BASICS OF CHRISTIANITY: PART II
Learn the Bible on your own. If you have never read the Bible, or you started reading it once but got bogged down, let me encourage you to discover the Bible for yourself. How can you do this? First, come to the Bible joyfully. Bible reading shouldn’t be a burden but a joy!
God wants to talk with us through His Word; in fact, it is His “love letter” to us. Why shouldn’t we come to it joyfully? Then come to the Bible prayerfully and expectantly. Ask God to speak to you through its pages and expect Him to do so.
This doesn’t mean that every time we open the Bible we’ll find something new; God may be underlining truths we already know. But let the psalmist’s prayer become yours: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18).
In addition, come to the Bible systematically. Some people open their Bibles almost at random or simply reread passages they already know. While God can certainly speak to us through any passage, we also need to remember that the Bible wasn’t written [to be read] that way. Get in the habit of reading the Bible the way it was written: one book at a time.
You can begin by reading through one of the Gospels, such as John, perhaps only a few paragraphs at a time. Later you can read Acts, which tells of the early Christians, then some of the New Testament letters.
Psalms in the Old Testament—the “hymnbook” of the Bible—has blessed generations of believers, while Proverbs gives practical guidance for daily living. Psalms teaches us how to relate to God, and Proverbs teaches us how to relate to others.
Also come to the Bible thoughtfully. In other words, be sure you understand what you are reading. Several years ago, a woman told me that her grandmother reads a chapter of the Bible every day. Then she added, “But whenever I ask her what she’s just read, she can’t tell me. Reading the Bible is just a habit that doesn’t seem to make any impression on her.” Focus on what the passage is really saying. What is happening in it? What is its central point or primary teaching? What does it say about about Jesus, or about someone’s response to God?
Finally, come to the Bible obediently. James wrote, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
Is God pointing out a truth you should believe or something you should do? Is He revealing a sin for which you need to repent? Remember: God never leads us to do anything that is contrary to His Word. But the opposite is also true: God always leads us to do everything that is in agreement with His Word.
God gave the Bible to us because He wants us to know Him and love Him and serve Him. Most of all, He gave it to us so we can become more like Christ. Make the Bible part of your life—beginning today. Reading and Understanding the Bible
The Bible is God’s Word to us. It’s His message of love and forgiveness, and shows us how we can have eternal life. It can also answer questions you have as you strive to live a life that pleases Him. That’s why Christians should try to read the Bible daily.
Here are some suggestions: First, read one chapter from the Gospel of John each day. This will help you understand the· basics of the Gospel. (Books of the Bible are typically listed in the front of the Bible.) Second, read Acts, the exciting story of how Jesus Christ’s first disciples told others about how· He died and rose again. Third, read the letters that Christ’s follower’s wrote to His first followers—all who were new in· their faith. These letters are the book of Romans through the book of 3 John. Fourth, go back and read one of the other three gospels: Matthew, Mark or Luke.·
You might not understand everything you read in the Bible, but don’t let that discourage you. The Bible tells us what God is like and offers us wisdom. As you read it, ask God and yourself: What does this passage mean?· What is God saying to me in this passage?· How can I apply this to my own life?· As you read your Bible regularly, you will begin to understand more of it.
Here are 4 more ways to get more out of your reading: 1. Read the Psalms, the Old Testament book of worship, to enrich your devotion to God. 2. Read Proverbs to gain wisdom and strengthen your relationship with others. 3. Pray for understanding. The Holy Spirit can help you, and you will begin to see life from God’s perspective. 4. Talk to others about what you’re learning. Try to attend a small group Bible study.
Sin!! What is sin? Some call it “errors” or “mistakes” or “poor judgment.” This may be a good starting point, but as we learn more about God and the Bible, we see that it’s something much more serious. Sin is falling short of the perfect standard God has set. And, by our very nature, we are all falling short of His standard. We are all guilty. We have all sinned against Him.
A Message from Franklin Graham: The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The angel announced to Joseph that the Child in Mary’s womb should be called “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to be baptized, he exclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
The Bible mentions sin so frequently for a very good reason—it is sin, our sin, that separates us from God and, if not dealt with through faith and repentance, brings eternal death. Facing the truth about our sin and its deadly consequences is a biblical prerequisite to receiving Jesus as Savior.
A speaker at a so called “Christian conference” said that we should not mention sin in our preaching because it is offensive. That was a lie of course. Sin certainly is offensive, but the Person who is affronted is the Holy God.
God hates sin. He is eternally, fiercely opposed to it and cannot tolerate it in His presence. That’s why the Scripture spends so much time speaking about sin. It is our fundamental problem and, if ignored, leaves us to rely on our own futile resources for a solution. However, as much emphasis as the Bible places on the reality and peril of sin, it puts an even greater weight on the cure for sin—salvation through personal faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Sin has been dealt with. There is deliverance because we have a Deliverer. There is salvation because we have a Savior. There is redemption because we have a Redeemer.
The Good News is that God forgives sin. He poured out His divine wrath against it by punishing His own Son on the cross. “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5, NASB). Sin’s penalty—eternal death—was paid in full when Jesus died as our substitute at Calvary.
When we turn from our sin—acknowledge our rebellion against God and utter inability to save ourselves—and turn to God in faith, we receive the free gift of salvation. We did nothing to earn it, because we can’t. Amazingly, God not only took away our sins; He also credited His righteousness to us. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB). Martin Luther called this the “great exchange,” our sin for His righteousness.
(More to Come)
https://static.billygraham.org/sites/billygraham.org/uploads/pro/2019/08/GF-Basics-of-Christianity.pdf (Edited slightly by this site)