Bible Study with Dick Neel
McCook Christian Church
I attended a workshop last summer about stories. Stories have a framework or a “spine”. They tend to follow this pattern: Once upon a time… Everyday… But one day… Because of that… Because of that… Because of that… Until finally…
The story we are going to explore follows this pattern. Watch for it as we go along. Where do you think we should start this story? At the beginning, of course. Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Go ahead and read the first chapter and the first three verses of the second. This is a wonderful story of the creation. This is one of the most controversial passages in the Bible. This is not a 21st century scientific treatise on the origins of life. The validity of the seven-day creation is certainly discussed and argued. What I know is that the world around us certainly displays the handiwork of a master designer who put all creation in order. This issue is of vital importance to each of us. Are we created with a purpose? Or are we the product of a great number of accidents over a long period of time? Where did we come from? Where are we going?
Several months from now we will talk about Joshua, who lead God's people. At the end of his life he gave a speech to the people. Find the book of Joshua, the sixth book. Read Joshua 24:15. I choose God!
Did you notice in Genesis 1:26, God said, "Let us make man in our image." Why do you think that it was us and our instead of me and my? The Bible is its own best commentary and has the best explainations. Turn to John 1:1-3.
then… (Optional: And the moral to the story is…). If you want to look into this more, I recommend The Case for a Creator by . (This isn’t a light, easy read). Also, there is a series of video tapes that covers this subject well.
Let's move now to Genesis 3:1-14. If you had a pet bird that you fed, watered, petted and held in your hand, but always kept it in a cage, you could say it loved you. It would sit on its perch and sing and sit on your hand in the cage. You can say it loved you, but the only way you could know for sure is to take it from its cage and open your hand so it could fly away. That is the way it is with our relationship with God. He has made us and wants us to love him, but the only way He can know that we truly do love him is if He gives us the opportunity to fly away. From this passage, we can see that man chose to sin and bring death into the world. The rest of the Bible is about God's plan to reconcile us back to Himself. God is perfect and just and cannot look upon sin, but still He loves us.
Go back now and look at the "spine of the story". Once upon a time -- In the beginning, God created all the heavens and the earth and mankind. Because of God's desire for man to love Him, He gave us the ability to make moral choices. We chose sin. Everyday -- God had implemented His plan to return us to Him. But one day -- God came to live for a little while with is. His name is Jesus.
The first five books of the Old Testament were probably written by Moses. They contain the accounts of God building a nation of people to call his own. They go by several names that are interchangeable: Israel, Hebrews, Jews. These books contain some of the great stories of the Bible. If you didn't go to Sunday school as a child, you have missed them. They are such good stories and they are referenced in a lot of contemporary literature that I think it would be well to review them.
Unfortunately the books of the Old Testament are not in order according to time. We will just have to learn how they fit together. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel and II Samuel -- these books pretty much follow the timeline of the Nation of Israel. Ruth is like an outtake from the . I Kings and I Chronicles, II Kings and II Chronicals cover the same periods of time and need to be studied together. Ezra and Nehemiah are near the end of the Old Testament times. Esther is similar in time to Ezra and Nehemiah. Job, then, takes place back in the time frame of Genesis. If you remember from the first lesson, Psalms is in the center of the Bible. These are the books that make up the first half of the Bible.
Look up the following references to answer the questions:
1. How can we know that there is a God who created everything? Psalms 19:1-5
2. How do we know that Jesus came from God? John 14:9
3. In 19th century America, why were businesses closed on Sunday? Genesis 2:2-3
4. Have you ever thought, "I don't really fit in at church. Everyone's so perfect and I am such a miserable person."? What does the Bible say? Romans 3:23, I John 1:8
5. Why did Jesus leave heaven and come to earth as a lowly man? Luke 19:10
Bible Study with Dick Neel
McCook Christian Church
For this lesson, we want to learn many of the facts about Jesus Christ, and also work on being more proficient with looking up references in our Bibles. Please look up the references to answer the questions.
~Why did the angel tell Joseph to take Mary and the Christ Child to Egypt? (Matthew 2:13-19)
~When Jesus was 12 years old, he got left behind at the temple. How did he respond to his parents when they found him? (Luke 2:41-50)
~The first thing Jesus did to initiate his ministry was to be baptized. Who baptized Jesus? Where was this done? (John 1:28-29)
~How long was Jesus tempted in the wilderness? (Mark 1:12-13)
~Jesus' first miracle came about when Jesus was at a party. Because there was not enough wine, Jesus changed water into wine. Why did Jesus perform miracles? (John 2:11)
~Read Matthew 5:1-12. This passage is referred to as the Beatitudes. Do these teachings surprise you? Sometime later, you should read Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount". (Matthew 5, 6, 7)
~When did Nicodemus come to Jesus? Why? (John 3:1-2)
~Jesus laid out his purpose in life. What is it? (John 3:16)
~Read Mark 4:1-20. What is a parable? Why did Jesus teach with parables?
~Jesus was challenged by Pharisees. Which law is the greatest? What was Jesus' answer? (Matthew 22-37-40)
~Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" What was Peter's reply? (Mark 8:29)
~Why did a tax collector named Zacchaeus climb a tree? (Luke 19:3)
~Why did Jesus say he was going to Jerusalem? (Mark 10:33-34)
~As Jesus entered Jerusalem what did the people proclaim? (Luke 19:38)
~Why did Jesus wash the disciples' feet? (John 13:15)
~Peter told Jesus that he would never fall away. What was Jesus’ response? (Matthew 26:34)
~Who led the temple guards to Jesus to arrest him? (Mark 14:43)
~Even though Pilate wanted to release Jesus, what did the chief priests and rulers keep shouting? (Luke 23:21)
~What did the sign on the cross say? (John 19:19)
~What did Jesus say just before he died? (John 19:30)
~Into whose tomb was the body of Jesus laid? (Matthew 27:57)
~Who was the first person to find the tomb empty after ? (John 20:1)
~What did Jesus say to his disciples when he suddenly appeared in the room with them? (John 20-19)
~What did Jesus eat to show that he had bodily arose from the dead? (Luke 24:42)
~Matthew 28:18-20 is referred to as the Great Commission. What is the promise?
~How big would the library have to be to hold all of the books that could be written about the things Jesus has done? (John )
About 300 years before the birth of Jesus, Alexander the Great conquered the world as they knew it. By doing so, the Greek language became the common means of communication. THe New Testament was originally written in Greek so it could be read throughout the civilized world. In AD 63, the Roman general Pompey overran Jerusalem, thus setting up Roman rule. The Romans provided a system of roads that allowed the rapid spread of the Gospel throughout the civilized world. Much of what we know as Bible history is also secular history.
Next month we will start on the “Story” that is contained in the Bible. You may ask, “Didn’t Jesus teach all we need to know?” The answer is yes, but you need to know the Old Testament to be able to better understand the New Testament.
To sharpen your skills, put these
Bible Study with Dick Neel
McCook Christian Church
Are the first four books of the New Testament are the gospels or the biography of Jesus. Why do you think there are four? Here is an exercise to show why:
becoming more familiar to you? I have read a number of novels that spend considerable pages at the first building the characters. Jesus is such a huge hero, central to our story, that I think we should develop his character before we go to the story. The Some of us would read this as: "Happiness is now here." Others would read it: "Happiness is nowhere." We all read the same letters in the same order but some how we saw it differently. The gospel writers are no different. They all came at the biography of Jesus from different perspectives and wrote to different audiences for different reasons.
Matthew was a Jewish tax collector. The Jews were under domination of Rome and were forced to pay taxes pay for having the Roman army in Israel and to pay tribute to Rome. The Romans would have these tax collectors collect the money. They were paid by the amount more than the tax that they could collect. They were hated by the Jews and not liked much by the Romans. Jesus chose Matthew to be one of his disciples. Matthew wrote to prove that Jesus was the “ .”
Mark was close to Peter. Many call the book of Mark the . He wrote his biography of Jesus as a message to the gentiles. Gentiles are any of us who are not Jewish. Mark is the shortest of the gospel accounts.
Luke was a physician by training. He is noted for his attention to the facts and to detail. He wrote his gospel to prove the validity of the Jesus story.
John again was one of Jesus’ closest followers. He refers to himself as the “one Jesus loved.” John writes to show that Jesus was God’s son.
Let’s look at the various books to see the differences. My convention is to list the name of the book, the chapter followed by a colon and then the verses. I would recommend that you start by putting a marker in your Bible at the start of the New Testament.
Turn to Matthew 1:1. The genealogy of Jesus. It was important to the Jews that a person be able to outline his ancestry. As we get into the story we will find that this is the way that the land was allotted. Matthew’s aim is to prove the kingship of Jesus and the first thing to prove is that Jesus is in the linage to rightfully be the king. Matthew mentions Abraham and David. These men are very important to our story, but we will get to more about them later.
Now let’s turn to Luke 1:5. The first 4 verses are just introduction to the book. His material about Jesus starts with verse 5. As you can see, Luke is specific about naming names and places and times. This is important because all of these facts can be verified by the secular history of the time.
Go back to Mark:1. Here we see that Mark doesn’t even begin his gospel account until Jesus is about 30 years old and starts his ministry that lasted about 3 years.
Turn to John 1:1. While Mark started with Jesus baptism, John starts his writing showing that Jesus was with God before creation and was with God at the creation. So John starts before time.
What was the world like that Jesus was born into? One program I like says, “The world was ruled by criminals,” as we saw in the Luke’s book. Herod ruled Israel. I think that Pol Pot of Cambodia and Idi Amin of Uganda took lessons on nastiness from Herod. Herod served at the pleasure of Rome. The Roman Caesars were absolute dictators. People were executed by their word. They demanded that they were gods and demanded worship. The people were overtaxed, poor and down-trodden. The world Jesus was born into was the lowest of the low.
My favorite story is the . “And it came to pass that in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxes.” To read this beautiful story, turn to Luke 2:1-20. This is a beautiful story of a baby, shepherds, and angles. But no wise men. Luke doesn’t mention the visit of the astrologers from the East. We have to turn back to Matthew 2:1 to find the story of the magi. Mostly we can learn of the nastiness of Herod. Neither Mark of John have any reference to the Christmas Story.
Why did Jesus come to earth? Find John:13:15. Jesus came to set an example for us. If you remember from the last lesson there are four little books that are located by the phrase "Go Eat Pop Corn." Let’s turn to the book of . One of the character traits of Jesus is his humility. Read Philippians 2:5-11. Jesus was with God and was God, but he humbled himself to come to earth as a human to die on the cross for you and me.
There are really three great questions of life. When you find the answers to these, life will become much simpler.
1. Is there a God in Heaven?
2. Does he care about me?
3. What am I going to do with Jesus?
As we explore the story of the Bible, these are the questions that we will try to answer.
Bible Study with Dick Neel
McCook Christian Church
One of the things that I have learned over the years is that many people go to Bible studies or Sunday school classes to learn more of what the Bible has to say about the way we lead our lives. There are a number of other reasons, such as fellowship and belonging. An interesting paradox is that many people don’t go to these classes because they don’t want their lack of knowledge of the Bible to be exposed. In other words, they don’t want to feel stupid. I also realize that no matter what, those of us who have some knowledge about what the Bible says or does, we have a hard time to allay those fears that someone may feel stupid because they can’t turn to Hezikiah 3:2. (Hezikiah is not a book in the Bible)
I have recently spoken with two people who have expressed these feelings. I thought I would try to lead a Bible study along these lines. These two live 300 miles apart, and who has the ability to put several busy schedules together and find a time to get together? So I thought I would take a giant leap and try to do this as an Internet-based study.
The Bible is a very unique piece of literature. It contains 66 separate books, 39 in the and 27 in the . If you are using a Bible that doesn’t have study guides in the back and open it to the center, you will find that you have turned to the book of Psalms. I find that it is easier to learn if you break the information into smaller pieces. This division at Psalms is a good place for me to make a division. The other logical place is the New Testament. So we will begin our study of the Bible with three divisions. The Old Testament before Psalms, the Old Testament after Psalms and the New Testament.
As we begin, I will relate my quick summary of history. In the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, God creates heaven, earth and man. All things were perfect. Man was created in the , which means he has a , and he disobeyed God and sin entered the world. The world has been cursed since. This all takes place in the first three chapters of Genesis. From this we can learn some of the nature of God. God is perfect and cannot be present with imperfection or sin. Genesis 3: 15 is the first glimpse of Jesus. The history of man continues with God creating a special people, the Jews, or Hebrews, or Israel, (all of these names refer to the same people). From these people, Jesus comes to be the Savior and cover our sins and allow us to stand before God. This was His perfect plan. All of the Old Testament points to the coming of Jesus.
Since Jesus is so important to us, I am going to start with the New Testament. It is made up of 27 books. The first four, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain the biography of Jesus. The fifth book is Acts. This is the history of the beginning of the Church Age that we live in. The next 21 books are letters written to various people by the patriarchs of the New Church. The final book in the New Testament is prophesy of the end of time.
Here is a list of the books of the New Testament and some memory aids that I like to use to help remember them. I am sorry but I don’t have any more of the aids except these.
"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John hold the horse while I get on." These 4 books are called the .
These 4 books are small, only 2 or 3 pages each so they are hard to find. Remember the phrase, Go Eat Pop Corn, when you find one then you can know which way to go to find the one you want.
These 5 books all start with “T” and they are in .