Understanding the Bible — A Review
January 19, 2024
Over the last few years, I have written essays, trying very hard to make the Bible plainly understood, overcoming archaic language and misperceptions created over the centuries by some self-appointed religious leaders and scholars. I wonder, but have no way of knowing, whether any of them had ever encountered the living God, the resurrected Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
They may not come out and say it, but many of them concluded the Trinity — God, Jesus and theHoly Spirit — are either irrelevant or dead — But not to worry, they said, they were in charge now…
Might I point out that Jesus used ordinary talk, mostly to ordinary people, living ordinary lives, working ordinary jobs, living in ordinary homes. They needed no one else except Jesus to teach them about the kingdom of God. Many of Jesus’ Disciples were hard working fishermen. Further, the apostle Paul, a tentmaker, wrote, “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” — 1 Corinthians 1:26–29.
Some have said, for example, the Holy Spirit is obsolete, inactive, or kaput… not needed anymore. It’s like they see the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) as a modern promotional ad campaign — only needed at the outset — as if God was needing a spectacular launch for the selling of the Gospel…
You see, the original word translated into English Bibles was “paraclete.” It is a Greek word meaning “family attorney.” The Paraclete was sent by Jesus to remain alongside Believers, in Jesus’ stead, empowering us to walk with God, reminding us of what Jesus taught, and interceding for us when we would get out of sync with God, Jesus, and the Bible, showing us the error of our ways,and getting us back on the right track. The Spirit was not sent for exclusivity, but as an escort, a kind of chaperone to get Believers through this life and home safely.
Hundreds of my essays have been posted on Medium where there are opportunities to make money, but I have no interest in making money off of God, Jesus, and the Bible. Neither do I relish making “Followers’’ or getting the applause “Claps.” …Responses, yes; I welcome them.
But enough of that…
For review and your consideration, here are a few essential concepts I have found to be truthful and worthy of replacing fallacies I have heard throughout my years.
First, the only Big Bang was when God said “Let there be Light, and there was Light.” Bang!
- God created the Universe and everything in it. It works.
- God created the Earth and everything on it. They work.
- God first created Mankind and gave them the responsibility to take care of the Earth and every living thing on it.
- God created the Garden of Eden as a special, separate place.
- God created Adam and Eve after creating Mankind, separated from Mankind, and He gave them the responsibility to care for every living thing on that Garden property.
Second, the words “separate” and “particular” are the essence of the Greek word “hagios.” English translation, “holy.”
- “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” — 1 Peter 1:15–16.
- “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8–9.
- “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” — 2 Corinthians 6:16–18.
In other words, don’t be conformists, yielding to peer pressure, but have the courage to cling to God, Jesus, and the Bible, no matter what the world thinks about them or says about you. Live for God’s approval, not Society’s.
Third, when Adam and Eve entered the wider world they knew nothing about
- Mankind’s genealogy became referred to as “sons of Man.”
- Adam and Eve initiated a separate genealogy, “the sons of God.” **
After the intermarriages began, recorded in Genesis — those designations became insignificant. — see, Genesis 6.
** — To be clear, some have tried to say that the Sons of God were angelic beings that seduced women. That is ridiculous in the light of the several instances of genealogies in the Old and New Testaments, including the genealogies of Jesus recorded in Matthew and Luke. Nevertheless, the lineage of the various peoples and nations were very important in Biblical cultures — just like many are today. For example, my Scottish heritage is important to me even though my genealogy is only recorded from the 19th Century. I am sure heritage is important to many people I have known. Genealogies were extremely important to peoples in Bible history. No angelic interference or interludes. That fanciful tale might appeal to lovers of such types of extratextual ideas, might appeal to lovers of illusion and fantasia and mythology, but all the people in the Bible were just normal people.
God continues to call everyone to be separate as indicated by the Scripture reference above: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD.”
I can see from these things that God’s plan from the beginning was to give everyone the opportunity to be a separate and a particular people — all to be designated as the sons of God — this not excluding women, of course. Nevertheless, He chose the lineage of Abraham to demonstrate His character, ways, and judgments to the whole world. They were the threads to be woven into the magnificent tapestry of the Family of God. Some of the threads broke, of course, but were replaced so there were to be no gaps. The Bible does not hide the breaking threads, but continues weaving.
Fourth, several times my essays tried to show an expanded view of the concept of Original Sin. Trying to reject the ridiculous notion that it was sexual intimacy, since God had ordered everybody to be fruitful and multiply and populate the Earth. Then, to list the obvious that three characters in the story had several wrongs distributed through each of their actions and responses… Read the episode for yourself and see if you also can find them or not. (Genesis 3).
Fifth, all of these concepts and perspectives ring true throughout the Bible: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” — James 1:17.
The entire tapestry is woven on the same loom and at the direction of God the Father, no matter how many different weavers are employed.
Sixth, here is another misconstrued idea that is common today: When a person turns to Jesus, you are put on Easy Street where there are only singing birds, rainbows, sunshine, and ice cream sundaes. You have arrived, and now, you’ve got it made!
Sorry. There are many verses telling us we should work to feed ourselves and others with food and eternal encouragement.
- “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.” — 1 Thessalonians 4:11.
- “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” — John 9:4.
- Jesus said, “You foolish and lazy servant…” — Matthew 25:26.
- “Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.” — 1 Thessalonians 2:9.
- “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…” -1 Peter 4:12.
Notwithstanding all that, Jesus warned, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Also from Jesus’ apostle: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” — James 1:2–5. The Bible is not always simple, but is straight up and direct. It is not a mystical work. It has been preserved to be clearly understood.
Seventh, some get confused about where good works fit into the Gospel tapestry. Nobody will be justified or be accepted into the family of God by what they consider as all the good things they have done. Pride comes before a fall, and no goodie-goodie badges are going to be handed out in Heaven. After Jesus has covered your moral debt to God through His propitiatory sacrifice on the Roman cross, He has in mind good works which He will assign to you — but only after you have become mature enough to carry them. His idea of good works is usually much different than yours and mine. It would do you well to remember that.
So, God’s forgiveness and mercy come first, not what we think makes us good boys and girls. That is actually juvenile or even childish thinking. Good assignments that God has for us, come after being born again by the Spirit of God. Being “good” doesn’t even get us in the door, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” — Romans 3:23. Aren’t we careful, too, about who we welcome into our homes?
Eighth, our great plans for the betterment of the world suck:
- “ Jesus told them, ‘Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.’ “ — Matthew 24:4–8
- “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” — Galatians 5:19–21.
Just like the Bible says, it seems obvious to me, that human nature is truly a fallen, sinful nature. We significantly harm the planet we are dependent on and everyone living on it. Mankind, with very few exceptions, is a harmful and hurtful creature.
Ninth, God has a much better plan that actually works: a new nature…
- “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” — Galatians 5:22–23.
- “…everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property — along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.” — Mark 10:29–30. it’s the fellowship of Born Again Believers, not an exclusive club. All are welcome who enter through the narrow gate.
- “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout — from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” — Revelation 21:1–4.
Start talking to God and read the Bible and seek Jesus’ presence in your life.