdom will achieve.

The mark of the beast

The Bible says that people receive “the mark of the wild beast” because they follow it “with admiration,” to the point of worshipping it. (Revelation 13:​3, 4; 16:2) They do this by giving worshipful honour to their country, its symbols, or its military might. As The Encyclopedia of Religion states: “Nationalism has become a dominant form of religion in the modern world.” 

How is the mark of the beast placed on someone’s right hand or forehead? (Revelation 13:16) Regarding his commands to the nation of Israel, God said: “Bind them as a reminder on your hand, and they should be like a headband on your forehead.” (Deuteronomy 11:18) This meant, not that the Israelites were to mark their literal hands and foreheads, but that God’s words would guide all their actions and thoughts. Likewise, rather than being something literal such as a 666 tattoo, the mark of the beast symbolically identifies those who let the political system rule their lives. Those with the mark of the beast place themselves in opposition to God.​—Revelation 14:​9, 10; 19:19-​21.

 

What Is the Sign of “the Last Days,” or “End Times”?

The Bible’s answer

The Bible describes events and conditions that would mark “the conclusion of the [current] system of things,” or “the end of the world.” (Matthew 24:3; King James Version) The Bible calls this time period “the last days” and the “time of the end,” or “end times.” (2 Timothy 3:1; Daniel 8:​19; Easy-to-Read Version) The following are some outstanding features of last-days, or end-times, prophecies:

  • War on a large scale.​—Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:4.

  • ​—Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:​5, 6.

  • Great earthquakes.​—Luke 21:11.

  • Pestilences, or epidemics of “terrible diseases.”​—Luke 21:11, Contemporary English Version.

  • Increase of crime.​—Matthew 24:12.

  • Ruining of the earth by mankind.​—Revelation 11:18.

  • Deterioration of people’s attitudes, as shown by many who are “unthankful, disloyal, . . . not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride.”​—2 Timothy 3:​1-4.

  • Breakdown of the family, with people who have “no natural affection” and children who are “disobedient to parents.”​—2 Timothy 3:​2, 3.

  • Love of God growing cold in most people.​—Matthew 24:12.

  • Noteworthy displays of religious hypocrisy.​—2 Timothy 3:5.

  • Increased understanding of Bible prophecies, including those related to the last days.​—Daniel 12:4.

  • Global preaching of the good news of the Kingdom.​—Matthew 24:14.

  • Widespread apathy and even ridicule toward the evidence of the approaching end.​—Matthew 24:37-​39; 2 Peter 3:​3, 4.

  • The simultaneous fulfillment of all these prophecies, not just a few or even most of them.​—Matthew 24:33.

 

Are we living in “the last days”?

 

Yes. World conditions as well as Bible chronology indicate that the last days have began.  God’s Kingdom will begin ruling in heaven, and one of its first actions will be to expel Satan the Devil and the demons from heaven and restrict their activity to the earth. (Revelation 12:​7-​12) Satan’s influence on mankind can be seen in many of the bad attitudes and actions that make the last days “critical times hard to deal with.”​—2 Timothy 3:1.

 

When Will the World End?

The Bible’s answer

To know when the end of the world will happen, it is necessary to understand how the Bible uses the term “world.” The Greek word koʹsmos, usually translated “world,” most often refers to the world of humankind, especially the part that is out of harmony with God and his will. (John 15:18, 19; 2 Peter 2:5) At times, koʹsmos refers to the framework of human society.​—1 Corinthians 7:​31; 1 John 2:​15, 16.

What is “the end of the world”?

The phrase “the end of the world,” which appears in many Bible translations, can also be rendered as “the conclusion of the system of things,” or “the close of the age.” (Matthew 24:3; English Standard Version) It refers, not to the destruction of the earth or of all humanity, but to the end of the framework of human society.​—1 John 2:​17.

The Bible teaches that “evil men will be done away with” so that good people can enjoy life on earth. (Psalm 37:​9-​11) This destruction will happen at the “great tribulation,” which culminates in the war of Armageddon.​—Matthew 24:21, 22; Revelation 16:14, 16.

When will the world end?

Jesus said: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36, 42) He added that the timing of the end would be unexpected, “at an hour that you do not think to be it.”​—Matthew 24:44.

Even though we cannot know the exact day and hour, Jesus did provide a composite “sign,” or group of events, that would identify the time period leading up to the end of the world. (Matthew 24:​3, 7-​14) The Bible refers to this period as “the time of the end,” “the end times,” and “the last days.”​—Daniel 12:4; God’s Word Bible; 2 Timothy 3:​1-5.

Will there be anything left after the end of the world?

Yes. The earth will still be here, for the Bible says that “it will not be moved from its place forever and ever.” (Psalm 104:5) And the earth will be filled with people, just as the Bible promises: “The righteous will possess the earth, and they will live forever on it.” (Psalm 37:29) God will bring about the conditions that he originally purposed:

   ● Freedom from disease and aging.​—Job 33:25; Isaiah 33:24.

 
 

What Will God’s Kingdom Accomplish?

The Bible’s answer

God’s Kingdom will replace all human governments and rule over the entire earth. (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 16:14) Once that happens, God’s Kingdom will . . .

  • Remove the wicked, whose selfishness harms us all. “As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth.”—Proverbs 2:22.

  • End all wars. “[God] is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.”—Psalm 46:9.

  • Bring prosperity and security to the earth. “Everyone will live in peace among their own vineyards and fig trees, and no one will make them afraid.”—Micah 4:4, Good News Translation.

  • Make the earth into a paradise. “Thirsty deserts will be glad; barren lands will celebrate and blossom with flowers.”—Isaiah 35:1, Contemporary English Version.

  • Provide everyone with meaningful, enjoyable work. “The work of their own hands [God’s] chosen ones will use to the full. They will not toil for nothing.”—Isaiah 65:21-23.

  • Eliminate disease. “No resident will say: ‘I am sick.’”—Isaiah 33:24.

  • Set us free from the aging process. “Let his flesh become fresher than in youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigour.”—Job 33:25.

  • Bring the dead back to life. “All those in the memorial tombs will hear [Jesus’] voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.

Peace on Earth—How Will It Come?

The Bible’s answer

Peace on earth will come, not by human efforts, but by means of God’s Kingdom, a heavenly government ruled by Christ Jesus. Notice how the Bible teaches us about this wonderful hope.

  1. God will make “wars to cease to the extremity of the earth,” fulfilling his promise to bring “peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!”—Psalm 46:9; Luke 2:14, Good News Translation.

  2. God’s Kingdom will rule from heaven over the entire earth. (Daniel 7:14) As a world government, it will eliminate nationalism, which is at the root of many conflicts.

  3. Jesus, the Ruler of God’s Kingdom, is called the “Prince of Peace,” and he will ensure that “to peace there will be no end.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7.

  4. People determined to keep fighting will not be allowed to live under the Kingdom, since “anyone loving violence [God’s] soul certainly hates.”—Psalm 11:5; Proverbs 2:22.

  5. God teaches his subjects how to live in peace. Describing the results of this instruction, the Bible says: “They will have to beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”—Isaiah 2:3, 4.

 

Women in the Bible​—What Can We Learn From Them?

The Bible’s answer

The Bible introduces us to many women whose lives can teach us valuable lessons. (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17) This article briefly describes just some of the women mentioned in the Bible. Many are fine examples to imitate. Others provide warning examples.—1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 6:1

 

Abigail

Who was Abigail? She was the wife of a wealthy but harsh man named Nabal. Abigail, however, was discerning and humble, as well as beautiful both physically and spiritually.—1 Samuel 25:3.

What did she do? Abigail acted with wisdom and discernment in order to avoid calamity. She and Nabal lived in the region where David, Israel’s future king, was hiding as a fugitive. While David and his men were there, they protected Nabal’s flocks of sheep from robbers. But when messengers from David asked Nabal for some food, Nabal insolently refused to provide it. David was incensed! So he and his men went out to kill Nabal and all the men of his household.—1 Samuel 25:10-12, 22.

Abigail acted quickly when she heard what her husband had done. She gave her servants a supply of food to take to David and his men, and she followed to beg David for mercy. (1 Samuel 25:14-19, 24-31) When David saw her gift, observed her humility, and heard her wise advice, he recognized that God had used her to prevent a tragedy. (1 Samuel 25:32, 33) Soon thereafter, Nabal died and Abigail became David’s wife.—1 Samuel 25:37-41.

What can we learn from Abigail? Although beautiful and wealthy, Abigail had a balanced view of herself. To keep peace, she was willing to apologize for something that was not her fault. She handled a tense situation calmly and did so with tact, courage, and resourcefulness.

 

Deborah

Who was Deborah? She was a prophetess whom Israel’s God, Jehovah, used to reveal his will on matters affecting his people. God also used her to help settle problems among the Israelites.—Judges 4:4, 5.

What did she do? The prophetess Deborah courageously supported God’s worshippers. At his direction, she summoned Barak to lead an Israelite army against their Canaanite oppressors. (Judges 4:6, 7) When Barak asked Deborah to go with him, she did not give in to fear but willingly complied with his request.—Judges 4:8, 9.

After God gave the Israelites a decisive victory, Deborah composed at least part of the song that she and Barak sang recounting the event. In that song she mentioned the role that Jael, another fearless woman, had played in defeating the Canaanites.—Judges, chapter 5.

What can we learn from Deborah? Deborah was self-sacrificing and courageous. She encouraged others to do the right thing in God’s eyes. When they did so, she generously gave them credit for what they did.

 

Delilah

Who was Delilah? She was a woman with whom the Israelite judge Samson fell in love.—Judges 16:4, 5.

What did she do? She accepted money from Philistine officials to betray Samson, whom God had been using to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. The Philistines were unable to overpower him because of his miraculous physical strength. (Judges 13:5) So their officials sought help from Delilah.

The Philistines bribed Delilah to find out how Samson got his great strength. Delilah accepted the money, and after several attempts, she finally succeeded in uncovering Samson’s secret. (Judges 16:15-17) She then told his secret to the Philistines, who captured and imprisoned Samson.—Judges 16:18-21.

What can we learn from Delilah? Delilah is a warning example. Overcome by greed, she acted in a deceitful, disloyal, and selfish way toward a servant of Jehovah God.

 

Esther

Who was Esther? She was a Jewess who was chosen by Persian King Ahasuerus to become his queen.

What did she do? Queen Esther used her influence to prevent the genocide of her own people. She discovered that an official decree had been issued that designated a specific day on which all Jews living in the Persian Empire were to be killed. This evil scheme was the work of a man named Haman, who was the prime minister. (Esther 3:13-15; 4:1, 5) With the help of her older cousin, Mordecai, and at the risk of her life, Esther revealed the scheme to her husband, King Ahasuerus. (Esther 4:10-16; 7:1-10) Ahasuerus then allowed Esther and Mordecai to issue another decree, authorizing the Jews to defend themselves. The Jews thoroughly defeated their enemies.—Esther 8:5-11; 9:16, 17.

What can we learn from Esther? Queen Esther set an outstanding example of courage, humility, and modesty. (Psalm 31:24; Philippians 2:3) Despite her beauty and position, she sought counsel and help. When speaking with her husband, she was tactful and respectful, but bold. And at a time of great danger for the Jews, she courageously identified herself as one of them.

 

Eve

Who was Eve? She was the very first woman and is the first woman mentioned in the Bible.

What did she do? Eve disobeyed a clear command from God. Like her husband, Adam, Eve was created as a perfect human with free will and the ability to cultivate godly qualities, such as love and wisdom. (Genesis 1:27) Eve knew that God had told Adam that if they ate from a certain tree, they would die. However, she was deceived into believing that she would not die. In fact, she was led to believe that she would be better off if she disobeyed God. So she ate the fruit and later induced her husband to eat it as well.—Genesis 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:14.

What can we learn from Eve? Eve is a warning example of the danger of dwelling on wrong desires. Against God’s clear command, she developed an overpowering longing to take what did not belong to her.—Genesis 3:6; 1 John 2:16.

 

Hannah

Who was Hannah? She was the wife of Elkanah and the mother of Samuel, who became a prominent prophet in ancient Israel.—1 Samuel 1:1, 2, 4-7.

What did she do? When Hannah was childless, she turned to God for comfort. Hannah’s husband had two wives. His other wife, Peninnah, had children; however, Hannah remained childless for a long time after her marriage. Peninnah cruelly taunted her, but Hannah prayed to God for comfort. She made a vow to God, saying that if God granted her a son, she would give the child to him by arranging for the child to serve at the tabernacle, a transportable tent used by Israel for worship.—1 Samuel 1:11.

God answered Hannah’s prayer, and she gave birth to Samuel. Hannah kept her promise and took Samuel to serve at the tabernacle when he was still a little boy. (1 Samuel 1:27, 28) Year after year, she made a sleeveless coat for him and took it to him. In time, God blessed Hannah with five more children—three sons and two daughters.—1 Samuel 2:18-21.

What can we learn from Hannah? Hannah’s heartfelt prayers helped her to endure trials. Her prayer of gratitude recorded at 1 Samuel 2:1-10 reflects her deep faith in God.