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In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
Within the past ten years startling discoveries have been made concerning the universe of which our planet earth is a part. With each new discovery it becomes obvious that the cosmos (another term for universe) is much greater in size than scientists have previously thought. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that the cosmos is still expanding! New galaxies are being formed, and billions of new stars are taking shape within those new galaxies.
The more we discover and learn about the cosmos, the more awesome it becomes, and, in some ways, the more insignificant we feel. Yet the answer to the mystery of the universe is no farther away than the Bible. Here is what the Bible says is the answer: Everything began with God.
If we are to ultimately understand life and its purpose, the world in which we live, and why we exist, it must start with God. The Creator God existed before there was anything. At some point in time God created more than 100 billion galaxies. Think about that for a moment—100 billion galaxies! He has created everything within those galaxies, including the earth. Within the earth's galaxy, the Milky Way, there are more than 200 billion stars.
God created all living things. Most significantly, God created human beings in His image. God desired fellowship with His creatures, but, unfortunately, an event occurred that broke this fellowship. God did not leave this condition unresolved, however, and the account of what God did and how this story has been played out in history are contained in the instruction book on how to know God. It is called the Bible. God has wonderfully and mercifully provided this truth so that we can learn about Him and know Him and fulfill what has always been His purpose for our lives.
Once we comprehend in some small way the infinite, almighty God, we can begin to see ourselves for what we really are—fallen creatures alienated from a holy God by sin. Only then can we begin to discover what we can become by God's grace.
Set aside some time and ask God to help you begin the process of learning more about Him. Pray that He will direct you in this area and bless your efforts. Search the book of Genesis and list the mighty works and wonders God performed for His people.CHAPTER 2
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Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26 NKJV).
As we begin an attempt to come to grips with the Creator God, it is wonderful to learn that this magnificent and merciful God has revealed to mankind that He exists in three distinct persons. The Creator God is one in essence (that is, His ultimate nature) but at the same time is three different persons. It is exciting to realize that before time was, God existed in perfect fellowship and blessed communion within the Godhead.
The doctrine of the Trinity is brought to light as one studies the Bible, and it is very clear that the Creator God exists in unity as three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—in one Godhead. All three are equal in power, majesty, glory, and sovereignty. Each has accepted an ordered role of organization, but each is equal with all divine attributes. Since the Trinity is so beyond our understanding, it is another unmistakable demonstration that this revelation was not from man. Beyond this biblical disclosure, no one can further explain or comprehend this wondrous truth other than to see how the various roles of the Godhead come to impact us humans. Many "types" or "likes" have been employed attempting to provide a more explicit insight of the Trinity, but all have failed. The Trinity is unlike anything within our intellectual grasp, beyond everything and everyone. We must finally accept that God is as He is—one God in three persons.
Each person of the Godhead has been revealed to some extent in the Bible. A closer examination of each will help us to better understand their functions. God the Father was involved with creation and is ruler of all things. He is the author of our election and the designer of the plan of redemption. God the Son submitted to the incarnation by becoming a man so He could secure our redemption by bearing our sins at the Crucifixion. God the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, calls us to redemption, and guides, leads, and teaches us in the way of holy living. The more we learn of these distinctive roles, the more overwhelming God becomes to us.
As you take time to think about the subject of the Trinity, ask God to help you to accept the mystery and the incomprehensible truth of its reality. Rejoice in the revelation we have of God. Make a list of the verses in Scriptures related to the Trinity.CHAPTER 3
Names & Attributes of God
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And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you" (Exodus 3:14 NKJV).
As we approach the subject of God, it is helpful to make some general statements that provide some points of reference. God, in one sense, is unknowable and incomprehensible because He is God. Yet in the Bible He has made Himself known through special revelation regarding His nature, His attributes, and His names. All the attributes of God apply equally to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God has revealed Himself through the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As we learn of Christ, we learn of God. As we look at some of the names and characteristics of God, we can better understand who He reveals Himself to be.
Jehovah is the name that states God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. He is not subject to time. Jehovah God is self-existent. He has no origin; He was not created. He is independent of everything but Himself. God is self-sufficient. He has no need of anything; He is sufficient unto Himself. Jehovah God is immutable. He is unchangeable and unchanging. He is complete.
Elohim is the name of God that presents Him as the almighty God who is sovereign over all things. He created everything out of nothing. Elohim is also the God of the covenant. He has provided the means for restoration of the fallen race. The name Elohim is plural in the original, which allows for the involvement of the three persons of the Godhead in the drama of the events preparing for redemption.
The Bible reveals that God is infinite. He has no bounds or limits. He is everywhere, not limited by space or time. God is holy. He is pure and perfect. He is the standard of holiness. God is love. He seeks good for those He loves. God's love is pure, perfect, and true.
All of God's attributes are in perfect balance because they are each complete in Him. As we reflect on these truths, our finite minds are overwhelmed. God is truly awesome.
Make a list of attributes ascribed to God in the Bible. These can be found in any complete book on theology. Use your list when you pray and thank God for His wonderful attributes.CHAPTER 4
The Lord Jesus Christ
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He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-16 NKJV).
My family and I have enjoyed some very special opportunities to travel to and live in other parts of the world. Those journeys have left us with many treasured memories and experiences. They were times that offered exposure to new cultures, tasks, and people. Overall, these were delightful seasons of our lives that granted us many unique adventures. But at the end of each business assignment, the time came for us to be going home. Every journey comes to an end.
It's that way with our time on earth too. One day, this life will be over for each of us and we will enter eternity. At that moment, the way we related to the person of Jesus Christ in this life will determine our eternal destiny. For the believer, Christ will become the sum of everything to be praised, honored, and worshiped. We will prostrate ourselves before Him and give Him tribute for everything that is the result of the new creation He has made us to be. We will acknowledge that all praiseworthy things we have done are by His power and grace. For the first time, we will see Him without the veil of sin. We will see the wounds inflicted on Him for our salvation. There will be no question of identity—we will know Christ and Christ will know us. We will see our Redeemer, our Lord, and our God. We will be reunited with our loved ones who have died in Christ and meet those wonderful saints we have come to know and love through our Bible study. Oh, what a happy day!
The book of Revelation, the final book of the Bible, gives readers two portraits of the wondrous Lamb of God. When we no longer look through dimly colored glass, then we shall behold Him as He truly is—the light of the world in whom all things exist, in whom and for whom all things were created, by whom all things are sustained, and who alone is to be worshiped. We will behold God with us forever.
The other picture of Christ in Revelation is the judge of all, the One who will execute final judgment on all the unredeemed, the devil and his angels, and on sin itself. All the universe will be purged of anything sinful, ushering in the new paradise. We will begin an eternal, never-ending time to learn and worship and fellowship with God. Heaven will be beyond anything we can imagine.
Make a point to read the book of Revelation. Outline the key points covered in chapters 4 and 5. Ask yourself where you are in your walk with the Lord. Purpose in your heart to do the things that will help you grow in Christ, then do the things that will make that happen.CHAPTER 5
The Holy Spirit
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So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves (Galatians 5:16).
From my earliest recollections, I remember being exposed to the Christian faith and its message of hope and deliverance in the gospel. There was never any doubt in my mind about Jesus Christ, His work on the cross, or the reality of heaven and hell. As a young boy of six or seven I heard the gospel preached and asked Jesus to come into my heart. I thought I had been born again, but I now know there was an absence of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. I clearly wanted to avoid hell, but I did not really comprehend my need to repent as a lost sinner. I had a form of religion, but I did not have a saving faith that transforms lives. I exhibited many outward signs of a believer, but in reality the presence of the Holy Spirit living within my heart was missing.
In October 1980, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I was raised from spiritual death and made alive to God. I became a new creation and my life was changed. Everything about me was affected—my thoughts, habits, speech, and desires. I was made aware of my own sinfulness and of the sin all around me. I began to see the world from a biblical perspective. The Bible was suddenly alive and clear to me. My eyes were opened and my heart, mind, and will became sensitive to God's direction.
This transformation was the result of the work of the precious Holy Spirit of God. He became my teacher through the Word of God, encouraging me to study and learn and pray. He took the role of my guide, pointing me toward Christ and His kingdom. He encouraged and helped me, and, most of all, He comforted me. He worked through my mind, feelings, and will.
It is the Holy Spirit's work to carry out the process of sanctification (becoming more godly and less worldly) in the lives of believers. His goal is to conform us to the image of Christ, to make us holy even as He is holy. His role is to abide in us and convict us of sin, moving us to continued repentance.
Now I understand so clearly the truth from the Word of God. Just as it is not possible to have sanctification without regeneration (the new birth), it is not possible to have regeneration without sanctification. As believers, we can slow and delay our consecration (being set aside for God's purposes), but the Holy Spirit will bring it to pass if we are true children of God. When that happens, there will be more evidences of the fruit of the Spirit and there will be less and less of the flesh present in our daily lives. Some will grow strong and be used mightily by the Lord; others will have slow but steady growth and over time will achieve a positive impact for Christ. Unfortunately, there will be some who will remain childish with only modest growth and will miss a big part of their calling.
As believers, we all have the responsibility to work hard to prove that we really are among those God has called and chosen in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Read and study the fifth chapter of Galatians. Pay special attention to verses 16–24, which deal with life in the Holy Spirit. Look for areas of your life in which you are not allowing the Holy Spirit to work. Pray to submit them to God.CHAPTER 6
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The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8 NASB).
The Bible is the very Word of God, supernatural in its origin, inspired by God, and without error. All issues and discussions concerning doctrine should start with the Bible. The Bible is God's instruction book on life and on how to have a personal and everlasting relationship with the Creator God. There is no way finite creatures can know anything of an infinite God unless He chooses to reveal Himself. The Bible discloses God to man and explains man to himself.
Some might ask: How can I be certain that the Bible is God's revelation to mankind? Let's briefly examine this question.
The Bible has endured for thousands of years, yet it is as fresh and applicable today as it was when it was first written. It is timeless because it is the Word of God. It is also limitless in its applications to life, and its source of truth cannot be exhausted. As more and more archeo-logical discoveries are made, more and more the accuracy of the Bible is reinforced. Many facts that were once brought into question have now been proven correct by new discoveries. The way the Bible reveals God could only come from God, and the way man is understood and presented could only come from the One who knows all things. The prophecies of the Bible clearly demonstrate the omniscience of its author. And, finally, the complete unity of the Bible declares its author to be divine.
The impact and influence of the Bible on individuals continue to demonstrate its supernatural power. It convicts people of sin and shows the way of pardon from sin. It is the story of God's love for fallen humanity. Its truth leads the way to salvation. It directs us in the path of sanctification, and its revelation of heaven and hell is the reality of our final destination.
Arthur Pink's summary in his book, The Divine Inspiration of the Bible, says it well: "The Bible is the Book to live by and the Book to die by. Therefore read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy." If we are to know God in a deeper way and understand His will for our lives, we must be diligent in becoming people of His Word.
Set a goal to read one chapter a day from the book of Proverbs for one month. Keep a simple record to measure your success using a calendar or making an easy chart from one to thirty-one and marking your progress each day with a check mark as you read. At the end of the month, review and repeat the procedure for another month.CHAPTER 7
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All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV).
Having grown up in a family associated with the construction industry, I learned early in life of the value and use of blueprints. Blueprints are the detailed instructions on how to build something. They can be very simple or extraordinarily complex. They provide a visual layout of how things are connected, the specific materials involved, and the sequence involved in the work. Blueprints are indispensable to good construction. In the Christian life, the same can be said of doctrine.
Doctrine is a branch of knowledge or a system of beliefs. For the believer in Christ, this system is based on and drawn from God's special revelation unfolded in the Bible. Doctrines address specific subjects within the Christian faith. Some of the doctrines of the Christian faith are: God, man, sin, Jesus Christ, salvation, and the Holy Spirit. Focusing on a specific doctrine helps us to better understand the subject as well as the practical implications of that subject as it relates to our lives.
Excerpted from Basics for Believers by William L. Thrasher Jr.. Copyright © 1998 William L. Thrasher Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Foreword / 9
Acknowledgments / 11
Introduction / 13
GOD OF ALL
1. God / 18
2. The Trinity / 20
3. Names & Attributes of God / 22
4. The Lord Jesus Christ / 24
5. The Holy Spirit / 26
6. The Bible / 30
7. Doctrine / 32
GOD FOR ALL
8. The Fall / 36
9. Sin / 38
10. The Incarnation / 40
11. The Crucifixion / 42
12. The Resurrection / 46
13. The Gospel / 48
14. The New Birth / 50
GOD WITH US
15. Eternity / 54
16. Worship / 56
17. Bible Study / 58
18. Time Out with God / 60
19. Talking with God / 62
20. Thinking About God / 65
A GODLY LIFE
21. Stewardship / 70
22. Love / 74
23. Marriage / 76
24. Family / 78
25. Relationships / 80
26. Sharing Your Faith / 85
AN ORGANIZED LIFE
27. Getting Started / 90
28. Developing Good Habits / 92
29. The Little Things / 96
30. Discipline / 98
31. Focus / 100
32. Gifts and Abilities / 103
33. A Calling / 106
A FOCUSED LIFE
34. A Mission Statement / 110
35. Life Goals / 113
36. Goal Setting / 116
37. Planning / 120
38. Work / 122
39. Leisure / 124
40. Time Management / 127
A DISCIPLINED LIFE
41. Reading / 130
42. Journaling / 132
43. Organizing / 135
44. Budgeting / 138
45. Diet and Exercise / 142
46. Studying / 144
A GOAL-ORIENTED LIFE
47. Balance / 148
48. Moderation / 150
49. Simplicity / 154
50. Commitment / 156
51. Perseverance / 158
52. Contentment / 162
Summary / 164
Appendix A: Tools for the Journey / 166
Appendix B: How to Use This Book / 169
Appendix C: Bible Reading Plan / 171
Appendix D: Recommended Reading List / 177
Appendix E: Scripture Verses by Topic / 181