The introduction and conclusion of a book usually provide a good summary or the fundamental lessons to be learned from it.
This appears to be the case with The Holy Bible. The Bible is a collection of 66 books, 39 of which are in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Even though the Bible was inspired by God, it was actually written by many human authors over a very long period of time. Yet, one can still obtain a good summary or fundamental lessons of the Bible by examining the introductory verse and concluding verse.
The introductory verse of the Bible states that: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 NIV), and the concluding verse states that: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with God’s people. Amen” (Revelation 22:21 NIV). Together, these two verses provide a good basis for a brief summary or fundamental lessons of the whole Bible.
Based on these two verses, the Bible begins with God and creation, and ends with Jesus, people and grace. The Bible addresses the relationship among God, Jesus Christ, people, and creation in the world community interwoven by grace.
From the third day to the fifth day of creation, God saw what He had created as good. However, after God created man on the sixth day, He saw all that He had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:1-31). Man was originally very good because man was created in the image of God and adorned with God’s glory. Sin is not specifically mentioned in the first two chapters of Genesis. Later, Satan deceived man to sin and man fell short of the glory of God (see Genesis chapter 3 and Romans 3:23). We the people of the world have messed up since then.
Sin brought separation between God and man and placed man on the road to hell. God handled the affairs of people by the law in ancient times as exemplified by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). The first two of the commandments, for example, deal with prohibitions against having or worshipping another god besides the Almighty God, or making idols or images of any kind to bow down to them or worship them. These prohibitions against idolatry are to ensure that we recognize and worship the one and only true God who is greater than all created idols and images combined. By and large, man proved incapable of obeying the law.
God is love. God provided all people of the world - Jews and Gentiles - the opportunity for rescue by sacrificing His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to live among us and die on the cross for our sins so that whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish in hell, but have everlasting life in heaven. That is what we find in John 3:16, about two-thirds into the Bible, which plan was executed by God beginning with the virgin birth of Jesus, through the shedding of his blood by crucifixion on the cross at Calvary, and ending with his resurrection from death three days later. Jesus ascended into heaven and will come back (Acts 1:6-11).
The reconciliation with God through Jesus is achieved by being spiritually born again through faith, confession, repentance, mercy, forgiveness, salvation, and baptism by water and the Holy Spirit. When one sinner repents and reconciles with God, the angels rejoice (Luke 15:10). There were great prophets, leaders, and other men and women of God in the Bible who preceded Jesus on this earth. However, none of them or any other thing was suitable as the sacrifice for atonement of sin, salvation, and reconciliation required by the Almighty God. Unbeknownst to them, they were in collaboration with Jesus because their Messianic prophecies pointed to Jesus as the redeemer and savior of the world; and his followers became the Church.
The result is that, in relatively modern times, God handles the affairs of people primarily by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:4-10). That does not mean the law has been abolished or repealed or that we should no longer obey the law; but grace abounds. In fact, Jesus summed up the law as follows: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus will come a second time to signify the end of this world as we know it, and God will judge all people of the world, whether dead or alive. Those who followed Jesus or did the will of God would go to heaven, and all others would go to hell (see John 14:1-3; Matthew 5:22; 2 Peter 2:4-9; and Romans 2:16). Think about God, Jesus Christ, creation, people, and grace – and add peace. This is the end of the brief summary.
The Bible is the living Word of God. I encourage you to read and meditate on it yourself. Avoid overdependence on others, no matter how high their titles or positions. As you read the Bible, look for the themes expressed in this summary and allow God to speak to you. You will realize that there is hope for all of us and that your situation may not be too different from some of the men and women God chose and used for His glory.
However, do not read the Bible as literature, the same way you read other books. It is The Holy Bible; it is not like any other book. The Bible was written under the inspiration of the Almighty God. Therefore, to understand the Bible the way God intended, you need to read it prayerfully under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. Then and only then would you find the true meaning behind it. Otherwise, you could obtain grade A in Bible Studies in school or become a Bible scholar and still miss the spiritual teachings of the Bible. Those who read and meditate on the Bible realize that God speaks to them differently from the same Bible passage depending on the circumstances they may be going through or the direction God may want them to take.
May God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), grant us joy to read and meditate on the Bible, wisdom to understand the Bible, and the will to follow the teachings of the Bible.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.