Tag: care and counsel

Who is Jesus Christ?

Who is Jesus Christ?

This post was originally featured with the American Association of Christian Counselors and is excerpted from the Soul Care Bible.
Author: ED HINDSON
(John 1:29)
Jesus is the primary figure of the Bible. The Old Testament promises His coming; the New Testament describes His arrival on the scene of humanity that changed the course of history. One cannot read the New Testament without being confronted by Jesus. His person is overwhelming. His character is irresistibly attractive. His teachings are life-changing. But many still ask: Is He simply to be admired, or is He to be worshiped? Is He a good man, or is He God?
The more closely we examine the person, character, and claims of Jesus, the more we are compelled to see that He was more than just a man. Jesus was born in obscurity, raised in poverty, and crucified in ignominy. Yet, His life transformed the world. His ministry was characterized by preaching the good news of God’s grace to fallen humanity.
The name Jesus means “Savior”; Christ means “Messiah.” Technically, He is Jesus, the Christ. The Bible emphasizes that He is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament who was born of a virgin and miraculously entered the human race as God in the flesh (Matt. 1:23; John 1:14).
More than anything else, Jesus brings hope to people’s hopelessness. He is depicted as the Word of God (John 1:1), the Light of the World (John 1:7-9), the Lamb of God (John 1:29), and the Son of God (John 1:49). He meets us at our greatest points of need and offers us God’s salvation, love, and grace.
HIS DEITY AND HUMANITY
The Gospels paint four portraits of Jesus. Together, they give us a full picture of the person of Christ. Each focuses on a specific aspect of the same individual. Matthew pictures Him as the King of the Jews. Mark portrays Him as the Servant of the Lord. Luke displays Him as the Son of Man. John shows Him as the Son of God. By combining these portraits, we see the various facets of this incredible person-royalty, ministry, humanity, and deity-all in one.
John’s Gospel in particular is woven around seven miracles, seven messages, and seven declarations of Jesus. The central statement being Jesus’ declaration: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). His listeners immediately took this to be a claim of deity. Jesus was connecting Himself to the “I AM” declaration of God in Exodus 3:14. Around this central concept, John uses seven other “I am” statements by Jesus to give us a series of word pictures of the Savior:
“I am the bread of life” (John 6:35) “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7) “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11) “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) “I am the true vine” (John 15:1)
The Gospel writers give us a picture of the most incredible man who ever lived. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, and loved the outcasts. His miracles were amazing. His teachings were brilliant. His insights into human nature were remarkable. Like a diamond, reflecting various streams of color and brilliance, Jesus shines as a perfect and complete picture of God. He looked like a man, but He talked like God. He lived among people, but He also lived above them. Indeed, in Him, God “became flesh” (John 1:14).
HIS IRRESISTIBLE APPEAL
Jesus is the epitome of divine love, sufficient grace, and eternal hope. No one will ever love us like He loves us. No one will ever care for us like He cares. Ultimately, He died on the Cross for our sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The good news of the gospel compels us to believe that He died for us personally. He calls upon us to trust His death as a sufficient payment for our sins.
Faith is the act of believing that activates our commitment to Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. It is the key that personalizes our relationship to Him. Saving faith means that we believe Jesus died for our sins and offers us the gift of eternal life.
All we have to do is believe it! Such an act of faith receives the free gift of this grace, believes this offer to be sincere, and trusts Him to keep His promises-forever.
Charles Spurgeon, the great British preacher, said it best over a century ago when he wrote: “You may study, look, and meditate, but Jesus is a greater Savior than you think Him to be, even when your thoughts are at their highest.” Jesus Christ is more willing to love us, accept us, help us, and forgive us than we ourselves are. It is no wonder they call Him the Savior!
Jesus came so that we might know God personally. He suffered and died for our sins so that they might be “paid in full” (John 19:30; 1 Pet. 2:21-24). Then He rose from the dead to offer us the gift of eternal life (John 10:28). We can have that gift by receiving His gracious offer by faith. Believing in Jesus is an act of trust by which we affirm that what He did for us on the Cross is enough. On that basis, the Bible promises: “Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

CSB Restoration Bible

CSB Restoration Bible

 

This review is going to be a little different from my other reviews. Instead of simply commenting on the book and its features, which I will do, I am also going to suggest some real life uses for the book, the CSB Restoration Study Bible. (Note: Holman Bible Publishers provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I am not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.) It is available in paperback, brown leathersoft (I am reviewing this edition) and an e-book.

As is our habit, let us begin with some features from the publisher:

Features Include:

  • Over 450 guided, devotional-style notes with Restoration-centered themes
  • Seven Life Restoration Principles
  • A “First 30-days” Restoration devotional
  • Book introductions highlighting “Restoration Themes” in each book
  • 66 restoration profiles of biblical characters
  • 10 full page features filled with scriptures highlighting biblical themes related to restoration
  • Index of all features for quick and easy reference
  • One and three year Bible reading plans
  • 52-week Scripture memory plan
  • Topical concordance
  • Two-column text
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Presentation page
  • Full-color maps

Translation:

The Restoration Bible is offered in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation. CSB is what is called a mediating or optimal equivalence translation meaning it endeavors to be as literal as possible while still capturing the original meaning as would be understood by the original reader. I have remarked before that if you could merge the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version into a single volume, this is what you would get.

CSB offers a host of translator’s footnotes; it continues the tradition of its predecessor, HCSB, of being one of the most well annotated versions of the Bible available. Because of this, CSB works very well for lesson preparation whether that is the Sunday Sermon, a small group study, or one on one discipleship. The CSB is very trustworthy and it is a translation which I reference weekly in my lesson prep.

Cover and Binding

This is brown leathersoft, an imitation leather, and I have to tell you, if the box did not tell me that it was imitation, I would swear this were a calfskin Bible; the imitation is that convincing. It includes a sewn binding for lifelong usage. Holman categorizes this as a deluxe Bible, meaning it has more premium materials than a hardcover or paperback Bible but it does not rise to the level of a premium (genuine leather, calfskin, or goatskin). The binding is quite satisfactory. I have tossed it into my back a few times with no issue. It will easily last for your entire ministry career.

Paper, Font, and Layout:

The paper is soft white, a little thin but still sufficiently opaque, and very soft and smooth to the touch. It feels a little like cotton but is very clearly still Bible paper. You should be able to mark in the text with a ball-point pen or a colored pencil. As a general rule, I do not recommend a liquid highlighter in a Bible as the paper is sufficiently thin to allow the liquid to bleed.

The font is a crisp black and I would estimate at approximately 9-point font. I actually find this text block to be easier to read than the large print ultrathin reference Bible which has a very similar font. The Restoration Bible is a black letter edition, meaning that they do not place the words of Christ in red. Red letter editions a just fine to use but since I always write my notes in red pen, they can be challenging so black letter is a better choice for studying and preaching.

Speaking of study and preaching, the text is laid out in a double column paragraphed format as opposed to a verse by verse format; each paragraph starts on a new line. Verse by verse is my preference but there are practical issues which frequently pose challenges.

Lastly, there is are two ribbon markers to help you remember your place, one for the Old Testament and one for the New.

For the remainder of this review, I will be commenting on the content and ways to use it.

 The Restoration Bible is clearly designed to be used with others, especially in Biblical Counseling, and I recommend that both the counselor and counselee have their own copy of this Restoration Bible for use together.

The Restoration Principles

In the front materials (what precedes the Biblical text), we find an article outlining the Restoration Principles. It is a 2-page article listing each principle, using the acronym R.E.S.T.O.R.E., offering a brief explanation, and then the primary Scripture from which the principle is drawn.

Restoration Devotional

A 30-day devotional is offered to give us an overview of the Restoration Principles and to show us how they are drawn from the Scripture to develop a Christlike mindset. There are several ways this could be used and I will suggest two: 1st the devotional can be used consecutively and, in a counseling/discipleship session, 7 days could be treated. As an alternate, this could be used as a 30 week overview so that the disciple and mentor can cover each devotion in one week. In either case, the Restoration Devotional offers a very solid foundation to develop Christ exalting thoughts and habits

In-text articles

Every book of the Bible contains in-text articles, in a green box, treating various restoration principles found in the text. In studying a particular book, systematically, you could deal with each article as they come up. Alternately, you have the option to study directly through each restoration principle.

Book Introductions

Each book of the Bible includes a 3-page introduction. Page one provides an overview of Spiritual Reformation in that particular book. Page two offers the usual information on author, setting, intended audience , outline, etc. Page three is really unique- it is a RESTORE Chart listing each principle and the appropriate passages from the book to guide you in your study of the Restoration Principles.

Topical Index

Instead of a Concordance, we are given a Topical Index. A Topical Index is more appropriate for this Bible as it specifically treats subjects (i.e. addictions, sins, spiritual wounds) and guides through the specific Scriptures related to that subject. While I recommend book by book teaching, this Bible is geared toward discipleship and counseling and as such, a topical study will probably be more practical as it enables teaching to be tailored  to the needs of each disciple.

The Reading Plans

There are 3 plans: a three year plan for more in-depth reading, a one year plan to get every word of the Bible in a “normal” reading plan, and thirdly, a 52 week reading plan geared toward committing Scripture to memory. The last plan is, to me, the most important; the only way to experience true restoration from sin is to overcome it with the Scripture which we have committed to memory.

Final Thoughts

The existence of the Restoration Bible is a great comfort to me. As a pastor, I encounter the hurting on a daily basis and this is one of a select few tools which I turn to every time I minister. Again, I recommend that both teacher and disciple have a copy, together, so that they can follow the Scripture simultaneously.

I am grateful to New Life, who designed this Bible, and to Holman, who published it. The only true pathway to healing, hope, and joy in Christ is through the means He offered to us, the Bible, and this Bible, especially, focuses on caring for Christ’s wounded lambs and restoring them to relationship with the Loving Shepherd.

 

To my pastoral brethren, I am going to go a step further than a simple recommendation and say that you NEED the Restoration Bible. The demands on our time are many and intense and we can turn to this tool to refresh ourselves and to help those entrusted to our care be restored to fellowship with our glorious Lord. Please, find yourself a copy and use it regularly.

 

Precepts for Spiritual Renewal

Precepts for Spiritual Renewal

On a daily basis, I deal with people who are carrying wounds, some emotional and some phyicial and I deal with others who simply feel like their faith has gone dry/stale/stagnant. One of the most helpful tools that I have come across, as a pastor, is the NIV Spiritual Renewal Bible from New Life Ministries, which offers 7 Precepts for Spiritual Renewal. I would like to share those precepts with you, today, and we will expand upon them as we go.

 

7 Precepts for Spiritual Renewal

  1. Seek God and Surrender to Him (1 Peter 5:6)
  2. See the truth (Psalm 139:1)
  3. Speak the truth (James 5:16
  4. Accept responsibility (Galatians 6:5)
  5. Grieve, forgive, let go (Matthew 6:14)
  6. Transform your life (2 Corinthains 1:3-4)
  7. Preserve your spiritual gains (1 Peter 1:8

 

No matter the wounds you carry nor how dry your faith may seem, these 7 Precepts will help you to refresh your soul and to restore your fellowship with God the Holy Spirit. Everything you could ever need to commune with the Lord is found in your Bible and there is no wound you carry which is too  severe for the Holy Spirit to heal. 

If you are struggling, today, I invite you to trun back to your Bible. There you will find the Holy Spirit waiteing to meet you as you pray over the Scriptures. He will show you HIs ways and restore you to fellowship with Hum. 

Until next time, Grace to you.