“The Message of the Bible”
Hello and welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. From time to time, we receive some very important messages. Someone calls us, sends us a text, an e-mail, or perhaps even a letter. In those messages, we find something that needs our full attention. It might be a message from work, a family member, or perhaps from someone we do not even know. Whatever the case, the message is very important and deserves our full attention. And we are familiar with those types of messages, aren't we? We have all sent and received them before. In our lesson today, on "Key to the Kingdom," we will notice a message which I believe is more important than any other message we could receive from any other source. It is more important than any we could send to any other person. It is the message of the Bible and its focus is on God's son, Jesus Christ. The message changes people's lives and it offers the free gift of salvation. Now, this message has been around for a long time, but it still has great and eternal benefits for us. I hope you will want to hear the message again as we open up our hearts and our Bibles to study together.
Many people look at the Book I hold in my hand and they ask the question, what is so important about it? Now, this Book is simply a copy of the Bible, or a copy of God's Word, and yet many people wonder what is so important about what is found in its pages. We open up the Bible and we look at the various introductions and we recognize that it was written many years ago to groups of people and to individuals perhaps we don't even know about nor understand. And without reading or studying any of the things that are found in God's Word, many people quickly dismiss it as being irrelevant to their life in the world today. Yet, I believe that if someone were to spend some time reading and studying the Bible they would quickly realize that it is full of some life-changing messages. It reveals so much about life, not only life some 4000 years ago or even 2000 years ago but life as we live it here in the world today. Oh, the Bible addresses many things that are relevant to our life. The Bible addresses things like justice, and fairness, and immorality, and love, and poverty, and wealth; and, that list goes on and on. Yes, the Bible is filled with many things that relate to you and to me, and that deserve our attention and our understanding. And yet, there are some people that might ask the question, what is the main message of the Bible? What is it all about? And if I were to answer that question, today, I might state it like this: the main message of the Bible focuses on God's love for mankind and Jesus' free gift of salvation. Yes, over and over again, throughout the entire Bible, we find those things emphasized; that, God has great love for all people everywhere and He demonstrates that love through the free gift of His son Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers. And that message is found way back in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. There we find that story of God creating the heavens and the earth, and He was so pleased with everything He created. It was absolutely perfect. Nothing was out of place. He then created Adam and Eve, man and woman, and He placed them in the garden and asked them to take care of the garden and to even name the animals. And they did that, for a period of time. And yet, one day Satan showed up, and Satan tempted Eve to eat of some fruit that was on a forbidden tree, that God told them not to eat, and Eve fell into that temptation. She ate of that forbidden fruit and then she convinced her husband Adam to do the very same thing. And when both of those people ate of that forbidden fruit, they chose to pursue their own interests and their own desires instead of the will of God. They were disobedient to God's commands and they decided that they knew what was better for themselves, and they sinned against God. As a result of that, God drove them out of the garden and they never returned to it. Yes, Adam and Eve brought sin into the world. And since that time, people have had a sin problem; and, that includes you and me. Because of their sin and rebellion, we have to deal with sin on an every day basis. All of us do. No one is exempt. And we know that from passages like Romans, in the New Testament, chapter 3 and verse 10, where the apostle Paul writes, <"No one is righteous, not a single one."> Yes, no one is right, or righteous, in the sight of God because of our sin. He goes on to state, in verse 23, <"We all sin and fall short of the glory of God."> Yes, all includes everyone. We all sin. We all make mistakes. We all fall short of the glory of our God in heaven. And so, since the time of Adam, we have had a sin problem that we have to deal with and try to overcome. And yet also, at the same time, since Adam and Eve's rebellion, God has been on a mission to bring people back to Him. He has been on a mission to restore that broken relationship so that He can enjoy fellowship with you and me. And God provided that solution through His son, Jesus Christ. The Father in heaven sent His son, Jesus, to this Earth, to be the Savior of the world. He sent Him to provide a solution for our sin problem. And now we have the opportunity to receive that solution, and to receive Jesus Christ and recognize that He is the only one who can bring us out of our sin and give us a solution to the problem that was created so long ago. No, we cannot do enough good deeds to solve that sin problem by ourselves. We cannot say enough prayers. We cannot give enough money. We cannot read the Bible enough, or attend worship services enough. None of those things solve the problem. It is only Jesus Christ, God's one and only Son, who provides the solution. As we think about our sin problem, and as we think about God's love for people and the solution He offers through Jesus Christ, again, I believe that is the message of God's Word. I want to highlight a few things that we read here in the Bible, especially the New Testament, in regards to that solution. First of all, we notice, in regards to Jesus, He was born in the lineage of David. He came as one of the descendents of King David. He was in that genealogy; and, we find that over in Matthew chapter 1 and also in the gospel of Luke chapter 3. Now, King David was a very important person. He was highly respected among all the Jews. David wrote about half of the Psalms that we find in the book of Psalms. He was the King of Israel. He is described as having a heart like God's. Yes, David was a good man and he was highly respected among all of the Jews. He was someone special. And after His death, the people were continually looking for someone who would come and take David's place and set in order those things that were not right. They were looking for another king to come and to rule over them, much in the way that David did, with kindness and with love and with generosity. And over and over again, they were looking for someone to be the new David, the new Messiah or the special One. In the book of Acts, in the New Testament, in Acts chapter 2, there is a man by the name of the apostle Peter who spoke to a large group of people in the city of Jerusalem. Peter was a servant, a follower of Jesus Christ. He saw Jesus. He witnessed His activity, and he knew Him well. But on the day of Pentecost, which was about 50 days after Jesus' resurrection from the dead, Peter is there in Jerusalem and he speaks to thousands of Jews who are assembled there. And he tells them this, in chapter 2 beginning with verse 29: <“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that He would place one of his descendants upon the throne."> Well, there it is. Peter said, "This is what happened in the past. David died. His tomb is here, but the promise came to him that one of his descendents would replace him." And now Peter continues on in Acts chapter 2 telling the story of that descendent, telling the story of Jesus Christ and how He is the new King. Here's something else that we learn about Jesus. It's found in Acts chapter 10. On this occasion, this very same man, the apostle Peter, spoke to a group of people called the Gentiles, or non-Jewish people. And, one of them was named Cornelius. He's telling him the story of Jesus and he shares with him these words, in the 10th chapter beginning with verse 37. <"You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached —how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him."> The second thing we recognize in regards to Jesus and the salvation He offers is that He went around doing good. Jesus blessed people's lives. He demonstrated kindness and compassion. He loved the unlovable. He fed those who were hungry. He healed those who were sick. He even raised people from the dead. Yes, Jesus went around doing good. He touched people's hearts and He changed their life. He made a difference in people. And, all of that was in fulfillment of the Old Testament as He came as a descendent of King David. Many people enjoyed that. Many people responded to Him. They were blessed by Jesus. They appreciated the fact that Jesus had come into their world. And through all of that, God demonstrated His love for mankind. As I mentioned a moment ago, that was something that God started doing way back in the book of Genesis. Throughout all the Old Testament times, He demonstrated His love for His people, over and over again. And now, with the coming of Jesus Christ, His son, it becomes real and people see that love. I think about two passages, in particular, that emphasize the love that God has for all of mankind. The first one is in Romans chapter 5 and verse 8. The apostle Paul writes this; <"God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."> A similar statement is made by Jesus in John 3, verse 16: <"God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."> Those two passages begin by saying the same thing: God demonstrates His love to people. God loves people, even in the midst of our sin. Dealing with our sin problem, God still loves you, and He loves me. And as Jesus pointed out, there in John 3, to demonstrate that love He sent His son Jesus to die for us. That does not mean that God was mad or upset with His son that He punished Him to the point of death. No, it simply demonstrates how much He loves us, willing to give up His one and only Son so that we could become His sons and daughters. Oh, what a tremendous amount of love and affection God has for each of us. And as Jesus continued on His ministry, many people followed Jesus. They responded to His message; but, there were some who did not. Jesus was then crucified on a tree and raised from the dead. That is something that Peter emphasized in that message that we were talking about over in Acts chapter 2. Listen to his words beginning in verse 22 of that 2nd chapter. <“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him."> Peter tells these people in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the cross, He was hung up on a tree, and He died a very painful death; and, you are responsible for that. But with Jesus' death, we notice also in the Scripture, God raised up His son from the dead on the third day. And, that is highlighted in a statement that is mentioned, or that is written, by the apostle Paul, over in 1st Corinthians chapter 15. We think about those beautiful words of Paul. He states, "There is nothing more important that I could share with you than this one message." And in verses 1 through 4, he shares that message. Let's pick up with the reading of verses 3 and 4: <"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..."> Paul states that Jesus died and He was buried and then He rose again from the dead. That is the most important message Paul shared throughout his ministry, the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And through that, Jesus was victorious over both sin and death. In essence, what Jesus did, He took your sin and my sin with Him when He went to the cross and died, and through that He solved our sin problem. He did it in a way that we could never possibly imagine or understand. After that, then, we notice that Jesus went to reign at God's right hand. Again, that is something emphasized in Peter's message there in the 2nd chapter, in verse 33. <"Exalted to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear..."> Jesus ascended to His Father's right hand, and there He sits in glory. He is there reigning over all of the Earth. He is there as our Advocate, the One that we pray through in order to pray to God. And He loves you and me. He's praying for us. And we know that He is there giving us the strength and encouragement we need to live for Him here upon the Earth. Those are important things in regards to Jesus, who He was and what He did. And, through Him our sin is forgiven and we become a part of God's family. His death, His burial, and His resurrection is the means by which we have access to our Father in heaven. And, all of that is very important, because there is coming a day when Jesus will come back as both our Judge and our Savior. The apostle Paul makes mention of that in Acts 17, verse 31: <"He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.”> The apostle Paul states there is coming a time, we don't know when that is, when Jesus will return. And when He does, He will stand as our Judge and our Savior. Yes on that day, all of us will stand before the judgment seat of the Lord and we will give an account of the life that we have lived here upon this Earth. If we don't know Jesus Christ then He will be our Judge, and we will be punished and sent away from God's presence. But if we do know Him and have responded to Him, it is then that we will experience that wonderful free gift of salvation for all eternity. When I think about the main message of the Bible, in my mind, that is it, the demonstration of God's love to all people, everywhere, even to the point that He sent His one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. And through Him, we now have the opportunity to experience that salvation. That is how God deals with our sin problem. He deals with it through His son, Jesus Christ. Yet, we still might ask the question, well, what is the significance of all of that and why should that matter to me, today? Well, the followers of Jesus shared this very same story about Jesus, over and over again, wherever they went, to all kinds of people who would listen to it. Paul writes these words, in Acts chapter 13, verse 26, <"Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that the message of salvation has been sent."> In that one verse, Paul addresses Jews and Gentiles. He addresses all people everywhere, and he states, "This is the message of salvation, it has been sent to you." And that very same message of Jesus Christ is sent to you and to me, as well. Oh, without the story of Jesus, we would not be saved from our sin problem. Without what Jesus did on the cross, through His death, burial and then His resurrection, we would not have the opportunity to experience and to enjoy fellowship with God. And that, I believe, is the main and the primary message of the Bible. I invite you to watch this short video clip. It is entitled "An Unmistakable Message." And, hopefully, it illustrates the point of our lesson today.
This is perhaps the most recognizable sign in all of the world. We know what it is. It is a stop sign, and it is available in countries all over the world. Oh, there may be some different lettering on the sign, but we know what it is and we know its message. It tells us to stop. And, we know that if we do not stop then perhaps there could be problems that come. If we proceed through the sign without stopping, we might cause an accident. We might bring harm to ourselves, or maybe even to someone else. Yes, the stop sign is a very unmistakable sign with a very unmistakable message. The same is true with the message of the Bible. It focuses on the story of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, we find references made to the coming of God's Son into the world. In the New Testament we find the story of Jesus' life and ministry, His death, burial, and resurrection. Yes, the story of Jesus is unmistakable, and it is found right here in God's Word. In Hebrews chapter 2 and verse 1, the author writes these words: <Let us not overlook the message. But rather, let us pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.> The encouragement for us today is to not drift away from the story of Jesus Christ, to not drift away from the message of the Bible; for, it is the most recognizable message in God's Word. Yes, I encourage you to pay close attention to the message of Jesus Christ, the unmistakable message of the Bible.
Yes, the message of the Bible centers on two things. It centers on God's great love for mankind, for all people everywhere and for all time. It also centers on how He demonstrated that love by offering His son Jesus Christ to die on our behalf and to solve our sin problem. And, that message is as true today as it was 2000 years ago. It is relevant for you and for me and it cannot be ignored. But yet, God, through the Word, encourages us and invites us to respond to it, to recognize who Jesus was, and still is, and what He has done for each and every one of us. My hope and my prayer for you today is that you will recognize and read the story of Jesus Christ, and know that He offers a solution to your sin problem. Yes, my prayer is that you will respond to God's great love for you.
Thank you for being our guest today. I trust this lesson about the message of the Bible reminded you of its importance. Jesus' story is one that cannot be ignored and one that requires a response; and, hopefully you have responded to it. If not, and if you would like more information about Jesus, please contact us. Call the number on the screen to request a free Bible study. It contains six lessons, and you can work through them at your own pace. We will be happy to send it to you by mail in the next few days. It requires no commitment, and it will assist you in your search for and walk with the Lord. I also hope you will visit our website. There you can download the same free Bible study. Other lessons, like this one, are also available to download and view at your convenience. You might even be interested in looking at some of the other teaching materials, or perhaps our statement of belief. I do hope you will take a few minutes to see what is offered, again, at no cost or obligation. Thank you for tuning in to today's broadcast, and I invite you to join us next time as we study the Bible, on "Key to the Kingdom."