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



Session 1: 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 possible. Amen.


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)[1]


How well do you know GOD?[2]


GOD Exists!


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 Acts 14.


[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.[3]


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)[4]


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)[5]


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 them either.


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 Yahweh.


Now Samuel as yet knew not Yahweh, nor as yet had been revealed unto him the word of Yahweh. (1 Sam 3:7 Rotherham)


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, . . .[6] (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:[7]


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 GOD

“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,[8] even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;[9]

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 NASB)


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.”[10] 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 spiritually judged.

(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 themselves apart, 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 Bible.[11]) 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)[12]


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 16.


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 15.


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 NASB)


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 Prophets testify.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,

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 from dead:


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 among them.

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 examples.


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 the LORD.

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 words, saying,

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

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 afar off.

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, bolding added)


And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

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, bolding added)


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, bolding added)


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 in English:


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.[13]


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:


Frontispiece: 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.[14]


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 distinct language.

. . . 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.[15]


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.


The Bible Before English







[1] 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.

[2] I will discuss why I use the word “GOD” in all-capital letters a little later in this class.

[3] 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 astronomy”:

   “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork.

    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)

[4] GOD had this statement recorded again in Ps 53:1a: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (NIV)

[5] 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 יהוה [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.

[6] Here are some additional verses which record the important truth that GOD created the heavens and the earth:

(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)

[7] 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, for example:

“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)

[8] 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 patience.

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 diet.'

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)

[9] Other accounts where Jesus spoke of his being lifted up include John 8 and John 12:

(a) “Jesus 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 to Him.’

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)

[10] 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)

[11] 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)

[12] 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)

[13] David Daniell, The Bible in English: Its History and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), p. 66.

[14] Daniell, The Bible in English, p. vi.

[15] 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), pp. 376ff.