What then is the Bible story?
It begins quite remarkably in the first book, the book of Genesis. It describes the Creation of time, of the universe, and of more immediate concern, the creation of the first man and woman. More than that, it describes the introduction of sin, when Adam and Eve deliberately chose to disobey God’s clear commands. And since that day, mankind has continued to sin, and to disobey God’s command. The original creation, described by God as “very good”, was marred by the sin of the first parents. The creation became progressively worse until God destroyed it with a flood. The Bible states that only eight people were saved.
From those eight persons, the Bible goes on to describe the resettling of the earth, with nations spreading out to occupy every country. Seventy different nations are listed. And of the people descended from Noah and his family, one of the first individuals named was a man named Abraham. He became the father of one of the nations of those early times—the nation of Israel. This nation had a special relationship with God—it was promised blessings if it was faithful to God, and promised a number of curses if it was disobedient. It chose to be disobedient, and the nation was consequently taken over by surrounding nations, and its people—the Jews—dispersed to many European and Asian nations. God however did not completely abandon them. In the same land in which the Jews had lived, He raised up a man called Jesus Christ, also a Jew. Although its inhabitants, returned (in reduced numbers) from where they had been dispersed, they rejected Jesus’ offer of a further hope of salvation. They even killed Jesus Christ.
But that was not the end of Jesus, for God raised him to life again. In doing so, God revealed a change in His approach. Instead of encouraging His nation—the Jews—He opened that chance to non-Jews of the time. Many took up that option, and, naturally, a greater number spurned it. But that same option remains open for us to day. And what is that option? In simple terms, to take up the offer that the Jews rejected. It was not heaven-going! It was not hell-directed! It was not paradise in the clouds above!
It was not eternal burning in sulphur fires below!
It was simply the offer of the gospel. And to see what that was, we turn to the New Testament letter written by one named Paul to those who lived in the Asian province of Galatia. He wrote about one whom we have already mentioned.
“Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited as righteousness.’ Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Galatians 3:6–9
What is faith?
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”Hebrews 10:1What is faith? One New Testament writer defined it this way:
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 10:1
Abraham had this necessary faith. What was it he expected, but did not get? If we refer to Genesis 12 we will appreciate exactly what was promised to him.
“The LORD said to Abram [later called Abraham], ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.’ Genesis 12:1–3