For Riley and Chase
Think of this as an adventure, one you will begin but probably never finish, but enjoy the ride!
Do you know who God is?
I didn't. I thought I did. But I didn't. When I first began learning for real about God, I was 59 years old, about 50 years later than I should have begun. But at least I know Him now. But In order for me to get a basic idea of who God is, I needed help. You see, things were going really badly for me in my life and I was feeling down and one day I just looked up and said, "god, if you exist, I'm not doing so well here by myself." When he got back to me, when I went to church for the first time with Gramma, the pastor said God wants me to read the Bible. What I found out was, I had to do a lot of work. I had to Read and re-read parts of the Bible, study a "God for Dummies" help book, and listen to several Bible teachers. All this was required because I had too much bad information I had heard from others over the years. You see, the Bible, (which is God's words to us) is a big book and sometimes it's confusing without help. So when listening to the Bible teachers, they always started with the assumption that I had at least a basic knowledge about God. Not!
It would have been a lot easier if these teachers of the Bible had just made the assumption that I knew nothing. So I could get my brain going in the right direction, and could listen properly. After all, knowing God is the most important thing you will ever learn! Given that, I think one needs to be able to assemble ideas accurately in order to understand what God is all about. That is, without being misled. And I have my own idea how the first teaching should go. So, if you're with me, here goes.
Who is God? Well, He is the person who created everything; our planet Earth (and everything on it), the Moon, the Sun, the stars, well, the whole Universe! I say he's a 'person' because he tells us, from the Bible, that He "...created us in his image". So, I figure he must look something like us, don't you think? No one really knows for sure what he looks like because no one has actually seen God. Whenever someone in the Bible talked to God, they only saw a bright cloud, or a bright fog.
No, no one has seen God, but people did see Jesus, God's son. Thousands of people saw him before he died, and hundreds of people saw Jesus after God brought him back to life. God did this so that Jesus' death would be valuable enough to pay for all the bad things people have done. You see, ever since God made people, they would make mistakes and do things God told them not to do! And when they didn't follow His laws, they were told they would go to Hell if they didn't make up for it. And yes, Hell is a real place. God said so. So to repent (ask for forgiveness), God would then have them choose something valuable and sacrifice it to God so that next time they would try harder to do the right thing. But the sacrifices were not working. They still screwed up and did bad things. So, God had to think of a way that they could pay for their mistakes. Have you ever seen someone do something they knew was wrong, but do it anyway? It's tough to always be good. But these people were very bad, and sacrificing valuable things wasn't working. So God sent his son, Jesus, to make the payment that would cover all our wrongs. He would give us a choice to be good and get rewarded, or punished if we don't. Now, these consequences are big! You can go to Heaven when you die, or go to Hell. I can say this because I’m not cursing!
So, now we know what happened to Jesus, He died for us, as a sacrifice. Then God brought Jesus back to life so he could guide us all to Heaven. This is a very important part of learning about God. Yes, because Jesus loves us so much that He paid for all the bad things we do. He knows the difficulties in life here on Earth trying to be good all the time. He knows because he was born a people, lived on Earth as a people, and was able to live his entire life here on Earth without doing anything bad. And He was tempted many, many times to be bad. Now that was an accomplishment! Jesus, being God's son, was worth more than anything. And He Gave his life to pay for our sins, so we can choose to follow His teaching and then He can forgive us of our sins (the bad things we do). And He does forgive us, all of us, and all of our sins! We just have to ask him. I know, it's starting to sound complicated. But stick with me. It will make sense, you'll see.
God created people, us, after he created the Universe and after he created our Earth. Why did God create all this? Well, because he wanted to have companions he could talk to and relate to, and that could love Him, and He could love them. After all, it's very lonely if you have no one to love or who loves you. I guess God was just lonely. So God created people. We're people. God's people. I for one am glad He got lonely otherwise we would not be here.
OK, so where is God? Well, we think of him as being "up there", you know, like up in Heaven. But actually he tells us, even though there is a Heaven, He is everywhere. Ah, getting complicated again? I know. But God tells us that we can't understand everything like He does. And he tells us not to worry about it. If we have faith in Him, we can know all we really need to know. And mostly God wants us to know Him. And, He tells us that He won't give us anything to do that we can't handle. Learning and trusting God with this last statement can change your whole life! It did mine.
So, how do we get to know God? And how does He talk to us? Well, he doesn't actually use words spoken out loud like we do. Probably its because he is so powerful that if he talked directly to us we could die. This happened to some people in the Bible. Anyway, so he had this really good idea! So, thousands of years ago, He selected some of the people that knew him and told them to write books about everything he wants us to know. He did this by actually giving them things he wants us to know as mentally inspired ideas, right into their brain. Then He told them to write it all down. This is called "God inspired" writing. The whole Bible was written this way. And God can do this because he can do anything. He's God! He even watches everything you are doing to see where you need help. And if you know how to ask Him, He will help you. As long as it is doing something that is good that you need help. It's kind of like having you own personal Genie!
So, after writing these books, the People, like us, just need to read these books to learn who He is and how to love Him ad what He wants us to do. So now when we do the right things, we can be friends with God and Love Him and love each other and He can love us. And over many many years these special God created books were gathered together in what we now call the Bible. The Bible is Gods words to us! So if you want to know God, and talk to God, you just have to read the Bible.
Hang on, except, there are two bibles in the Bible. I know, you thought it was getting easy. But don't let that confuse you. Now, there is the really old bible stuff, starting around 6000 years ago in the part called the Old Testament, where the first peoples were having trouble being good. And then there is the newer stuff in the New Testament which is about 2000 years old. It starts when Jesus was born. Our date, like January 25th, 2013 means its been 2,013 years since Jesus’ birth. The New Testament bible is about what happened when Jesus, God's son, came to earth as a people, like us. He did this because Old Testament people, no matter how hard they tried, could not make amends for what they did that was bad. They just couldn't do enough good stuff to make up for the bad. So God needed a way to give them, and us, the ability to pay for their sins (Remember, sin means is doing wrong things).
The hardest part to understand, is that God is really three persons, not people, but three God persons, God the Father, God the son, (that is, Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God on Earth, He's here on Earth to help us when we need Him. In other words, there is one God but three God persons. Kind of like an egg. It has a shell, the white, and the yolk, but it just called an egg. God shows us three persons so we can better understand what God does for us. God the Father who created everything and monitors how we are doing; Jesus, Who died for us to pay for our sins; and God the Holy Spirit, Who is here on Earth to watch over us, direct the Angels, and sometimes interact with us. Aaa, not the Anaheim Angels, the God helper Angels. Got it?
Now, getting back to the new testament Bible. The New Testament is all about Jesus being born on Earth as a people. After he grew up He began teaching some of his students, called disciples, about what is right and wrong, and why Jesus came to Earth as a people. Then they were told to take what they learned and continue teaching the whole world about Jesus, and why he came to Earth as a people to pay for all our sins so we can go to Heaven. He taught them that if the you believe in Jesus, you can have your sins "paid for", or forgiven, and you will go to Heaven when God calls you. And believe me, you want to go to Heaven when He calls you, because the alternative is Hell, where the devil lives, and it's very hot and unpleasant to spend forever and ever in Hell. And being called to Heaven with Jesus is supposed to be sooo great, God tells us, that we can't even imagine how great it is. Wow hunh?
OK, here's a quick summary...
Who is God? He is the one who made everything.
What is the Bible? God's words to us in written books.
Why did God make everything? He was lonely and wanted people to love, and to talk to Him, and have a relationship. In other words, He wants us to read the Bible, Talk to Him (called praying), and He will help us through life.
OK, still with me?
Now, where do we go from here to understand even more about God?
Make sure you understand what is here so far. Ask questions. I'll find the answers. And then you should go on and read the selected following questions, like FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions about God. I have borrowed a selection of them from a book by...
Steve Hall, December 1985, Basic Bible Doctrine for Children
Sometimes with these questions you will see notes like ((I Cor. 15:4), which is there to tell you where to find this information in the Bible, like if later you want to see what else is going on at the time. Example, for this one it means, (the book in the Bible, First Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 4).
OK, some other questions:
1. What is the most important book that has ever been written?
- The Bible
2. What is another term for the Bible?
- The Holy Scriptures
3. Who were the first people God created?
- Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
4. What does the name Jesus mean?
5. What is His full title?
- The Lord Jesus Christ
6. What does the word "Christ" mean?
- "Christ" is the Greek language (New Testament) form of the Hebrew name "Messiah," (The old Testament). It means "Anointed One". He is anointed by God the Father to be the Master and Savior of the world.
7. Why did Jesus come into the world as a man?
- To live like a people, then to die on the cross to pay for our sins. How He died we'll talk about later.
8. Why did He die?
- He died in our place, as our substitute, to pay the penalty for our sins, and to enable us to have a relationship with Him and live forever with Him.
9. What happened to Jesus after He died on the cross and was buried?
A - He rose again. (I Cor. 15:4). God the Father brought Him back to life for us, in order for us to seek him for forgiveness.
10. What is sin?
- Sin is the transgression of God's law (1 John 3:4). It is disobeying God.
11. What is a "sin of commission"?
- When we do something God has forbidden us to do.
12. Examples of sins of commission.
- Lying, stealing, disobeying parents, or disobeying laws, boasting, losing our temper.
13. What is a "sin of omission"?
- When we do not do something God has commanded us to do.
14. Examples of sins of omission.
- Not praying, not reading the Bible, not telling others about Jesus, not gathering with others to worship, not giving generously to God's work and those in need.
15. If not taken care of where does sin lead to?
- Death and hell and separation from God.
16. Are some people, other than Christ, so good that they can avoid sin altogether?
- No. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Rom 6:23)
17. What is temptation?
- A thought that it might be desirable or pleasurable to commit a particular sin.
18. Is temptation a sin itself?
- No (Heb 4:15), you can be tempted and choose not to sin.
19. Is "belief" the same as "faith" in the Bible?
- Yes. These words translate the same Greek word.
20. Can we get to heaven by trying extra hard to be very good?
- No. No one is good enough to earn Heaven. Jesus and Jesus alone is the way to Heaven when we accept Him (John 14:6)
21. When a person truly puts his trust in Jesus, can he lose salvation and go to hell after all?
- No. Believe in Jesus, and ask for forgiveness, and you will go to Heaven with Jesus. (John 10:28-30; Eph 4:30; Rom 8:28-39; 5:8-9)
22. Can a person be saved and not feel anything?
- Most certainly. When we trust Jesus we are saved, regardless of feelings.
23. What happens to one who dies without believing in and accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior?
- He (or she) goes into hell. You don't want to go there.
24. What is Christian Baptism?
- The immersion down into the water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, of one who is trusting the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
25. If a person trusted Jesus and died before being baptized would he go to heaven?
- Yes, because we trust only Jesus for salvation, not Jesus plus baptism. Baptism is simply what Jesus asks us to do when we accept Him as our Savior, as a show to all that we are accepting to be a Christ follower, a Christian.
26. Then why do we need to be baptized? Two reasons
- 1) God commands us that we should. (Mt 28:18-20);
- 2) It gives a beautiful picture and testimony of what Jesus has done for us. (Rom 6:1-11)
27. What does baptism picture?
- Death, burial, and resurrection. (Rom 6:1-11) If I baptized you, Chase and Riley, I would say, while baptizing you, "You are buried with Christ (down into water), Raised again (up out of water), to walk with Jesus as a Christian". That's it.
28. Should baptism be a public experience?
- Yes. Because it is a testimony to others of what Jesus has done for us. We must not be ashamed of Him. (Luke 9:26)
29. Does it matter who performs the baptism?
- No. (I Cor 1:13-17)
30. Are angels real?
- Yes. They are referred to 275 times in scripture.
31. What are angels?
- Spirit beings who serve God. (Heb 1:7)
32. What do they do?
- Obey God in service (Heb 1:14); Assist in answering prayers (Act 12:7); Care for us when we are near death (Luke 16:22; Jude 9), and monitor us for when we need help.
If you understand these, and want to learn more, I will send you a book to read written for teens. And when you say you are ready I will send you your own special Bible.
God bless you,
I love you
PS, you might want to read how Paw Paw became "Saved", Titled, "My Miracle" listed on the main www.cottonharbor.com web page.
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