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A.     Introduction:  We are talking about how to study the Bible effectively.  Before we get to the main point for      this lesson, we want to briefly consider some things about study aids.
     1.     The most important study aid you need as you begin to study the Bible is a Bible survey book.     
          a.     Also helpful is a concordance (an alphabetical listing of all the words in the Bible).
          b.     A Bible with good marginal references can be helpful.  Many Bibles today come with study                          features built into them.
     2.     Other study aids can be quite expensive to purchase and most are used only occasionally.  These                     include Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, Bible dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries, etc.
          a.     All of these can be helpful.  But, they focus on individual parts of the Bible (words, verses).
          b.     As we've said all along, the most important thing you can do when you study the Bible is to first                     gain an overview and become familiar with it by reading whole books and letters, not just parts.

B.     Although the Bible is a collection of sixty six books and letters, all of them come under the main theme of      the Bible -- God's desire for a family and the lengths to which He went to obtain one through Jesus Christ.
     1.     It is important that you understand this as you read and study the Bible.
          a.     As you approach the Bible, you are studying individual books and letters.
          b.     But, you must remember that each one is part of a whole story.  Each part adds something to the                     story of God's desire for a family and how He obtained it.
     2.     In this lesson, we want to do a brief Bible survey and trace the theme from beginning to end.

C.     Before God formed the earth, He decided He wanted holy, blameless children with whom He could relate           and fellowship. Eph 1:4,5
     1.     So God created the heavens and the earth for His family. Isa 45:18
          a.     Then, He created man.  He made man as much like Himself as a creature can be like His Creator                     so that relationship and son ship was possible. Gen 1:26,27
          b.     God made man with the capacity to be, not just His creation, but to become His literal son, a                          partaker of eternal life, a partaker of the life of God. I John 5:11,12
          c.     God made man in such a way that he could be conformed to the image of Christ. Rom 8:29
     2.     The first man, Adam, disobeyed God.  His actions brought sin and death into the world. Gen 3:17-19;                Rom 5:12-19
          a.     Because he was the head of the human race, his actions affected the entire human race.
          b.     Every man born since Adam has been born into a fallen race, separated from God by sin.
     3.     God knew this would happen, but created man anyway because He had a plan in mind to deal with                Adam's fall and man's sin through Jesus Christ. Rev 13:8
          a.     As soon as Adam and mankind fell, God made His first promise of the coming Savior. Gen 3:15
          b.     Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, gave birth to children, and the human race began to grow.
     4.     In Gen 12, God selected the man who would become the head of the people group through which the                Savior, the Messiah, would come into the world.
          a.     He would come to undo the fall of Adam and the sin of men so that God could have His family of                     holy, blameless sons and daughters.
          b.     That man was Abraham.  He became the Father of the Hebrew people.
     5.     The rest of the Old Testament deals with the Hebrew people.  It relates their history as they grew from                one man, Abraham, into a nation of millions of people.
          a.     It tells of their high points -- their mighty deliverance from bondage in Egypt; their marvelous                          military victories over their enemies; their wealth and power under King Solomon when God gave                     them the privilege of building the most magnificent temple the world has ever seen.
          b.     It records their lowest, darkest moments -- the sin and degradation they fell into when they                          followed the gods of the nations around them; their defeat at the hands of their enemies when they                     forgot God; their final humiliation when they were invaded, the temple destroyed, and they were                     carried off into captivity in Babylon.

D.     As the history of the Jews unfolds in the Old Testament, we see God at work carrying out His plan, weaving      people and events into His plan to have a family of sons and daughters free from every trace of sin.
     1.     God's care and defense of Israel was meant to be a testimony to the Hebrews themselves, but also to                the people around them, to draw them away from idols to the Living and True God.
          a.     God's name, Jehovah, means the Self-existent One who reveals Himself.  In the Old Testament,                     God began to reveal Himself, first to the Jews, and then to the nations around them.
          b.     God's purpose was and is always redemptive -- to save people, not destroy them. Isa 49:6
     2.     God gave them a system of sacrifices so that their sins could be covered and He could have relationship           with them even before sin was paid for by Jesus.
          a.     He sent them prophets to speak to them about His plans and purposes for them.
          b.     He told them how to build a tabernacle where He could meet with them.
     3.     God gave them laws which set them apart from every other nation -- ceremonial laws, social laws,                     governmental and religious laws, etc.  Why did He do this?  How did this fit into His plans?
          a.     First, He did it to set the Hebrews apart to make them a testimony to other nations.
          b.     But, He also did it to preserve them as a distinct people through whom the Messiah would come.
               1.     Through the prophets, God made specific predictions about the coming Messiah -- signs                               which would prove who He was when He came. Micah 5:2
               2.     Through His prophets, God made specific promises to the Hebrew people which would be                          fulfilled by the coming Messiah. Gen 12:7; II Sam 7:12-17; Amos 9:14,15
     4.     God succeeded.  He preserved the Hebrew people -- despite their sin and failures, their rebellion and                hard heartedness, despite being removed from the land, etc.

E.     At last, the time came.  At the right time, Jesus, the Messiah, took on flesh and was born into this earth           through the Hebrew people. Gal 4:4,5
     1.     In the New Testament, in the Gospels, we have eye witness accounts of the ministry of Jesus on earth.
          a.     Whereas in the Old Testament, God's primary goal was to show Himself as God Almighty                          amongst a world of idol worshippers, in the New Testament, we see the Father's heart revealed to                     us through the words and works of Jesus.
          b.     We also see what a son of God is supposed to look like.  Jesus shows us how a man in union with                     God, anointed with the Holy Spirit, is supposed to live. John 6:57; 14:10-12; Rom 8:29; I John 2:6
     2.     Then, Jesus went to the Cross as the sin sacrifice for the human race.
          a.     He paid the price for sin so God could legally remove our sin and get on with His plan to make us                     holy sons and daughters conformed to the image of Christ.
          b.     Once our sins were legally removed, the way was cleared for human beings to be born again, born                     of God, to become sons of God.     
     3.     After His resurrection victory, Jesus remained on earth for forty more days.
          a.     He instructed His disciples on what His death, burial, and resurrection meant.
          b.     He gave them final instructions before He sent them out to preach the Good News that the sin of                     man had been dealt with once and for all.
     4.     In the book of Acts, the disciples went forth and began to preach, and thousands upon thousands were                born again, becoming literal, actual, sons and daughters of God.
     5.     In the epistles we have letters written to these believers, these sons and daughters of God.
          a.     The epistles explain what happened to them and how they were to live in the light of the fact that                     they were sons and daughters of God.
          b.     The epistles tell them how to cooperate with God as He conformed them to the image of Christ.

F.     All of this brings us at last to the Book of Revelation.
     1.     Revelation is not a freaky sci-fi book unrelated to the rest of the Bible.  It is the final chapter.       In it we                see the completion of God's plan for man.
     2.     Revelation is not a mystery book which no one can figure out.  The word revelation means an                          unveiling of God's purposes.
          a.     Revelation is a book which is meant to be understood.  And, it can be when it is put in context                     with the rest of the Bible.
          b.     Rev 1:1--It is written to God's servants.  God would not give us a message we cannot understand.
          c.     Rev 1:3--A blessing is promised to those who read and keep the words of the book.  That would                     not be possible if it cannot be understood.
     3.     Chapters 1-3 are like other New Testament epistles.  They contain instructions to actual churches in                existence at the time Revelation was written.
          a.     But the rest of it is apocalyptic (or revealing God's secret purposes).  Revelation calls itself a                         prophetic book. Rev 1:3
          b.     Chapters 4-19 are an eyewitness account shown to John the Apostle of the seven year period                          known as the tribulation which will occur just before Jesus returns to earth.
          c.     In Chapters 19-22 Jesus returns to earth and sets up a thousand year long kingdom on this earth                     (His millennial kingdom).  Following that, God establishes a new heaven and a new earth.
     4.     Much of Revelation is symbolic, but nine-tenths of the symbols are defined by the context in                          Revelation or are found in the Old Testament.
          a.     Revelation has more references to the Old Testament than any other New Testament book.                           Matthew has 92.  The epistle to the Hebrews has 102.  Revelation has between 278 to 400.
          b.     An understanding of the Book of Daniel is necessary when dealing with Revelation because many                     of the symbols first used in Daniel are repeated and explained in Revelation.
     5.     One reason why the language of Revelation is difficult for us is because John was describing 21st                     century life and technology in first century terms.
          a.     It will be perfectly clear what everything means once it happens.
          b.     To the people who are saved after the rapture of the church occurs, Revelation will be a handbook                     of the events unfolding around them, providing them with a timetable of events.

G.     Conclusion:  What began in Genesis will come to completion in Revelation.
     1.     One of the things which began in Genesis was God's dealings with the Hebrew people.
          a.     God made many promises to the Jews, most of which have been fulfilled.
          b.     But, there are some specific promises God made to the Hebrews, to Israel, which have yet to be                     fulfilled.      Gen 12:7; II Sam 7:12-17; Amos 9:14,15
     2.     Every Old Testament prophet wrote about the coming of the Lord or the Day of the Lord -- a time                     when the Lord would come and fulfill His promises to Israel.
          a.     The tribulation will be a time of fulfillment of prophecy to Israel.
          b.     In Daniel 9:24-27, while Israel was in exile in Babylon, God told them He would deal with them                     for 490 years for their sin and rebellion, and then, He would establish an unending, everlasting                     kingdom for them.
          c.     483 of those years have been fulfilled and can be accounted for in Jewish history.  Seven years                     remain.  They will be fulfilled during the tribulation.
     3.     During the tribulation the Jews, as a nation, will accept Jesus as their Messiah just as they, as a nation,                rejected Him two thousand years ago.
          a.     At the end of the tribulation, the Jewish people will possess all the land promised to Abraham and                     his descendents, never again to be removed from the land.
          b.     And Jesus will take the throne of David to rule and reign forever.  All of God's promises to the                     Jews will be fulfilled.
     4.     What began in Genesis will come to completion in Revelation.
          a.     In Genesis, sin, sorrow, pain, tears, and death entered earth and the human race.  In Revelation,                     they are eliminated. Gen 2:17; 3:17-19; Rom 5:12; Rev 20:14; I Cor 15:26; Rev 21:4,27; 22:3;
               II Pet 3:11-13
          b.     In Genesis, Satan triumphed over man, but we find the promise of Satan's defeat by the Lord Jesus                Christ.  At the Cross, Satan was defeated, and in Revelation, Satan is removed from human contact                forever. Gen 3:15; Rev 20:7-10; Isa 14:12-17
          c.     In Genesis, God walked with man.  In Revelation God Almighty comes to live with man. Gen 3:8;                     Rev 21:1-7
     5.     When Jesus comes again He will complete the master plan which God conceived before time began.
          a.     God will have His family of sons and daughters conformed to the image of Christ reflecting His                     glory through out eternity.
          b.     Every trace of pain, corruption, death, and sin will be removed and forgotten.  And we will live in                     the unending joy of face to face fellowship with our Father.
     6.     That's what the Bible is all about.  And, effective study of the Bible will bear it out.