New Testament ALP Part Five

A Life Affected

My life is part of God’s story.  I was a fallen and broken sinner before I heard Christ calling my name.  I still find it amazing that God, the creator of the universe, could love me so much that He died on a cross for my sins.  The grace He offers me is overwhelming.  I have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and belong to God.

God has revealed to me my new identity.  I identify the most with being a servant to God.  He has given me a desire to glorify His name by being a servant.  I find the most joy in my life comes from serving Him in whatever capacity is set before me, whether it is stacking chairs after a church service, or hosting a service on Sunday morning.  I delight in the ability to do my God’s bidding.

Being a servant also makes me part of God’s continuing story.  By shining His light to the world, God uses me to reach those who need to hear His Gospel.  By growing in Christlikeness, I can display His glory.  God is using me to further His kingdom, and that is an exciting thought!

Finally, I rest in God’s promise to me.  I take comfort in knowing that in the end, He wins.  The book of Revelation gives me hope in the power of God and gives me something to look forward to at the end of this life!

A Story Continued

God is in the business of redemption and love.  Ever since humanities fall in the Garden of Eden, God has been redeeming His people.  The New Testament is an extension of that redemption and love.  God has sent His only son to die on a cross that we might be redeemed of our sin through faith in Christ Jesus.  God then gives us a new identity as we are reborn as His children.  His children are then called into action to be a light unto this world.  God ends the New Testament with a promise in the book of Revelation.  “Surely I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20 ESV).  The beautiful part of this declaration is that His coming doesn’t declare the end, but the beginning of Christians dwelling in His presence for all eternity.  God love us, and His desire is for us to spend eternity with Him.

References

Elwell, W. A., & Yarbrough, R. W. (2005). Understanding the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic.

 

Gundry, Robert H. (2003).  A survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

 

Geiger, Eric (2008). Identity. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.

 

McGrath, A. E. & Packer, J. I. (2005). Handbook of Christian Beliefs. Grand Rapids, MI:

Zondervan.

 

Fee, G. D. & Suart, D. (2002). How to Read the Bible Book by Book. Grand Rapids, MI:

Zondervan.

 

Sproul, R.C. & Mathison, K. (2005). The Reformation Study Bible. Lake Mary, FL:

Legonier Ministries

 

Brand, C., Draper, C., & England, A. (2003). Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville,

TN: Holman Bible Publishers

 

Goodrick, E. W. & Kohlenberger, J. R. (1990). Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance. Grand

Rapids, MI: Zondervan

New Testament ALP Part Four

Charging of the Church

Once believers have been given this new identity, God commands them into action. Paul, Timothy, Luke, John, Peter, and many other writers of the New Testament spent a fair amount of time in their letters to the early church giving them marching orders. Some of these orders are for the individuals. They are suggestions or commands on how to live life as a believer. Other orders are given the church body as a whole. The early church, located through various regions, faced different struggles. The apostles wrote to these churches giving instructions on how to operate as a body of believers. Finally, these early church leaders wrote about how God will fulfill His promises to His bride.

The Response as a Person

God calls upon believers to respond in many ways. The first response is by accepting and believing in Christ. As this paper has discussed, without this step, everything else would be in vain. Once someone has become a believer they are called to take on their new identity in Christ. As a Christian assumes this identity, a natural overflow should be a bearing of spiritual fruit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23 ESV). A follower of Christ should began to display these characteristics in their every day life. He or she should be kind to their neighbor, display patience with those who need it, be gentle to those who are hurting. They should show self- control when experience temptations to sin. Most importantly of all, they should express love to all who they encounter. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 ESV). What though, does it mean to love? What are characteristics of this love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a tells us that:APPLIED LEARNING PAPER! 10

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (ESV). The message of God is love, and believers are meant to display that love to the World.

Finally, an individual’s response to God is to submit: “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10b NIV). God has given each individual Christian a task to complete. It is their calling to submit to His will, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 ESV).

The Response as the Church

What is the church? The church is a community of believers. It is no stretch then to imagine that the church has a responsibility to respond to God in much the same way that an individual believer does. The church should respond to God as He also calls it to make disciples by equipping and training believers.

“Paul offers character qualifications for church leaders in 1 Timothy 3” (Fee & Stuart, 2002, p.376). 1 Timothy 3 gives a set of standards that the Church should follow when choosing leaders among themselves. The reason for this is that these individuals will be looked up to and charged with the responsibility of raising up younger believers, much the way that Paul did with Timothy.

Second, God provides guidance to the church in handling problems within the church. These problems take on many forms, whether it is incestuos relationships, false teachings, or flagrant disobedience to God’s word. An example of church discipline can be seen in 1 Corinthians 5. Here we see that: “a man has his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1b ESV). Paul “rebukes the Corinthians for their arrogant pride in condoning such a flagrant sin within their number and commands discipline in the form of dismissal from the fellowship of the church” (Gundry, 2004, p.379). This is but one of many examples of discipline that church leaders are called to enforce.

Finally, the responsibility of the church is to be unified in Christ. “so we, though many, are one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5a ESV). The church is called to function as the body of Christ. How can a body function if the parts do not work together? The apostle Paul states it best: “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell” (1 Corinthians 12:17 ESV)? The purpose of the church is to work together, complementing each other’s strengths to display the full love of God to the world.

God’s Promise to Believers

While God charges the church to respond to Him, He also makes promises to the church that He will fulfill. He promises that He will complete His work in our lives (Philippians 1:6 ESV). He promises us victory over sin (Romans 6). The most important promise God makes to us though, is that He will return for His people. He has promised to remove His people from this world and bring them to the new heaven and earth that He has created for them that they might live and dwell with Him for all eternity. “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:3–4 NLT-SE).

New Testament ALP Part Three

An Identity Given

When one transforms into a new identity, it is important to know the identity someone is changing from.  The human race, beginning with Adam, has been afflicted by sin.  God tells us that there is not one person on the face of this planet who is righteous.  Humanity is incapable of doing a single good deed in God’s eyes, because of our depraved and sinful nature.  Being saved, however, allows a person to be born again into a new identity.

Being a born again Christian is a phrase often heard in American Christian culture.  This can be a confusing term.  It was a confusing term in even in the New Testament.  The Pharisee Nicodemus asked: “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born” (John 3:4)?  Nicodemus missed the point the Christ was talking about.  Jesus wasn’t talking about a physical rebirth, but the regeneration of the human heart.  “Regeneration is the act of God alone, in which He renews the human heart, making it alive when it was dead” (Sproul & Mathison, 2005, p.1514).  When that heart is renewed, a person is given a new identity in Christ.  We are Children of God (2 Corinthians 6:18), Aliens (1 Peter 2:11), Servants (Mark 9:35), and Priests (1 Peter 2:9) to name a few.

Children of God

To be called a child of God is a unique thing.  Think about a parent and child relationship.  It is common to hear someone tell a parent that their child looks exactly like them.  The reason for this is that they carry the same DNA as their parent, hence the similarities.  To be called a child of God is to be declared positionally perfect.  Believers are carrying God’s DNA.  Christians have been washed by the blood of Christ and are made perfect so that they may be called sons and daughters of God.  It is no small thing to be called a child of God.  As children of God, believers should strive to be more like their heavenly Father.  They should seek to please and honor Him in all that they do.  “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 ESV).

Aliens

“I urge you, as aliens and strangers” (1 Peter 2:11 NIV).  No, this doesn’t mean that Christians now have little green antennas sticking out of their heads.  As Elwell states it we are: “Foreigners and exiles, whose eternal home is elsewhere” (Elwell & Yarbrough, 2005, p. 364).  Another way to look at this is through the lens of immigration.  Often society views an immigrant as a legal or illegal alien.  These are people who are in this country, but not citizens.  As children of God, Christians belong to His kingdom and therefore are simply legal aliens in this world.  Eric Geiger in his book Identity says it best: “You are not a citizen here.  You are a stranger in this world. You are a foreigner in this land because of your faith” (Geiger, 2008, p. 142).  Therefore Christian character and behavior should not be dictated by the culture of this world.  Rather they should model their morals and lifestyle through the example of Jesus Christ.  If Christians are aliens, what is their purpose while in the world?  They are here to be servants.

Servant

The apostle Paul introduced himself and Timothy to the Philippian church as servants.  They identified their new character in Christ as such because Christ Himself was a servant leader.  The term used is the Greek word duolos which means: “a slave who is willingly bound to another” (Geiger, 2008, p. 142).  It is hard to imagine two of the early church’s most influential leaders calling themselves slaves to Christ.  However their identity is stemmed directly from Christ’s example found in Philippians 2:6-7 says: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (ESV).  God Himself became a servant to humankind.  He died on the cross and suffered for us, to serve us.  Christ modeled this in how He washed the disciples feet during the last supper.  This chore was supposed to be done by servants, not the guest of honor.  We are also told that: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35, NIV).  Christians are therefore called, in their new identity, to be servants of God.  So what then does it mean to serve God.  It means to love the world.  It means to fulfill the great commission.  Fulfilling this means to spread the gospel to every tribe, nation, and tongue.  It means that we are to be priests.

Priest

“But you are a…royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9a).  In the Old Testament, only High Priests were aloud to enter into the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temple.  This was considered a special honor as they were given the honor of communicating directly with God, the honor of coming closely into His Presence.  Priests were also charged with communicating God’s Word to the Jewish people and to the world.  These were the sacred charges given to the priests of God.  Through the grace given to us in Christ Jesus, all believers have been ordained into the royal priesthood of God.  All of His children are invited into the Holy of Holies.  All of His servants are given the honor of entering into His presence and serving Him.  As priests, Christians are also charged with spreading the Gospel.  Believers are entrusted with the very word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to spread the good news of the Gospel.

New Testament ALP Part Two

A People to be Saved

Who are these people that need to be saved?  Why did Christ need to be sacrificed on a cross as atonement for sins for believers to be saved?  To answer these questions a person is forced to look back to the Old Testament.  In fact, one needs to go back to the very first book of the Bible.

Separation From God

Genesis chapter three describes the origin of sin.  “Sin is about the breaking of a right relationship between the height of God’s creation – humanity – and the Creator” (McGrath & Packer, 2005, p. 170).  God had given Adam and Eve only one rule: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Genesis 2:17a, ESV).  This rule was then broken by both Adam and Eve who ate of the tree.  After that, Adam, Eve, and all of their descendants have suffered that affliction of a sinful nature.

Moving forward to the New Testament we see our identity because of sin.   Romans tell us that: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We find the consequences of our sin in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.”  It can be seen here that the price of our sin is death and in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 it tells us about mankind’s eternal separation from God.  We can see that the human race was in desperate need of a savior.

The One who Saves

God, in is omniscience, had a plan.  He knew that His creation would need saving and redemption.  His plan was brought to fruition in the virgin birth, the life, the death on the cross, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ His Son.  “For God so loved that world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-13).  God became man and died on the cross bearing the weight of sin.  The one who was utterly blameless died a sinners death.  Christ rose back to life showing that He could conquer sin.  By conquering death and it’s sting (1 Corinthians 15:55), He showed His power over sin and His capability and authority to forgive it.  This is the One who has come to save the world.

Grace

Grace is the: “Undeserved acceptance and love received from another” (Brand, Draper, &England, 2003, p. 678).  The only way that humanity can be saved is by God extending us grace.  This means that He takes care of our brokenness and sin through His death on the cross.  Christ took on the punishment we deserve.  Think of it this way, if a friend borrows your car and breaks it but you don’t make them pay for the repairs and take care of it yourself, you are extending grace to your friend.  Through Christ, God extends us grace. “By grace we have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8a).  The question then becomes how does a person can earn or receive this grace that God has extended?

Faith

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  Humanity can be save through faith.  The question then becomes: faith in what?  Galatians 2:16a gives us the answer: “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.”  It is by faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, believing that He died for their sins, and repenting (Acts 2:8), that a person can receive grace.  When an individual is justified by grace through faith, they are born into a new life.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

New Testament ALP Part One

So it’s been a while since I have been able to post something.  Well let’s be honest, I have not made it a priority at all.  But as I promised months ago, I will be posting different bits and pieces of my writings up here from my classes.  As I am working on my Applied Learning Paper for New Testament, I will be throwing the final versions up here for the world to see.  Please feel free to comment and give Ideas.  (In case my professor reads this, I will not be incorporating these ideas into my paper.  =)  Enjoy and let me know what you think!!!

A story of redemption and fulfillment

What is the difference between the Old and New Testament’s?  Are they two completely different pieces of scripture?  How can both be applied to a Christians life?  These are questions often heard in the Christian community today.  The truth is that the New Testament is an extension of the Old Testament.  Throughout the Old Testament we see God working through his people to save them.  We see many of His Children respond through faith such as Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and many others.  We also see God set the stage through His prophets for the coming of His son.  The purpose of the New Testament is to proclaim salvation through Christ, to declare our new identity as children of God, and the charging of the church to fulfill His good works until Christ returns.

School Starts Thursday!!!

So I start school this Thursday at Trinity International University.  It’s been a while since I have had to sit in a classroom, take notes, do homework, or study.  Now it may seem a little silly for me to say this, especially those who know me well, but I am really excited about this.  Why I am excited about all of this extra work you might ask?  I am excited because not only will I be finishing my bachelors degree, but I will be doing it in something that I am really excited about, something that will be for my personal growth as well as for professional.  I will be getting my degree in Christian Ministries through Trinity International University’s Reach Program.  The program is specifically targeted at adults over the age of 25 who want to finish their degree, but who do not have the time to go to school during the day.  My hope is to be able to finish my degree in the next two years so that I can move on to get my masters before I am 35.

In light of all of this, my blog will be used to post my educational thoughts over the next two years.  In reading one of my books for my first class, I became really intrigued by the thought of writing and journaling my thoughts about the material I will be covering.  Strangely enough, that is what blogging is for.  So as a heads up, y0u will probably begin to see a lot more posts, some educational, some recreational, and probably just some really random ones!!!

SK

How do you worship when you don’t enjoy the music?

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This is a hard questions to answer.  It’s one that all of us struggle with from time to time.  Or maybe a little more often than that.  We live in an age were there are so many different styles of worship music ranging from classic hymns to ultra contemporary worship in which you feel like you are at a concert.  Each of these styles affects us differently.  Some of us start working on to do lists in our heads when we hear hymns.  There are those who cringe when we feel the kick drum pounding into our chest.  For some, it’s a particular writer of worship songs that engages us more than others.  For a different group, a certain song writer pushes them away.  For some of us we just don’t enter the sanctuary until worship is over.

Pastor Eric challenged us this week to ask ourselves the question “Which of us is right?”.

In the past year I have learned a lot about how different people view worship very differently.  I have also learned how to approach worship when a particular song or set of songs doesn’t seem to engage me.  I’ll give you an example.  A favored song in our church is “God of this City”.  This is a wonderful song that engages a large portion of our congregation.  This song does absolutely nothing for me spiritually.  I have tried in every way possible to find and engage with God while singing this song.  Nothing.  I actually began to find myself totally disengaging with the entire worship service due to my dislike of this song.  About a month ago though, it hit me.  I discovered how to engage in worshiping God through this song.  It was very simple.  PRAYER!!!  When the song started playing on that particular sunday, God put it on my heart for me to pray.  I found such joy in that time of worship.  It was at this moment that I discovered how to continually engage in worship though I may dislike a song, hymn, or anything else.  It was so simple.  Prayer.  So my challenge to anyone who may read this, if you find yourself being distracted from worship because of a song or instrument or even a bad mix.  Stop and engage with God in prayer.

SK