6.1 The Bible’s Message for Buddhists
The Bible is divided into two main sections – the New Testament and
the Old Testament. To follow this booklet you will need a full Bible
with both sections.
Please open your New Testament at its first book, the Gospel of Matthew.
Gospel means ‘good news’. Matthew was a government official who became
a disciple of Jesus and followed him in his travels. The first chapter
and the first verse is Matthew 1:1 (when you see pairs of numbers
like this the first number tells the chapter, the second number the
verse). This is the beginning of Matthew's explanation of the Gospel.
We read “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David,
the Son of Abraham”. It's not quite what we would expect. Matthew
says Jesus is the descendant of David and Abraham. David lived 3000
years ago and was a famous king of Israel. Abraham lived 4000 years
ago and was the ancestor of both the Jewish people and the Arab people.
Matthew tells us that the fact is that Jesus is descended from both
David and Abraham.
Paul was another disciple of Jesus. He originally was an enemy of
the Christian church and persecuted the believers, but Jesus appeared
to him in a vision and converted him to become a Christian. He saw
the Gospel the same way as Matthew. Please see Galatians 3:8: “And
the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith,
preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the
nations shall be blessed’.” The Gospel is what was promised to Abraham.
So, if we can understand what God promised to Abraham, we can understand
what the Gospel is. We need to go back to the Old Testament, and see
what God told Abraham. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, 17:8
“Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which
you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession
and I will be their God.” God promised Abraham that he and his children
would live forever on this earth. Eternal life is an important idea
that comes up in the Old Testament. Note this- because the essential
message of the Bible is the same all the way through. How could Abraham
live forever? Please see Genesis 22:17,18 “in blessing I will bless
you, and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars
of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants
shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations
of the earth shall be blesses, because you have obeyed My voice.”
God promised Abraham that he was going to have a son who would be
the source of blessing for the whole world. The way to understand
the Bible is to see how the Bible interprets itself. These words we
have just read are quoted in the New Testament- in Acts 3:25,26. Let's
go there and find the interpretation “You are sons of the prophets,
and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham,
‘And in your descendant all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’
To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to
bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”
So, who is the descendant of Abraham? The descendant mentioned in
Acts 3:25 is Jesus. And what are the blessings he would bring for
men and women of the whole world? The blessings of forgiveness of
sins and salvation. Let's go further. To Galatians 3:16 “Now to Abraham
and his descendant were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to
descendants,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your descendant,’
who is Christ.” So, the descendant of Abraham was one man, singular,
Jesus. But how could that one man become so many, as many as the stars
in the sky? Let's read Galatians 3:27-29 “For as many of you as were
baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor
Gentile, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor
female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s,
then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
So, Paul is saying in Galatians 3:29 that only those who have been
baptised into Christ have a part in these promises which God made
to Abraham. To be baptised is to take part in a ceremony in which
someone who believes in Jesus goes under the surface of the water
in a river, bath, or swimming pool to act out the burial of Christ.
By performing this ceremony the believer is showing that he wants
to be like Christ, and when he comes out of the water he has now become
a Christian. Only if we are baptised will we be one of those descendants
as numerous as the stars in the sky who will receive what God promised
- eternal life here on earth. This is why we must be baptised if we
are going to be saved. Paul said that his hope was " the hope
of Israel" (Acts 28:20). As he faced death, this was his hope-
the hope of Israel.
What is baptism, then? It isn't sprinkling. The New Testament is
written in Greek, and the word translated 'baptism' means really to
dip. It was used about a ship sinking, being submerged, or a piece
of cloth being dyed from one colour to another by immersing it. Have
a look at Matthew 3:13-16 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to
be baptised by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have
need to be baptised by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered
and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for
us to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. Then Jesus,
when He had been baptised, came up immediately from the water; and
behold, the heavens were opened to Him and He saw the Spirit of God
descending like a dove and alighting on Him.” Jesus went down into"
the water and came " up out of it" . He was baptised as
an adult, not as a baby; by dipping, not sprinkling. That's why it
was done in a river. And if He was baptised, so should we be. This
dipping and rising up signifies the death and resurrection of Jesus,
and that we have decided to make His death and resurrection our own.
This is why it has to be by immersion, not by sprinkling. Have a look
at Romans 6:3-5 “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptised
into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? Therefore we were
buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was
raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should
walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the
likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness
of His resurrection.” This is why we appeal to you to be baptised-
make it your aim in life, to accept Jesus Christ!
By being baptised into Jesus, we become part of Him, and therefore
the promises apply to us. Therefore when He returns, we will be resurrected,
judged and then, if we have lived faithfully according to God's word,
we will be given the eternal life which He now has. Then we will live
for ever in God's Kingdom here on earth. If you believe this, then
life has a new meaning. Whatever material problems we have, we will
realise that they are only temporary, and when Christ returns He will
give us a new and eternal life. This is why in the Bible and in Christ
there is real HOPE. The hope ahead is so great that our present problems
do not seem so great.
But how can it be, that this man Jesus can save us? He was our representative,
and this is why we must be baptised into His death and resurrection;
because He was just like us. Have a look at Heb. 2:14-18 “Inasmuch
then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself
likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him
who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those
who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For indeed He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in
all things He had to be made like His brethren, that he might be a
merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to
make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself
has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”
Notice in passing that the devil is not an animal or a dragon. It
is used here as a personification for sin. " The wages of sin
is death" (Rom. 6:23), but here we read that 'the devil' "
has the power of death" . We need to struggle against our own
natures, not against an invisible being outside of ourselves. Verse
14 says the same thing several times- He, Himself, likewise, partook,
the same nature as us. Yet most 'Christian' groups teach that there
are three Gods in a trinity, and one of them was Jesus. But this isn't
what the Bible says. And according to Hebrews, it is very important
we get our understanding of Jesus right. He was exactly of our nature.
The writer stresses it 4 times! He was tempted like us.
And how are we tempted? By our own human nature. Have a look at James
1:13-15 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’,
for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and
enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and
sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” This means
that Jesus had our human nature. God can't be tempted, it says, but
Jesus was tempted, Hebrews says. So Jesus wasn't God Himself. He was
a man, the Son of God by birth, the descendant of David and Abraham
through Mary. Likewise, God can't be born; but Jesus was born. God
can't die; but Jesus died. We cannot see God; but men saw and handled
Jesus. Jesus didn't exist before His birth, either. He was the son
of God through Mary. Have a look at Lk. 1:31-35 “’And behold, you
will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his
name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest;
and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom
there will be no end.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this
be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to
her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest
will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born
will be called the Son of God.’” Notice all those future tenses! He
will be the Son of God, Mary will conceive in her womb- this is where
Jesus began, although the idea, the logos of Jesus, had always been
with God from the beginning. Notice that Mary was just an ordinary
woman. Jesus was the descendant of Abraham and David, and this could
only have been because his mother was their descendant. If Jesus was
God, then Mary is the mother of God, and she wasn't an ordinary woman.
If as the Bible teaches Jesus was the Son of God and also " son
of man" , the descendant of Abraham and David through Mary, it
is evident that Mary was an ordinary woman. So it's all or nothing-
a system of true belief, or a system of wrong belief. It is important
to believe the right thing, because doctrine affects how we live.
Have a look at Heb. 4:15,16 “For we do not have a High Priest who
cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted
as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne
of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time
of need.” Because Jesus was of our nature, therefore we can pray with
confidence through Him to God. We don't need a human priest, church
building or pastor to make our prayers acceptable.
So can I just summarise the things we have written about:
1- There is only one God, not a 'trinity'
2- Jesus is the Son of God, not God Himself; He didn't exist before
He was born. He had all our temptations and human experiences, but
He never sinned. He gave His life for us in a painful death, but then,
because He never sinned, God resurrected Him from the dead.
3- Through baptism into Christ by the dipping in water of an adult,
we share His death and resurrection
4- so when Jesus Christ returns we will be resurrected, judged and
given eternal life in His Kingdom- which will be based here on this
earth. This Kingdom will be like the world was in the garden of Eden,
when God first created man- and even better. All the problems which
are now on earth- war, famine, sadness, even death itself, will be
finally ended- for ever.
5- After death we are unconscious- 'hell' means just 'the grave'.
6- The soul is not immortal; we are made of dust and return to the
dust. The spirit is the power of life within us, which God takes back
when we die. We don't go on existing in any conscious form after death.
7- 'Satan' is a symbol for the evil human desires inside us, against
which we must struggle; it is not the name of a dragon or monster
that exists. God is 100% powerful; He doesn't share His power with
'satan'. All our problems come from God, not satan, and therefore
there is a positive spiritual purpose to them.
8- By reading the Bible for ourselves we can find the true way to
I do appeal to you, to study these things, and give yourself no rest
until you have come to surely know the true Gospel. I do so hope you
will study our free Bible study course; and set yourself the aim,
to be baptised one day, by dipping in water. Then you will surely
have the hope of eternal life. OK we can't imagine eternal life. I
can only suggest we imagine a long, long line, with no end, stretching
on into the distance; and we in this life are just a few millimetres
at the start of it. This really is our hope, if we are baptised into
Jesus and live in Him. I plead with you, to take all this seriously,
and not treat it as mere religion, as just something ordinary.