devotional/bible training

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  • Day 1: The big picture

    Rediscovering the importance of Scripture: One of the most famous events of Church history was on October 31, 1517, when German monk… named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This event has been recognized as the day that the Reformation began!

    • What inspired Luther to do this was his reaction to the catholic practice of something called indulgences! According to the catholic encyclopedia, indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment due to sin. And the reason why this was so important is because the Catholic Church also believed in Purgatory, a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, after death who were not entirely free from minor sins, had to work off their sin debt by staying in purgatory. And unfortunately for some, sometimes this meant hundreds of years!

    • The catholic hierarchy at that time began exploiting peoples fears of hell by creating a practice where people could buy their way out of purgatory or even one of their relatives simply by buying a piece of paper called a indulgence which they were told was their passport to heaven!

    • This money then went back to Rome to help build the incredible cathedrals that we see today! Unfortunately, these mammoth, gaudy buildings were paid for mostly by the poor who were exploited by priest telling them they could buy their way out of hell!

    • Of course, this really upset Martin Luther who unlike the rest of society at that time had access to the Bible! You see the thinking back then was that the bible was so complicated even for a priest to understand; much less the common person, that only the priesthood under the tutelage of the church had access to the scripture.

    • But when Martin Luther got to study the scripture himself, he discovered, especially after reading the book of Romans, that the only way a person could be made right with God was through faith in Christ and nothing else.

    • Rom 3:22-24 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. In other words, that a person is saved through faith!

    • It is only through faith in Christ that our sins are forgiven. And once you put your faith in Christ, he has forgiven you of all your sins! Your debt has been completely paid for and there is absolutely nothing else we can do! Sins were forgiven through the cross of Christ alone!

    • Thus, Martin Luther began to address what he considered religious tyranny through his writings which of course drew a mixed reaction. On one hand you had the common people, the scholars, even some of the priest who loved what he wrote because it set them free!

    • For the very first time in their lives, they began to experience the love of Christ! And this was especially true of the German people, who after reading all of Martin Luther’s writings; experienced an awakening of spiritual hungriness like they had never experienced before!

    • But the Catholic hierarchy, the cardinals and the pope became incensed about this because people quit paying for the indulgences and the Catholic Church in Rome was going into debt for building all these massive church buildings without the support of their people! So, the Catholic Church labeled Martin Luther a heretic and threatened to excommunicate him unless he recanted all his writings!

    • This all led to a head to head collision where the Catholic Church demanded that he recant, which then set the scene for Martin Luther to make his famous quote: “unless you show me by scripture I am wrong, I can not, I will not recant! As he spoke those famous words in defiance of the church, the German nation to erupted in celebration!

    • Right after this event Martin Luther went on to translate the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into German. Soon all the countries of Europe followed his example by translating the Scriptures into their own languages through the recently invented printing press so that for the very first time in history, the Word of God was made available to all the people.


    APPLICATION

     Changed Life scripture: Rom 3:22-24 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

     Growth Principal: We must become students of his word to grow spiritually healthy!

     Questions: Do you want to get to know God? Do you connect getting to know God with getting to know the word of God? How valuable is God’s word to you? Do you understand the sacrifice so many gave so you and I could have God’s word?

     Life application: Are you willing to commit yourself to finishing this devotion


    Quiz 1:

    1. Who sparked the reformation movement by nailing his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany?

    2. What verse did God use in the book of Roman’s to open his eyes?

    3. Why did the common people, some scholars and priests love Martin Luther’s writings?

    4. Why was the Catholic hierarchy angry at Martin Luther?

    5. What was Martin Luther’s famous quote from his trial?


  • Day 2: The big picture

    The Birth of the Reformation Movement: After Martin Luther’s trial, a wave of reformation swept across the church! The Reformation theology which gave birth to not only the Lutheran church, but the whole protestant movement, became identified by what some people called the: Four Pillars of truth.

    1. Christ Alone!

    2. The Bible Alone!

    3. Faith Alone!

    4. Grace Alone!

    • And especially the phrase: “The Bible Alone” literally changed the church forever! Monks, priest, and even nuns who broke out of their convents to follow Luther, went all over the world with their newly printed bibles spreading the truth of the gospel! But unfortunately, many of those were martyred for having a bible. Why?

    • Because wherever people began to read for themselves the scriptures and began to experience the love of God freely, they began to break away from the tyranny and control of a religion that had been exploiting them for money all these years!

    • Interestingly, the bible has held the number one spot for being a best seller every year up to this present year! This of course helped spread the message of Christianity into every continent around the world!

    • And not only that, but out of Christianity came our hospital systems, our education systems, and even the pursuit of science, for they thought this was a way to get to know God! That one could begin to understand who God was through understanding his physical creation.

    • Add to that, all the organizations devoted to helping the poor as well as the world-wide effort to send missionaries to every corner of our world. And of course, less we forget, our very nation was born out of Christianity.

    • Sadly, now two hundred years later, we have taken prayer and scripture our of the class room, we have removed the 10 commandments from public display and are now working on taking the words: “In God We Trust” off our money.

    • Like Israel of old, when they moved into the promise land, they began to adapt more to the culture around them rather than make the culture adapt to them. This led to their spiritual demise.

    • Years later, the prophet Samuel wrote this observation of the spiritual climate of that time which I believe is an apt description of our current spiritual condition.

    • 1 Sam 3:1 Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. NKJV

    • In other words, people were so out of touch with God that no one was getting any new visions. And even what understanding they did have of God’s word, they were losing.

    • The prophet Hosea comes a long and prophesies about how in the future, many of God’s people will be destroyed because people no longer knew God. Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

    • This unfortunately is becoming truer today than ever before because we have become biblically illiterate.

    • My hope is that through this devotional bible school, that trend will be reversed. That as you begin to read and understand the scripture in a fresh way that your own spiritual hunger will be awakened!


    APPLICATION

     Changed Life scripture: Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

     Growth Principal: We must continually cultivate our hunger to know God through Scripture!

     Questions: Have you set aside a daily regular time to read Scripture? What is the cultural trend concerning God and Scripture we have been seen happen over the last 50 years? How has that trend affected your own personal attitude towards God and Scripture?

     Life application: Are you willing to commit yourself to finishing this devotion


    Quiz 2:

    1. What are the four pillars of truth?

    2. What book has been the number one seller since the creation of the printing press?

    3. What did Hosea prophesy would destroy God’s people in the future?

    4. In what ways is our current culture seemingly mirroring Israel’s history?

    5. What must happen in order for the prophetic flow from God’s heart to restored to God’s people?


  • Day 3: The big picture

    Discovering the wonder of Scripture:

    A. The Wonder of It’s Inspiration

     The Bible is the most unique book ever written for it claims to have as it’s author God.

    It may have been written over a period of 1600 years, on three continents, and by 40 different men. Yet it had only one author – GOD.

    B. The Wonder of Its Formation

     How Many Testaments? Two

     How Many Book's? 66

     How Much Time between the Testaments? 400 years

     Who Wrote Scripture? The Bible was written by 40-different authors from every walk of life

     Kings, servants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, doctors, military leaders, herdsmen, And even a first century IRS agent!

     The authors wrote from different places like deserts, dungeons, palaces, islands, battlefields, hillsides, and prison cells.

     They wrote on 3 different continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa) in 16 different countries in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek)… yet… put together… they were unified in their message… all most as if they had known one another and conspired to write this book together…

     Order of Books are different depending upon who you're talking to. (Catholic or Protestant)

     Category of books... historic, poetic, prophetic, apocalyptic

     There Are Two Categories of prophets... the major and the minor. These definitions are not based on importance of content only on size

     Do you know what prophets that Jesus and the apostles quoted more than any other? Isaiah

     The Old Testament Was Written by Prophets and the New Testament was written by the apostles

     Eph 2:19-20 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

     How many parts as the New Testament consist of? Two parts

     The first five books are historic. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts.

     The second part consists of letters which includes the last book of the Bible... Revelations.

     Three of the Gospels... Matthew, Mark and Luke are considered synoptic Gospels because they tell their story parallel with each other. They have three different personalities who see things from three different points of view... and bring that unique perspective into the light.

     For example, Matthew who was a Jewish tax collector before he met Jesus… writes to the Jews! He zeroes in on how Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecy. Luke on the other hand was a Gentile and a doctor who zeroes in on the human side of Jesus. Part of his heart was to show the world that Jesus was not just the savior of the Jewish nation, but for the whole world.

     Then there was Mark, who was a disciple of Peter. His target audience was the Romans. So, he zeroed in on Jesus being a heroic servant who conquered the impossible.

     The fourth Gospel was written by John. This gospel is totally unique because it is more philosophical than the other three. If you remember, John was considered Jesus closest friend. Because of that, he not only focuses more on Jesus heart... but more than any other gospel... he highlights the divinity of Christ... that not only was Jesus fully man, but he was also fully God.

     Another interesting fact concerning the authors of the New Testament… is that all the different books of the Bible were written by Jews with the exception of the two books written by Luke! (And as to the Old Testament, they too were written all by Jews with the possible exception of Job.)

     The author of the book of Hebrews is a mystery... although we are pretty sure it wasn't Paul as it does not match up with the same style of writing as his other letters. Most recent thinking among scholars is that it was written by Paul's traveling companion... Barnabas

     That brings us to James, John, and Peter… who were considered apostles to the Jews, different from Paul was considered the apostle to the Gentiles.

     James, John and Peter were considered pillars of the church in Jerusalem… and of them… John is credited to writing both the gospel of John, three letters and the book of Revelations. Peter is credited to writing two letters… and being Marks primary source for Mark’s gospel.

     James the brother of John was the first of the apostles to be martyred. He never got to write a book. He should not be confused with the James, who many believe was a half-brother of our Lord. He was the one who wrote the book of James whom many believe was first epistle written.

     And then there was Jude who was a half-brother of Jesus… who is credited to writing a post card.

     That brings us to Paul who wrote many letters to the church. He wrote three letters to his disciples who were his apostolic understudies... 9 letters to churches and one postcard to Philemon. In all… the Bible contains 66 books – 39 in the OT and 27 in the NT.

     The 39 books of the O.T. are written primarily in Hebrew, with a little Aramaic, and the 27 books of the N.T. are written primarily in Greek.


    APPLICATION

     Changed Life scripture: Eph 2:19-20 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

     Growth Principal: The teachings of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles are the foundation for us to grow into our Faith!

     Questions: How familiar or educated are you with the teachings of Scripture? Do you understand how the old and New Testament are tied together? How you can’t understand one fully without the other? Have you ever been reading Scripture when a certain verse or passage jumped out of the page at you, and you knew that God was speaking to you?

     Life application: Begin memorizing the content of this devotion Concerning Scripture


    Quiz 3:

    1. Who wrote Scripture?

    2. What languages was scripture written in?

    3. How do Matthew, Mark, Luke and John differ from each other regarding audience or philosophical focus?

    4. What three authors of New Testament letters were considered the pillars of the church in Jerusalem?

    5. Which two authors of the New Testament were thought to be half-brothers of Jesus?


  • day 4: the big picture

    Discovering the wonder of Scripture: Part 2


    A. The Wonder of its unity

     Yet another amazing aspect of scripture is the wonder of its unity. Did you know that the bible was written by 40 different authors… ranging from kings, to statesmen, to doctors, to farmers and shepherds… over a period of 1,600 years on three different continents!

     And out of all these different authors… we have an entire library of different kinds of literature. The Bible contains history, poetry, humor, prophecy, romance, letters, biographies, songs, journals, common sense advice, and laws and stories.

     Yet despite these different genres and diverse authors, each author, in their own way, presented a unified portrait of who God is and what he is doing in our world.

     And not only that, and but there is not one major discrepancy. The authors of scripture wrote articles covering hundreds of controversial subjects in perfect unity. Think about that! How could that be? How can you get 40 different authors from different countries, from different time periods, to agree on every single major doctrine of the church when we can’t get two politicians from the Democrats and the Republicans to agree on one thing concerning the health reform?

     Answer: because, there is only one author of Scripture, and that’s God!

     You see, the Bible is a unified story of how God worked throughout history to restore His relationship with human race. Its message is very simple!

     The Old Testament – Someone is coming

    Gospel – He is here

    Epistles – He is coming again

     Read it cover to cover and you find:

    • One hero – the Messiah

    • One villain – Satan

    • One problem – Sin

    • And one solution – The coming of the kingdom of God… and salvation…which is something both you and I have experienced!

     The only reasonable answer to this amazing unity… is that there was one master architect who designed the book. And the only one able to put a book together than literal spans 1500 years is God himself, the creator of all things, who alone is able to bridge time and space and people.

     The Bible is God’s Word to the human race.

    B. The wonder of its accuracy and creditableness

     One question you always must ask if you are studying ancient manuscripts, is whether the text we have reliable or not? Is the Bible we have today what was written by the original authors?

     First off, the integrity of any historical document depends on the number of manuscripts we have to examine.

     One must ask when it comes to ancient manuscripts: How does the bible stack up?

    • When it comes to the historic figure of Plato, who no one questions whether he was real or not, we have only seven manuscripts!

    • The same thing could be said of Aristotle, no one questions whether he was real, yet we have only 49 original manuscripts!

     The fact is, outside the Bible, the record for most manuscripts belongs to Homer’s Iliad. We have 647 original manuscripts. That’s good, yet that doesn’t even come close to the bible.

     The undisputed historical fact is that the Bible is the most documented manuscript in civilization. Want to take a guess how many? Believe it or not, we have 38,000 manuscripts

     Concerning just the Old Testament: We have 14,000 manuscripts and fragments of the Old Testament dating from 500 to 800 years. And in those 14,000 manuscripts, there is only one variation in every 1,580 words. And 99% of the time the variation is a spelling variation. That is amazing.

     It wasn’t that long ago when critics use to say there was 1,300 years between the first copy of the Old Testament and the copies we have. Critics declared that people surely made some serious mistakes along the line.

     But then there was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls! In 1947 there was a young Bedouin boy named Mohammad. One day while he was chasing his sheep, he tossed a rock into the cave of Kumran and heard a pot break. He looked into the cave and found what has come to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. They had portions of every OT book of the Bible except for Esther. And it had the complete letter of Isaiah.

     Before the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest manuscript we had was dated around 900 AD. But the Dead Sea Scrolls dated 1,000 years earlier.

     Interestingly, when they discovered this amazing fine, the skeptics said, “Ah ha, now we can see how much error has crept into the Bible over the course of time.”

     Boy, were they shocked! The academic world, scholars and skeptics a like were amazed that there was hardly any change at all. They found 95% of the text was perfectly identical and the 5% that was different, were primarily spelling variations. The content was essentially perfect.

     Concerning the New Testament: if you think 14,000 manuscripts was good, you will be shocked to discover that we have 24,000 New Testament manuscripts!

     There are 24,000 copies of the New Testament in different languages from all over the world in Latin, Greek and various other languages. In all of those manuscripts, there is less than 1 variation in 1,000 words. And those variations were extremely minor, not affecting the meaning.

     Renowned archeologist, Sir William Ramsey states – “The Bible writers are of the first rank and should be placed among the greatest historians that have ever lived. You may not like what the text says but it is what the authors wrote!"

     Meaning that the Bible is the most documented manuscript in the history of ancient civilization and the Bible has more textual credibility than any other ancient document in history.


    APPLICATION

     Changed Life scripture: 1 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

     Growth Principal: A major key to growing in our faith is learning how to trust God, which we do by trusting in his word. Prov 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

     Questions: What obstacles exist in your heart that prevents you from trusting in God’s word or his promises?

     Life application: Begin a yearlong bible reading plan!


    Quiz 4:

    1. Who wrote Scripture?

    2. What languages was scripture written in?

    3. How do Matthew, Mark, Luke and John differ from each other regarding audience or philosophical focus?

    4. What three authors of New Testament letters were considered the pillars of the church in Jerusalem?

    5. Which two authors of the New Testament were thought to be half-brothers of Jesus?


  • day 5: the big picture

    Keys to interpretation: Out of all the principles of interpretation, the most important one is this… all meaning is context dependent! In other words, to fully understand what the passage of scripture you are studying means, necessitates that you understand its complete context! 

         First, you need to understand what the author meant in the context of the whole passage that is written. This includes understanding who the audience was that the author was running to. One also needs to understand how this passage fits into the context of the whole book or letter. One then needs to understand how this passage fits into the context of the whole New Testament or Old Testament. And then finally, one needs to understand how this passage fits into the context of the whole Scripture!

         Adding to that, quite often there are different levels of meaning for each story that one reads. There are THREE LEVELS OF BIBLICAL NARRATIVE concerning most biblical stories! Therefore, in order to understand the facts of local texts in their narrative context we need to understand that the story of the Bible is being told at three different levels simultaneously.

    1. The BIG PICTURE

    A. The basic plot of the story might be called the big picture and has to do with God’s over all purpose as seen throughout history. The elements of that purpose are as follows... the creation of Human Beings, the fall of Humanity through sin, the promise of redemption, the birth - death - resurrection - ascension of the Messiah to reestablish the rule of God on earth, the return of the Messiah to earth to redeem his people and create a new heaven and a new earth. We might call this the creation / fall / Messiah / new creation paradigm. Its basic focus is to see relationship restored between God and humanity!

    B. This is the big picture referring to the “WHAT” of God’s plan. And it's important to understand that we will not be able to understand most of the Bible apart from understanding God’s purpose in history first.

    C. The three big themes of his overall purpose are...

    • GOD’S KINGDOM

    • GOD’S SAVIOR

    • GOD’S GLORY

    2. The STRATEGIC PICTURE

    A. The second layer of understanding to the story might be called the strategic picture and refers to the “HOW” of God’s plan. God has a purpose—that’s level one. God also has a Plan on how to bring about His purpose, the restored relationship between himself and humanity — that’s level two.

    B. God’s strategy to accomplish his plan involves the creation of a nation called Israel, the people of God, that gives birth to the Messiah, who then through his death and resurrection opens the way to graft in the Gentile nations (the rest of the world) into the people of God.

    C. The basic paradigm of salvation or restored relationship is worked out and is seen in light of the history of the people of Israel. Israel experienced slavery / exodus / worship / the restored image of God / wilderness / Promised Land / and a call to reach the nations. This mirrors what each of us has to go through in order to have our relationship restored to God.

    D. The three big themes of God's strategic plan are…

    • ALL PEOPLES

    • OBEDIENCE OF FAITH

    • POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

    3. The DETAILED PICTURE

    A. The last level is called the detailed picture. This level refers to all the rest of the Bible’s stories that flesh out the big and strategic pictures. It is here one finds the flood of Noah, the felling of the walls of Jericho, Elijah calling down fire from heaven, the annunciation to Mary, the multiplication of the bread and fish, the cleansing of the temple, an angel appearing at the empty tomb, and so many more. Without a larger context to understand them, these remain, as they have for so many generations of believers, just a great set of stories. But when they are understood within the greater narrative, they become rich with meaning! Indeed, I will go so far as to say that it is not really possible to interpret the individual stories without understanding both the big story and God's strategic plan.

    4. To demonstrate how the layering works we will look at the famous story of David and Goliath.

    A. If all we have is the detailed picture we might think this story is about doing impossible things through God’s power—and yes, this is one of the applications of this story. Unfortunately, the “underdog” motif, as the David and Goliath story is depicted in popular culture, ONLY interprets the story at this level, but that is to miss much of what the story is really about. When seen in light of the other two layers of narrative... it means so much more!

    B. When seen in light of the strategic picture, one can see that this is a story about the man God would use to finally establish Israel in the land of Canaan because he took seriously the promise He had made to Abram when He said, “I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you, I will curse” (Gen. 12.3). So when David says, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” this is actually a reference or at least an echo of Genesis 12.3. In other words, David understood what it meant to be an Israelite, part of the nation that God formed for the sake of the world. He knew that those who cursed God’s people and tried to destroy them would themselves be destroyed. It is with this assumption that David went forward against seemingly impossible circumstances. To miss that connection is to miss the heart of the story.

    C. When seen within the big picture, one might notice that Goliath, in his scaled armor is a symbol of the serpent creature in Genesis 3. Meaning, that when David overcame him and then cut off his head, David became a type or symbol of the one to come, Jesus, who would “crush” the serpent’s head (Gen. 3.15). With this third layer of interpretation we discover a picture of Christ fulfilling God’s plan for Israel to defeat the devil and bring redemption for the world.

    APPLICATION

     Changed Life scripture: Isa 55:9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

    1 Cor 2:14 But the man who isn't a Christian can't understand and can't accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just can't take it in. TLB

     Growth Principal: To fully understand Scripture, we need the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Meaning, every time we approach a passage of Scripture, we need to realize that there are multiple layers of understanding, and the only way for us to comprehend them, is through the work of the Holy Spirit! Therefore, we must be in constant prayer as we read through Scripture asking God to illuminate our understanding!

     Questions: How familiar are you to the overall themes of Scripture? Do you understand what this statement means: The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed?

     Life application: before you read Scripture, pray the simple prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, teach me what you want to learn today!

    Quiz 5:

    1. What is the key principle to interpreting Scripture?

    2 What are the three levels of biblical narrative?

    3. What are the three big themes of his overall purpose?

    4 What are the three big themes of God's strategic plan?

    5. What are the keys to understanding the detailed story?


  • day 6: the big picture

    Based on yesterday’s devotion, one of the keys to understanding specific stories or texts is to understand the big picture. For the next few days I am going to give you a few scenarios that focuses only on the broad picture of the Scriptures. One example is taken from NT Wright, a famous bible scholar, who likens the Bible to a multi-act play.

    1. Creation: How the World Got the Way it Is (Genesis 1-11) The first act shows how God created the world out of nothing and then created human beings who would reflect his image and partner with Him by being his co-regents over the earth. It also shows that the world rebelled and thus produced the ethnically diverse, fractured world in which we now live!

    2. Israel: God’s People for the World (Genesis 12 - Malachi) The second act chronicles the plan of God to create one people, Israel, as the people through which God would save the world and establish his glorious kingdom!

    3. The Messiah: The True Israel (The Gospels) In the third act we tragically find that Israel has failed to be the people of God for the world. Thus, God enters the world as a human being to succeed where Israel had failed! He recruits 12 men (Symbolic of the 12 patriarchs over the 12 nations of Israel) to form a new Israel! He then trains and commissions them to take the message of God’s loving rule to all the nations of the earth.

    4. The Church: The New Israel (Acts-Rev) In the fourth act starting in the book of Acts, we see how Jesus disciples, representatives of the new Israel, moved from one people (Israel) to the other peoples of the earth until people from every tongue and nation and tribe bear the image of God and rule the earth as his co regents. At the grand finale of history, the redeemed from all humanity will worship God with new eternal bodies in a redeemed earth.

    5. Our Turn: The History of the Church So what about us? We now are now living out the fifth Act of the play. But wait, we have no script! What are we to do? Wright says that the key to acting our parts is that we become so familiar with the first four acts that we can improvise our lines in alignment with how the story goes. Therefore, we must become familiar with the whole story. Perhaps then, when we get up every morning to do our personal devotions, we will have a whole new insight into our personal uniqueness and the role we are meant to play in God’s global plan!

    APPLICATION

     Changed Life scripture: Isa 14:26-27 This is my plan for the whole earth-I will do it by my mighty power that reaches everywhere around the world. The Lord, the God of battle, has spoken-who can change his plans? When his hand moves, who can stop him?" TLB

     Growth Principal: if we want to grow in our relationship with God, it’s vital for us to understand his purposes in what he is wanting to achieve. Then we must seek him concerning how we fit into his plan!

     Questions: Do you feel you have a firm grasp on his overall purpose for his creation?

     Life application: Begin reading the first couple chapters of Genesis and meditate on them.

    Quiz 5:

    1. Describe the first act in your own words.

    2. Describe the second act in your own words.

    3. Describe the third act in your own words.

    4. Describe the fourth act in your own words.

    5. Describe the fifth act in your own words.


  • day 7: the big picture

    Another way to understand the big picture is by examining the instruments that God rose up and used during different time periods. In doing this, we begin to discover how the theme of RESTORATION was being weaved through every chapter of the Bible!

    Since the fall of Adam and Eve, God has been actively revealing to his people key truths needed for their relationship to be restored back to his original plan! To reveal these truths, God raised up five different offices or vehicles throughout the Old Testament. Each of these five vehicles and body the truth that we need to embrace. Furthermore, each of these 5 different offices found their ultimate fulfillment in the coming of Christ, who represents all five offices within himself as God’s sixth vehicle of revelation.

    Jesus then was crucified, buried and then raised on the third day. He ascended on high and then sent his Holy Spirit who gave birth to God’s seventh vehicle of revelation… the church. Through these seven instruments of revelation, we can begin to comprehend how God would ultimately restored humanity and the earth to His original plan! The first office or message bearer that God raises up was the:

    1. Patriarchs: The very first thing that God had to restore to his people was an understanding of faith! To have a personal relationship with God, a person needs faith. To help understand what faith was all about, God raised up the Patriarchs. And because there is so much to understand about faith, it took three complete lives: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to show us!

    2. Priesthood: Adding to the revelation of faith, God now reveals his desires to see his people not only believe in him but also reflect his image, his character to the world. (Ex 19:5-6 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

    This goes back to the original plan God had for us as seen in the first few chapters of Genesis. So, God created the office of the priesthood. Priests were men called to bear the image of God to the world. They were set aside to totally devote themselves to God and to be his servants, called to minister to him and to be a mediator between God and his people. God’s heart was always to have the whole nation be priest, but they refused. Why? Could it be that as a nation they had not fully embraced the previous revelation of faith as revealed through the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

    3. Judges: Adding to the revelation of faith and being called to be God's image bearers, we now discover through God's creation of Judges, that God also desires us to be delivered completely from our enemies so that we can inherit the Promised Land. Unfortunately, Israel fell short once again. Joshua’s last words to Israel before he died were for them to go out and completely destroy the enemy, but they didn’t. They left little pockets of resistance, who later grew to be their oppressors. Why were they disobedient? Maybe because they didn’t fully embrace the previous revelations that God revealed through the patriarchs and the priesthood.

    4. Kings: The next office we see God raising up was the office of kings. It was their mandate to make Israel a light to all nations. That not only was God’s people to be a people of faith, who reflect the very character of God, and were completely victorious over their enemies, but were now called to share their God with all the nations so that the whole world would be filled with the glory of God. Once again, we the see this as the fulfillment of the Genesis mandate, to multiply and fill the earth with the image of God. But unfortunately, Solomon was disobedient to that call, and instead of reaching out, he began to focus his attention inward, making his domain the best in the world. Why? Could it be because he didn’t fully embrace what God had revealed beforehand through the patriarchs, priesthood, and judges?

    5. Prophets: As him a result of Solomon’s fall, Israel split into the Northern and southern kingdoms which ultimately fell prey to their enemies and were brought into a season of captivity. During this time and after, God began raising up and using prophets in a more substantial way. God raised some prophets to speak to the northern kingdom and others to the south kingdom, and even some prophets to the nations at large. God’s overall purpose was to draw people’s focus back on to himself, because he was their ultimate hope. And even though humanity had failed at bringing about God’s purposes on the earth, he would send them one who would completely fulfill his heart. A Messiah, someone who would usher in the coming age of God’s kingdom!

    6. Christ: Scriptures say that the Son of God was born at the fullness of time. One destined to fulfillment of all the law and prophets for he was the word made flesh, the anointed Messiah who has come to save his people! Therefore, He came both declaring that the kingdom of God is now and teaching them what that meant. And when he wasn’t declaring or teaching people about the kingdom of God, he was demonstrating it through signs and wonders by healing people and delivering them from their demonic bondages. But the world rose up in opposition against him, calling him a liar and rebel and blasphemer. They unfairly tried him and then crucified him in one of the most inhuman ways possible. He died along with some other thieves and then was buried with the hope that he would be quickly forgotten. But then God the Father vindicated Jesus by raising him up from the dead! And for 40 days he appeared to his disciples and 500 other people. Then right before he left, he told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, for he was about to ascend to his Father and then from his Father’s right hand, would send us the Spirit of truth, the comforter, who would empower us to be his witnesses throughout the earth.

    7. The Church: 50 days after Passover, the Holy Spirit fell on God’s people on Pentecost and God’s church was born. A people in whom now dwelt the Holy Spirit, who is at work at conforming each person into the image of Christ, thus fulfilling the Genesis mandate. And now God’s people are being empowered and sent by the Holy Spirit into every nation, tribe and people with a message of invitation. They are inviting every person they meet to enter the kingdom of God and thereby be set free from the kingdom of darkness. God’s church now becomes God’s hands and feet and mouth piece until the whole world is filled with the image of God and therefore completely restoring the Genesis mandate!

    APPLICATION

     Changed Life scripture: Jer 29:11-14 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

     Growth Principal: We need to seek the Lord and his plans with all of our heart! This means we must become passionate about pursuing God and what he is trying to accomplish in and through our lives! To do this he must become our first priority!

     Questions: We must examine our hearts and ask yourself some hard questions. What really is the top priority of my life? When I look at my calendar, what thing in my most committed to timewise? When I look at my checkbook, what is my highest priority according to my finances?

     Life application: Make a commitment to both pray and read Scripture daily. It does not matter what time of the day you do this, although morning is preferable because it helps set your mindset for the day. What is important is that you are consistent in your pursuit of God!

    Quiz 6:

    1. What are the seven main instruments that God rose up and used to restore his people?

    2. In your own words, describe the purpose for each of those instruments!

    3. What does it mean to you on a personal level that Jesus came declaring, teaching and demonstrating the kingdom of God?

    4. According to the New Testament, how is the Genesis mandate being fulfilled?

    5. What now becomes our responsibility as New Testament believers in view of all this?


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