What Does the Bible Say About…?/Part 3
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2009|
|Where should you start to read the Bible? Does Matthew 7:7 mean we should get everything we ask for in prayer? How many brothers and sisters did Jesus have? How many different Marys are mentioned in the Bible? How did God speak to a prophet? How does God watch after everyone at one time? What is Revelation 7 all about?|
Sixth Grade Students from Manheim Christian Day School (PA) ask Questions About the Bible
Answers by: Dr. Thomas Figart
Where do you start to read the Bible?
Kari, age 12, asks: People always say when you are in a time of trouble, read the Bible. Where do you start? How can we find verses that help us through life without having to read through it all?
Answer: First, you should not wait for a time of trouble to start reading the Bible, but have a set time each day to read God’s Word systematically. Start out by giving the Lord just 15 minutes each day, and gradually increase it to 30 minutes each day, as you are able. Start with the Book of Psalms, and read one or two psalms, depending on how long the psalm is. Then go to the New Testament and begin reading the Gospel of John a chapter each day. After you finish reading all the Psalms, then go back and begin at Genesis and become familiar of the History of the Old Testament. In the New Testament, after you finish reading the Gospel of John, then read the book of Acts. After that, skip to some of Paul’s Epistles, beginning with the shorter ones, such as Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. Then read 1 John and 1 Peter. Please take your time, and do not try to rush through these books of the Bible.
As you read, underline verses that interest you, even memorize verses which meet your needs as you go along. You will soon find some that become familiar to you, and the Lord will bring to mind those verses which you memorize. When you finish all these books listed here, then go back and read some you have not ever read. When you come to something that puzzles you, go to your parents, if they are Christians, or to your pastor for help. This will cause you to “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
What does Matthew 7:7 mean?
Christine R., age 12, asks: In Matthew 7:7 it says, “Ask and it will be given to you.” I don’t really understand that, because you can’t get everything you want.
Answer: It is interesting in Matthew 7:7-8 that Christ uses three words for our praying; Ask, Seek and Knock, and that all three words are in the present tense; when literally translated it means, “Keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.” What God doesn’t tell us is how long we should be doing these three things before He answers our prayers. Each Christian should keep a list of requests, and when God answers one, then cross it off the list.
Prayer includes other biblical suggestions which must be remembered:
- We are to ask “according to His will” (1 John 5:14), but if we ask wrongly, “to consume it upon our own lusts” (James 4:3), we will not receive what we ask for.
- Sometimes God brings testing into our life to train us. For example, when Paul asked God three times to remove his “thorn in the flesh” (which may have been some physical problem); but instead of removing it, God said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” God did not want Paul to be “exalted above measure” so He did not remove the problem (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
- Along with this, sometimes God says: “No temptation (testing) hath taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who, will not permit you to be tempted (tested) above that ye are able, but will, with the temptation (testing) provide the way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
- To summarize: God may answer your prayer with a “Yes” or “No” or “Wait a while,” but He assures us that He is very much concerned about everything in our lives, as 1 Peter 5:7 tells us: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”
How many brothers and sisters did Jesus have?
Ian T., age 12, asks: How many brothers and sisters did Jesus have?
Answer: The four brothers of Jesus were James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). Jesus had at least three sisters: “And his sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matthew 13:56). If Jesus had only two sisters, they would have said, “Are they not both with us? But, because they used the word “all” it means that Jesus had at least three, or more than three. They are never named.
How many different Marys are mentioned in the Gospels?
Ian T. also asks: How many different Marys are mentioned in the Gospels?
Answer: Four Marys are mentioned in the Gospels, another in Acts and another in Romans.
- Mary, the mother of Jesus (Matthew 1:16; Luke 1:26).
- Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:39; John 11:1-2).
- Mary, mother of the Apostle James (Mark 15:40; Luke 24:19; John 19:25).
- Mary Magdalene (Luke 7:36-50; 8:2).
- Mary mother of John Mark, sister of Barnabas (Acts 12:2).
- Mary of Rome (Romans 16:6).
How did God speak to a prophet?
Vanessa, age 11, asks: How did God speak to a prophet?
Answer: 2 Timothy 3:16 says: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Translated literally, it would read: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” The Greek word here is a combination of Theos (God) and pneustos (to breathe). God is the source; He breathed out each word, and breathed it into each human writer, so that we have, in the original manuscripts, perfect messages from God. He supernaturally directed the writing of Scripture so that they recorded in perfect accuracy exactly what God wanted to reveal to man. Second Peter 1:21 adds this: “For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Very often you will note that these holy men will begin their writings with: “Thus saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 44:2).
The Apostle Peter makes clear that the New Testament writings of the Apostle Paul are inspired: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, even as our beloved brother Paul, also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you also in all his epistles” (2 Peter 3:15).
God spoke directly sometimes, as when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). At other times God spoke to the prophets through dreams (Daniel chapters 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 12). Hebrews 1:1-2 summarizes both Old and New Testaments: “God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.”
How does God watch after everyone at one time?
Smith G. asks: How does God watch after everyone at one time?
Answer: God has a number of abilities which make it possible for Him to watch after everyone at one time. We will mention only three of these, each of which is way beyond our complete understanding, so it takes faith in God’s attributes; otherwise He would not be the true God!.
First, God is omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere at all times. For example, Jesus said: “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him” (John 14:26). In John 14:16-17 Jesus tells us: “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth.” So, we never have to pray for God to be with us; All Three Persons of the Godhead ARE with us, always!
Second, God is omniscient, which means He has all knowledge; He knows everything: “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). In Psalm 94:10, we are told: “He who teacheth man knowledge, shall he not know?”
Third, God is omnipotent, which means that He has all power. Psalm 62:11: “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God.” Psalm 147:5: “Great is our LORD, and of great power; his understanding is infinite.”
When you add to this that “God is love,” 1 John 4:8, then you can understand more clearly, not only how God can be everywhere, and know everything and do everything, but why God cares for you! It is because of His great love for you; He sent His only Son to earth to become a man and die for your sins, and be raised the third day to prove His power. No wonder the Bible says: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
What is Revelation 7 about?
Morgan, age 13, asks: I read Revelation 7 and I don’t get it at all. What is it about?
Answer: This question could take an entire book in order to answer it sufficiently, but a shorter answer is as follows:
We are now living in the historical period known as the Church Age, which began on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit began to indwell believers in Christ permanently (Read Acts 2). This Church Age has continued for two thousand years, and will end with the coming of Christ in the air to take all Christians, those living at the time, and those who have died and will be resurrected, to live with Him in heaven (Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). After that, there will be seven years of “great tribulation” on earth. This period of tribulation is what is being described in Revelation 7. These actual words, “great tribulation,” occur in Revelation 7:14. The first part of the chapter (verses 1-7) tell of 144,000 Jews who will be saved, then verses 8-14 tell of multitudes of Gentiles from every nation who will be saved and “come out of the great tribulation.”
After the great Tribulation, Christ, “the Lamb of God” will return to the earth and reign as King over all the earth, for 1000 years, verses 14-17 (See also Revelation 20:1-6). After that will be the final judgment, and then the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 20:7 to the end of the book).