The Holy Bible—Foundation of All Knowledge
Only God’s Word reveals the right foundation of all knowledge. Only here do we find the answers to life’s big questions: Why is the world in such a miserable condition? What is the purpose of human life? Is there life after death? The Bible answers all these questions and many more.
Many followers of Christianity, who seriously seek a deeper understanding into their own religion, would normally expect to turn to the Bible. This would be the logical place to look, if one’s religion is based upon the Bible.
This world’s Christianity professes to be based on the Bible, but is not! In later lessons, we shall see why. Those who allow the Bible to teach them will benefit from this instruction, to the extent that “the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:17).
As the Creator of mankind, God clearly shows us the absolute necessity of drawing upon His Word for spiritual nourishment: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; also see Luke 4:4). Here, Christ was quoting what He had inspired Moses to record in Deuteronomy 8:3. This is the core of why we should study the Bible—it provides essential food for a right way of life!
But, do the different denominations of Christianity actually allow the Bible to guide them? Consider the largest Christian denomination. For centuries, this church forbade (even punished by death) anyone possessing a copy of the Bible.
The many Christian denominations claiming to follow the teachings of the Bible may be sincere, but are utterly oblivious to the countless contradictions between Scripture and their interpretation of it.
There is an obvious reason that people reject the Bible: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17). People resent being reproved and corrected—even from God! They will twist and distort the meaning of corrective scripture, rather than accept it at face value.
This tendency to refuse correction is compounded by the fact that mankind does not fear or even acknowledge God—they are not concerned with what He says. However, they are concerned with the opinions of men.
The condition of humanity today is the same as it was at the time of Christ: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
The Goals of this Course
Our goal is to guide you toward self-motivated, exciting Bible study. Foundational understanding will be provided through personal Bible study, upon which one can build a lifetime relationship with God.
Some taking this course may remember the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course of the past. Many became well versed in the study of their Bibles by applying the understanding gained from that course. Experience has shown that the course worked!
Our course follows the same basic plan of having the students write out certain key scriptures. This process drove the point home then, and will do the same now for you. Although we will have fewer scriptures to write out, it is important that you diligently write them out, in full. This is crucial to internalizing the vital principles and concepts within them.
Tapping a Vast Reservoir
In addition to books and booklets, we can draw upon a growing number of articles from The Real Truth magazine. We intend to streamline by continually referring to literature already in place, rather than duplicating this valuable material. This will allow the Bible Introduction Course to be greatly condensed in size. Our vast amount of literature reinforces and expounds on the doctrines covered in this course.
We will cover basic doctrines, guiding you through God’s truth in a systematic and exciting way. You will find this far more interesting and beneficial than reading various booklets in a random order. We ask that the student diligently follow up on each of the referenced booklets and articles with careful reading, as this is foundational to a thorough understanding. There is no time limit or deadline in proceeding through the lessons. The excitement generated within each student should be the prime motivator to press on in the lessons. Sometimes, it will be difficult to put the lesson down. If so, then the course has served its purpose.
Where to Begin?
One obvious starting point for the course would be at the Creation, proceeding through the book of Genesis. Another option would be to discuss the design and development of the Bible. After having explained the development process, then the best method of study could be discussed in detail. A final alternate method would be to focus on present turbulent world conditions.
Today’s world is, by far, the most dangerous in history, given the availability of astonishingly lethal weapons now in the hands of madmen and terrorists. Major world powers are still in possession of hydrogen bombs, while smaller atomic weapons, capable of destroying major cities, are reportedly now in the hands of terrorists.
We have chosen to begin by examining scriptures reflecting the overriding issues on people’s minds in this most turbulent and perilous time in history.
The End of the Age
Christ’s disciples understood from His direct teachings that the end of the age would occur at the end of the 6,000 years that God had allowed for Satan to sway and influence mankind. The end of this age would mark the beginning of 1,000 years of peace and rest.
God’s servants understood that “the world that then was” (II Pet. 3:6), speaking of the world before the Flood, and “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4), together comprise the 6,000 years of man’s rule under Satan’s influence. They well understood that the kingdom of God would be established in the future—at the millennial reign of Christ.
Remember: In answering the following questions, read each scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Do not rush through the questions. Be sure to write out each scripture. You will want to occasionally review your notes.
(1) Are the fallen angels (demons) to continue to hold the world in subjection in the World to Come? Hebrews 2:5.
(2) When the disciples questioned Jesus about the “end of the world,” in Matthew 24:3, did they already correctly understand that this meant the end of an era or the end of an age?
Comment: The Greek word translated as the English word “world” in Matthew 24:3 was aion, meaning “age.” The disciples correctly understood this. Many people, under the false teachings of this world’s religions, incorrectly believe that the end of the world means the destruction of this physical earth. Christ had taught His disciples that the millennium would be a new age, with the government of God in control, rather than mankind under the sway of Satan and his demons. Our booklet Which Is the True Gospel? proves that the kingdom of God was the central theme of Christ’s message.
(3) What would happen to this world if Christ did not return? Matthew 24:22.
Comment: This verse is not referring to spiritual salvation, but rather the condition of world suicide—by man’s inhumanity to man—given his unlimited weapons of mass destruction. The verse reads plainly, “there should no flesh be saved.” The Moffatt translation more strongly clarifies this: “not a soul would be saved alive”!
(4) What is the meaning of “those days shall be shortened,” in Matthew 24:22?
Comment: Within God’s overall timetable, He has made allowances for short seasons of time to be added or taken away in order to fulfill His purpose. God shows that, unless those days were shortened, there would be total cosmocide—all humanity would die! Therefore, He will intervene and cut time short for the elect’s sake—those still alive on the earth obeying God. God will cut time short by bringing about events to hasten the end of the age. This will deprive wicked leaders of the time and opportunity to erase all human life from the earth.
(5) Does the shortening of time at the end of this age relate to a work that is to be cut short? Romans 9:28. Whose work? Verse 28. Will the final Work be large? See end of verse 27.
Comment: We will see how this work plays a vital role of announcing the Ezekiel Warning to the modern-day descendants of Israel and the entire world, just before the night descends upon the world in the form of the Great Tribulation.
(6) What is the Ezekiel Warning? Ezekiel 33:2-3. Are those who hear the Ezekiel Warning expected to take action? Verses 4-5. What happens to those charged to deliver this Warning if they fail to deliver it? Verse 6.
Comment: In verse 7, God charged Ezekiel to deliver this warning, yet it was written to Israel in the last days—the end time. Ezekiel is long since dead, but God’s true servants, those who would understand the identity of modern Israel and end-time prophecy, would inherit that commission.
The world is oblivious to the true identity of Israel and the correct understanding of end-time prophetic events. Only those who love the truth and hold fast to the teachings of the Bible qualify to deliver the Ezekiel Warning message. (A future lesson will focus more on this topic.)
The Last Days
(1) Does the Bible speak of a period called “the last days”? II Timothy 3:1.
Comment: Verse 1 establishes the timeframe—the last days. Carefully note verses 2-5, which describe the character traits that would dominate society when this time arrived.
(2) What other attributes will society have in these times? I Timothy 4:1-2.
(3) What does Jude tell us about mankind “in the last time”? Jude 18.
(4) Is this a time for God’s justified fierce anger “in the latter days”? Jeremiah 30:24.
Comment: In chapter 12 of the book of Daniel, we find such terms used in reference to the finality of time: “the time of the end” (vs. 4), “how long shall it be to the end…” (vs. 6), “all these things shall be finished” (vs. 7), “the end of these things” (vs. 8), “till the time of the end” (vs. 9), “till the end…” (vs. 13) and “the end of the days” (vs. 13).
Unprecedented Time of Trouble
(1) How severe is the “time of trouble” to descend upon this world in the near future? Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19.
(2) What does the prophet Jeremiah have to say about this unprecedented time of trouble? Jeremiah 30:5, 7.
Comment: Note the end of verse 6, “all faces are turned into paleness.”
(3) What does the prophet Daniel tell us about this same time of trouble? Daniel 12:1.
Comment: Since this time had no equal prior to it, and no equal would follow, the above scriptures have to be describing the same terrible time of trouble to strike the world.
(4) Does the Bible give any indicators or clues as to when this time will befall the world? Matthew 24:14.
Comment: This shows that the good news of the soon-coming kingdom of God would first be announced, and only then would the terrible events begin. The next verse (vs. 15) depicts a follow-up event that is to be a signal for God’s people to begin a flight in order to be protected. (This we will cover in detail in a later lesson.)
(5) Does God always send His servants to warn before major prophetic developments? Amos 3:7.
Time to Awake
(1) Are God’s servants admonished to awake to the reality of the times? Romans 13:11-12.
Comment: This admonition was addressed to the Roman congregation in about A.D. 56. That young congregation was decimated by severe persecution just eight years later, in A.D. 64, in the wake of the fire of Rome. As Scripture, this is addressed to those living now, just prior to the unprecedented, greatest time of world upheaval. Read also verses 13-14 within the same context. The deep realization that “the night is far spent” should motivate anyone who has ears to hear, to reconsider his priorities in life, and to “make not provision for the flesh” toward fulfillment of pleasure. We live in truly sobering and dangerous times!
(2) Do most people tend to regard prophetic warnings as an issue pertaining to events far into the future, not directly relating to the “here and now”? Ezekiel 12:27.
(3) How did God, through His prophets, answer this attitude? Ezekiel 12:28; Habakkuk 2:3.
(4) In the sobering times at the end of the age, would people change their priorities in the shadow of approaching events? Matthew 24:37-39.
(5) Would some ridicule the Return of Christ in the last days? II Peter 3:3-4.
Comment: Whether people acknowledge the fulfillment of prophetic events or not, those events will still proceed on schedule. Whether met with ridicule or with fear and dread, it will occur after the announcements and warnings are made. Regardless of humanity’s acceptance, “in the end it shall speak.” The crashing events will reverberate with such a deafening roar, that the everyday lives of all will be completely disrupted. A terrifying series of events will shock and re-shock the earth. Only those who have prepared will be capable of understanding that terrible course of events—because they woke up and took action!
(6) In light of these coming earthshaking events, what final warnings did Christ direct to those who would seek to follow Him? Luke 21:34-36.
The verses you have just studied explain the perilous times in which we now live. The urgency of the times and the warning from God’s Word must strike home as never before! This level of urgency must be maintained, since every passing week brings the world closer to this time of reckoning.
Be sure to write out the scriptures presented in each segment of the lesson. This greatly helps internalize what each of these crucial scriptures reveals.
Next, to greatly enhance the understanding presented in this first lesson, we recommend that you carefully read the following booklets: Which Is the True Gospel? and Are These the Last Days? These booklets will expand upon what we have introduced in this short lesson. Our booklets are not intended to replace one’s personal Bible study, but rather to aid you. They will open your mind to a deeper understanding of the Bible—if you truly seek and pursue it!
Lesson Two: Where Are We Going?
When the term “God” is mentioned, what comes to mind? Do you think of God as Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe? Do you ponder His relationship with the Holy Spirit that flows out from Him?—or Christ’s relationship with the Father? What about the time when God came into being or where He resides at this time? Exactly what does God look like? What are His plans for the future? We will address all these issues and more in this lesson!
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