Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary Petty] When I look at this I have come to fully believe this is the inspired word of God. You can’t put together a book over fourteen, fifteen hundred years by all these different people from all these different backgrounds, and there’s the same theme in this entire book.
A while back, I received a phone call from someone that I didn’t even know who he was, and he just asked me, “What English translation of the Bible do you use?” Well, I told him I usually use the New King James Version but I use other versions, I have a lot of Bibles that I check and look at. The man immediately began to explain why the Old King James was the only legitimate English translation. You know, the debate over Bible translations is minor, compared to all the other arguments and intense battles over Bible questions. Does the Bible condemn or accept homosexuality or transgenderism? Do all religions lead to heaven? Some Christian pastors say yes and others say no. Religious secularism teaches that all people are basically good, now most Christian religions teach that people are basically bad. There’s the health and wealth gospel, the social gospel, liberation theology, and hundreds of Christian denominations teaching different interpretations of the Bible. It is said that the Bible is the most published, most read, most misunderstood and the most fought over book in history.
And okay, let’s face it, lets be honest, here on Beyond Today we have a biblical worldview that is in many ways different than mainstream Christianity. I mean views like, Christians should keep the 7th day Sabbath or that we don’t have an immortal soul. Now how can you sort through this mess? How can you who are watching us today say, “How can I sort through all this mess?” Everybody has a different viewpoint, we have a different viewpoint. Well today we’re going to discuss one common sense approach that can help you sort through the confusion and better understand the Bible.
Now I’ve known a number of people through the years that this is how they did their Bible study: they would pray and ask for God’s direction and God’s help and then they would close their eyes, open the Bible and do this. And this is it. So and so beget so and so who beget so and so who beget so and so. Lot of begetting going on; I have no idea what that has to do with my life, right? Now that’s pulling something out of context. You and I must seek God’s guidance and that’s true, that’s where we start, but you can’t be haphazard in how you approach this book. Now I have found that you can spend an entire lifetime in serious study of this book and never discover that everything God wants for you. This book is a miracle, an absolute miracle.
Now I want you to think about maybe a novel that you’ve read sometime in your life, a book that had an impact on you. And it was a great story, right? There was a central theme and there’s characters, and there’s dramatic elements and there’s love and tragedy and violence and redemption. You know, the Bible contains all of these elements. All of these elements, but it wasn’t written by one author. It was written by dozens of people over a period that almost lasted one thousand, five hundred years. And it’s not a novel, because everything in it is true. They’re actual events, and it does contain a central theme. When I look at this I have come to fully believe this is the inspired word of God. You can’t put together a book over fourteen, fifteen hundred years by all these different people from all these different backgrounds, and there’s the same theme in this entire book. Now as I stated, today we’re going to look at one simple way to better understand the Bible. And this simple common sense point is to study the Bible in context.
Now I know you’re thinking, “what is context?” I mean, what does that mean? Now, we have a study aid that all of you here in the audience have received, “How to Understand the Bible”. Okay this is very important. So this is where you can draw and find common sense ways to understand the Bible, to look at the Bible. And we’re going to look at a definition. Go to page 17. Go to page 17, because we’re going to look at and read a simple definition of what it means to be in context or to read in context. Here’s what it says: “Reading in context simply means to carefully consider the verses before and after the text being studied.” Okay, so you don’t just pull it out, what were the verses before, what were the verses after? “Out of context means trying to understand the verses with little regard for the surrounding subject matter.” It’s like opening the Bible, closing your eyes, putting your finger on a verse and saying, “Oh, I get this.” No you don’t. What does it mean in the context even of the book that it’s in?
Now, in this “How to Understand the Bible” there’s another comment here and this is going to guide where we go for the rest of this program. “Studying the context includes analyzing the verses within the framework of the paragraph, chapter and book, and in a larger sense the entirety of the author’s writings and the Bible as a whole.” Have you ever thought, I mean what would you say? This is the context of the entire Bible. This is the major theme that runs through the Bible. Now there’s a lot of themes that run through the Bible but what is the major theme? The major theme that if you understand you can start in Genesis, end up in Revelation and understand the major point of this book.
Now we find that the major theme of the Bible is at the very beginning of the book; it tells us what it is and it ends up in Revelation. So the context, and it’s in the Genesis account of creation, and the context here is that Adam and Eve have disobeyed God. And God is kicking them out of Eden, okay? The first human beings decided that they knew more than the Creator. And there’s another being involved in this that’s very important too. Satan has come along and convinced them God doesn’t know what He’s doing. And so they follow his advice and they make decisions and they don’t follow the Creator, the One who has created life. And the result is that they become immediately mentally, emotionally and spiritually broken; they suffer and they die. Just like God told them, they would suffer and they would die and they would be all broken and that’s what happens to them. And you know what? This is the story of humanity. The story of humanity is broken people, suffering and dying. And let’s be honest because that’s where we have to go here, the story of your life? You’re broken people trying to make it through this. Broken people trying to make it through this. Now let me tell you the story of the Bible.
The story of the Bible is how God said, “Okay this is what’s happening to you, but I’m going to bring you back.” I’m going to bring you back, that’s the story of the scripture, that’s the story of the Bible. And this is the major theme. And let’s go to a verse, one verse, in Genesis 3:15. And this is what God says to Satan, the context is God’s talking to Adam and Eve and He says your lives are going to be all messed up. And then He goes to Satan and He says this to him, “I will put enmity between you and the woman,” that’s Eve and the Seed of Eve, “and between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.” Now if you look at that, well what does that mean? But this is our stating point in understanding the theme of the Bible. It’s our starting point. And it is where God says to Satan, “There’s going to come a Seed of the woman, a human being, and He’s going to conquer you.” God promised from the very beginning, Adam and Eve are being, they didn’t walk out of the garden of Eden, they were shoved out of the garden of Eden, and He says, “Now you’re going to go out and just like I told you, this isn’t going to work but I’m going to save this mess through the Seed of Eve.” Now that doesn’t tell us much, does it? Satan’s going to be conquered through the Seed of Eve. Now, this is why, this is such a huge subject, this is why we want you to order your copy of “How to Understand the Bible”. There are actually 15 keys to studying the Bible in this study aid and all of you here received one, for you that are watching, you can call the toll free number, get your free copy, or go to beyondtoday.tv. If you go to beyondtoday.tv you can read this or download it.
Okay. Now to better understand the context of the Bible in a very short period of time, we’re going to look at how the Bible is constructed. And as we look at how the Bible is constructed, we’re going to find the major theme that’s in the entire Bible. It’s a huge undertaking and here’s how we’re going to do this. We’re going to look at the different sections of the Bible, right?
You have the law, the Torah, history, all these different sections. We’re going to look at each section and find out what is the storyline in this section?
So the first section is the law, also called the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Well we just read from Genesis, we just read the starting point of this. We have creation and Adam and Eve being shoved out and a promise that a descendant of Eve was going to conquer Satan and bring people back to God. God would return as their God, Satan would no longer be their oppressor. Now Genesis tells the story then of human beings for a number of centuries and then it zeroes in on one man named Abraham. And Abraham and Sarah. And God calls Abraham and Sarah from one place to go to another country. And to go to this country and when they go there, He makes promises to them and He says your people are going to receive promises from Me. And the whole rest of the law is about Abraham’s descendants. It’s about how they end up in Egypt, he has a son, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and they all, they end up in Egypt. And then they’re in Egypt for a while and then God pulls them out and brings them back to the land just like He told them He would. That’s where Moses comes along, and He makes a covenant with them. And that is the context of the entire law.
The context of the first five books of the Bible; “I’m going to a make a promise to you that you and your descendants are going to have a major impact on humanity.” Now remember someone, a seed of Eve, and now we have a seed of Abraham. Let’s look at one verse, now if we don’t understand the context in the entire Bible we can make this whatever we want. Here’s what God tells Abraham, “In your Seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” He tells Eve, “there’ll be a Seed from you in which Satan will be conquered.” Now in Abraham we have this continuing story, okay? The promise God made to Eve is now being carried out through Abraham and Sarah. Now we think okay that’s interesting but what does that mean? You know how we really know that it means? We find out through all the scriptures where this is mentioned. Let me show you one place in Galatians. Here Paul says, and remember this is over 1000 years later, and Paul says, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made, he does not say ‘and to the seeds’ as of many but as of one and to your Seed who is Christ.” A thousand years later Jesus comes along and the followers of Jesus say “Ah! this is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham.” We’re looking at this theme, this theme appears over and over and over again. Now when you read the Bible look for this theme. It’s the central theme.
Let’s go to the next section of the Bible. History. And what is it about? Well it’s about the descendants of Abraham and how God takes them out of Egypt, brings them into the land that He promised Abraham and you have Joshua, Judges and Ruth and then they have judges that rule over them for hundreds of years and how God interacts with them and then you get to the Kings. And in the Kings you have God tell the kings, you know, that I will work with you and He brings prophets through, repent, and what’s very interesting in here is He picks a man named David and he says, “Oh, it is through you that the Seed is going to come.” All this interaction with these people has to do with “I’m going to save humanity.” It starts with Eve, gets to Abraham and Sarah, now Abraham and Sarah, their progeny ended up being 13 tribes. They end up being a huge nation. And then God says out of this one tribe, the Seed now comes through this tribe. Israel, the northern tribes, end up in one nation called Israel, they’re destroyed by the Assyrians. The southern tribes, Judah, get taken into captivity by the Babylonians. But they come back. There’s a reason they come back to the land. Why did God bring them back to the land? Because the Seed had to come through the seed of David. It had to be in that place where He said it would happen.
Now, next section. Poetry and Wisdom. You think, poetry and wisdom, okay you’ve got psalms, song lyrics, surely there’s not a lot of song lyrics that have this message in it? Oh yes there is. But you wouldn’t know it unless you understand the context of the whole Bible. Let me show you. Psalm 110, David writes this, “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand.” Okay. He goes on and talks about a Lord talking to the Lord, now the one Lord here is Yahweh. But David has a Lord. And this Lord is talking to Yahweh. Now there’s a lot of explanations of what that is, in Judaism there’s explanations of what that is, how do we know what that is? Because it’s the context of the whole Bible. Psalm 110’s first verse is quoted numerous times in the New Testament. Numerous times in the New Testament. Jesus said, okay, Jesus uses that passage and says, “Oh this is about the Anointed One” or this One that would be sent, this Seed that would be sent to save humanity, he became known as the Anointed One in the scripture. And so we have this quoted. Now let’s look at one place in Acts, Acts chapter 2. And Peter quotes this verse, okay he quotes it and then he says this, “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.” So he quotes, “the Lord said to my Lord” and says that second Lord is Christ. It’s the same theme. But I wouldn’t know that if I just read Psalm 110. I only know that because I find the thread that runs through all of it. And this is the core thread because it starts with “I’m kicking you out and Satan’s going to be there and then I’m going to fix it.” And this is where we get the word Messiah, this is where we get the word Christ, it means the Anointed One, the Seed that’s going to come. And sure enough, the Jews end up right where they’re supposed to be and the family of David ends up exactly where they’re supposed to be, and Mary, who is a descendant of David, ends up exactly where she’s supposed to be and Jesus is born. Just like God said, “I’m going to do this.” So the entire history of the Old Testament leads to this point.
There’s the major prophets. Okay, the major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. You know the message of all the major prophets? They were telling Israel and Judah, repent because you’re disobeying God, and every one of these prophets then say, but there’s going to come a time when God is going to intervene and God is going to fix things, and He’s going to fix it through this Anointed One. It’s the central theme. And this Anointed One is going to come and He’s going to save you and what’s very important especially in Isaiah, He’s going to save the whole world. What you find then, as you go through the major prophets, is this Messiah has two functions. Two functions. One is, like in Isaiah chapter 2, it is that He is going to set up God’s kingdom on this earth. Now that’s not a surprise because, okay, Satan is going to be overthrown. And this King of David is going to come back, this descendant of David, and He’s going to set up God’s kingdom on His throne. But there’s another message. And this became confusing to a lot of people.
Isaiah 52 and 53. There is a Suffering Servant, an Anointed One sent by God who was slain for the salvation of the nation. When you start looking through the prophets, you start seeing there’s a dual thing that this Messiah does. And this is the central theme. This is what pulls the entire Bible together. Some Jews believe there were two Messiahs. Now we understand that there’s one Messiah. But He comes twice. We only know that because we have the New Testament. We only know that because we know how all of it fits together.
Minor Prophets. They’re not minor because they’re not important, they’re minor because they’re smaller. You know the message of all the minor prophets? And they span hundreds of years, and they span their messages to Israel, to Judah sometimes to both of them. The minor prophets’ message always contains “repent, return to God, and God will fix it someday by sending the Anointed One.” And there are also messages in here that there’s this dual thing, He comes back to reign as King of kings but He also saves humanity from their sins. Bits and pieces of it. Now that’s the entire Old Testament and there’s this major thread that runs through it.
Now let’s go to the New Testament. Let’s look at the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is the story of Jesus. What is the theme of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Well you all know that, it is the life of Jesus. And what does this prove? Matthew, Mark, Luke and John prove that Jesus is that Messiah. It starts at the beginning of each gospel and ends up through the whole theme, through the whole gospel. Let’s prove who He is. He comes twice. They quote, every one of these gospels quotes Old Testament prophecies to prove who He is. In fact, you can’t understand these gospels in their entirety until you understand the Old Testament prophecies. The whole theme of the Old Testament now takes focus because this Messiah comes twice.
Then we have Acts. Acts is about the church founded by Jesus Christ and how they went out and spread the message. Read the book of Acts, they always have 2 parts to the message. One is, this Jesus is the Messiah. Of course, by this time they’d realized something else too. This isn’t just any human being. This is a Divine Being also. He is the Son of God and so they stress both in the gospels and the book of Acts they stress and say God sent His Son a divine being to become human and to die for the sins of humanity, He’s been resurrected and He’s coming back. And they spread that message every place they go.
And then you have the letters. So much of the New Testament are letters written by Paul, Peter, James to people or individuals or congregations, and you study these and you will find a theme that runs through every one of these. And that is, to really understand what God wants you to do, you have to understand that Jesus was the Messiah, the prophesied One, and they quote the Old Testament over and over and over again. And He’s coming back. And they quote the Old Testament to prove that. Genesis 3:15 lays the groundwork for everything. So that’s what all the letters do.
So now we get to Revelation. Revelation brings us to the focal point, it’s given to John at the end of the first century. And the focal point is, Christ is coming back, here’s what happens before He comes back. And when He does come back, He removes Satan. What did Genesis 3:15 say the Seed of the woman would do? Why, it’s called the protevangelium. The first good news. That is what Genesis 3:15 is called, the first good news. It’s nothing but bad news for poor Adam and Eve once they get kicked out except he says, “I’m going to fix this.” That’s the first good news, that’s the first mention of the gospel right there. And you will find that message through the Torah, through the history, through the books of wisdom and poetry and the prophets and the gospels. You will find it though Acts and all the letters. And here we are in Revelation, and he sums it all up.
Now, okay there you go. The entire Bible in 17 minutes. That’s the major theme. But now there’s a lot of study to do. And that’s why we encourage you to get your free copy of “How to Understand the Bible”. Call the toll free number if you’re watching, if you’re here you all received a copy. Take this home and look at the 15 keys to understanding the Bible that’s in here. Study this and find this theme. Look for this theme. If you really find this theme you can turn to almost any place in the Bible and find it somewhere. Any book you can turn and you will find this theme. It’s there. It’s the gospel. How you understand this, how you understand this can change your life. God is calling you to understand his word, he is calling you to understand this book. And it’s not, can’t be just randomly looked at. This is the word of God. We struggle with this. We work at this.
At the beginning of the program I mentioned that there is a constant debate among Christians on what the Bible teaches. Here on Beyond Today we have a biblical viewpoint that in many ways is different than mainstream Christians. How do you know what we’re saying is right? I mean let’s be honest here because these difference are important. I challenge you to prove whether what you hear on Beyond Today is true or not. And the only way you’re going to do that is you’re going to have to find the context of this book and read the context. As well as the other themes. And this is where you start with the context of the entire Bible. Humanity turned away from God and the story of mankind is suffering and death. Broken people. The story of the Bible is how God is bringing humanity and bringing you, He’s bringing you personally, this isn’t just about other people, back to Him through the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ and through the fact that He’s sending Jesus Christ back soon. Christ is returning for those who respond to God’s call. And the time is now for you to respond to that call.
[Narrator] Call now to get the free booklet offered on today’s program, “How to Understand the Bible.” The Bible is the world’s bestselling book, yet to many it remains a mystery. Two people reading the same Bible verse will reach wildly different conclusions because they don’t read it the same way. There is a right way to read it, and the Bible itself tells us how! God has given you the Words of life, and He wants you to understand them.
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