The boy had never seen his father study a map so carefully.
The little boy watches his father studying a city map. The boy asks, “Why do you need a Map?”
“Because we’re going where we’ve never been before. Perhaps I can find work in this city,” replies his father.
The boy thinks more. Suddenly he says, “Father, my birthday is coming soon. I shouldn’t ask for much, but there is one thing you can give me.”
“I’ll give you whatever I can, son. What is it you want?”
The boy answers, “A map.”
The father is puzzled. “Why do you want a map?”
The boy explains, “Because I am growing older. I will be going where I have never been before. And you said, ‘For that, one needs a map’.”
Suppose you are the boy’s father or mother. What would you give to meet your son’s need for a sense of direction in life?
Why Consider The Bible?
Consider the Bible as the Map for life. Its wisdom spans many centuries, yet millions today find its message as fresh and relevant as ever. They find that its principles work in daily life – in every stage of life. They discover purpose for living. That purpose gives them hope for now and for the future – even beyond this life. They believe in a home with God forever. In other words, they believe the Bible when it claims to speak for God.
In seeking a map for life, consider the Bible’s claims. Again and again, it assures us that it is the pure word from our Maker. Yes, the Map for life.
In over 2,000 places the prophets of the Bible say things like this:
The Lord said to me . . .
These are the words of the Lord . . .
This is what the Lord says . . .
Moses said the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God on stone tablets.
Moses said that God’s laws, the Ten Commandments, were written “by the finger of God” on stone tablets (Exodus 31:18). He reported that God spoke with him “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11).
King David said,
The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; His word was on my tongue (2 Samuel 23:2-3).
The prophet Jeremiah wrote,
Then the Lord reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put My words in your mouth” (Jeremiah 1:9).
We must seriously ask, “Did these prophets have a bad habit of lying? Or were they telling the truth, and God really did speak through them?”
Jesus assured us that the Bible prophets spoke the truth.
He relied on their reports of history (Matthew 12:40; 24:37-39).
He trusted in all their writings – also called Scriptures – and taught us the same trust (Matthew 5:17-19; Luke 16:17,29; 24:27,44; John 5:39-47).
He based His teachings on the exact words they used (Matthew 19:5-6; 22:32). He asked, “Have you not read what God said to you?” (Matthew 22:31-32).
He reminded us, “The Scriptures cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
The apostles [Jesus’ spokesmen] Paul and Peter taught the same thing.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
For prophecy [God’s message] never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
How can a book come to have such a title – The Book? The Bible fully deserves such a special title. No matter how one looks at facts about books, the Bible is outstanding as The Book.
How many ancient copies from the New Testament still exist? In the original language alone, well over 4,000! The oldest of these dates back close to the time when the New Testament was first written. Among ancient writings, no other collection is so well supported by so much evidence.
The Bible was first written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. It has come into our modern languages through translation. The Bible’s message is so important that it has been translated into 2,000 languages. No other book has been translated more widely, and this trend continues.
The Bible was the first book printed for the ordinary people. It remains the most printed, circulated and read book of all time (billions more than the next top book).
The Bible’s complete truth and honesty make it quite different from other ancient histories. The Bible shows both the good and bad, even in Israel’s greatest leaders. Whether king or slave, rich or poor, man or woman, all were measured by the same ruler, “the law of the Lord.”
Over a quarter of the world’s population claims some belief in the Bible. Three great world religions claim roots linked with the Bible. Whoever seeks a Map for life should consider the Bible.
Jesus trusted the prophets writings, and taught us to have the same trust.
The Bible was written by 40 men during a period of over 1,500 years. Most of these writers were not alive at the same time. They could not work together in any direct way. Yet the Bible has one continuing story flowing through it.
THE BOOK OF BOOKS
The Bible deserves this title because it is outstanding among books. But in another sense, it is The Book of Books because it is a library. Its first 39 books make up the Old Testament. They were written mainly in Hebrew between 1,500 and 400 years B.C. The second part, the New Testament, has 27 books written in Greek between A.D. 50 and 100. (Many today divide history into two parts. B.C. refers to time before Jesus Christ’s birth. A.D. refers to time after Jesus Christ’s birth.) The New Testament books complete the Gospel – which means Good News – about Jesus. Together, these 66 writings form a complete, united picture. No other book has been written like this. In the most amazing way, the Bible joins centuries of history with the highest wisdom. Above all, it shows us the Way to come home to God.
What Are Your Needs?
There are many reasons for taking the Bible seriously. Among them is its practical wisdom for successful living. What is your need? See if the Bible addresses that need or its root.
NEED FOR LOVE
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
NEED FOR FAMILY
In love God predestined [planned for] us to be adopted as His sons (Ephesians 1:4-5).
You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but . . . members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19).
NEED FOR LIFE
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).
NEED FOR GUIDANCE
You have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).
NEED FOR STRENGTH
Everything is possible for him who believes. . . . With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God (Mark 9:23; 10:27).
God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
NEED FOR SECURITY
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. . . . The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore (Psalm 121:2,7-8).
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
NEED FOR FORGIVENESS
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Act 2:38).
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
NEED FOR HEALTH
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. . . . And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up (James 5:13,15).
NEED FOR PEACE
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).
NEED FOR FOOD AND CLOTHES
Why do you worry? “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:28,33).
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed (Psalm 37:25-26).
NEED FOR FRIENDSHIP
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. . . . I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you (John 15:13,15).
NEED FOR HOPE
In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3-4).
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19).
ALL YOUR NEEDS
God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).
My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
The truth is, whether young or old, we are all going where we have never been before.
More Than “Religion”
As the Bible addresses your needs, do you sense the importance of relationship? We find God’s glorious riches “in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
Some people view Christianity as another “religion.” But the word “religion” is rare in the Bible. Two times where it applies to Christianity, “religion” is shown to be worthless if it does not care for needy people (1 Timothy 5:4; James 1:26-27). The Bible calls to you. This call is to meet a Person, not just plans or ideas. This call emphasizes relationships, not rituals. Indeed, the main rules have to do with love, first for God and then for each other (Mark 12:30-31).
Sadly, some judge Christ without knowing Him. They have heard about Him, which may include bad reports:
Wars, cruelty and crimes committed in His name
Harsh rules imposed in His name
So-called “miracles” claimed in His name
Hypocrites who cover up their lies in His name
Leaders who get rich and powerful in His name
Supposedly “Christian” governments and nations that do wrong
Such evils are the exact opposite of Jesus’ life and teaching. Jesus and His apostles warned that enemies would give Christ’s way a bad name (bring it into “disrepute”).
There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies [hurtful lies], even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them. . . . Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute (2 Peter 2:1-2).
The Way of Truth
Peter shows that he follows “the way of truth” given by Jesus. He warns against “shameful ways” from others. They claim His name, but they are enemies who work against Him (Matthew 7:15-23; 13:24-30, 36-43; 24:24). They twist and change Christianity for their own selfish purposes (2 Timothy 3:5; 4:3-4).
There may seem to be many roads, but in reality they come down to two choices.
How can we tell the difference between “the way of truth” and false ways? Here is the greatest value of the Bible: It describes the Way from the beginning. It keeps that truth safe for all future ages. From this original record we can know the true Jesus. We can learn the Christianity that Jesus created and continues.
The key is the Bible. That is why we invite you into the Bible experience. In these World Bible School courses, all graded questions come from the Scriptures themselves. The Word of God is the pure source – the unique, reliable and respected record of Jesus and His Way. Man-made rules and divisions came later, and they turned into many muddied streams about Christianity. You will not be tested on those or anyone else’s opinions. Rather, we aim to go back to the clear source that flows from God Himself. We seek the real Jesus. We want to learn His Way as He first revealed it. If you share that desire, join us on a journey into the heart of the Good News.
The Way To Faith
The New Testament tells the story of Jesus. The first four books – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – report His time on earth. The book of Acts shows the result as more and more people believe in Jesus as the Christ. (“Christ” comes from Greek, and “Messiah” from Hebrew; both refer to the supreme King promised by the Old Testament.) Acts shows detailed examples of how people become “Christians” – followers of Christ. In Acts 8 we find one man’s journey. It begins by telling how the man first hears the Good News of Jesus. It ends with the man’s happy response to Jesus. Let’s join this man – a sincere seeker from Ethiopia – on his journey to faith. His helper on the journey is Philip, a Christian who shares the Good News of Jesus wherever he travels.
On his way [Philip] met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it” (Acts 8:27-29).
Philip’s meeting with the Ethiopian is no accident. Philip is on a mission. God’s Spirit is at work to bring Philip and the Ethiopian together. In a similar way, we believe that important encounters come from God, not random chance. God cares about us. He knows how the Good News meets our deepest needs. God especially wants true seekers to find Him. The Ethiopian is an important government minister. Yet he takes the time to travel to Jerusalem, the historic center of worship. Now, on his return, he reads a copy of “Isaiah the prophet.” And you . . . are you a seeker? Do you recognize that God is at work – this very moment – to meet your needs? Is your heart open to new discoveries from His Word?
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him (Acts 8:30-31).
Perhaps, at times, you also ask, “How can I understand?” Sometimes we need help. Consider, for example, what the Ethiopian is reading from Isaiah 53. Someone is suffering in silence. He is judged unfairly. He is killed. Who and what is that all about? The Bible raises questions, and also provides the answers. A guide can prove helpful for finding your way through the Bible. World Bible School is designed to serve you as a guide like Philip. As you take WBS courses, your Study Helper will be there for you also, helping you find the Bible’s answers for your own questions and needs.
The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so He did not open His mouth. In His humiliation He was deprived of justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth” (Acts 8:32-33).
The Ethiopian is reading from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, written by the prophet Isaiah in about 700 B.C. Isaiah foretells the success and glory of God’s special “Servant” (for example, Isaiah 52:13). Yet Isaiah 53 then describes in great detail the Servant’s horrible death – “His life was taken from the earth” (Acts 8:33; Isaiah 53:8). The surprises continue. Isaiah’s prophecy then foretells the Servant’s pleasure in the results of His death.
After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11).
Why will the Servant feel satisfied? Because His sacrifice will “justify” people (make them right with God). How? He will lift from sinners their load of iniquity (sin) and place that load on Himself.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” He will bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:6,11).
The Servant Himself is innocent and pure (Isaiah 53:9). Why should He take our sins on Himself? Isaiah 53:10 says, “The Lord makes His life a guilt offering.” This wording is truly remarkable since Isaiah followed the Law of Moses. In that Law, the term “guilt offering” always applied to flawless animals killed for people’s sins. God hated the sacrificing of humans. Yet, by God’s power, Isaiah foresaw a human as the “guilt offering”! God would sacrifice His Servant to rescue “us all” from our sins.
The Good News
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the Good News about Jesus (Acts 8:34-35).
Who is this sacrificed Servant? Philip points to Jesus. Yet Isaiah was written over 700 years before Jesus was born. (The oldest existing copy of Isaiah dates from long before Jesus’ birth.) How could Isaiah foretell so many details of the torture that, in fact, Jesus did suffer? How could Isaiah foresee – long before Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross – the human sacrifice that takes away all our sins? Only God has the power to foretell and to fulfill in this way.
When Philip and the Ethiopian meet, it has not been long since Jesus died in great pain on a Roman cross. Yet Philip has Good News about Jesus! This is news about a Person, not merely about new religious ideas. This is news with a Name!
When Isaiah predicted the coming of Jesus, he gave Him the highest titles. Like other prophets of the Bible, Isaiah emphasized that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6). Yet Isaiah foretold the birth of a Son who would rightfully be called “God.”
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom . . . forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Remember, these words were written long before Christianity began. They, and many other passages, predicted the coming of the divine King (the Messiah, or Christ) from King David’s family line. After Jesus died and then returned to life – as seen and reported by many witnesses – He showed how the Old Testament prophecies had come true.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:44-47).
Good News Of Forgiveness
We all can enjoy “forgiveness” because Jesus suffered the punishment we deserved. Our sins condemned us. They separated us from God and killed us spiritually. When Jesus gave His life on the cross, He took our place. Now the Father gives to us the gift of His Son’s own purity and goodness.
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
How can we be sure of God’s promise to us? Christ’s return from death proves the truth of His Good News! That is why the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus are at the heart of the Good News.
By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you…. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:2-4).
Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
As we hear the Good News of Jesus, the same question comes to us today. Do you believe this? If so, how should you respond to such Good News? What is God’s will for you as a believer?
The Joyful Response
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” . . . And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:36-39).
Do you see how faith responds? Philip shares “the Good News about Jesus” and immediately the Ethiopian wants to be baptized (Acts 8:35-36). Baptism is a word that comes from Greek. In that language it means an immersion or dipping. What has water to do with the Good News?
John the Baptizer was a prophet who prepared people to accept Jesus. He did this by “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). “Repentance” refers to the decision to change, to stop living in sin and start following Christ. Baptism marks that change with this purpose: “for the forgiveness of sins.” When Jesus came, He also had people baptized (John 3:22,26; 4:1). His enemies, including the Pharisees, “rejected God’s purpose” by rejecting baptism (Luke 7:30). In this setting, when John and Jesus were requiring baptism in water, a leading Pharisee visited Jesus. To him Jesus said,
I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5).
Thus Jesus Himself created the link between entering the kingdom and “water and the Spirit.” This link continued as Jesus sent His followers to tell the Good News (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 8:12; 22:16).
Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” . . . Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day (Acts 2:38,41).
Does “every one of you” mean this applies to you and me too? And why? What makes the baptism of a believing, repentant person so essential? As the New Testament unfolds its message, the reason becomes clearer.
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:3-4).
[You have] been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead (Colossians 2:12).
The Gospel events are not distant facts. Jesus lives today. He calls you to share His death, burial and resurrection by baptism. The result is that you are “raised with Him through your faith” (Colossians 2:12, which shows that baptism is for people who have believed the Good News). From baptism you rise with Christ to “a new life” (Romans 6:4). As Romans shows, this is a life free from sin. First, God no longer sees you as guilty. Christ’s blood washes away all sins and you receive God’s free gift of complete purity. Second, God gives you power to change and overcome sinful habits, the power to live with Him and for Him. Nothing can ever separate you from this loving relationship.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. . . . We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. . . . [Nothing] in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:1,37,39).
This “new life” begins at the believer’s baptism (Romans 6:4). No wonder the Ethiopian wants to be baptized immediately! His trust leads him to obey Jesus. In the water, he joins Jesus in death, so that he can rise with Jesus to life that is “new” in every way. That is why the baptized Ethiopian goes “on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). Though Philip is taken away, the rejoicing continues because it focuses on the living Lord who promises, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Now, in the best sense, the Ethiopian is on his way home because he has found the Way! And you . . . where is your life going? Are you rejoicing in the relationship that leads you home? Do you know the Way? Jesus assures you,
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well (John 14:6-7).
Like Philip, your Study Helper is a friend to encourage you and to assist you with God’s Word. Please take a few moments now to complete the lesson exam questions. Then submit them to your Study Helper for grading, so that you can be assigned the first in-depth course. Explore God’s spiritual Map. Learn the Way to the full life Jesus plans for you. May God bless your personal journey of discovery!