Chapter 2 – The Bible

Before the world began, God had a plan and purpose for humanity. Of course, He wanted them to know about it. After all, what would be the point in keeping it a secret? So, He chose to use the Bible, also known as Scripture, to be the vehicle of that divine communication.

Although to many the Bible is just a record of unrelated stories and events, a serious study reveals that it contains a purposeful disclosure of God’s plan. He has unfolded that plan step by step, and He invites us to come closer to understand it. He invites everyone to become a part of it.

As one would expect, the Bible goes back to ancient times. Some of its stories were first transmitted orally from one generation to the next until Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote them down on scrolls around 1300 BC. From that point on, there have been over forty human writers—both Jewish and non-Jewish, prophets, priests, kings, and church leaders—who wrote over a period of nearly fifteen hundred years. The result of such diversity over such an extended period of time could have easily produced a work of mass confusion and contradictions, but that is not the case. Instead, there is a focused continuity in its message of God’s Eternal Plan and Purpose. This was only made possible because behind its text is the divine author, the Spirit of God, who provides the inspiration to human writers.

Questions

What have you learned today about the Bible that is noteworthy to you?

Have you ever read the Bible?

Do you have a favorite verse?

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017

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Chapter 1: What Does It Mean That God Rested on the Seventh Day?

When God rested on the seventh day, He rested from further creating. That means, He is no longer creating new species. Although diversification within each species continues to produce wonderful variations, He has finished with creating new ones.

However, that does not mean that He is not working at all. He continues to work in fulfilling His Eternal Plan and Purpose for humanity. Jesus confirms this by saying, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (John 5:17b) Neither has God abandoned His creation. He is still at work sustaining, protecting, healing, and holding it together. The Bible says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

In addition, God is at work through the Holy Spirit who:

  • Convicts humanity about their need for God: As Jesus said, “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment, about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned (John 16:8-11).
  • He reveals the truth about Jesus: Jesus also said, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me” (John 15:26).
  • And, He grants the new birth: The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

 Furthermore, the Holy Spirit continues to work in humanity by filling and sanctifying them with Himself, giving them gifts of ministry, praying for them, and helping them to spiritually grow.5

5Acts 2:1–4, 1 Corinthians 12:1–11, Romans 8:26, and Galatians 5:22–23.

How has God been at work in your life?

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017

 

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Chapter 1: What Is the Kingdom of Heaven?

Heaven is a literal place that was created for spirit beings. God resides there, and so do the angels. Sometimes the kingdom of heaven is called the kingdom of God. Either way, it is wherever God resides and wherever God’s will is done. As the king of God’s kingdom, Jesus preached during His earthly ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17b).

The ancient Celtic Christians called the church colonies of heaven, because the church functions as earthly outposts for God’s kingdom during the Fallen Creation.1 As such, it becomes a window for the Fallen Creation to preview and join the kingdom of God where Jesus already reigns as Lord and King. One day with the return of Jesus, God’s kingdom will transform, spread, and fill the entire planet as the new heaven and the new earth.

 

1Ian Bradley, The Celtic Way, London, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 2003, 74.

 

What are the challenges for Christians with the Fallen Creation and the New Creation overlapping?

 

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Describe the Three Creations and the Days that are associated with each

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For the purpose of this study, (as illustrated in Figure 1–1), God’s Eternal Plan and Purpose is organized over three time periods described as the First Creation, the Fallen Creation, and the New Creation.

The time period between the creation of the universe and the next six days is referred to as the First Creation. Each of those days focused on either creating the favorable earthly conditions that would sustain life and/or the formation of life.

After creating, God rested on the seventh day. At first, the human pair lived in a wonderful relationship with each other and with God. Then they rebelled against Him. As a result of that rebellion, humanity’s relationships with God and with one another were broken. This is normally referred to as the fall. Thus, on the seventh day, the First Creation became stained with sin and distorted by evil, and became a Fallen Creation. Almost all of humanity’s history takes place in the seventh day, which continues today.

Throughout the Fallen Creation, God continued to reach out to humanity. Then at a predetermined time, God entered the physical realm through human birth as Jesus. He came to die and heal humanity’s brokenness, preparing the way for the fulfillment of His plan. Three days after His death, Jesus arose from the grave and ascended back to heaven.

With the resurrection of Jesus, the symbolic eighth day of the New Creation began while the Fallen Creation still existed all around it. This in-between portion of time when both the Fallen Creation and the New Creation coexists is called the Church Age and the Last Days of the Fallen Creation.

During the beginning of the New Creation, God works through the Holy Spirit and the Church to draw humanity to Himself as the end of the Fallen Creation draws near. Then, the Fallen Creation’s seventh day ends with the return of Jesus who will usher in the millennial kingdom that will fully remove the effects of sin. Afterward, God’s glorious kingdom of heaven will come to earth just as the Lord’s Prayer petitions: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” At that time, the metaphorical eighth day will fully dawn into a new heaven and a new earth.

What are the three time periods addressed in this study?

On what day did sin enter into the world?

When did the New Creation begin?

Where do you think most Christians expect to spend eternity: in heaven or in a heaven on earth? Which do you think is more appealing?

 

Excerpt from Incredibly Human: Community in the First Creation

Copyright© 2015 D. A. Combs

All rights reserved.

Reprinted 2017