Fellowship with GOD
How to Walk and Talk with the CREATOR of the Heavens and the Earth
[** NOTE: This material is PRELIMINARY
and will not be the "official" first edition until approximately
June 30, 2013
Copyright 2007-2013 Ken Burns and God's Way
Ministry, Inc., a Christian Church. All rights reserved
In the Beginning, GOD...
Segment 1: Overview of the “Fellowship with GOD:
How to Walk and Talk with the CREATOR of the Heavens and the Earth" Class
Segment 2: How to Become a Child of GOD
Segment 3: How to Have Fellowship with GOD: Introduction
Segment 4: GOD and the Bible, Part 1: What the Bible Is
Segment 1: Overview of the "Fellowship with GOD" Class
“Wake up, Sleeper!”
(Eph 5:14, Goodspeed)
Aloha and welcome to Session 1 of this class called
“Fellowship with GOD: How to Walk and Talk with the CREATOR of the Heavens
and the Earth.” I would like to begin with prayer:
Heavenly Father, I ask
in the name of Jesus Christ that you watch over, bless, protect, sanctify,
and cleanse this class so that it may glorify you to the fullest extent
Now please go with me to the first verse in
the first chapter in the first book of the Bible, Gen 1:1.
In the beginning God
created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1 NIV)
How well do you know GOD?
The first thing I would like for you to
notice in Gen 1:1 is that GOD’s existence is implied and taken for granted
in the statement, “God created the heavens and the earth.” It is not
presented as a topic for debate. GOD exists! And believing that GOD exists
is a requirement for coming to GOD. Let’s go to Hebrew chapter 11, please.
And without faith it is
impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that
he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb 11:6 NIV)
GOD expects you to come to him on his terms,
not yours. And one of those terms is that if you want to come to him you
“must believe that he exists.”
Coming to GOD, however, is not just some
“you have got to take it on faith” proposition. He has given evidence of his
existence. Let’s consider what the apostles Barnabas and Paul shared with
people in Lystra, a city of Lycaonia, a region in Asia Minor. Please go to
[The apostles Paul and
Barnabas] said, "Men, what are you doing? We're human beings like you. We're
spreading the Good News to you to turn you away from these worthless gods to
the living God. The living God made the sky, the land, the sea, and
everything in them.
In the past God allowed
all people to live as they pleased.
Yet, by doing good, he
has given evidence of his existence. He gives you rain from heaven and crops
in their seasons. He fills you with food and your lives with happiness."
(Acts 14:15-17 GWN)
GOD has not been hiding. He has made his
existence known—beginning with his creation of the heavens and the earth
(Gen 1:1). Consider what is recorded in Romans chapter 1.
[W]hat may be known
about God is plain to them [“men who suppress the truth by their wickedness”
(:18)], because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation
of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine
nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so
that men are without excuse. (Rom 1:19-20 NIV)
GOD exists, and he had already revealed in
the stars a great deal about himself and his will for humanity long before
the first word of the Bible had been recorded.
Yet some people choose to deny that GOD
exists. GOD calls such people “fools.” Let’s go to Psalm 14.
The fool says in his
heart, "There is no God." (Ps 14:1a NIV)
I hope that these people decide to read the
Bible thoroughly, learn of GOD’s great love for them, and change their
minds. Until then, this class on “Fellowship with GOD” is not for them.
Other people say that they don’t know
whether GOD exists. But these people seem to fall into two major subgroups:
(1) those who are using such a statement as an excuse because they do not
want to “earnestly seek him” (Heb 11:6); and (2) those who really do want to
know whether GOD exists and are earnestly seeking him. The people in the
first subgroup seem somewhat like Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who had a problem
with what Moses was telling him in Exod 5.
And afterwards Moses and
Aaron went in and said unto Pharaoh, Thus saith Yahweh, God of Israel, Let
my people go, that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.
Then said Pharaoh, Who
is Yahweh that I should hearken to his voice, to let Israel go? I know not
Yahweh, and certainly Israel will I not let go. (Exod 5:1, 2 Rotherham)
Pharaoh’s officials reported to him some of
the consequences of his decision not to know, try to learn about, or
recognize Yahweh, “God of Israel,” in Exod 10:7.
And Pharaoh’s courtiers
said to him, “How much longer is this man to be the cause of our trouble?
Let the people go to offer worship to Yahweh their God. Do you not
understand that Egypt is now on the brink of ruin?” (Exod 10:7 JB)
I hope that the people who have, to date,
been making excuses relative to knowing whether GOD exists also decide to
read the Bible thoroughly, learn of GOD’s great love for them, and change
their minds. Until they do, this class on “Fellowship with GOD” is not for
What about those of you in the second
subgroup—you do not know whether GOD exists, but you really do want to know?
This class might be for you! We learned in Heb 11:6 above that GOD requires
that those who come to him “must believe that he exists.” Right now, you
might be like Samuel was when he was young. Samuel had been serving Yahweh
under the supervision of Eli the priest since he had been a young boy (cf. 1
Sam 2:11, 18; 3:1 NJB), but—as 1 Sam 3 records--he did not yet know
Now Samuel as yet knew
not Yahweh, nor as yet had been revealed unto him the word of Yahweh. (1 Sam
GOD is reaching out to you through
this class on “Fellowship with GOD.” If you make up your mind that GOD
exists and commit yourself to earnestly seeking him, perhaps you may become
like Samuel as he grew up. Here is the account from later in 1 Sam 3.
Samuel grew up. Yahweh
was with him and did not let a single word fall to the ground of all that he
had told him.
All Israel knew, from
Dan to Beersheba, that Samuel was attested as a prophet of Yahweh. (1 Sam
3:19, 20 NJB)
If you are willing to accept that GOD
exists, we can move on to another great truth that will help you in your
quest to know GOD.
GOD Created the Heavens
and the Earth!
Let’s go back to Gen 1:1.
In the beginning God
created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1 NIV)
The second thing I would like you to notice
in this verse is that GOD “created the heavens and the earth.” This truth is
recorded many times in the Bible. Let’s look at some other examples:
For in six days Yahweh
made the heavens, earth and sea and all that these contain, but on the
seventh day he rested; that is why Yahweh has blessed. (Exod 20:11 NJB)
Thus says God, Yahweh,
who created the heavens and spread them out, who hammered into shape the
earth and what comes from it, who gave breath to the people on it, and
spirit to those who walk on it: (Isa 42:5 NJB)
It is I who made the
earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I
marshaled their starry hosts. (Isa 45:12 NIV)
For thus says Yahweh,
the Creator of the heavens -- he is God, who shaped the earth and made it,
who set it firm; he did not create it to be chaos, he formed it to be lived
in: I am Yahweh, and there is no other. (Isa 45:18 NJB)
And he [i.e., the angel
(verse 5)] swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens
and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and
all that is in it, . . .
(Rev 10:6 NIV)
GOD’s creation of the heavens and the earth
was the ultimate illustration of his awesome power as recorded in the Bible.
When GOD raised his Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead, he further
demonstrated his great power:
I pray also that the
eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to
which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the
saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is
like the working of his mighty strength,
which he exerted in
Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in
the heavenly realms,
far above all rule and
authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only
in the present age but also in the one to come.
And God placed all
things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the
church, (Eph 1:18-22 NIV)
GOD’s great power is incomparable! The
power of all other living beings—spiritual, human, or otherwise; good or
evil—pales into insignificance when compared to that of GOD, the CREATOR of
the heavens and the earth!
If you have settled in your heart that GOD
exists and that he created the heavens and the earth, we are ready to
discuss the most important decision in your life!
Segment 2: How to Become a Child of
“You Must Be Born Again” (John 3:7 NIV)
You did not have a say in the most important
event in your life to date: your birth. Your parents decided on that,
consciously or unconsciously, when you were conceived. But you do have a say
in what could be the second most important event in your life: whether you
become a child of GOD. Here is what Jesus Christ said in John 3.
In reply [to Nicodemus]
Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again."
"How can a man be born
when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into
his mother's womb to be born!"
Jesus answered, "I tell
you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of
water and the Spirit.
Flesh gives birth to
flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
You should not be
surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' (John 3:3-7 NIV)
Jesus provided additional insight about how
to be born again—which he also called being “born of . . . the
Spirit” (in verse 5)—a little later in his conversation with Nicodemus.
Beginning in John 3:14, Jesus said:
"And as Moses lifted up
the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
that whoever believes
may in Him have eternal life.
"For God so loved the
world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him
should not perish, but have eternal life.
"For God did not send
the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be
saved through Him.
"He who believes in Him
is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he
has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:14-18
Jesus explained to Nicodemus that, in order
to be born again—to be born of the Spirit—to have eternal
life—a person needed to believe in Jesus, the Son of Man, GOD’s
only begotten Son. Notice also that Jesus said that GOD had sent him (Jesus)
into the world so that the world “should be saved through him [Jesus].”
We see this truth again in John chapter 14.
Jesus answered, "I am
the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me. (John 14:6 NIV)
Nearly every human being is born as what GOD
calls “a natural man.”
Please go to 1 Cor. 2.
Now the natural [Greek:
psychikos] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for
they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are
(1 Cor 2:14 ERV)
The Greek word psychikos (Strong’s #
5591) is also used in Jude, where the immediate context makes its meaning
there—and in 1 Cor 2:14—plain:
These are they who set
natural men, [Greek: psychikos] not having the Spirit.
(Jude 1:19 Darby)
Human beings—with the exceptions noted
above—are born as “natural men”; i.e., they are born without “the Spirit”
(which is also referred to as “the Spirit of God” and “Holy Spirit” in the
And there is a close association between the term spirit and the term
life in the Bible. Consider, for example, what Jesus said in John 6.
The spirit is the life
giver; the flesh is of no value: the words which I have said to you are
spirit and they are life. (John 6:63 BBE)
And here is what is stated in Rom 8 about
spirit and life.
But if Christ is in you,
though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of
righteousness. (Rom 8:10 NRSV)
Second Corinthians 3 also shows an important
relationship between spirit and life.
He has made us competent
as ministers of a new covenant-- not of the letter but of the Spirit; for
the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Cor 3:6 NIV)
GOD wants every human being—including
you!—to be saved (which is another synonym for being born again and
becoming a child of GOD), as 1 Tim 2 states:
who [our Savior, God
(verse 3)] wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the
truth. (1 Tim 2:4 NIV)
So, if you want to become a child of GOD—to
be saved—what, specifically, do you need to do? The Macedonian jailor
asked the Apostles Paul and Silas that very question, as recorded in Acts
He then brought them out
and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
They replied, "Believe
in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-- you and your household."
Then they spoke the word
of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. (Acts 16:30-32 NIV)
The basic answer is the same as the one
Jesus himself gave to Nicodemus in John 3; i.e., “believe in the Lord
Jesus.” The following words in verse 32—“Then they spoke the word of the
Lord to him . . .”--give a clue that there is a somewhat expanded message
relating to how to receive salvation from God. That expanded message, so to
speak, is known as the gospel or good news. The Apostle Paul presented some
of the basic components of the gospel in its relation to salvation in 1 Cor
Now I make known to you,
brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in
which also you stand,
by which also you are
saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you
believed in vain.
For I delivered to you
as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried,
and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that He appeared to
Cephas, then to the twelve.
After that He appeared
to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until
now, but some have fallen asleep;
then He appeared to
James, then to all the apostles;
and last of all, as it
were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8
Paul presented the first point of his gospel
message in verse 3: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
John the Baptist, for example, described one of the things that Jesus Christ
would accomplish in John 1.
On the next day John saw
Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the
sin of the world! (John 1:29 NIV)
Part of the problem human beings have had
with sin goes all the way back to Adam’s disobedience of the command Yahweh
GOD gave him in Gen 2.
Then Yahweh God gave the
man this admonition, “You may eat indeed of all the trees in the garden.
Nevertheless of the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat, for on the day you eat
of it you shall most surely die.” (Gen 2:16, 17 JB)
The first man, Adam, choose to disobey
Yahweh GOD’s solemn command, as stated in Gen 3.
And when the woman saw
that the tree
was good for
food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired
to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and
gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Gen 3:6 NIV)
And humanity has had problems with sin ever
since, as Rom 5 states:
. . . sin
entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way
death came to all men, because all sinned. (Rom 5:12 NIV)
Another part of the sin problem has been of
our own making; i.e., every human being (other than Jesus Christ) has sinned
and will sin (as long as they keep on living). Let’s go to Rom 3 to see more
on this point.
But now a righteousness
from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the
This righteousness from
God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no
for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified freely
by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
God presented him as a
sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to
demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins
committed beforehand unpunished. (Rom 3:21-25 NIV)
Every human being except Jesus Christ has
sinned and will continue to sin as they live their lives. But GOD loves you
and allowed his Son, Jesus Christ, to be a sacrificial offering for our
sins. We can see GOD’s great love for us in Rom 5.
For when we were yet
without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a
righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even
dare to die.
But God commendeth his
love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being
now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
For if, when we were
enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being
reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
And not only so,
but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now
received the atonement. (Rom 5:6-11 KJV)
The second point of the Apostle Paul’s
gospel message is given in 1 Cor 15:4a.
and that He [Jesus] was
buried, (1 Cor 15:4a NASB)
The third point—a very vital one(!):
and that He was raised
on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Cor 15:4b NASB)
Many so-called religious leaders
have come and gone through the years. Except for those still on the scene
today, they have all died and will not be heard from again until Jesus
Christ returns (if they are children of GOD via the new birth) or until the
resurrections of the just and the unjust. In contrast, Jesus Christ died on
the cross to pay the price for our sins; GOD raised his Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead;
and Jesus Christ is alive--right now, at this very moment--and will be for
the rest of eternity! And
it was the proclamation of this great truth that compelled people to make
the decision on the spot: Did they want to become a child of GOD or not?
Let’s note several examples of the importance of GOD’s having raised Jesus
one of these must become
a witness with us of his resurrection."
(Acts 1:22b NIV)
Seeing what was ahead,
he [the patriarch David] spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he
was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. (Acts 2:31 NIV)
. . . the apostles were
teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
(Acts 4:2 NIV)
With great power the
apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and
much grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33 NIV)
Paul was preaching the
good news about Jesus and the resurrection. (Acts 17:18 NIVb)
When the apostles preached the gospel (or
good news) to people, including the great truth that GOD had raised
his Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead, each person had the opportunity to
decide whether they wanted to become a child of GOD—to be born again--to be
born of the Spirit—to have eternal life—to be saved. Let’s see the decisions
people make when they hear that GOD raised his Son, Jesus Christ, from the
dead in Acts 17:32, 33.
And when they heard of
the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear
thee again of this matter.
So Paul departed from
Howbeit certain men
clave unto him, and believed: (Acts 17:32-34a KJV)
When people hear the gospel—especially the
part about GOD’s having raised his Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead—they
make decisions. And those decisions tend to fall into three categories: (1)
they mock (Acts 17:32a)—sounds somewhat like the GOD-deniers we spoke about
earlier, doesn’t it; (2) they say, “We’d like to hear more about this,” but
don’t believe the good news on the spot—sounds somewhat like the people who
say they don’t know whether GOD exists, but are really just making excuses
for not diligently seeking him; and (3) they cleave (or glue themselves)
to preachers of the good news and believe. They act—on the spot—when they
hear and understand the truth from GOD about himself and about his Son,
Jesus Christ. And please notice that Paul “departed from among” those in the
first two categories.
A key component of the gospel message is
that GOD raised his Son Jesus Christ from the dead. Let’s go to the specific
statement about how to be saved in Rom 10.
That if you confess with
your mouth, "Jesus is Lord [Greek: kyrios]," and believe in your heart that God raised him
from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is with your
heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you
confess and are saved. (Rom 10:9, 10 NIV)
The Greek word kyrios (translated
"Lord" in Rom 10:9) has several basic meanings; including, among others: (1) "lord"
[e.g., "lords" many (1 Cor 8:5 KJV)]; (2) "master" [e.g., "masters" of a
slave girl (Acts 16:16 KJV)]; (3) "owner" [e.g., "owners" of a colt
(Luke 19:33 KJV)].
Jesus Christ gave his life to pay the price for the sins
of the world. And everyone who chooses to confess with their mouth Jesus as their Lord
receives the benefits of Jesus' sacrifice. We are
from that moment on no longer our own. Consider, for example, 1 Cor 6.
You are not your own;
you were bought at a
price. (1 Cor 6:19b, 20a NIV)
You were bought at a
price; (1 Cor 7:23a NIV)
". . . let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him
both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified." (Acts 2:36 NASB)
We may choose to confess with our mouth Jesus
as our owner or
master (or lord) because he bought and paid for us by giving his
life for our sins.
The final point of the Apostle Paul’s
expanded gospel message—presented in 1 Cor 15:5-8--was that there were many
witnesses, including himself (miraculously), who had seen Jesus in his new
spiritual body, alive, after GOD had raised Jesus from the dead.
and that He appeared to
Cephas, then to the twelve.
After that He appeared
to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until
now, but some have fallen asleep;
then He appeared to
James, then to all the apostles;
and last of all, as it
were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (1 Cor 15:5-8 NASB)
Once a person chooses to confess with their
mouth Jesus as their Lord and to believe in their heart that GOD raised his
Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead, they are saved—are born again—are
born of the Spirit—have eternal life. If you have done
this—and please look again at John 3:16; 1 Cor 15:3-8; and Rom 10:9, 10—you
have become a child of GOD. And at that moment, you were sealed with GOD’s
gift of holy spirit.
In him you also, who
have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have
believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14
which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,
to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13, 14 RSV)
Now you too can say: “I am a son of GOD!”
See how great a love the
Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and
such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it
did not know Him.
Beloved, now we are
children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know
that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just
as He is. (1 John 3:1, 2 NASB)
Segment 3: How to Have
Fellowship with GOD: Introduction
The first key term in this "Fellowship with
GOD" class is "fellowship with GOD."
The second key
term in the "Fellowship with GOD" class is "walking with GOD."
The third key term in this “Fellowship with
GOD” class is “talking with GOD.” Do you know GOD? The first man, Adam, did.
He was on “talking terms” with GOD. And GOD literally talked with Adam! The
first “two-way” conversation between GOD and a human being is recorded in
Gen chapter 3:
the LORD God called to
the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"
He [the man] said, "I
heard the sound of you in the garden, . . .
He [the LORD God] said,
". . .
The man said, ". . ."
(Gen 3:9-12 NRSV)
Adam literally talked with GOD. The
record in Gen 3 above does not just state that Adam talked to GOD—which
most people would probably call “prayer.” And the record also does not just
state that GOD talked to Adam. The Bible records here an instance of
GOD’s holding a two-way conversation with the first man, Adam.
There are many records in the Bible which
document “two-way” conversations between GOD and various human beings. Some
of the records specifically use expressions like “talk with,” “commune
with,” and “speak with” in describing these conversations. Here are several
And when Abram was
ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I
am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
And Abram fell on his
face: and God talked with him, saying,
And he left off talking
with him, and God went up from Abraham. (Gen 17:1, 3, 22 KJV, bolding added)
Abraham stood yet before
And Abraham drew near,
and said, Wilt thou consume the righteous with the wicked?
And the LORD said, If I
find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the
place for their sakes.
And the LORD went his
way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned
unto his place. (Gen 18:22, 23, 26, 33 KJV, bolding added)
And Moses went up unto
God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt
thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
And the LORD said unto
Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when
I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of
the people unto the LORD.
And it came to pass on
the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a
thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so
that all the people that was in the camp trembled.
And Moses brought forth
the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether
part of the mount.
And mount Sinai was
altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the
smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked
greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder
and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.
And the LORD came down
upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up
to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
And God spake all these
I am the LORD thy
God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of
And all the people saw
the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the
mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood
And they said unto
Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us,
lest we die.
And Moses said unto the
people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be
before your faces, that ye sin not.
And the people stood
afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
And the LORD said unto
Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I
have talked with you from heaven. (Exod 19:3, 9, 16-20; 20:1, 2, 18-22 KJV,
And the LORD spake unto
Speak unto the children
of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it
willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
And let them make me a
sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
And thou shalt put the
mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony
that I shall give thee.
And there I will meet
with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from
between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of
all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of
Israel. (Exod 25:1, 2, 8, 21, 22 KJV, bolding added)
And it came to pass, as
Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood
at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.
And the LORD spake unto
Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. (Exod 33:9, 11 KJV,
And the hand of the LORD
was there upon me [Ezekiel]; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the
plain, and I will there talk with thee.
Then I arose, and went
forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, as the
glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face.
But when I speak with
thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the
Lord GOD; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him
forbear: for they are a rebellious house. (Ezek 3:23, 23, 27 KJV,
Segment 4: GOD and the
Bible, Part 1: What the Bible Is
What should we do once we have become a child of GOD? One thing we can do is to read and study the Bible. And I
can hardly emphasize to you enough how
important it is to keep reminding yourself as you read or listen to the
Bible that the Bible was not originally written in English.
The Bible in English
Let’s consult some experts on the matter of
the Bible and the English language. As David Daniell states in The Bible
Something new, with a
mysterious element to it, began to appear in England, in English, in the
1380s. Much-copied manuscripts appeared of the same large and demanding
text—the Bible, even the whole Bible, and only that—translated into English
from the Latin Vulgate, and said to be linked with, though not mentioning,
the name of the Oxford scholar John Wyclif.
. . . They were the
earliest complete Bibles, or New Testaments, in English.
So there are today no publicly-known,
surviving English Bibles or New Testaments dating to earlier than about A.D.
1380. Commenting on the Frontispiece for his book--a picture of a page from
the Lindisfarne Gospels—Daniell writes:
An opening of the Lindisfarne Gospels, made in AD 698 or soon after, showing
the first verses of St. John’s Gospel in Latin, and the interlinear
handwritten gloss in Old English made by Aldred between AD 946 and 968,
which is the earliest surviving translation of the Gospels into any form of
the English Language.
So there are also today no publicly-known,
surviving Gospels in English dating to before about A.D. 950. Finally,
scholars generally don’t even speak of the English language itself existing
as a distinct “language” until about A.D. 450:
The recorded history of
the English language begins, not on the Continent, where we know English
speakers once lived, but in the British Isles, where they eventually
settled. During the period when the language was spoken in Europe, it is
known as pre-Old English, for it was only after the English separated
themselves from their Germanic cousins that we recognize their speech as a
. . . According to the
Venerable Bede’s account in his Ecclesiastical History of the English
Nation, written in Latin and completed around [A.D.] 730, almost three
centuries after the event, the Britons [British Celts] . . . called the
“Saxons” to their aid [against the Picts and Scots] “from parts beyond the
sea.” As a result of their appeal, shiploads of Germanic warrior-adventurers
began to arrive.
The date that Bede gives
for the first landing—[A.D.] 449—cannot be far out of the way, if at all.
With it the Old English period begins. With it, too, we may in a sense begin
thinking of Britain as England—the land of the Angles—for, even though the
long ships carried Jutes, Saxons, Frisians, and, doubtless, members of other
tribes as well, their descendants a century and a half later were already
beginning to think of themselves and their speech as English. . . . The name
of a single tribe was thus to be adopted as a national name (prehistoric Old
English *Angli, becoming Engle). The term Anglo-Saxon is now
also sometimes used for either the language of this period or its speakers.
Thus when we are talking about a
seemingly-simple question like why the English word “God” is capitalized in
Genesis 1:1 (and quite frequently throughout the rest of most English Bible
versions), we are not primarily talking about the rules of English grammar.
Rather, we are usually talking about the grammatical (and other) rules and
principles which govern how to translate biblical Hebrew, biblical Aramaic, and/or
New Testament Greek documents into English. And now the fun really begins in our quest to
learn more about God.
Bible Before English
I will be using the New
International Version as the basic English Bible version from which
I quote throughout this “Fellowship with GOD” class. I will use
other English Bible Versions when I believe that their translations
better reflect the underlying word or phrase (or sense of the word
or phrase) in the Hebrew or Aramaic text (for the Old Testament), or
in the Greek text (for the New Testament), on which I am focusing.
I will discuss why I use the word “GOD” in all-capital letters a
little later in this class.
For more information about what GOD
revealed about himself and his will in the stars, see, for example:
Ethelbert W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars (1893; repr.,
Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1967). Passages in the Bible such as Ps 19:1-3
will become much more meaningful if you decide to study “biblical
heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his
Day unto day uttereth speech,
And night unto night showeth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language;
Their voice is not heard.” (Ps 19:1-3 NIV)
GOD had this statement recorded
again in Ps 53:1a: “The fool
says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
I have removed a number of unique marks of emphasis from the
Rotherham translation for ease of reading and to simplify
reproducing the quotation here. Throughout this class, whenever I
present a quotation from the Old Testament which contains
[hwhy (Hebrew is read from right to left), or YHWH (as is
often seen in scholarly writings, read from left to right)] in the
underlying Hebrew text, I will be quoting from English Bible
versions which use Yahweh to represent this Hebrew proper
name in English. Some of the Bibles which use Yahweh throughout
the Old Testament include: (1) The Jerusalem Bible; (2) The New
Jerusalem Bible; (3) The World English Bible; (4) Rotherham’s
Emphasized Bible; and (5) a number of English Bible versions from
the “Sacred Name” perspective (such as the Holy Name Bible).
Yahweh is the proper name or personal name of GOD
(to use English grammatical terms). I will discuss this proper name
Yahweh and its significance at great length later in this class.
Here are some additional verses
which record the important truth that GOD created the heavens and
(a) “These are the geneses
[footnote: “Lit. begettings] of the heavens and the earth when they
were created, in the day when Yahweh God made earth and heavens.”
(Gen 2:4 Rotherham)
(b) “’Between myself and the
Israelites, this is a sign for ever, for in six days Yahweh made
heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he rested and drew
breath.’" (Exod 31:17 NJB)
(c) “Hezekiah said this prayer in
the presence of Yahweh, ‘Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, enthroned on
the cherubs, you alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth, you
have made heaven and earth.’” (2 Kgs 19:15 JB)
(d) “Huram went on to say,
'Praised be Yahweh, God of Israel, who made heaven and earth and has
given King David a wise son, endowed with discretion and
discernment, to build a house for Yahweh and a palace in which to
reign!” [2 Chr 2:11 NJB (=2:12 in NIV)]
(e) “Thou art Yahweh, thou alone,
Thou didst make the heavens, the heavens of heavens, and all their
host, the earth and all that is thereon, the seas and all that is
therein, and thou holdest them all in life, and the host of the
heavens unto thee are bowing down.” (Neh 9:6 Rotherham)
(f) "Of old Thou didst found the
earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands.” (Ps 102:25 NASB)
(g) “When they heard this, they
raised their voices to God unanimously and said, ‘Master, You are
the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything
in them.’” (Acts 4:24 HCSB)
(h) “He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear
God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.
Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs
of water.’" (Rev 14:7 NIV)
GOD further displayed his great
power throughout the process of his bringing the children of
Israel out of Egypt, as described in Exod 3-14. 2 Kings 17, says,
“You are to bow down and offer
sacrifice only to Yahweh who brought you out of Egypt with great
power and outstretched arm.” (2 Kgs 17:36 NJB)
Numbers 21 contains the account of
Moses’ having lifted up the serpent in the wilderness:
“They left Mount Hor by the road to
the Sea of Suph, to skirt round Edom. On the way the people lost
They spoke against God and against
Moses, 'Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in the desert? For
there is neither food nor water here; we are sick of this meagre
At this, God sent fiery serpents
among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel.
The people came and said to Moses,
'We have sinned by speaking against Yahweh and against you.
Intercede for us with Yahweh to save us from these serpents.' Moses
interceded for the people,
and Yahweh replied, 'Make a fiery
serpent and raise it as a standard. Anyone who is bitten and looks
at it will survive.'
Moses then made a serpent out of
bronze and raised it as a standard, and anyone who was bitten by a
serpent and looked at the bronze serpent survived.” (Num 21:4-9 NIV)
Other accounts where Jesus spoke of
his being lifted up include John 8 and John 12:
therefore said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know
that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I
speak these things as the Father taught Me.
‘And He who sent Me is with Me; He
has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing
As He spoke these things, many came
to believe in Him.
Jesus therefore was saying to those
Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you
are truly disciples of Mine;
and you shall know the truth, and
the truth shall make you free.’” (John 8:28-32 NASB)
(b) “’Now judgment is upon this
world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out.
‘And I, if I be lifted up from the
earth, will draw all men to Myself.’
But He was saying this to indicate
the kind of death by which He was to die.
The multitude therefore answered
Him, ‘We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain
forever; and how can You say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”?
Who is this Son of Man?’
Jesus therefore said to them, ‘For
a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have
the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the
darkness does not know where he goes. ‘While you have the light,
believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light.’
These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from
them.” (John 12:31-36 NASB)
One exception was the first man
(Adam) and his wife (Eve) whom GOD created. (See Gen 1:26, 27 KJV).
A second exception was “the last Adam” (1 Cor 15:45 KJV), Jesus
Christ, concerning whose conception GOD had a unique role. (See Matt
1:18-25 KJV; Luke 1:26-38 KJV.) A possible third exception, of
sorts, was John the Baptist, unto whose father, Zechariah [or
“Zacharias” (KJV)], the angel of the Lord said: “He
[John the Baptist] will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink
no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy
Spirit, even from his mother's womb.” (Luke 1:15 RSV)
As to the term “Spirit of God,” see,
for example: 1 Cor 3:16: “Do
you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the
Spirit of God dwells in you?”
(NASB). As to the term “Holy Spirit,” see, for example: “Guard this
rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us.”
(2 Tim. 1:14 NAB)
Similarly, the Concordant Literal
New Testament translates this verse: “The spirit is that which is
vivifying. The flesh is not benefiting anything. The declarations
which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63 CLNT)
David Daniell, The Bible in
English: Its History and Influence (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 2003), p. 66.
Daniell, The Bible in English,
Thomas Pyles and John Algeo, The
Origins and Development of the English Language, 4th
ed. (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993), p. 96
[bolding in the original]. For further background on the beginnings
of the English language, see: (1) David Crystal, The Stories of
English (London: Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2004),
pp. 15ff.; (2) The Adventure of English: 500 AD to 2000: The
Biography of a Language (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2003), pp.
1ff.; (3) Albert C. Baugh and Thomas Cable, A History of the
English Language, 5th ed. (London: Routledge, 2002),
pp. 47ff.; (4) Robert McCrum, Robert MacNeil, and William Cran,
The Story of English, 3rd rev. ed. (New York: Penguin
Books, 2002), pp. 55ff.; (5) The English Language: A Historical
Introduction, Canto ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2000), pp. 100ff.; (6) N. F. Blake, A History of the English
Language (Washington Square, NY: New York University Press,
1996), pp. 53ff.; (7) Robert Burchfield, The English Language
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 7ff.; (8) and Barbara
M. H. Strang, A History of English (London: Routledge, 1970),