The Bible: God's Handbook for the Past, Present, and Future

It's God's Book and It's God's Word
The Bible is God's revelation of Himself to people. This means that God
has told us about Himself and His plan for the world in the pages of the
Bible. The Bible is God's personal message to us. It's a divine letter
written to every person born into the human race. When you read the Bible,
it's as if God is talking directly to you.

"You accepted what we said as the very word of God--which, of course, it
was. And this word continues towork in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
So How Did God Do It?
Just how did God, who is Spirit (that is, no flesh and blood), put His
words into a format that we flesh-and-blood humans can read and
understand? In a word, God spoke the Bible into existence in much the same
way as He created the universe.

"By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, 
that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen" (Hebrews 11:3).
In other words, He did it by literally breathing His words into more than
40 different writers over a 1500-year time period. That's what it means
when you hear that the Bible has been inspired by God. Inspire literally
means "to breathe or blow into." 

"All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true
and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out
and teaches us to do what is right" (2 Timothy 3:16).

God 's breath gives life. The Bible tells us that when God created the
first man, Adam, He formed his body from the dust of the ground and
"breathed into it the breath of life." In the same way, when God breathed
into the human authors of the Bible, He gave life to His word. Because of
this process, you can have complete trust in the Bible, whether it's
talking about history or the way you should live your life. God, who is
perfect, used a foolproof means to get His message into print: He
"breathed in" what He wanted. 
So Many Pages, and No Mistakes?
Each  of the 66 books in the Bible had to measure up to a set of strict
guidelines to determine which books were God-inspired and which ones
weren't. This process, called canonization, was carried out by a series of
church councils in the first few centuries after Christ lived on the
earth. Their main task was to evaluate books written during and after the
time of Christ. The canon councils did not declare a book to be from God.
They simply recognized the divine authority that was already there. The
total canon of scripture--all 66 books of the Bible--was recognized as the
authoritative Word of God by the fourth century A.D.

It Helps to Know the Beginning Before the End
The end of the world is not going to happen by accident. It will occur
according to God's detailed and preordained plan. He has had this plan in
operation for centuries, and everything is taking place according to His
schedule as it is outlined in the Bible. 

Part One--Eternity Past: An Ill-Fated Intergalatic Insurrection
Before God created the earth and people, He created angels. He gave these
celestial beings the freedom of choice because He didn't want a bunch of
preprogrammed robots. Everything was going along great in heaven until one
of the high-ranking angels, Lucifer, attempted to lead a palace revolt
against God. God squelched the ill-fated rebellion and expelled Lucifer
(also known as Satan) and his fellow celestial chumps out of heaven. The
untimate punishment for their treason would come later. In the meantime,
they were roaiming around with no place to go.

Part Two--Eternity Present:
God created our universe. After creating the solar systems and the earth,
God specifically designed a man. the Bible says that God made man in His
own image. This doesn't mean that God has ten toes and chest hair. The
"image of God" which was placed in man was a "soul"--an eternal nature. So
every menber of the human race has a mind, a body, and a soul (or spirit).
Even after our death and the deterioration of our mind and body, our soul
lives on forever. God began the human race with Adam and Eve. They were
living the ideal life in the Garden of Eden. They had a personal
friendship with God. Life was perfect, but then Satan snuck in. He knew
that God had designed humanity with a free will (Adam and Eve were capable
of either obeying or disobeying God's instructions). God had laid down a
few simple instructions for them to follow, but instead of doing what God
had asked, Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan's lies. They blatantly
disobeyed God, and everyting was ruined.The Bible calls their disobedience
"sin." Sin is such an insidious virus that it infected them and all of
their descendants---the whole human race. Since Adam and Eve, every person
has been born with a sin nature.

Whats's So Bad About Sin?
Sin is so bad because God is so holy. He cannot tolerate sin of any kind
because He is perfect. The Bible is clear that sin is so bad that:
It has infected all of us (Romans 3:23).

As a rebellion against God, it deserves the same eternal death penalty
imposed on Satan (Romans 6:23).

Even though the human race has continued Adam and Eve's example of
rejecting God and rebelling against His authority, God still longs to
restore a personal relationship with the human race. Unfortunately, under
God's divine design, sin can only be forgiven by the death of an innocent
person, and there has never been a human being who could qualify. God
Himself had the solution to mankind's sin problem. His only Son, Jesus,
would come to earth as a man to die as a sacrifice for mankind--dying in
our place so we don't have to suffer eternal punishment. That was the whole
purpose of Jesus Christ being on earth. His crucifixion was not a
colossal mistake which God's plan. God's plan was fulfilled exactly. Jesus
was born to die so that we might live. What Jesus did on the cross was
enough to "save" us from eternal punishment, but we must decide whether or
not we want to accept this "salvation." We accept salvation by giving God
the priority He deserves in our lives. Those who accept God's gift are
referred to as "Christians" (a follower of Christ).

Some of the events at the end of the world will affect everyone. Some
apply only to Christians, and others apply only to people who have not
accepted Jesus Christ's gift of salvation. Your ultimate destination for
eternity will be determined by whether or not you are a Christian.

Part Three--Eternity Future: The End Is Only the Beginning
The Bible describes some clear and definite events that will be easily
recognizable and undeniable as the world comes near its end. 

Return of Jesus Christ
Jesus already invaded planet Earth once. He was born as a baby and
crucified as a man. He's coming back again in the future. This "second
coming of Christ" is the pivotal part of God's divine design for humanity,
but it won't happen with the obscurity that accompanied the birth of
Christ in Bethlehem. The return of Christ will be marked by much fanfare,
which all the inhabitants of the earth will witness. The return of Christ
will be closely associated with world turmoil and calamity. There will be
natural disasters of unprecedented proportions. A treacherous world
politician will intentionally initiate global warfare.

Immortal soul
every person has a spiritual dimension that lives forever. There is life
beyond the grave.

Future bodily resurrection
At some point in the future, the immortal souls of all people will be
given new bodies. The dead will be "resurrected" at God's appointed time,
and all people, from all of human history, will be outfitted with a new
body for eternity.

Final judgment
Every person who ever lived, along with Satan and his demons, will at one
future date stand before God. There will be no exceptions.

Eternity forever in one place or the other
All of us, because of out "spirit" nature, will have eternal life. It's
just a question of whether you will spend eternity in hell or heaven.

If You Only Remember One Thing, Remember This
You cannot control or escape the events or timing of the end of the world.
These things are going to happen, and there is nothing you can do to
change them. However, you have control over the destination where you will
spend eternity. If you accept salvation through Jesus Christ, you will be
choosing heaven. On the other hand, hell is what people choose if they
reject Jesus.

Terms for the future
Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:9,10)
Armageddon: last world war

Great White Throne Judgment: All people from throughout history
                             who rejected God and His son, Jesus

Heaven: the abode of God
Hell: place of eternal torture and suffering
Judgment Seat of Christ: reserved for people who believed in Jesus
Millenium: period of a thousand years when there will be peace on earth

Rapture: At an unknown time, Jesus Christ is going to appear in the sky
         and all Christians, living and dead, will be transported to
         meet Him in the sky

Second Coming: As the great battle of Armageddon is about to begin, Jesus
               Christ will return to earth to take His place as the
               rightful King. Satan  will be bound and gagged for the
               duration  of the millenium

Tribulation: The Great Tribulation is believed to be a seven-year period 
             which will have calamities and catastrophes greater than the
             world has ever known

"What's That Again?"
1. The Bible is the Word of God. God directed the authors to write His
   message. God's plan for the future of your life and the entire world is
   recorded in the Bible.

2. The Bible is without error. All its statements are true. You can trust
   what it says about your life and the world.

3. The end of the world will not happen by accident. From before the
   beginning of time, God had a plan.

4. God's divine design for humanity revolves around His desire to restore
   a personal relationship with us. Ous sin has cut us off form God, but
   our sin can be forgiven by belief in Jesus Christ.

5. Within each of us there is a spiritual dimension. Our "soul" is eternal
   and will live beyond our death. The events at the end of the world
   include a "resurrection" of our new body.

6. Belief in Jesus is the determining factor for out future. When the
   world comes to an end, our destination for eternity will be determined
   by whether we believed in Jesus during our lifetime.