Section A: From Paradise to Paradise
In God’s word, the Bible, we can find the answers to the most searching questions asked by man – questions such as, “Is there a God? If so, who is He, and where is He?” All men have a vacuum, a longing for a higher power to answer their deep questions, guide them, and give them a real reason for living. This longing for something better and higher was planted in the human heart by God Himself. He longs to bestow upon man all the blessings of His love and mercy, to fulfill his deepest needs, and to satisfy his most ardent longings. To truly understand life, one will seek God.
Part 1: GOD THE FATHER
“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:2, 3. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:6. See also 1 Corinthians 8:6.
Monotheism is the belief that there is only one superior being in the universe, who is its Creator and Ruler, and that the forces in nature are expressions of His power. The Bible expresses this truth throughout its sacred pages: There is only one God! In contrast to this is polytheism, a belief in many gods. The worship of more than one God is unscriptural.
God is a spiritual being as well as a person
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24. Although with our limited understanding we cannot fully explain or comprehend Him, the Bible gives us much evidence that God is a person. See John 14:6-9. He spoke in an audible voice. “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. See also John 12:27-29. God also sees and hears.
Psalm 94:9. He grieved 40 years for His people. Psalm 95:10. God revealed Himself as a personal Being in His Son, Jesus. No man has seen God since sin entered the world.See Isaiah 59:2. The most perfect revelation of God is Jesus. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” John 1:18.
God’s nature and character
God’s nature is defined in the Scriptures as eternal. He is without beginning and end. “Even His eternal power and Godhead.” Romans 1:20. See Revelation 21:6. “But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting king:…” Jeremiah 10:10.
He is immortal, or not subject to death. “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.” 1 Timothy 1:17. Another characteristic of God is that He is unchangeable. James 1:17. The most important of all truths is that God is love. “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:8. Exodus 34:6 emphasizes that the Lord is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
God is omnipresent; that is, although He is a personal Being, He is present everywhere. The primitive concept of God is to consider Him bound to a certain place, object, or even a nation. The other extreme is to regard God as an impersonal force, or spirit, which dwells in all animate and inanimate things. The Bible refutes both of these ideas. “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” Acts 17:24.
Everything we need to know about God is revealed in His word. Beyond the Biblical revelation of God’s nature and character, all human opinions are mere speculation. On this point, silence is eloquent. “Be still, and know that I am God:…” Psalm 46:10. See also Job 11:7. Because no man has seen God, we must be content with what the Bible tells us about Him. “…The King of kings, and Lord of lords;…whom no man hath seen, nor can see:…” 1 Timothy 6:15, 16.
God wants us to seek Him with all our hearts. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13. God promises that if we seek Him in this life we will have the privilege of seeing Him face to face in eternity. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians 13:12.
Part 2: JESUS CHRIST
We already noted in Lesson 1 that Jesus Christ is the center of all the Bible’s teachings, and in the first part of this lesson that God revealed Himself as a personal Being in His Son, Jesus. See John 1:18; 14:9. Jesus Christ is the center of all true religion; and, more specifically, Christianity stands or falls with the significance of Jesus Christ. Who is He whom men worship and angels adore? The Scriptures call Him by many names – all of them appealing and beautiful.
1. The ROCK. Deuteronomy 32:4.
2. ROSE OF SHARON, LILY OF THE VALLEY. Song of Solomon 2:1.
3. LAMB OF GOD. John 1:36.
4. BREAD OF LIFE. John 6:35.
5. THE GOOD SHEPHERD. John 10:14.
6. THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE. John 14:6.
7. BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR. Revelation 22:16.
8. THE WORD. John 1:1-4, 14.
9. WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF PEACE. Isaiah 9:6.
To many, Jesus was a baby born in a manger in Bethlehem; to others, He is the Saviour of the world who was born to Mary, grew up in Nazareth, preached 31/2 years in Israel, died on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended to His Father in heaven. Christ is all of these and more – much more!
Did you know that Jesus existed in heaven with His Father before He was born as a baby in Bethlehem? This truth is plainly recorded in the Bible. “In the beginning was the Word,…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,…”John 1:1, 14. Jesus took upon Himself the garb of humanity; He came to live and work as a man, enduring patiently every temptation man has been or ever will be called upon to face. God’s Son, the Word, truly was made flesh. Note the middle part of Verse 14: “…(and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)” “And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” John 17:5. “For I came down from heaven,…” “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?” John 6:38, 62. Jesus is God’s Son and the Messiah.
Many years before His birth in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah foretold Jesus’ mission on earth. See Isaiah 9:6. In order to restore man to the relationship he had had with God the Father before sin entered, Christ came down from heaven – from God. Only a divine being could atone for man’s sin and thus bridge the chasm between God and man. See Hebrews 2:17. Because of His perfect humanity, Christ was one with man; and at the same time, because of His divinity, He was one with God. While laying one hand upon humanity, He could lay the other upon God. In this way He could become the advocate, or Mediator, between God and man for reconciliation. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5. See also Romans 5:10; Colossians 2:9.
It may surprise some to learn that Jesus is not only the Son of God but also the Creator of all things. The Bible gives proof of this wonderful truth. “God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son,…by whom He made the worlds.” Hebrews 1:1, 2. “…All things were created by Him, and for Him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:12-17. See also John 1:3.
Prophecies relating to the Messiah
The Hebrew word Messiah is in Greek the word Christos. Both words mean “the anointed One.” Ever since sin entered the world, men of God have looked for the promised Messiah, the great Redeemer. Yet when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, few recognized Him as the Messiah. The shepherds, the wise men, the prophetess Anna, and the devout Simeon were the few who acknowledged that the birth of this Infant was the fulfillment of prophecy.
Genesis 49:10 – Jacob called Him “Shiloh” (Bringer of Rest). Daniel 9:25, 26 – Daniel indicated the time of His appearance.
Micah 5:2 – The exact city of Christ’s birth was foretold.
Isaiah 7:14 – His name was to be “Emmanuel”; He was to be born of a virgin.
Matthew 1:23 – His name, “Emmanuel,” means “God with us.”
Matthew 1:18-21 – Prophecy was fulfilled when Mary conceived of the Holy Ghost.
In the Old Testament, there are over 300 prophecies pointing directly to the coming, life and work, suffering, and victory of the Son of man. Everything Jesus did was in fulfillment of the Scriptures. Please take time to read Matthew 1:22; 2:15; 4:14; 13:35; 27:35.
Jesus is our only hope
No knowledge of Christ, however great, which does not make us Christ-like is of any value. Colossians 1:26, 27 stresses the importance of Christ being in us. The presence of Christ in our lives gives the genuine purpose for living. To know Christ is to experience the most that life can offer. Jesus is our only hope! “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and He that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:11, 12.
Part 3: THE HOLY SPIRIT
So far we have studied about two persons of the Godhead – God the Father, and God the Son. The third person of the heavenly family is the Holy Spirit, also referred to in the Scriptures as the Holy Ghost. See Matthew 28:19. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit as an infinitely wise, holy, and tender person. The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons, yet they are completely equal, united in character, holiness, and divinity; they pursue one goal; yet each has His own sphere of activity and form of revelation.
As a matter of fact, all three persons of the Godhead were active in the creation of the world. The Father was the source of all things; Jesus created all things; and the Holy Spirit moved (brooded) over the waters to awaken life in the created beings. See Genesis 1:2, 26.
The Holy Spirit is also called the Comforter and the Spirit of truth. “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:16, 17. It was necessary for Christ to return to heaven so the Comforter could be sent. John 16:7.
What does the Holy Spirit do?
The Holy Spirit and His activities are of the utmost importance to the believer. “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth:…and He will shew you things to come.” John 16:13. This truth is God’s word. John 17:17. The Holy Spirit also reproves men of sin, righteousness, and judgment. John 16:8-11. The Scriptures are explained by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:10, 11. A most vital work accomplished by the Holy Spirit is the new birth of the repentant sinner. John 3:5-9. Thus through belief in Christ, men are born of God, not of flesh or the will of man. John 1:13. The Holy Spirit writes God’s laws in the heart and mind. Hebrews 8:10; 2 Corinthians 3:3.
In addition to making these impressions on our hearts, the Holy Spirit assists our prayers. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know no what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26, 27. The power of the Holy Ghost makes us able to witness for Christ. Acts 1:8. It is through His leading that we come in harmony with God. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14.
The most important work of the Holy Spirit is sealing men for salvation. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30.
Comparison to air, fire, water, and oil
“The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. “Job 33:4. Air is necessary for life. Without it a person can survive only a few minutes. When you stop breathing for any length of time, you cease living. In the same manner, the Holy Spirit, symbolized by air of breath, brings life to a soul. See Job 27:3.
The power and zeal of the Holy Ghost are also portrayed as fire in Matthew 3:11 and Luke 12:49.
John 7:37-39 compares a person who does not have the Holy Spirit with someone who is thirsty. The sin scorched people in the world are crying for water that will satisfy the thirst of their souls. Only the Holy Spirit can give them relief.
In the parable of the ten virgins, the Holy Spirit is symbolized by the oil in the virgins’ lamps. Read Matthew 25:1-12. Knowledge of the Bible amounts only to dry facts unless the Holy Spirit changes or anoints our lives according to that knowledge. The oil, or the Holy Spirit, illuminates the truth for us. It is through Him that Christ lives in His followers.
Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost
The unpardonable, fatal sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit consists of deliberately rejecting light, or divine truth. Matthew 12:31, 32; Hebrews 6:4-6. It is possible to grieve the Comforter, who calls sinners to repentance. If anyone persistently rejects the calling of the Holy Spirit and turns away from Him, the Spirit will go away and no longer speak to that person through his conscience.
Presumptuous or self-confident sins lead to this great transgression. Psalm 19:13. Committing blasphemy against the Holy Ghost causes us to be rejected by Christ. Matthew 7:21-23 vividly portrays this rejection: “I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” After the time of grace, or probation, is over, people will seek for God’s word but will not find it, because the Holy Spirit, rejected for so long will finally depart. Amos 8:11, 12.
Everyone may have the Spirit today
“The promise of the Holy Spirit is not limited to any age or to any race. Christ declared that the divine influence of His Holy Spirit was to be with His followers unto the end. From the Day of Pentecost to the present time, the Comforter has been sent to all who have yielded themselves fully to the Lord and to His service. To all who have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit has come as a counselor, sanctifier, guide, and witness.” – The Acts of the Apostles, p. 49.
Thus the Godhead consists of three members – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Remember that they are three distinct persons yet one in perfect harmony of purpose. Though it may be difficult to understand the personality of the Holy Spirit, we may accept by faith all that the Scriptures teach us regarding His marvelous work. Think of Him as you might the wind. Though we cannot see the wind, we see unmistakable evidence of its work. Similarly, the power of the Holy Spirit is clearly visible in the life of a born-again Christian. There will be a marked change in him. Old habits, old goals, old desires will all be laid aside, and a new, Spirit-filled life will radiate to all a warmth and glow that will make one a “living, lovable Christian.” This is a supernatural work accomplished as a gift from Heaven – if we want it. Lesson 3 will show that there are other supernatural beings besides God.