The Bible is a very impressive book that deals with many far reaching subjects, ranging from Creation, through the history of God’s dealings with the Jewish nation and the fortunes of countries that have impinged upon her over many centuries, to recording the lives of outstanding men and women, and particularly the life of Christ, and his amazing achievements while on earth. It is also a book of poetry and prophecy, telling us why great historical events have occurred and what the future holds for mankind.
Above all, as its words have been given by inspiration of God, it is a revelation from the Divine mind, telling us all we need to know about ourselves and the future of our earth. But, what is the best way for us to search out the wisdom it provides? In humility we offer the following guidance.
Firstly, in our reading we should set aside pre-conceived ideas we may have, or gathered from others, and concentrate on what the Word actually says – using Scripture to interpret Scripture. As an aid to our studies a Concordance, Young’s or Strong’s, is a useful tool in helping us to find our way around the Bible quickly, and many Bibles have an abridged version at the back which can assist; using that, let us see what we can discover about a particular subject
Take ‘man’ for example. The first reference to man comes very early on in the Old Testament and in we find this statement :-
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2
That word ‘soul’ is the Hebrew ‘nephesh’ and our Concordance will show that it means ‘being or living creature’ – the term applied in Scripture to animals as well as to man. The man, Adam, was placed in the garden of Eden and given access to all it contained, bar one tree.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2
Eve was formed out of man, and she persuaded Adam to disobey God by believing the words of a serpent given the power of speech. But, God certainly meant what He said and death resulted from their foolish action.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Genesis 3
We can clearly see that death is a return to the dust of the ground from which he was formed. So, death entered into the world through disobedience to God, and this condition has passed to all living, as Paul declares:
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Romans 5
We all share Adam’s nature and are therefore under the same condemnation, as we are well aware.
Did the means of Adam’s creation give him any advantage over the rest of the animal kingdom? We find the answer in Ecclesiastes:
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Ecclesiastes 3
So, is that the end of the matter? Clearly, NO, for if we turn to 1 Corinthians 15:20-21 there we find this statement which gives us reason for hope :
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15
What is meant is clearly explained in the verses which follows :
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 1 Corinthians 15
So, the Bible tells us that God has provided a way out of our otherwise impossible dilemma, but it is conditional and applies only to those who are ‘in Christ’; those who ‘are Christ’s’; and it will only happen ‘at his coming’ and not before. How then do we become ‘in Christ’ and ‘his‘ ? We find the answer in the instructions Christ gave to his disciples when they were commissioned to:
15 … Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.Mark 16
We therefore become ‘in Christ’ and related to his resurrection by belief in him and the gospel he proclaimed, and by being baptized into his saving name.
Once we have done that, we await his return before receiving our reward for faithful service. Far from being death stricken creatures, the Bible’s message is one of hope for all who care to search out it’s message, and follow it’s teaching.
And so, starting from an examination of the word ‘man’, in a few verses we have been able to discover much about ourselves; how we came into being, why we are consigned to death, what death is, and the way out of an otherwise impossible situation.
This approach to searching the scriptures, can be carried out on a whole variety of subjects, as we hope to show in later articles, and in this way we can build an understanding of basic Bible principles which will give us a sound foundation on which to build further study of some of the more challenging messages it contains.