Bible Course Introduction

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Introduction and Purpose for the Intercontinental Church of God Bible Correspondence Course

It is our purpose in "feeding the flock" to study in-depth the Systematic Theology Project produced by Worldwide Church of God in 1978. With the exception of a few areas edited or left out the body of the work is unchanged. I would like to quote some of the "Organization and Purpose" for you students. Even though it was written in 1978 it applies to the present:

"The Bible alone is God 's written revelation to man. This systematic theology is simply an attempt to explain our comprehension of God 's Word as believed, taught, expounded and applied by the Church. It is written by men for men-and is consequently not to be put on a par with God 's Holy Word. The systematic theology [Correspondence Course] is not to replace the Bible nor to supersede or overshadow it. The point of view is that of looking up toward, and not down upon, God 's Word. Although we are building a superstructure, the Bible will always remain the foundation. The readership of this theology [Correspondence Course] is cautioned not to lose this perspective.

"The best way to keep our doctrinal focus sharp and clear is to stay finely tuned to the central figure of the entire Bible: Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is both the focal point and the 'big picture' of the entire Bible-He is the overview of both testaments. The Old Testament is the story of His creation and government (Colossians 1:16), His dealings with Israel (1 Corinthians 10:4) and His laws; it also records His ancestry and the detailed prophecies of His first and second comings. The New Testament is the story of His life and message, the magnification of His laws, the beginning of His Church and the announcement of His coming Kingdom. If Christ did not exist, there would be no Bible-there would be no point to it. Jesus Christ is the Word of God; and since the Bible is God 's written word, it is, in a very real sense, the embodiment of Jesus Christ in verbal representation on the printed page.

"In accordance with the focal point and overview of the Bible, this systematic theology [ICC Correspondence Course] stresses Jesus Christ-past, present and future. It tells of His life, His works, His message, His 'good news, ' His teachings, His instructions, His laws, His way of life, His admonitions, His corrections, His rebukes, His love, His mercy, His forgiveness, His people, His friends, His covenants, His Church, His Kingdom, His promises, and His salvation. The focus is on Jesus Christ, as these statements represent His doctrines which we have attempted to present in an organized and systematic manner. No one keeping close to the trunk of this tree will ever get caught out on a limb. No one following the foundational doctrines of Jesus Christ will ever suffer doctrinal tunnel vision and the resultant spiritual blindness that such tunnel vision can cause.

"Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong has always emphasized the fundamental 'trunk of the tree ' doctrines of the Church. These deal with two essential elements: 1) God 's purpose for human existence; and 2) the plan by which He will accomplish that purpose. ...

"God 's purpose for mankind offers the most incredible possible potential that can be imagined. Indeed, it stretches the imagination beyond its limit, for God states that every human being can eventually be born into God 's own Family, with God Himself as his or her real Father. Man was created to actually become God, just as God Himself is God, with the same qualities of existence such as immortality and eternal life. Man was designed to become a full member of the God Family, just as our elder brother, Jesus Christ is God and part of that Family. This is mankind 's ineffably awesome potential-a spectacular destiny which will eventually include the entire universe as part of our inheritance.

"God 's plan for accomplishing this purpose for mankind is equally breath-taking. God will make His truth known to all human beings from all time and every place and give to each of them individually a full opportunity for salvation. God is not willing that any should perish and has structured a plan which will make available to all people the full knowledge of His purpose and way (though what they do with this knowledge will be a product of their independent minds to which God has given free moral agency).

"This, then, is the essential foundation of biblical doctrine as believed and taught by the [Intercontinental] Church of God-that all mankind, every human being who has ever lived, will eventually have the opportunity to become born of God into the Family of God, to literally become God. Around this fundamental concept every other biblical doctrine must revolve and relate."

May God bless you as you embark upon this very exciting Correspondence Course!