[0] Why should I study the bible? What use is that old book to me in the 21st century?

1. The Calendar

The 21st century is actually measured from the supposed birth year of Jesus, the main character of the bible. This is a testament to the enormous success of the first Christian church which became the Roman Catholic Church. No man has had a larger or longer lasting effect on mankind's history. His birth has become the pivotal point in our measurement of history. Therefore this man, Jesus, is plainly worthy of our study. 

2. Our Instruction Manual

The bible might just be the work of our creator and may therefore be the instruction manual for mankind. The Bible contains 66 books written by 40 different writers over a period of some 1600 years from 1513 BC when the sons of Israel left Egypt until around 100 AD when the last apostle died. But many of these writers claim to have written in an inspired way. Paul who wrote much of the New Testament said:

16 All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness (2 Timothy 3).

Peter, the first member of Jesus' church said...

21 For prophecy was at no time brought by man's will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit (2 Peter 1).

And God himself said to Moses...

12 Jehovah now said to Moses: Come up to me in the mountain and stay there, as I want to give you the stone tablets and the law and the commandment that I must write in order to teach them (Exodus 24).

Simply put the bible writers claimed to be the journalists, and represented that God was their editor. A thorough study of both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament reveals that the same grammatical forms exist in both languages in both testaments, although the two languages are entirely different and use entirely different alphabets. Indeed this is the basis of the bible code that we will describe later. The bible contains a consistent chronology from Adam to Armageddon. The old testament shows God in a judgemental light and the new testament shows his son, Jesus in a forgiving light. So at first sight it appears that either the bible itself is inconsistent or that God and Jesus are very different people. But St. John tells us that God is love and that Jesus is...

3 the reflection of [his] glory and the exact representation of his very being (Hebrew 1).

So how can God behave so differently between the two testaments of the holy book? The scriptural answer is that when a loving father has his children kidnapped and killed he gets very angry. But when he pays the ransom to get them back, he only wants to show them love. For in the old testament he was portraying something that he is not and in the new testament he is portraying, through Jesus Christ, everything that he truly and genuinely is. And if you love him you will see that, and if you don't, you won't.

3. Mankind has reached the point of no return

Man has now reached the point in his development where he has created the very dangerous capability to wipe himself out in an instant. The only way to avoid this disaster is to discover and enforce a set of laws which prevent us from doing this. These laws must be timeless and must prevent us wiping ourselves out at any point in all of our future, i.e. indefinitely, or we are finished as a race. The bible claims to have such a set of rules. If this claim is true, then it holds the key to our future existence . This is plainly more worthy of our examination than say a soap opera is, at this most dangerous time in our development.

Jules Verne once said that unless mankind develops and obeys a set of rules governing the use of our technology, however unjust these rules may seem, we will annihilate ourselves. Martin Luther King described us as misguided men with guided missiles. If you agree with either of these visionaries you have good reason to study the bible in order to discover whether it has the necessary laws and the necessary guidance for mankind.

4. Do you value Love?

If you value love, then since the apostle John said that God was the very definition of Love:

8 He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love (1 John 4).

God is obviously worth getting to know! The apostle Paul defined love explicitly as follows...

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a sounding [piece of] brass or a clashing cymbal.
2 And if I have the gift of prophesying and am acquainted with all the sacred secrets and all knowledge, and if I have all the faith so as to transplant mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 And if I give all my belongings to feed others, and if I hand over my body, that I may boast, but do not have love, I am not
profited at all.
4 Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up,
5 does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury.
6 It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.
7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13).

It is more than apparent that Paul who himself said:

16 All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness (2 Timothy 3).

accredits his definition of love to God. So we now ask you to read God's definition of Love once more, and then to ask yourself: Does my love match that definition or do I have work to do? If this exercise has taught you something about yourself or about other people then the bible has already helped you and your bible study has started. If it hasn't then read the definition again. If you can formulate a better definition of love then please send it to helpdesk@lordswitnesses.net.

5. Mankind has plainly lost its way

Watching the news, it is more than apparent that mankind is in trouble. A recent UNICEF report http://www.unicefusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=duLRI8O0H&b=262152 shows that over 50% of the world's children are devastated by poverty, conflict or AIDS. It is therefore unarguable that as a group, in the majority, as a race, we have lost our way. 

The writer can assure the reader, having studied the bible for 24 years, that this book contains the solutions to all the political problems that we face today. Although these solutions are not immediately apparent. By this he does not mean that, yes the Kingdom of God, when it comes, will solve all of our problems. He means that the laws of God on justice, on love and on morality, if applied today by governments, would solve most of our problems almost immediately. The bible shows its readers just how far away our governments are taking us from justice, love and sustainable morality. Of course the politicians tell us every year that our educational standards are improving and our transportation systems are improving and our health care systems are improving and they are stamping out corruption. But the facts are very different from their assertions.

Of course it is not possible to solve all of our problems whilst in this system because mankind, and especially the politicians among us, have freewill and choose to disobey or get round or ignore even the best worded laws and constitutions. 

The point is that there is a set of laws and a method of government that truly gives freedom and justice to everyone. It creates a society where...

25 And Judah and Israel continued to dwell in security, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree, from Dan to Beer-Sheba, all the days of Solomon (1 Kings 4).

21 And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat [their] fruitage.
22 They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full (Isaiah 65).

It is our endeavour to present to you, from the bible, this minimum set of laws, that achieves the above and that prevents us from destroying ourselves. Mankind cannot fully implement these laws in this system of things, because even these perfect laws cannot be fully effective unless people freely choose to obey them out of wisdom or love for God or love of man. But in the next system, the Kingdom of God that we all pray for in the Lord's prayer, only people who have made that choice in one way or another will participate. The rest of us will sit out some or all of that system in a sin bin, learning by observation, but not being allowed to participate and screw that system up like we have screwed this system up!

Banks have now shown us conclusively that self interest is ultimately self defeating. The housing crises in the US and in the UK have shown us that any economy based upon usury (giving banks the power to throw women and children out of their homes and on to the street) will end up in ruin. Global warming is showing us the futility of self interest as the west and now the east put their immediate profit and immediate comfort ahead of the future survival of the planet and therefore of their own children. The bible is the text book on sustainable morality. It contains the minimum set of rules necessary for a society of free willed beings to avoid self destruction. If understood, digested and followed then mankind would have a future. But we have spectacularly failed to consider our instruction manual (as is the way these days with all equipment manuals). So right now we have no future unless God steps in. But the good news is that he will step in, for that is his job.

6.  Gratitude to God 

Gratitude is in short supply these days. If you believe that God might just have created you and your loved ones and this planet, and your capacity to love, to breathe and to dream things up in your imagination, then plainly you owe him a debt of thanks. Obviously the way to express gratitude to a parent is to listen to him/her. As Samuel God's prophet once said...

22 Does Jehovah have as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Look! To obey is better than a sacrifice, to pay attention than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15).

The way we pay attention to God is by reading his book and by attempting to understand what he is telling us. 

7.  Gratitude to Jesus 

It is a historical fact recorded not only in the bible but also by the Roman historian, Tacitus, that Jesus was executed by the Romans. The recent success of Mel Gibson's over realistic film proves that many of us have gratitude for what Jesus did for us. The 4 gospels are compulsory reading for anyone who wants to express that gratitude by learning from the greatest teacher who ever lived.