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A people. A land. A law.

I was born March 17, 1971 in St. Louis, MO, into the Holland family, which belongs to the “American Family.” The American family dwells on the North American continent. The American family, to which I belong, is defined by its laws, preeminently the U. S. Constitution. A people. A land. A law.

In order for God to become flesh, He had to be born. Therefore, He needed a family – a people – a land and a law. The Old Testament is the story of God preparing for the coming of Jesus. God chose Abraham to be the “Father of his country” because Abraham, in the midst of unbelief and paganism, obeyed God (Genesis 22:16-18).

God took Abraham’s descendants, the Hebrews, into slavery in Egypt. After 430 years, at Mount Sinai, God formed them into a people – the nation of Israel, a “holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). The people needed a law; God gave them the Law of Moses to define them as a people. They also needed a land. God had promised Abraham the land under his feet (Genesis 15:18-21). God fulfilled that promise under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 21:43-45).

Everything was ready in its broad outlines for the coming of Jesus. The plan was for Israel to receive the birth of the Messiah and then proclaim Him as the Savior of all mankind to the entire world. But Israel had a hard time staying monotheistic (believing in one God). That issue began at Mount Sinai with the golden calf (Exodus 32). God eventually sent them into 70 years of slavery in Babylon to cure them of polytheism. The rest of the Old Testament details how God pruned the Israelite nation until He had a “faithful remnant.”

That remnant was composed of such people as Zacharias and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, Simeon and Anna, Nathaniel and others. When the Messiah did come, born of the virgin Mary, the remnant accepted Him, obeyed His word and became members of His new nation – the church.

Read the Bible with its overall theme in mind: The salvation of man through Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

Learn more about the Bible with this FREE Bible study.

–Paul Holland

There are many guidelines we can use to become better Bible students.

The Bible is God’s inspired book (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

From it, we find the path to heaven (Romans 10:17).

Therefore, we should be eager to immerse ourselves in God’s Word.

How can we presume to follow and emulate a Savior that we know nothing about? Christians must develop the initiative and routine to read and study God’s Word on their own (John 14:15).

We must be very careful when we study so we can learn the truth of the Gospel. We must be diligent to monitor the veracity of the teachings of men (Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 4:1).

We must never tamper with the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18). In fact, we’re warned not to even think beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).

There are many guidelines that we can use to become better Bible students.

First, God is always good. His “goodness endures continually” (Psalm 52:1, NKJV). He is eternal, all- powerful, all-knowing, awesome and incomparable (Jeremiah 32:17,27; Psalm 66:3; 86:8; 1 John 3:20). If we see God as always being good, then we will not charge him and the Bible with error.

God and His Word deserve the utmost respect and reverence (1 Corinthians 4:6).

Second, facts are not trivial. We must learn everything we can about the Bible. The number of books of the Bible, the divisions, the authors, the names of prophets, priests, apostles and cities are important as we build familiarity and comfort within the Biblical world.

Third, remember the covenants. The majority of false doctrines come from a failure to understand that we are under the new covenant and no longer under the Law of Moses (Hebrews 9:11-16). The student must rightly divide the Word if they will be pleasing to God (2 Timothy 2:15).

Fourth, slow down and notice the small words. We miss so much when we hurry. Scripture is laser focused on its redemptive story. Nothing is wasted. When we slow down, we notice a richness of detail that we would otherwise miss.

Spiritual light and darkness is a major theme in the writings of John (John 1:5; 8:12; 1 John 1:5). When we slow down, we notice an overlooked gem in the hours leading up to Christ’s arrest.

In the upper room, Jesus tells the Apostles about his imminent death (John 13:1). Jesus says that one of them would betray him, and he sends Judas out to make provisions (John 13:25-29).

John mentions Judas leaving and notes “it was night”

(John 13:30). Judas was a part of a drama that began before time and was prophesied in Genesis 3:15. John’s theme carries through to the end.

God’s Word is filled with such overlooked examples if we will notice them.

Fifth, we must focus on the simple. Fleshly man craves the dark and exciting. Conspiracies capture our imaginations. When we approach God’s Word, we must be childlike and filled with wonder and trust (Matthew 18:3).

God’s Word says what it says, and there aren’t any schemes or tricks. We develop spiritual eyes through the gospel transformation and we see as God wants us to see (Romans 12:1-2).

Bible students need to restrain their imaginations and focus on the spiritual, not the fleshly (Romans 8:5-8).

Bible scholars are often atheists and every passage, author and book in the Bible is doubted and discredited.

We must be very careful with men and we must trust God above all (Titus 1:2). God’s Word is a treasure if we will respect, revere and receive it with gladness.

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— by Richard Mansel

The Bible: Many stories, one book

IN HER BOOK Mystery on the Desert, Maria Reiche describes a series of strange lines made by the Nazca in the plains of Peru, some of them covering many square miles…

For years, people assumed these lines were the remnants of ancient irrigation ditches.  Then in 1939, Dr. Paul Kosok of Long Island University discovered their true meaning could only be seen from high in the air.  When viewed from an airplane, these seemingly random lines form enormous drawings of birds, insects, and animals.

Similarly, people often think of the Bible as a series of separate, unrelated stories.  When we view the Scriptures as a whole, however, we discover that they form one great story of redemption–from the first “In the Beginning” of Genesis to the final “Amen of Revelation.  Weaving through all the diverse strands of the Bible is a divine story line, the overarching story of how God has rescued, redeemed, and restored humanity, from the first nanosecond of creation through the final cry of victory at the end of time.  (Mike Macintosh)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”  Ephesians 1:3-10

–Mike Benson