In the beginning, after God had created everything in the natural world, the Bible tells us He created mankind. God desired a family. So he created the man, Adam, and then the woman, Eve. He placed them into the Garden of Eden, a beautiful and peaceful place with no sin and no strife. And every day, God spent time with them and enjoyed fellowship with them.
We don’t know all that God showed them or told them, but it was a wonderful time of perfect peace and joy. We do know that God intended for people to rule over the earth under His leadership.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'” (Genesis 1:26 NASB).
The Hebrew word for “rule” in this passage is radah, which means to have dominion. From the very beginning, God gave mankind this dominion or delegated authority to rule over every living thing on the earth.
In addition to a relationship with Him, God gave mankind certain assignments or tasks to fulfill. God told man to tend the Garden.
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden
of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15 NASB).
God also asked man to name the animals.
“Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the
field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man
to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called
a living creature, that was its name” (Genesis 2:19 NASB).
After He had completed His creation, God saw everything that He had made, and the Bible says, “Indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NKJV).
Free Will and Sin
God created people in His image, and He gave Adam and Eve a free will. In order for mankind to truly have free will, and not to merely be robots, there had to be a choice given to either obey or disobey. So God planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and He commanded the man, saying:
“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day
that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17 NASB).
The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent, which was Satan himself, who questioned the love and wisdom of God.
“Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 NKJV).
Then he twisted what God had told Adam and Eve and deceived them:
“And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For God knows
that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like
God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good
for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable
to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her
husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:4-6 NASB).
Then their eyes were opened, and they were ashamed. When they heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, Adam and Eve hid themselves. When people disobeyed God in this way, sin came into the world. Because God is holy, or perfect, He cannot be in the presence of sin, so they were cast out of the garden and were separated from the presence of God.
From that time forward, people were born with a sin nature that keeps them separated from a holy God. Yet because we were created to have fellowship with our Heavenly Father, humankind has yearned to have that relationship restored.
Our Need for a Savior
Since the dawn of time, people have tried to bridge the gap between themselves and God. To do this, we have created multiple religions and cults. We have done good and religious works in order to tip the scales of righteousness—in other words, right living—enough to be accepted by a just and holy God. Every religion in the world is fundamentally based on doing good works in order to be accepted back into fellowship with our Heavenly Father—all except one: Christianity.
Unlike all the other religions on earth, Christianity teaches, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NKJV). In other words, it doesn’t matter how many good works we do; it doesn’t matter how religious we are; it doesn’t matter that we have more good works than bad on the scales of righteousness—at the core, people are sinners, and just one sin is enough to keep us separated from the perfection of God. In our sinful state, humankind is doomed to an eternity apart from our Creator.
But God provided a way to bridge this gap.
One of the most famous Bible passages in the world is John 3:16, which gives us the Good News of how Jesus paid the price for our sin and built a bridge between mankind and God.
“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” (John 3:16 NKJV).
Jesus Christ put aside the power and glory of his divinity—being the second person of the Trinity, which is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and came to earth as a helpless little baby. Jesus was fully human, just like you and me with all our frailties and temptation to sin. But because He was also fully God, Jesus never committed a sin, and so He was qualified to take upon Himself all the sins of mankind and to die on the cross in our place.
The Bible says that God placed all the penalty of our sin upon Jesus as He hung on the cross to pay the price to reconcile mankind back to Himself. So we no longer have to work to become acceptable to God—we just receive what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection.
Jesus is not God’s Plan B. In His foreknowledge, God knew that mankind, with his free will, would choose to disobey Him. He knew we would need a Savior. Jesus was God’s Plan A!
So how do we receive this wonderful gift of salvation? The Bible tells us that salvation is a result of God’s grace and our faith. As Jesus said in John 3:16, “Whoever believes in Him [the Son of God] will not perish, but have eternal life.”
The apostle Paul explains it this way:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works,
that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB).
Paul says plainly our salvation is received “by grace through faith,” and “not as a result of works.” Again, this concept sets Christianity apart from every other religion on earth.
What About Good Works?
So why did God give the Law to the Children of Israel if it was unable to provide salvation? The apostle Paul said the Law was given to point to our need for a Savior.
Just as Adam and Eve needed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so there would be a choice, the Children of Israel needed to the Law to remind them of man’s sinful nature. People don’t know they are sinning against God unless there is a law to show them.
Paul put it this way in his letter to the Galatian church:
“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of
transgressions…But before faith came, we were kept under guard
by the law, kept for faith which would afterward be revealed.
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that
we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:19, 23-24 NKJV).
So the law showed us the good works that God wants us to do in this life, but also that those good works are not enough for salvation. The fact that there was a Law that mankind was unable to keep also showed us our need for a Savior.
Salvation can only come through faith in what Christ Jesus did for us on the cross. As Jesus said of Himself:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV).
So Jesus is our bridge back to fellowship with God. The Bible tells us that the blood that Jesus shed on Calvary washes away every sin. So when we receive by faith what Jesus did for us at the cross, the Father no longer sees our sin—he only sees the spotless blood of Jesus.
God is our Father, and we are His children. Through Jesus, we are a part of His family again. He wants to spend time with us every day, just as He did with Adam and Eve in the garden. He wants you to talk with Him—that’s called prayer. He wants to talk to you—and there are many ways to hear His voice today. He wants to give you wisdom in your decisions, and He wants to bless your life and your family.
Living Abundant Life
But just as the serpent tried to deceive Adam and Eve, he is still at work trying to hinder us in our relationship with God. The Bible calls this ancient serpent Satan, or the devil. He is the enemy of God and His people. He is the evil master of the kingdom of darkness.
Scripture shows us this important contrast between the Kingdom of God and the realm of Satan. The apostle Peter warns us:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls
around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist
him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV).
Concerning this contrast Jesus declared:
“The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came
that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV).
God wants to protect you from Satan’s deception and attacks. He also wants you to live an abundant life in relationship with Him. This course is designed to show you how to know God as your Father, and how, through following the principles of the Bible, you can experience the abundant life that Jesus promised.
God has created each person with a purpose, but we can only bear fruit in our lives if we “abide in Christ” (John 15:4-5). So how do you do that? In this course, you will learn about the Christian lifestyle and the discipline it takes to be a disciple of Jesus—things like daily prayer, worship, and Bible reading. Living the Christian lifestyle also includes regular church attendance and fellowship with other believer through Bible study and affinity groups—which are groups of people gathered for a common interest like sports, art, or music.
In these lessons you will also learn:
- What it means to put God first in your life.
- What happens when you are baptized and why you should be.
- How the Holy Spirit is your counselor and guide.
- How the Word of God leads us into the truth and provides us with peace and strength.
- How prayer and worship build our relationship with God.
- How we are strengthened and encouraged through fellowship with other believers.
- How overcoming sin leads to a fulfilling and victorious life.
- How to hear the voice of God in making decisions.
- How to develop the discipline of daily Bible reading.
- How to have God’s kind of success in life.
If you don’t have a Bible, you will want to find an easy-to-read, modern translation. Some good choices include the New Living Translation (NLT), the English Standard Version (ESV), and the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
We also invite you to be a part of the Inspiration Ministries Facebook prayer community. Click on this link (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1087389478138800) to join the conversation and receive prayer for your needs—and pray for others, too! You can also send a private prayer request to the Inspiration Ministries Prayer Center (https://inspiration.org/pray/prayer-request).
If you would like to speak to one of our prayer counselors, you can call:
US +1 (803) 578-1800 • INTL: +44 (0) 84 5683 0584
God loves you. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you. If you were the only one to receive what He did on Calvary, Christ still would have gone to the cross for you.
The Christian life is a wonderful adventure! Let’s begin the journey in chapter 2!