THE story, "The World's Most Wonderful Baby," and all our stories which follow have been taken from what is called the "New Testament," which, of course, is a part of the Bible.
The "Old Testament" part of the Bible begins with the time when God made all things. It also tells us of God's wonderful care for his people who lived before Jesus was born.
The word "Testament" means agreement, or promise, and the Old Testament relates many wonderful promises of God. The New Testament tells of still more wonderful promises, and also explains how and why all of God's promises will come true. The New Testament, just like the Old Testament, is made up of many parts, called "books." The first book in the New Testament is called Matthew.
The Book of Matthew tells us about the wise men who came to see Jesus when he was a very young child, and how the wicked king Herod wanted to put Jesus to death fearing that he would grow up to be a king. The Bible tells us that Jesus is a most wonderful King, and that he will yet rule over the whole earth.
In the Book of Matthew we find a wonderful sermon which was preached by Jesus as he stood on the side of a mountain. It is called "The Sermon on the Mount." I hope you remember whit I told you about the chapters and verses of the Bible. Well, "The Sermon on the Mount" begins in chapter 5 of the Book of Matthew.
You should try to memorize verses 3 to 10 of this chapter. In these verses you will find what are called the "Beatitudes, which mean words of blessedness. The first Beatitude is, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Now find the 5th chapter of Matthew and read the other Beatitudes.
In the 10th chapter of Mark, verses 13 to 16, a short story is told which should be very interesting to children. The story is that children were brought to Jesus, but his disciples, supposing that their Master did not want to be bothered, scolded them and tried to send them away. But they were probably surprised when Jesus said:
"Let the little children come unto me, and forbid them not."
Then Jesus said that all those who will be in the kingdom with him, to help him bless the people, will have to become like little children. When Jesus said this, he was thinking of children who obey their parents, and who are sweet and kind. If grownups feel very important, and think they know more than they really do know, God is not pleased with them. God is our Heavenly Father, and he wants us all to be obedient children.
"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
In the 12th chapter Luke tells about a wonderful promise Jesus made to his disciples about God's care for his people. Jesus said to them that even the hairs of their heads were numbered by God. Jesus explained that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing about it, and that he can certainly be depended upon to care for all the needs of his people.
I wonder if you remember the story called "God, Who Made Us"? Well, in that story I told you that God created, or made a very wonderful being which was his Son, and that one of his names was "Logos." It is in the first chapter of the Book of John that the Bible tells us about the Logos. But you won't find the word Logos in your Bible, because it is a Greek word. It means "Word," so John tells us that "in the beginning was the Word."
John also tells us that the "Word" of God, which means the "Logos" of God, was the One whom God used to make everything, just as I told you in that first story.
In the Bible the Logos is sometimes called "the Lord," because "Lord" means "mighty one," and Jesus is a mighty One. But the Bible never calls Jesus "God," so don't ever make the mistake of calling Jesus "God." Jesus was the Son of God, so he couldn't be the Son of God and also be God!
Yes, the people in those days wrote letters much the same as we do now. They couldn't send them by air mail as we do, nor were they carried by railway trains. Paul wrote many letters, and most of them were carried by hi.4 friends, who went all the way from one city to another to deliver them.
We learned in one of our stories that Paul was taken to Rome as a prisoner, and that he lived as a prisoner in Rome for a long time. But there were disciples of Jesus in Rome before Paul lived there, and it was to these that he sent this letter. One of the things he wrote is this:
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation."-Romans 1:16
As you know, the word "Gospel" means good news, and we are not ashamed of the good news of Christ, either! The good news of Christ means all the wonderful promises of God to make the whole world alive again. That certainly is good news, and we should be very glad to tell people about it whenever we can.
CORINTHIANS 1 and 2
Paul went to Corinth from Athens, which is also a city in Greece. When he first arrived he met a man and his wife whose names were Aquila and Priscilla. They were Israelites and had come to Corinth from Rome because the governor of Rome asked that all the Israelites leave the city.
We know that Paul was a wonderful preacher of the good news concerning Jesus; but he knew how to do other things, also. He was what the Bible calls a tentmaker. When he told the people about Jesus and about his wonderful kingdom, he never collected money for doing it. He didn't even collect enough money to buy his own food. He earned money for this by making tents and sewing canvas together for sails to be used on sailboats.
When he arrived in Corinth and became acquainted with Aquila and Priscilla, he found out that they also were tentmakers, so they lived together and worked together for a year and a half. They also worked together in telling the people about Jesus.
For a while Paul preached only to the Israelites. Then he began to preach to the Gentiles, and after a year and a half there were many in Corinth who had become disciples of Jesus. These disciples were called the "Church at Corinth." After a while Paul left Corinth and went to Syria, but he didn't forget his friends in Corinth who had believed on Jesus, for he wrote these two letters to them. In the letters he gives them good advice and reminds them of many of the wonderful promises of God.
In the thirteenth chapter of the first letter to this church at Corinth, Paul writes about love and how important it is that we have love in our hearts for everybody. We should never hate anyone, not even those who are unkind to us. We should be like Jesus, who loved even those who put him to death. In fact, he died for the very ones who asked for his crucifixion.
In the fifteenth chapter, Paul writes about the resurrection of Jesus, telling us that God made him alive again, and that by and by the power of God will make alive all who have died. We are glad that Paul wrote these letters to the disciples in Corinth because in them we learn so many good things.
In the third chapter of the letter Paul writes about the wonderful promise God made to Abraham telling him that he planned to bless all the people of the world. In this chapter Paul explains that Jesus and also the disciples of Jesus are the ones whom God will use to make his promise to Abraham come true. So if any one asks you where the Bible says that Jesus and his disciples will make God's promises come true, you can tell them that one of the places where it is found is in the third chapter of Galatians.
In those days nearly all the people in Ephesus were worshipers of the false goddess, Diana. There was a huge temple in the city called the Temple of Diana. Besides, in Ephesus, there were various kinds of fortune tellers, and others who deceived the people and took their money away from them.
Paul stayed in Ephesus for awhile and healed many sick people and told them about Jesus and the wonderful promises of God which will come true by and by. Many of these fortune tellers and other deceivers realized they were doing wrong, so they brought their books of instruction into the public square and burned them. That, of course, caused a great deal of excitement.
In Ephesus there were men who made images of Diana, the false goddess, and sold them to the people. It seems that many people in those days liked to have images in their homes just as some do now. The men who made these images sold them for a good price, and in that way they obtained much money from the people. When they noticed how many were beginning to believe in Jesus they were afraid that all the people would believe in him. They knew that if the people believed in Jesus instead of Diana, they would not be able to sell their images, so they started to talk against Paul. It wasn't long before they had the people of Ephesus all excited. Ever so many of them rushed into the huge Temple of Diana, and they shouted:
"Great is Diana of the Ephesians."
Then the mayor of Ephesus, who was a very wise man, did the best he could to quiet the people, and finally the crowd left the temple, and no harm was done. So you see, the Apostle Paul had a very exciting time at Ephesus. But while he was there, some became disciples of Jesus, and it is to these that he wrote this letter. In the letter Paul calls the disciples at Ephesus "children," and says:
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children."
"Come over into Macedonia, and help us."Acts 16:9
So Paul and the disciples who were working with him obeyed this call and went to Macedonia, and Philippi was the first city they visited in this new country. Paul knew from his dream that God wanted them to go to Philippi, and before long they learned the reason.
Soon after they arrived they heard of a place just outside of the city where good people were in the habit of going when they wanted to pray together. It was called a place of prayer. Believing that this would be an excellent place to tell about Jesus, Paul went there.
He found a number of people who were glad to listen to his Gospel story, and several of them believed and became disciples of Jesus. One of them was a very good woman, named Lydia. She was a business woman. The Bible says that she was a "seller of purple." (Acts 16:14) This probably means that she sold purple dyes, or possibly purple cloth. Lydia had a nice home in Philippi, and when she became a disciple of Jesus she invited Paul and those who worked with him to live in her home. And they held meetings there also.
But Paul had some serious trouble in Philippi. Some men there had a woman working for them who was a fortune teller. The Bible says that there was an evil spirit in this woman, and that it was this evil spirit who helped her to tell the people what they wanted to know. This evil spirit caused the woman to cry out to the people that Paul was a servant of God, and that he was able to tell them how they could get life. Of course this was true, but Paul knew it was wrong for this evil spirit to be telling the truth in this way, and that no good could come from it. So he put a stop to it by causing the evil spirit to leave the woman.
But this meant that she was no longer able to earn money for the men she was working for, so they became angry and complained to the authorities about Paul, and his fellow-worker, Silas. They said:
"These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city." Acts 16:20
The people in the city were very much excited about this complaint, and Paul and Silas were put into prison. As was often done to prisoners in those days, Paul and Silas were cruelly beaten, and then they were put into what the Bible calls the "inner prison," which was probably a dark dungeon. There they were tied with chains. But they were not discouraged. No doubt their backs were sore from the beating, and perhaps they couldn't sleep very well, but instead of complaining about it they began to sing hymns.
And then something wonderful occurred.
There was a great earthquake which shook the very foundations of the prison building. Not only that, but the doors of the prison were thrown wide open by the earthquake. Even the prisoners' chains were broken loose during the earthquake. Wasn't that wonderful?
The prison keeper, or jailer, was very much afraid, not of the earthquake, but because he thought all the prisoners would escape and he would be blamed for not looking after his work properly. You see, the jailer was asleep when the earthquake occurred. He was awakened by it, and not knowing what had happened and seeing the doors of the prison open, he supposed the prisoners had escaped. He decided he had better kill himself, but Paul called out to him:
"Do thyself no harm; for we are all here."Acts 16:28
The keeper of the prison was so impressed that Paul and Silas had not run away, that he was willing to hear what they had to say about Jesus. And he believed what they told him and became one of Jesus' disciples. His family became disciples also.
The next morning after the earthquake, Paul and Silas were released from prison, and advised to leave the city. But before they left they arranged for all the disciples to meet together in Lydia's home, where they must have had a grand time together talking about all the wonderful things God had done for them.
Now we can see why Paul loved the disciples at Philippi. Long years after this, while he was a prisoner in Rome, he wrote this letter to his dear friends, the Philippians. In the letter he tells them to be sure to continue serving God as disciples of Jesus, which we are sure they did. One of the beautiful things he wrote in this letter was:
"Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice." Philippians 4:4
THESSALONIANS 1 and 2
When they first went to Thessalonica they visited the synagogue. A synagogue is a Jewish church. There they found some who were glad to learn about Jesus. Besides the Jewish believers, quite a number of Greeks became Christians. But there were many in those days who did not like to hear about Jesus. Sever-al of these got together and tried to make trouble for Paul.
There was one believer by the name of Jason, and these trouble makers went to his home expecting to find Paul and Silas, but they were not there at the time. Disappointed in not finding Paul they then seized Jason and the other disciples with him, took them before the city rulers, and asked that they be punished. They said concerning Paul and the other disciples:
"These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." Acts 17:6
However, the rulers of the city decided not to punish Jason and the other disciples who were arrested with him. But the disciples of Jesus thought it would be best for Paul not to remain in Thessalonica, so they advised him to leave, which he did that very night. (Acts 17:10) After he had been gone a long while, he wrote these two letters to them.
He had heard that the Christians in Thessalonica were working hard to tell as many people as they could about Jesus, and this made Paul very happy. In his second letter to them he wrote: "Be not weary in well doing." (2 Thessalonians 3:13) That's good advice.
TIMOTHY 1 and 2
Paul's second letter to Timothy was written while the apostle was a prisoner in Rome, and only a little while before he died. In this letter he tells about his trial before the wicked Nero, the emperor of Rome. He says that none of the disciples stood with him during that trial except Luke, but that the Lord helped him, and that he was delivered from the mouth of the lion.
In those days many Roman prisoners were given to lions to be killed and eaten, but God helped Paul to escape this experience.
Because so many of the disciples forsook Paul in this time of need, he asked Timothy to come to Rome and visit him and to come before winter time if possible. I think we can all understand why Paul was so anxious to see Timothy; and we all hope that Timothy was able to go to Rome to visit the apostle!
Onesimus, after running away from his master, Philemon, went to the city of Rome. He was in Rome at the time Paul was there as a prisoner. Although Paul was a prisoner, he was allowed to live in his own house, where Onesimus visited him. Paul told Onesimus about the good news of Jesus, and he believed it. In this way Onesimus became a disciple of Jesus, just like his former master, Philemon.
Those who believe in Jesus and become his disciples must do all they can to correct their past wrongs. Onesimus had treated Philemon badly by running away from him and now that he had become a disciple of Jesus it was his duty to return to his former master. That was a difficult thing to do!
But Paul helped Onesimus by writing a letter to Philemon, explaining that his former slave had become a disciple of Jesus and was now returning to him. He asked Philemon to receive Onesimus and to be kind to him, and to treat him as a brother, not as a slave. When Onesimus returned to Philemon, he took this letter with him-the letter which is now the New Testament Book of Philemon.
Although the letter was written to Hebrew disciples, it is good for all of us. It is a part of the Bible, and we should read every part of the Bible as much as we can. In this letter Paul says:
"We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any. time we should let them slip." Hebrews 2:1
This means that we should remember what we have learned in the Bible.
PETER 1 and 2
"Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men."-Matthew 4:19 Jesus said this to others also. It meant that Jesus wants his disciples to do all they can to tell others the good news of his kingdom, and to tell them about him also-that he is "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29
When Peter and the other apostles wrote letters, they didn't begin them as we start letters today. They didn't write, "Dear Sir," or "Dear Madam," or "Dear Mr. Jones." They usually commenced by using their own name. Peter starts his first letter by saying:
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia."
He sent the letter to a lot of people, didn't he? And now both of his letters are in the Bible, and are being read by people all over the world. Isn't that wonderful?
JOHN 1, 2, and 3
"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not."l John 2:1
Jesus said that those who will be in his kingdom must be like children. When John writes about "little children" he means grown-up people who have become disciples, and who are like good children, very obedient to what God wants them to do.
All children should be kind and loving and obedient to their parents. Children who love their parents will do what their parents want them to do, and then their parents will love them all the more. So disciples of Jesus, who love him, will do what he wants them to. In the last letter John wrote, he said:
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." 3 John 4
When John wrote this letter he was probably nearly sixty years old. He had been a faithful disciple of Jesus for many years. Most of those reading his letter would be younger than John, and for this reason also he writes to them as his "children." And, just like all good fathers, he is happy to know that his "children" are doing the things which they should do. John calls this walking "in truth."
The "truth" is what God has caused to be written in the Bible, which tells us all the wonderful things he plans to do for the people, and what he wants us to do. Sometimes we call this God's plan, and it is very important for all of us to do the things which God has written in his plan. John says:
"Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good." 3 John 11
That which God forbids is evil, and that which he wants us to do, is good. So let us all try to do that which is good!
These cities were near the place where Abraham lived, and they were destroyed while Abraham was still alive. God saw that it was best for those wicked people to be put to sleep in death. But many times people do things which God does not want them to do, because they do not know any better. This was true of those who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah, so they will be made alive again when Christ is King over the earth.
Then they will learn what God wants them to do. If at that time they obey God, they will not need to die again. (Ezekiel 16:46-63; 18:21-23) We should be very thankful that we know about God, and know what he wants us to do. And we should always try to do the things which please him. Jude calls this keeping ourselves in the love of God.
was told to write, and what was necessary to describe the wonderful things which were shown to him in a vision, or dream. In the story, "John Sees the Trees of Life, I told you that the apostle saw a vision while he was a prisoner on a little island called Patmos; but in that story I told you only a few things which John saw.
The very first verse of this book calls it "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." It was Jesus who appeared to John in vision and showed him all the wonderful things which he describes. I won't try to tell you much about them because it would take too long. However, in this book John tells us that he saw beasts, horses, locusts, and a sea of glass. He tells us also of a certain very wicked city which was like a bird cage full of all sorts of ugly birds. (Revelation 18:2) Now when you grow up and study the Bible for yourself you will learn that all these various things which John saw were just like pictures, or illustrations, of other things.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. Perhaps you have heard people speak of their troubles as being clouds. And then we hear people say that clouds have silver linings. What they mean by this is that no matter how severe our troubles may be, something good always comes out of them. Thus, if we could see the other side of our clouds of trouble we would discover that they are not nearly as black as we thought, but that there is a bright side to all of our troubles.
Now that is the way God talks to us in the Book of Revelation; that is, he does it by using illustrations. The beasts and the horses and the many other things which John saw are merely "pictures" of something else. In this vision John sees the "Lamb of God" several times. We know who the Lamb of God is, don't we? Yes, the Lamb of God is Jesus. He is called the Lamb of God because he died for us and for all mankind.
One of the beasts John saw in his vision tried to fight against the Lamb, but the Lamb was victorious. This means that no matter what is done by wicked people to interfere with what God has planned to do for the blessing of all mankind, they will not succeed. God has promised that Jesus, his Lamb, shall be King over the whole earth, and nothing whatever can prevent that promise from coming true.
So let us be glad that God has made so many wonderful promises, and let us be glad that they will all come true, and that when they do, everybody in the whole wide world will be happy forever I
John also tells us that in this vision he saw God's Lamb on top of Mount Sion. Mount Sion is one of the "pictures" God shows to us in the Bible of that wonderful kingdom in which Jesus will be the Ruler. John says that he saw many people with God's Lamb on Mount Sion. He says that these followed the Lamb to Mount Sion. Of course, we know who these are, don't we? They are the faithful disciples of Jesus who try to do everything God wants them to do, just as Jesus did. Because they do this, they will be in the kingdom with him. They, too, will be kings, or rulers, in that kingdom. But this will be after they are made alive again.
In another part of the vision John saw God and the Lamb together, and everybody on the earth and all the angels in heaven were praising them. Today there are many, many people in the world who do not know enough about God to praise him, but we are glad that when all his promises come true, everybody will know about God's love and they will want to praise him, just as we want to praise him now.
Aren't we glad that God has given us the Bible, and that in the Bible he has told us so many wonderful things? We are thankful for all the stories of the Bible, and we are thankful that in those stories God has told us over and over again of his love.
We are also glad that Jesus loves us, and that he died for us on the cross so that all might be made alive again.
We are glad that Jesus is to be King over the whole earth, and that then there will be no wars, no sickness, and that people will not need to die any more.
Yes, all of these wonderful things have been promised by God, and we know that his promises will come true. And because his promises will come true, some day you will be able to see many of the wonderful people God has told us about in the stories of the Bible I How grand it will be to see Adam and Eve, and Abel!
And won't it be grand to hear Noah tell all about building that big ship on the dry land, and that finally it rained so much the water floated the ship-that ship which the Bible calls an ark!
Yes, all the people we have seen in these stories will be made alive again. Most of those we learned about in the New Testament part of the Bible will be with Jesus, but all those wonderful people of the Old Testament will be made alive right here on the earth.
Wouldn't you like to see Moses, and Joshua, and Samuel, and David, and Daniel, and all those other good people who did what God wanted them to do?
Well, you will see them, and that will be when all of God's promises come true!
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