This is an overview of some common biblical themes. As believers in Christ (Christians), we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, spoken through His Spirit and through the witness of those who documented the life of Jesus and various historical characters and events. It is also referred to as the word of God. The purpose of the word is to lead us to know God through Jesus Christ. It was His will in the beginning and still is His will today. The Bible is to be studied in a relationship with God through the same Holy Spirit who inspired it. The Old Testament is predominantly the history of mankind, from creation up until the birth of the Messiah (Jesus Christ), spoken of by the prophets. It is the revelation of God to humanity, through the descendants of Abraham, whom God revealed Himself to.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17
The New Testament is made up of historical letters and documents covering the time of Jesus’ birth, His walking on earth, His death and resurrection, His ascension and the early church. It contains prophetic encounters testified to by the disciples, about His return and God’s final day of judgement. Below are some terms that are often taken for granted when sharing about the Christian faith. It is God’s will that we come to know Him through faith in His Son. He is the One who gave us the freedom of choice, He loves us and it is His desire that all should come to know Him. He gave us His word to guide us into a relationship by faith to be reunited to Him through His Son.
Lucifer Fell Like Lightning
Lucifer was considered to be the anointed cherub (angel) who was in Eden, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, until iniquity was found in him. This cherub lifted up his own heart (vanity & pride) because of his beauty. Isaiah 14 speaks of the fall of Lucifer who said in his heart that he would exalt his throne and be like the Most High. This outright rebellion against God, resulted in God casting him to the ground out of the mountain of God. Mountains and gardens were considered the dwelling places of the gods in ancient civilisations.
And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”Luke 10:18
Lucifer became known as Satan or the devil after his fall. He took a third of all the angels down with him that followed him in his rebellion against God. This event is considered to have taken place before Adam and Eve were created. The devil is known as the adversary, accuser or slanderer who goes about accusing mankind. Jesus acts as our Advocate, High Priest and Intercessor against the accuser.
The devil is described as a murderer from the beginning who came to kill, steal and destroy. He is described as the enemy of nations, the one who brought desolation to earth and who destroys cities. Some opinions consider that Satan destroyed the earth before God created man, being one of the reasons Adam was instructed to expand Eden until it covered the whole earth. Evil, by nature, is self-destructive, it cannot sustain life, goodness, truth or any quality worth living with.
Good and evil are not a passive division or separation, they are forces that are diametrically opposed to each other through continuous warfare.
Mankind was born into a spiritual war of light against darkness, good vs evil and the devil heads up the powers of evil or darkness. The realm of darkness is headed up by Satan and is structured into his principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. The devil and his kingdom are at war against the purposes of God for mankind. This conflict appears to be centred around mankind, as the Bible tells of the effortless defeat and judgement of Satan by God. The devil is no threat to God, but God established man to bring His kingdom and light into the world, through His Son, Jesus.
When Adam fell prey to the devil in Eden, Adam handed the devil the authority that God had given him, allowing the devil to establish his throne back on earth. Man became a slave to what he obeyed, namely disobedience leading to rebellion and ultimately to death. The devil is said to have held the keys to death and Hades until Christ came and took them.
Isaiah speaks of the congregation or assembly, considered the divine council of God, where heavenly hosts and divine beings administer the cosmos under Yahweh. The story of Job lends to this legal governance view of the spiritual realm, under God’s law and council when the devil goes before God asking to test Job’s faith and righteousness. The devil is the enemy of mankind.
The good news is Jesus overcame the world and He has been given all authority, so those who believe in Him will inherit eternal life. He disarmed the principalities and powers, and He took possession of the keys of Death and Hades. The New Testament writers make it clear though, that we war against the spiritual realm, and that we need to use the word of God, faith, the name and blood of Jesus and our authority and identity in Christ to resist the devil. God has said to Jesus, that He will subdue His enemy under His feet – referring to the earth as God’s footstool.
Sin is described as missing the mark, to practice lawlessness, a power or principle against good, a condition, an act of disobedience to divine law, or to trespass. The root of sin is disobedience or rebellion against God and His divine law. Not just in action, but even in thoughts and desires. Sin is not limited to individuals, it can exist in cultures, and societies that are set against God. Sin originated when Satan challenged God’s sovereignty by thinking he could establish his own throne and be like God. God cast him out of heaven as a result of this iniquity.
Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan to disobey God’s instruction, leading to their sin and the fall of all mankind. The word of God says that the consequence of sin is death. God is the source of life, so any rebellion (pushing away, turning from, or disobedience towards Him or His law) is to embrace the opposite of righteousness and life, namely sin and death.
God chose Israel as a people to bring His love, Truth and way for mankind to turn back to God. Israel was given the Law, not for their salvation, but to highlight their need for permanent salvation ultimately through Jesus. The law showed man how to live righteously, what sin was and how the consequence of sin had to be dealt with. The law showed man how impossible it is for us to qualify for redemption and salvation and points man to Jesus, our Saviour, Who became the perfect sacrifice for our redemption.
The great news is that we have the privilege of the gift of salvation today through grace. Jesus paid the price for our sin through His death and resurrection. We have the way to be free from sin and its consequences today and be restored into the family of God.
The Fall of Mankind
Adam was the first (father) of all mankind, created by God in His image and likeness with a free will. Our free will is fundamental to God desiring to have a relationship with us. We are created as part of a divine order, God placing us a little lower than angels. He gave Adam the instruction to have dominion on the earth to expand the kingdom from Eden out over all the earth. All of the animals, birds and creatures on earth were under his dominion. Mankind is different from the animal kingdom, in that we were first created as a spirit and then God gave us a body and soul. The animal kingdom does not have a spirit.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, after allowing the serpent (considered Satan or under his influence) to tempt and mislead them. God had commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as it would lead to death. They rejected God’s command, causing them to sin and resulting in mankind’s separation from God. Because Adam was the first (father) of all mankind, it resulted in the fall of all mankind, and the separation of mankind from God.
Adam gave away his God-given authority to the devil and forfeited the blessing of walking with God. Adam and Eve’s sinful nature taken on through disobedience forced mankind into corruption resulting in permanent separation from God and His kingdom. A curse came on the earth and mankind as a result. The consequence of separation from God (who contains all life) is death. Mankind’s bloodline was forever contaminated. Other than by God’s grace, there was no way to resolve man’s fall and uphold justice. God in His goodness, declared a plan right there in Eden as He sent Adam and Eve out of the garden.
Jesus became our salvation by God’s design, having met the requirements for justice, but it carried a cost that no man could pay. Jesus would have to lay down His life for us.
God had planted all sorts of trees for food in the garden of Eden that Adam and Eve could eat from. The only tree He commanded them not to eat from was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He warned them that the day they ate from this tree, they would die. Being tempted by a serpent, they went and ate the fruit, sinning against God and leading to the fall of mankind.
I believe that eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil awakened Adam and Eve’s consciousness of good and evil; their ability to discern good from evil. Prior to this, it is unlikely that they had knowledge of evil – they would only have had knowledge of God and His kingdom in Eden. Sin and death were unknown to them, as death entered the world as a result of their sin. This consciousness of good and evil, was not evil or sinful in its nature, as God states, “now they have become like Us”. The sin was in there disobedience and rebellion to God’s command.
Adam would have known that he had just fallen from God’s holiness and righteousness. This is why they hid from God. Shame, guilt and all the fruit of sin would have entered their lives. The nature of evil and the knowledge of evil was now in them. It is ironic that Satan fell because he thought he could be like God. Man allowed Satan’s rule to come to the earth, as he gave Satan authority over him, as the custodian of death and Hades.
It was common amongst ancient beliefs that death was not the complete end of man’s existence. It is commonly understood to be the end of man’s life on earth. The Bible implies death entered the world as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin. Death is the consequence of sin as declared by God. The separation of man from life is death. God contains all life, therefore sin and rebellion against Him, separate us from Him and result in death. This becomes permanent when He judges all mankind at the final judgment day.
Jesus speaks of men who died as being asleep. There will be a resurrection of the dead on the day of judgement. Another description of death refers to the realm of the dead, a place possessing gates and chambers. Jesus in His death and resurrection tasted death but ascended with the keys to Death and Hades, having overcome them as His death was disqualified, due to Him being sinless.
Revelation speaks of Death and Hades been cast into the lake of fire under God’s final judgement. Hell is used as a general term for a few places described by the Greek understanding of the concept.
Gehenna or Lake of Fire is thought to be the final place of the wicked dead after God’s final judgement in Revelation. This is the hell of eternity for Satan and those suffering God’s wrath.
Hades is thought to be the temporary resting place of the dead (those sleeping, as Jesus says). The parable of Lazarus and the rich man distinguishes between the righteous dead in Abraham’s bosom, and the wicked dead tormented in fire. Both form part of Hades (the unseen world) but are divided by a huge chasm (separated). Jesus’ death was still under the requirements of justice through the law. He had to fulfil several requirements in order for righteous justice to be satisfied.
One requirement was to go down to the place of the dead (Hades) and remove the keys from Death and Hades, who are considered under Satan’s control. The word says Jesus, in death, went down to free those who died under the law who had faith in Him. By rising from the dead with these keys, Jesus took away the sting of death or the fear that held mankind in bondage. This is such a great victory for believers, we do not die, but go on to Jesus Himself. He freed us from the curse and slavery to unrighteousness and gave us eternal life.
Tartarus is referred to in Peter as the hell where God cast down fallen angels facing His Great White Throne judgement.
God is righteous and good! There is no sin, no evil, no unrighteousness and no injustice in Him. He is life itself. Any reasoning or argument that shows God as anything other than this is rooted in evil (or bad reasoning). Man’s reasoning can only apply within the context of our understanding and perspective on life. We are also typically limited in our thought to a world subject to time, space and matter. God exists beyond time, space and matter, and yet He desires to know us now, in our time, space and matter. He is infinitely incomprehensible, yet intimately personal with us. We are to love Him with all we are, yet we are to fear Him. In His kingdom, to lead is to serve, to live you have to die and to be first you must be last. It is a total conflict to the way we are taught to think, to the way life is geared to survival and success, and to the culture of our times.
God is sovereign and He ultimately will have to judge all created things, both seen and unseen in order to bring justice to all existence. It will be a sorrow-filled day. The day God judges, justice will be complete across heaven and earth and across time. I have often wondered why God has waited so long to judge. I believe, one reason, is due to His righteousness that allows grace to have its full work.
Jesus is the fulfilment of His grace and it is His desire that all should be saved through Jesus, but we can only receive grace through faith in Jesus, and believing that He is the Son of God, crucified and raised from the dead. This is salvation!! God is slow to anger, He is merciful and it is His desire that all mankind come to know Him as their Father in heaven. The day will come when Jesus will return for His bride (the body of believers), and God will bring about the final judgement. It is terrifying to think of what that day will be like. All grace has been extended to mankind to find salvation through Christ. Not from the fear of judgement, but from faith and love for God.
The Good News
The Good News is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the testimony of the life of Jesus and salvation by grace through faith in Him. He took the punishment for our sin, and forgave us, died and was resurrected afterwards. He took possession of the keys to Death and Hades, promising those who believe in Him eternal life. Many people read the gospel as condemnation by God, but it is a twisted worldview that sees it this way. Jesus came to give His life for us so that we can freely receive salvation and be reconciled to God.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.John 3:17
Salvation – Being Born Again or Saved
The term “salvation” or being “born-again” is a term used by Christians and the church, referring to what happens to a person who believes and commits their life to Jesus. Born again, is what happens in our spirit as God gives us a new spirit. We experience a spiritual rebirth or regeneration and are called a new creation. Another term often used, is to be “saved”, implying having salvation. God rescues us from judgement and hell, by saving us through Jesus. If you are not certain that you are saved, please read our article on Salvation and the Love of a Father or speak to someone who you know follows Jesus.
A Christian also called a believer, is a follower of Jesus Christ, who believes Him, confesses Him and has chosen to follow Him according to the gospel. It is all about a relationship with God (the Trinity) and it requires faith in the word and in Jesus. Salvation in its broad use covers the forgiveness of our sins or sanctification through the blood of Jesus and justification through the resurrection and assentation of Jesus to the right hand of God. It also covers the restoration and deliverance of our soul (an ongoing process), through the renewing of our minds (learning, meditating and understanding the word of God through the help of the Holy Spirit). Salvation also covers what happens to us when we die and the resurrection of our bodies in heaven. Salvation can only be obtained by grace through faith, in other words, we cannot earn it or claim it, it is only through faith in Jesus that we receive salvation. We have to believe and then live out this belief in obedience to the Word of God.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:3-4
Faith and Grace
Grace is defined as favourable regard or an act of goodwill. It embraces love and kindness and from a biblical perspective, it is an act of mercy by God. It is opposed to debt and the recipient of grace typically responds with thankfulness. It can be seen in a similar light as a gift as it is not earned, it is given freely.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9
Jesus suffered the crucifixion for us, knowing we can choose to reject Him. He endured death for the hope of the joy to come, for those who choose to believe. He became the gift that God gave mankind so that whoever believes in Him, will be forgiven and find eternal life.
Faith is our ability to believe the word of God in a relationship with Him. It is the substance of what we hope for but cannot see. It comes from hearing God, often through hearing the word of God or by studying it. The cornerstone of our faith is Jesus. It is the belief and trust that He is the Son of God, that He died for us, that He rose again and that He is seated at God’s right hand. It is faith in who He is, as well as what He did and will do. A key to our faith is that it leads to a relationship with Jesus, not just rules to live by. Faith is a matter of our hearts, it is not just a mental understanding or agreement. Our faith should cause us to act and be transformed in line with what we believe. The word says that faith without works is dead. This calls us to act out our faith, via confession, but also in the way we live and engage people and life.
Christianity is known as a faith, more than a religion, in that it is a dynamic, living relationship with God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
The Trinity or Triune God is described right in the story of creation. God is described as being three equally divine Persons as the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. He is one God who reveals Himself and relates to us through the Trinity. The Trinity is sovereign, eternal, immortal and perfect in righteousness, love and holiness. He knows the end from the beginning, He is the Alpha and Omega (the First and the Last). The Trinity lives in perfect harmony with each other.