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Regeneration and the New Birth

Regeneration and the New Birth

In Jn 3:1-8, Jesus discusses one of the foundational doctrines (i.e., teachings, foundational principles, basis of belief) of the Christian faith: regeneration (Tit 3:5), or spiritual birth. Without being “born again” in a spiritual sense, a person cannot become part of God’s kingdom. This means that a person’s life must be spiritually renewed in order to be spiritually saved and to receive God’s gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The following are important facts about spiritual birth and renewal.

  1. Regeneration, or spiritual birth, is an inward re-creating of a person spiritually–a life transformation (total change or remaking of the person’s attitude, thinking, and actions) that occurs from the inside out (Ro 12:2; Eph 4:23-24). It is a work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:6; Tit 3:5; and through this work of transformation, God passes on his gift of eternal life. It marks the beginning of a new and personal relationship with God for those who yield their lives to Christ (Jn 3:16; 2Pe 1:4; 1Jn 5:11). Spiritual birth is the way a person becomes a child of God (Jn 1:12; Ro 8:16-17; Gal 3:26) and a “new creation” (2Co 5:17; Col 3:9-10). A person who is born again spiritually will no longer conform or live according to the character and influence of the ungodly beliefs, behaviors, and lifestyles of the world (Ro 12:2). Instead, he or she is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24;

  2. Spiritual birth is necessary because all people, apart from Christ, are sinful by nature (i.e., separated from and in opposition to God) from birth. On our own, we are not capable of having a close personal relationship with God. Without the life-transforming power of his Holy Spirit, we could not continue to obey and please God (Ps 51:5; Jer 17:9; Ro 8:7-8; 1Co 2:14; Eph 2:3.

  1. Spiritual birth happens to those who repent of sin (i.e., admit their sin and turn from their own way), turn to God (Mt 3:2) and yield control of their lives to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord–the Forgiver of their sins and Leader of their lives (see Jn 1:12, note). The beginning of this experience of spiritual salvation involves “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5). Though spiritual birth is an immediate experience that takes place as soon as a person truly repents and accepts God’s forgiveness, God continually renews and transforms a Christian’s mind (Ro 12:2) and inner being (Eph 4:23). This spiritual renewal is an ongoing, “day-by-day” process (2Co 4:16;)

  1. Spiritual birth involves a transition, or complete change, from an old life of sin (i.e., going our own way, which is a path of rebellion against God) to a new life of obedience to Jesus Christ (2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 4:23-24; Col 3:10). This means that there should be noticeable changes in a Christian’s attitude and lifestyle (see 1Pe 4:1-2). Those who are truly born again are set free from slavery to sin so they can fulfill God’s purpose for their lives (see Jn 8:36, note; Ro 6:14-23). They receive a renewed attitude and desire to obey God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:13-14). By depending on him, they do what is right by God’s standards (1Jn 2:29), they love others in words and actions (1Jn 4:7), they avoid things that defy and displease God (1Jn 3:9; 5:18) and they do not set their affections on temporary, worldly things (1Jn 2:15-16).

  2. Those who are born again spiritually cannot continue to sin (i.e., go their own way, ignore, or defy God’s commands and standards; see 1Jn 3:9, note). They cannot remain in a right personal relationship with God unless they earnestly pursue God’s purposes and carefully avoid evil (1Jn 1:5-7). This is possible only by relying on God’s grace (i.e., his undeserved favor, mercy, and empowerment; see 1Jn 2:3-11, 15-17, 24-29; 3:6-24; 4:7-8, 20; 5:1), by maintaining a strong and growing relationship with Christ (see Jn 15:4, note) and by depending on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:2-14). For further comments on the character traits that should be evident in a spiritually born-again person.

 NATURE AND THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.

  1. It does not matter how spiritual a person may talk, seem or claim to be, if he or she lives by principles that are immoral and follows the ways of the world, the person’s conduct shows that there is no spiritual life within and that he or she is instead living like a child of the devil (1Jn 3:6-10).

  2. Just as a person can be “born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8) by trusting God and receiving his gifts of forgiveness and eternal life, he or she can also forfeit, or lose, that life by making foolish, selfish and ungodly choices and by refusing to trust God. As a result, he or she will miss out on the life God offers and will die spiritually. God’s Word warns, “if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die” (Ro 8:13). Even as believers, if we continue the path of sin and refuse to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance (which he gives mainly through God’s Word and our conscience), we can put out the light of God’s life in our soul and lose our place in God’s kingdom (cf. Mt 12:31-32; 1Co 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Heb 6:4-6; 1Jn 5:16.

  3. The new birth that comes only through God’s Spirit cannot be compared equally with physical birth because God’s relationship with his followers is a spiritual matter rather than an act of the flesh or human effort (Jn 3:6). This also means that while the physical tie of a father and child can never be completely reversed or lost, the Father/child relationship that God desires with us is voluntary; and we can choose to walk away or deny it during our time on earth (see Ro 8:13, note). Our relationship with God and eternal life with him are conditional and depend on our ongoing faith in Christ that is shown by lives of obedience and genuine love for him (Ro 8:12-14; 2Ti 2:12).

     In summary, spiritual birth, or regeneration, brings: spiritual cleansing (Jn 3:5; Tit 3:5); the indwelling of God’s Spirit (Ro 8:9; 2Co 1:22); transformation into a “new creation” in Christ (2Co 5:17); adoption as God’s spiritual child (Jn 1:12-13; Ro 8:16; Gal 3:26; 4:4-6); the Holy Spirit’s guidance and understanding of spiritual things (Jn 16:13-15; 1Co 2:9-16; 1Jn 2:27); the ability to live right by God’s standards and to develop his character traits (Gal 5:16-23; 1Jn 2:29; 5:1-2); victory over sin (1Jn 3:9; 5:4, 18); and an eternal inheritance with Christ (Ro 8:17; Gal 4:7; 1Pe 1:3-4).

 

Excerpted from the Life in the Spirit Study Bible c. 2008 by Life Publishers International in association with Zondervan

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

The Gospel

 

God created the world and made us to be in loving relationship with him. Though created good, human nature became fatally flawed, and we are now all out of step with God. In Bible language, we are sinners, guilty before God and separated from him.

The good news of the Gospel is that God took loving action in Jesus Christ to save us from this dire situation. The key facts of this divine remedy are these: God the Father sent his eternal Son into this world to reconcile us to himself, to free us to love and serve him, and to prepare us to share his glory in the life to come. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and rose bodily from the dead to restore us to God. Given authority by his Father, Jesus now rules in heaven as King over all things, advancing God’s kingdom throughout the world. In the fullness of time, Jesus will return to establish his kingdom in its glory on earth, and all things will be renewed.

Reigning in heaven over all things, Jesus Christ continues to draw sinners to himself. He enables us by his Holy Spirit to turn wholeheartedly from our sinful and self-centered ways (repentance), and to entrust ourselves to him to live in union and communion with him (faith). In spiritual terms, sin is the way of death, and fellowship with Christ is the way of life.

Turning to Christ

Turning to Christ brings us into fellowship with God. Baptism, which is the rite of entry into the Church’s fellowship, marks the beginning of this new life in Christ. The apostle Peter, proclaiming the Gospel, said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Through faith, repentance, and Baptism we are spiritually united to Jesus and become children of God the Father. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” ( John 14:6). As we come to the Father through Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and hearts to know him, and we are born again spiritu- ally to new life. To continue to live faithfully as Christians, we must rely upon the power and gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to God’s people.

When the disciple Thomas encountered the risen Jesus, he acknowledged him by saying, “My Lord and my God!” ( John 20:28). To be a Christian you must, like Thomas, wholeheartedly submit to the living Christ as your Lord and God. Knowing the Lord Jesus means personally believing in him, surrendering your life to him through repentance and Baptism, and living as one of his joyful followers.

A clear way to make this commitment of faith and repentance is to offer to God a prayer in which you

  • confess your sins to God, being as specific as possible, and repent by turning from them;
  • thank God for his mercy and forgiveness given to you in Jesus Christ;
  • promise to follow and obey Jesus as your Lord;
  • ask the Holy Spirit to help you be faithful to Jesus as yo grow into spiritual maturity.
    One example of such a prayer is the following:Almighty Father, I confess that I have sinned against you in my thoughts, words, and actions (especially __________). I am truly sorry and humbly repent. Thank you for forgiving my sins through the death of your Son, Jesus. I turn to you and give you my life. Fill and strengthen me with your Holy Spirit to love you, to follow Jesus as my Lord in the fellowship of his Church, and to become more like him each day. Amen. 
  •  
Excerpted from “To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism”
Copyright © 2020 by The Anglican Church in North America
Published by Crossway
Where is God when I am suffering

Where is God when I am suffering

The following Pathfinder Discipleship Guide focuses on one of the most commonly asked questions that people bring to pastors: Where is God when I am suffering? Does He even care?  I pray that the points which follow will bless you and be of help and comfort.

 

  1. A possible explanation for suffering: Suffering can help us to identify sin in our lives and also avoid it. (Job 36:1-21)

  2. A prayer in time of anguis (Psalm 22)

  3. God’s Compassion: Via the Prophet Isaiah, God tells all of his people througout all time that He will have compassion on them and bring their suffering to a close. (Isaiah 49:8-1)

  4. Jesus promises us both suffering and peace, we will overcome the world because He did first (John 16:33)

  5. God promises us that we will share in future glory with Him (Romans 8:15-20)

  6. Help in our times of need: Since Jesus has come to Earth and lived among us, he understands our struggle and we can come to Him for help in our suffering (Hebrews 4:15-16)

  7. God is sovereign, cares for us, and will see us thtough (1 Peter 5:6-10)

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you have given us your Holy Spirit to be with us until you come. When we suffer, will you have Him bring your Scritpture to our minds and let us feel His comforting presence. Most importantly, when we suffer, help us to use that suffering to bring glory to Your Name. Amen

Celebrate Recovery Study Bible

Celebrate Recovery Study Bible

 

 

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NIV Celebrate Recovery Study Bible 30th Anniversary Edition

 

 

This is a review that I have been very excited to write given that I have a connection to this Bible. 16 years ago, I entered Celebrate Recovery and, through their ministry and discipleship, gained victiory over being a functional alcoholic, all by the grace and power of Jesus and His gospel.  Note: Zondervan provided this copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review and my opinions are my own.

 

Translation

As you no doubt guessed from the title, The Celebrate Recovery Study Bible uses the New International Version, the best seling English Bible in the world.

 

More than in any other Bible that Zondervan offers, the NIV is the ideal choice for this Bible. Addicts come from a wide range of backgrounds and education levels so the easy to read and understand NIV Bible is an ideal choice for reaching a broad audience. NIV is a phenomenal choice for discipleship as most of the commentaries on the market, most of the handbooks, and most of the dictionaries are based on the NIV. There is a host of rescources available to make the life changing message of the Bible come to life.

 

Features

 

Articles explain eight recovery principles and accompanying Christ-centered twelve steps

The 12 Steps and the 8 recovery principles are a discipleship program, no more and no less. The explanatory articles guiod the reader through building a life pleasing to God and free from addiction.

 

Over 110 lessons unpack eight recovery principles in practical terms

These lessons, which I recommend taking two per week, make the discipleship process more intentional and help you to understand the process as well has how the Lord is using the steps to transform your life.

 

30 days of devotional readings

The devotionals help you to gain a foundation of discipline as you begin your new life. They take you through all of the steps in the recovery process.

 

Over 50 full-page biblical character studies are tied to stories from real-life people who have found peace and help with their own hurts, hang-ups and habits

 

Book introductions

Among other things, the Introductions provide a theme, a challenge, an encouragement, and a reflection point. The CRSB is designed to be one of the most practical study Bibles on the market so it is not inundated with a lot of historical background or commentary. It simply provides practical tools for life change. 

Side-column reference system keyed to the eight recovery principles

This particular reference set, goes through each of the recovery principles so that you are able to follos the principle throughout the Bible.

 

Cover and binding

This is  a softcover edition. It is designed primarily for affordability. Given its focus on affordability, it does have a sewn binding.

Paper

The paper is quite opaque for such an affordable Bible. There is no ghosting at all. You could easily use just about any writing instrument for your notes.

Can I use this on my own?

Can you? Yes. Should you? No. Neither recovery nor the Christian Life are designed to be solo endeavors. We are called the Household of the Faithful, the Sheep of God’s Pasture, Disciples of Christ, and, many other names all of which speak to community, We learn from each other, encourage each other, and pray for each other as part  of the recovery process. Victory is more likely when standing with others instead of standing alone.

Is it just for addicts?

Nope, it is not just for addicts and, yet, in a very real sense, there is not any other kind of person. We all suffere from an addiction to sinning and need help to unpack how the truths of Scripture can transform your life.

No matter what you struggle with, the Celebrate Recovery Study Bible offers help, hope, and healing through the transforming power of one simple message: Jesus saves sinners and will transform your life for His glory.

Final Thoughts

The Celebrate Recovery Study Bible is one of the most practically helpful Bible offered by Zondervan. The principles and steps, when paired with Scripture, truly offer the freedom that so many crave. I can tell you from personal experience that the motto of AA is very true, “It works if you work it.” This study Bible is very much a discipleship tool that should be carried not only by addicts but by Biblical Counselors, Social Workers, Pastors, Deacons and anyone else who meets messed up people in their daily lives.

Life Application Study Bible Red Letter

Life Application Study Bible Red Letter

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The 3rd Edition of the Life Application Study Bible has finally been released in a red-letter edition, bringing it in line with the other iterations of the Life Application Study Bible, Today I am reviewing both the NIV and NLT Editions

Disclaimer: Tyndale sent copies of each edition free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.

Features Include:

  • Enhanced, updated, and with new content added throughout
  • Now more than 10,000 Life Application® notes and features
  • Over 100 Life Application® Bible character profiles
  • Introductions and overviews for each book of the Bible
  • More than 500 maps & charts
  • Dictionary/concordance
  • Side-column cross-references
  • Index to notes, charts, maps, and profiles
  • Refreshed design with a second color for visual clarity
  • 16 pages of full-color maps
  • Durable Smyth-sewn binding, lays flat when open
  • Presentation page
  • Single-column format
  • Christian Worker’s Resource- a special supplement to enhance the reader’s ministry effectiveness
  • Full text of the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT) or New International Version (NIV)
  • Single Column text for Scripture, Double Column for Notes and Side Column References
  • Words of Christ in Red
  • Text Size: 8.5 Point and Note Size: 7 Point

 

Translation Choices

Currently the 3rd Edition LASB is available in the New Living Translation and the New International Version. While not confirmed by Tyndale, I have to imagine that this is because these are the dominant two English Translations of the Bible in the English Speaking World. In my case, it is an embarrassment of riches because I love both translations and use both, NLT in the church service and NIV at home for personal devotions. In either case, you get the same great study content. Since some will ask, the NLT will get the most use in my situation as a huge percentage of my audience uses NLT as their main Bible.

Cover and Binding

Both of my review copies are Leather-touch a.k.a imitation leather. The NLT is black and onyx with silver foil stamping and the NIV is brown and tan with gold foil stamping. Insofar as I can tell, the binding is glued so do be mindful of the heat. With proper care, it should last several years but if you are concerned about the binding it can be sewn by a professional re-binder.

Font, Layout, and Text Coloration

The text is a little small for my taste, but that has more to do with me approaching 40 and having eyesight issues than anything else. The Scripture portion is 8.5-point font size, similar to the Wayfinding Bible and the current edition of the NLT Study Bible. We have the notes and cross-references at 7.5. Again, a little small for my taste but still manageable. LASB has matured and, now, is nearly the same size as the NLT Study Bible and so the font needs to be a little smaller to keep the size of the book manageable.

This time around we have a red-letter edition for the New Testament. The red is very well done, perhaps better than in any other Tyndale Bible. There are times when I rather enjoy a red-letter edition and there are times when it can be a distraction but this edition is not one where the red lettering distracts. My favorite edition of the LASB is the Holman Christian Standard Bible which is also a red-letter edition. I am quite used to it and, in fact, have come to expect the red letters.

Before I discuss the features, I want to deal with an important question: Would I, a pastor, buy and actually use the LASB?

. I, regularly, use the LASB in my sermon preparation. There are 3 questions that I answer in every sermon: What does it say? What does it mean? What do I do about it? The LASB is quite helpful for the 3rd question as it is the application question.

Features

THE TEXT

In offering meaning based translations of the Bible, the LASB makes the Scripture more accessible to the average reader. Of the two, I prefer the New Living Translation. It is true that NIV is the dominant English Bible (NLT a very close second) but I find the NLT to be more easy to read, especially since it feels less academic.

FOOTNOTES

Tyndale provides two types of annotations and both are equally important in a Study Bible.

Translators’ Footnotes

For both the NLT and NIV, the translator’s footnotes include alternate readings, manuscript variants and so forth.

Study Notes

There are 10,000 annotations provided, in a double column format below the text. These notes do not simply explain the text, they help with application of the Scripture to your daily life. Of the three questions that we endeavor to answer with the Scripture, these annotations answer the most important question, What do I do about the text/How does it apply to my life?

BOOK INTRODUCTIONS

Each introduction contains several sections designed to help open the Scriptures for you.

Mega-themes

Mega-themes showcase the most important ideas of each book of the Bible. These ideas are the essential concepts for understanding the various books of the Bible.

Overview

The overview section provides a summary of the book. It also provides general application lessons for the Scripture.

Blueprint

The Blueprint section of the introduction is fairly straightforward; they are outlines of each book of the Bible. For the Bible teacher, this outline provides a solid teaching structure while the student receives an excellent starting point to break the book into manageable pieces for study.

Vital Statistics

Vital Statistics are straight facts about the book: author, date, place of writing etc. These are basic background to the book and are primarily intended as a starting point for further study of the Scripture.

General Thoughts:

There are two roadblocks that I have found people to run into more than any other: “I don’t understand the Bible” and “the Bible is not really relevant to today.” Both are based on the faulty assumption that the Bible is nothing more than an ancient book. Thankfully, the Life Application Study Bible blows that idea out of the water. The LASB helps the pastor to accomplish our two most important tasks: helping disciples to understand the Bible and helping disciples respond to the Scripture to the glory of God.

I know that a number of pastors frown on the use of a Study Bible but I disagree with them. As a general rule. I advise believers at all levels of maturity to own and use a study Bible. For new believers, this is a great choice in a study Bible to own and use.

NLT Life Recovery Bible Review

NLT Life Recovery Bible Review

The Life Recovery Bible is one of my favorite Bibles from Tyndale House Publishers. I have the 1st Edition in hardcover and burgundy bonded leather, the KJV Edition in hardcover, and the 2nd Edition/25th Anniversary Edition in a large print hardcover format.  Now we are reviewing the 2nd Edition in a brown leatherlike cover and large print hardcover

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Note Tyndale House Publishers sent each Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review; my opinions are my own.  

The Life Recovery Bible is a joint venture between Tyndale House Publishers and New Life Ministries.  

Product Description from New Life 

The Life Recovery Bible is today’s #1-selling recovery Bible and is based on the 12-step recovery model. It was created by two of today’s leading recovery experts, David Stoop, Ph.D., and Stephen Arterburn, M.Ed., to lead readers to the source of true healing—God himself. 

Designed for both the Christian who is seeking God’s view on recovery and the non-Christian who is seeking God and answers to recovery, the Life Recovery Bible will lead readers to the source of true healing – God himself. 

The features of this best-selling Bible include: 

  • 8.5 point text, standard size and 10.5 point text for large print
  • Double-column format 
  • Book introductions 
  • User’s Guide 
  • Life Recovery Topical Index 
  • Index to recovery profiles 
  • Index to Twelve Step Devotionals 
  • Index to Recovery Principle Devotionals 
  • Serenity Prayer Devotionals 
  • Index to Recovery Reflections
  • *Now with new video introductions (online via QR codes) to each of the 12 Step Devotionals featuring Stephen Arterburn, and a topical Bible Verse Finder to help the reader quickly find what the Bible says about common issues. 

 

Special Note: the 1st and 2nd editions of the Life Recovery Bible have the same pagination so that group members can follow along regardless of which they use. The KJV Edition, however does not have the same pagination. 

Translation Choice 

The Life Recovery Bible 2nd Edition continues the tradition of being offered in the New Living Translation. There was a special edition offered in the KJV but, to my knowledge, it did not do as well as the NLT edition.  

New Living Translation (NLT) is very much a meaning-based translation. It is designed to help us approach the Bible in the same manner as the original hearers would have done. The reading level is around sixth grade, the idea being that the simple and approachable language will make the Bible more accessible to disciples.  

Cover and Binding 

Life Recovery Bible is available in hardcover, soft cover (paperback), and brown imitation leather. As far as I can tell, the paperback edition has a glued text block where the hardcover certainly looks to have a sewn text block.  

The hardcover is composed of standard book board.Tyndale’s Imitation Leather is rather convincing. It is quite soft to the touch and there is not a ton of distinguishing tactile difference between the imitation leather and a genuine leather.  

Layout and Font 

The text is laid out in a double column paragraph format. We have a black-letter text, ideally suited for full color annotation.  

Notes are also in a double column format and the devotionals are given a separate call out box. 

Content 

Recovery Notes–Placed throughout the Bible text, these notes pinpoint passages and thoughts important to recovery.  

These notes are very application based. It is important to remember that a 12 Step Recovery Program is a discipleship program designed to help us apply the soul freeing truths of the Scripture to our lives.  

Twelve Step Devotionals–A reading plan of 84 Bible-based devotionals tied to the Twelve Steps of recovery and placed throughout the Bible text. 

Some form of meditation is often used in 12 Step Programs and these devotionals go a long way toward helping us to meditate on the Scriptures. Ultimately, it is the internalization of the Scripture that makes us successful in recovery.  

Serenity Prayer Devotionals–Based on the Serenity Prayer, these devotionals provide an additional resource fo meditate on the Scripture.  

Recovery Profiles–Key Bible characters are profile,  and important recovery lessons are drawn from their life lessons.  

Recovery profiles are critically important to those of us in recovery. So often, we are tempted to view the men and women of the Bible as larger than life, perhaps even models of Christian perfection and we forget that the Bible’s Characters dealt with weaknesses and sins just the same as we do.  

Recovery Themes–Prominent recovery themes are discussed at the openings of various Bible books. Specifically, they show which topics are handled by each book of the Bible.  

Is this a niche Bible? 

That answer depends on how you define a niche. I do not find this to be a niche Bible simply because every human is affected but the terminal illness of sin and Christians are recovering, so to speak, from our defections from God and His holiness.  

The Life Recovery Bible in Real Life 

Does the Life Recovery Bible only speak to addicts? Nope. Persons who have friends and family in recovery will benefit from the Life Recovery Bible as they try to help guide their loved ones through the recovery process.  

To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

In 2019, I began to take an interest in Anglicanism, so I was absolutely delighted to be able review the Catechism from The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and Crossway which is entitled, To Be a Christian: an Anglican Catechism. {They provided a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own, I was not asked for a positive review, just an honest one.)

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To Be a Christian is noteworthy not simply for being a very easily understood catechism but also because it is one of the final projects undertaken by the late theological and pastoral titan, the Most Reverend J.I. Packer. Had you ever read anything by Dr. Packer you would understand the enthusiasm I have for this work. Dr. Packer served as the Theological Editor of this work and his fingerprints are everywhere.

 

The Book

The physical book, itself, is muted. It is black cloth over board with gold foil stamping on the cover. Like the other two catechisms I own, the book draws no attention to itself and instead uses its content to draw attention to the Lord of the Church. The paper is soft white with a black letter text. It would appear that Crossway has even sewn the binding in this simple catechism so that it would be very durable for on the go carry.

 

It is currently available in hardcover and e-book formats. I would love to see To Be a Christian available in either a top grain leather or goatskin for use in the pulpit.

 

The Content

You might think that To Be a Christian simply contains an Anglican Catechism but you would be wrong.

 

We open with a section called “Beginning with Christ.” This introduction to the catechism lays out the Gospel in plain simple English, so simple in fact that if you had never seen a Bible but had access to this book, you would still be able to repent of sin. Following the Gospel Presentation, To Be a Christian begins to catechize with the section on Salvation. To veteran Christians, such as myself, this may seem a bit obvious. The reality, however, is that there is nothing more important for a Christian to understand than the concept of Redemption from Sin and so the pastors who composed this catechism begin us there.

 

There are 368 total questions and answers so that you have one question and answer for family worship for every day of the year.

 

The Creeds

Appendices 3 and 4 contain the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, the two foundational Creeds of Christianity. While there is not a guide or suggestion on using the Creeds, my recommendation is to recite them at least once per week in family worship

 

Catechetical Liturgy

There are some samples of liturgy to use for formal catechism classes in the Church. For those of us outside of the Anglican Communion, formal catechism usage may be an unnerving concept but I would encourage you not to fear. Catechism classes unify the church around the essentials of the faith.

 

Pairing with the Bible

The catechism offering Scripture references, I recommend pairing with the Bible, but not just any Bible- I recommend that it be paired with the ESV Bible with Creeds and Confessions. The ESV with Creeds and Confessions not only includes the 30 Articles of Religion, it also gives the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Definition of Chalcedon.

 

When reading the Catechism, it is always advisable to turn to the Scriptures and read the references provided for each question and answer.

 

Real Life Usage

The audience, here at Exploring the Truth, are mostly Anglican and Baptist and we have been providing the Anglican Catechism daily while our sister ministry, Abounding Grace Baptist Church provides the Baptist Catechism.

 

It is a sad reality that many professing Christians have no real clue as to what the Christian Faith entails nor are they familiar with teachings that the Church has handed down through the centuries. Using this catechism will help to build a strong foundation upon which to stand as the days grow ever more wicked.

 

Final Thoughts

The importance of a catechism cannot be overstated. If you have never had a catechism, I commend this one to you. The Anglican Communion has stood for nearly 600 years and will continue to stand, built on the rock of Scripture and guided by faithful catechisms.

Genesis Essentials Lesson Notes

Genesis Essentials Lesson Notes

Naturally we begin the Bible Essentials with Genesis…

 

Storyline

When God rebuked Satan in Genesis 3:15, He outlined the plot of the entire rest of the Bible: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Indeed, the devil would fight against Eve’s descendants; but one of them, Jesus of Nazareth, would deal him a fatal blow by defeating sin and death on the cross. Because Genesis encapsulates many foundational truths, it is not surprising that many New Testament books reference this book in some way. For example, Jesus, Paul, and the author of Hebrews draw from the Bible’s opening book to give the basis for marriage (Matthew 19:4–5), explain humanity’s fallen condition (Romans 5:12), and provide examples of walking by faith (Hebrews 11). And key salvation-related concepts like sin, covenant, sacrifice, judgment, mercy, and obedience all have their origins in this book.

 

Key Concepts

  • The covenant is God’s program of revelation.
  • The focus of creation is the establishment and maintenance of order and operation.
  • The stories in the Bible are stories about God.”

 

Essential Verses

“Genesis 1:28: Be fruitful and increase in number.

Genesis 12:3: All peoples on earth will be blessed through you [Abraham].

Genesis 50:20: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish . . . the saving of many lives.”

 

Central Chapter

Genesis 15—Central to all of Scripture is the Abrahamic covenant, which is given in 12:1–3 and ratified in 15:1–21. Israel receives three specific promises: (1) the promise of a great land—“from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” (15:18); (2) the promise of a great nation—“and I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth” (13:16); and (3) the promise of a great blessing—“I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (12:2).

 

Key Teachings

  • God established and maintains order in the cosmos.
  • God overcomes obstacles to carry out his purposes.
  • God reveals himself to his people.
  • God’s grace exceeds all logic.

 

KEY THEMES

God

The Bible’s opening verse focuses us on God – eternal (21:33), unique (1 Timothy 1:17), all-powerful, creating everything from nothing (Hebrews 11:3). However, he is no mere force or power, but personal, making humans in his image (1:26-27) for relationship with him (2:7-24). As Genesis unfolds, we see that he is also gracious (12:1-3), caring (16:7-16), sovereign (50:20), and yet he judges sin (3:23; 6:7; 11:8; 19:23-29).

Humanity

Although made on the same day as animals, humans are distinct and superior, reflected in their separate creation (1:24-26), dominion over the animal world (1:28), and creation in God’s image (1:26-27) – an image reflected fully and equally in both sexes.

Creation

Creation is “good” (1:4,10,12,18,21,25,31) and to be enjoyed, but not to the exclusion of its creator, nor by being made into god (Exodus 20:4-5). As God’s stewards, humanity is to care for creation on his behalf (1:28; 2:15; 9:1-3; Psalm 8:3-8; 115:16).

Sin

Adam and Eve’s disobedience had widespread consequences, affecting relationship with God (3:8-10), one another (3:7,12), and creation itself (3:17-19), yet excusing its guilt by hiding and explaining things away (3:7-13). Their sin spread deeply into their descendants (eg 4:1-8) and the rest of humanity (6:1-6) so that “every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood” (8:21). The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Covenant

While covenants (solemn, unbreakable contracts between two parties) were common, biblical covenants were distinct by being entirely at God’s initiative. So all Abraham could do when God made covenant with him was stand by and watch (15:1-21). Only after it was made could he respond. God made covenants with his people at key times (eg 9:8-17; 15:9-21; 17:1-27; 19:3-8), but the prophets looked forward to a new covenant, written in people’s hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 37:25-27), which the New Testament says happened through Jesus (Matthew 26:26-28; Hebrews 9:15-28).

Election

Election is God’s gracious and sovereign calling of people for his greater purpose. In Genesis he chooses Israel through Abraham (12:1-3; 15:1-18; 17:1-16) rather than another nation, Isaac rather than Ishmael (17:19-21; Romans 9:6-9), Jacob rather than Esau (25:23; 27:1-40; Romans 9:10-16). This choice isn’t out of favoritism, but love (Deuteronomy 7:7-8), in order to bring about his bigger salvation purposes. Those chosen can therefore never be proud (Romans chapters 9-11), and even those not chosen can still find blessing, as Ishmael (21:17-20) and Esau (36:6-8) discovered.

 

Doctrines in Genesis

Most of the central teachings of Christianity have their roots in the Book of Genesis.

God the Father —the authority of God in creation (1:1–31 Psalm 103:19; 145:8–9; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9; 4:6)

God the Son —the agent of God in creation (1:1 3:15 18:1 John 1:1–3; 10:30; 14:9; Philippians 2:5–8; Colossians 1:15–17; Hebrews 1:2)

God the Holy Spirit —the presence of God in creation (1:2; 6:3; Matthew 1:18; John 3:5–7)

God as one yet three —the Trinity (1:1,26; 3:22; 11:7; Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5–7; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 13:14)

Human beings —created in Christ’s image yet fallen into sin and needing a Savior (1:26; 2:4–25; 9:6; Isaiah 43:7; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; James 3:9; Revelation 4:11)

Sin (the Fall) —the infection of all creation with sin by rebellion toward God (2:16–17; 3:1–19; John 3:36; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1–3; 1 Timothy 2:13–14; 1 John 1:8)

Redemption —the rescue from sin and restoration accomplished by Christ on the cross (3:15; 48:16; John 8:44; 10:15; Romans 3:24–25; 16:20; 1 Peter 2:24)

Covenant —God establishes relationships and makes promises (15:1–20; 17:10–11; Numbers 25:10–13; Deuteronomy 4:25–31; 30:1–9; 2 Samuel 23:5; 1 Chronicles 16:15–18; Jeremiah 30:11; 32:40; 46:27–28; Amos 9:8; Luke 1:67–75; Hebrews 6:13–18)

Promise —God commits Himself into the future (12:1–3; 26:3–4; 28:14; Acts 2:39; Galatians 3:16; Hebrews 8:6)

Satan —the original rebel among God’s creatures (3:1–15; Isaiah 14:13–14; Matthew 4:3–10; 2 Corinthians 11:3,14; 2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 12:9; 20:2)

Angels—special beings created to serve God (3:24; 18:1–8; 28:12; Luke 2:9–14; Hebrews 1:6–7,14; 2:6–7; Revelation 5:11–14)

Revelation —Natural revelation occurs as God indirectly communicates through what He has made (1:1–2:25; Romans 1:19,20). Special revelation occurs when God directly communicates Himself as well as otherwise unknowable truth (2:15–17; 3:8–19; 12:1–3; 18:1–8; 32:24–32; Deuteronomy 18:18; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:1–4; 1 Peter 1:10–12)

Israel —Jacob’s God-given name that became the name of the nation he fathered; inheritors of God’s covenant with Abraham (32:28; 35:10; Deuteronomy 28:15–68; Isaiah 65:17–25; Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 37:21–28; Zechariah 8:1–17; Matthew 21:43; Romans 11:1–29)

Judgment —God’s righteous response to sin (3; 6; 7; 11:1–9; 15:14, 18:16– 19:29; Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 1:9; Matthew 12:36–37; Romans 1:18–2:16; 2 Peter 2:5–6)

Blessing —a special benefit or a hope-filled statement to someone about their life (1:28; 9:1; 12:1–3; 14:18–20; 27:1–40; 48:1–20; Numbers 6:24–27; Deuteronomy 11:26–27; Psalm 3:8; Malachi 3:10; Matthew 5:3–11; 1 Peter 3:9)

 

God’s Character in Genesis

Many of God’s character traits are first revealed in Genesis.

God is the Creator —1:1–31

God is faithful (keeps promises) —12:3,7; 26:3–4; 28:14; 32:9,12

God is just —18:25

God is long-suffering —6:3

God is loving —24:12

God is merciful —19:16,19

God is omnipotent —17:1

God is powerful —18:14

God is provident —8:22; 24:12–14,48,56; 28:20–21; 45:5–7; 48:15; 50:20

God is truthful —3:4–5; 24:27; 32:10

God is wrathful —7:21–23; 11:8; 19:24–25

 

 

 

Christ Revealed in Genesis

The preexistent Christ, the living Word, is evident throughout the Book of Genesis…

The preincarnate Jesus was present at creation (John 1:3). Genesis 3:15 anticipates Jesus’ ministry, suggesting that the “Seed” of the woman who will bruise the serpent’s (Satan’s) head is Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:16). Melchizedek is the mysterious king-priest of Genesis 14 (Heb. 6:20). The greatest revelation of Christ in Genesis is found in God’s establishment of His covenant with Abraham (chs. 15; 17). Jesus is the major fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, a truth Paul explains in detail in Galatians. Much of the Bible is built upon the Abrahamic covenant and Christ’s fulfillment of it. In Genesis 22:2, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac at God’s command bears a startling similarity to the crucial New Testament truth of God’s willingness to sacrifice His only Son for the sins of the world. Finally, Jacob’s blessing upon Judah anticipates the coming of “Shiloh” to be identified as the Messiah: “And to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (49:10).

 

 

CONTENT OUTLINE OF GENESIS

  1. Primeval Events (1:1–11:32)
  2. Creation Overview (1:1–2:3)
  3. Creation Detail (2:4–4:26)
  4. Creation of man, woman (2:4–25)
  5. Temptation and Fall (3:1–7)
  6. Impact of sin (3:8–4:26)
  7. On Adam, Eve (3:8–24)
  8. On their offspring (4:1–18)
  9. On society (4:19–26)
  10. Man’s Early History (5:1–11:32)
  11. Adam to Noah (5:1–32)
  12. Corruption of the race (6:1–8)
  13. Noah’s survival of the Flood (6:9–8:22)
  14. God’s covenant with Noah (9:1–17)
  15. The curse on Canaan (9:18–29)
  16. Nations springing from Noah’s sons (10:1–32)
  17. Origin of languages (11:1–9)
  18. From Shem to Abram (11:10–32)
  19. Patriarchal Narratives (12:1–50:26)
  20. The Story of Abraham (12:1–25:18)
  21. Making of the Covenant (12:1–15:21)
  22. Provision of the promised seed, and tests of Abraham’s faith (16:1–22:19)
  23. Transmission of the promises to Isaac (22:20–25:11)
  24. The history of Ishmael (25:12–18)
  25. The Story of Jacob (25:19–35:29)
  26. Transmission of the blessing to Jacob rather than Esau (25:19–28:22)
  27. Jacob’s sojourn in Paddan Aram (29:1–30:43)
  28. Jacob’s return (31–35)
  29. The History of Esau (36:1–37:1)
  30. The Story of Joseph (37:2–50:26)
  31. Joseph sold to Egypt (37:2–36)
  32. Corruption of Judah (38:1–30)
  33. Rise of Joseph in Egypt (39:1–41:57)
  34. The move to Egypt (42:1–47:31)
  35. The Covenant story to be continued (48:1–50:26)

 

 

Doctrine of Adoption

Doctrine of Adoption

Adoption is the admission of a believer into the family of God, positionally, as sons and daughters. In the Ordo Salutis (“order of salvation”), adoption is the step immediately subsequent to justification. The following outline, with Scritpure References, is offered to help you to begin your study on the Doctrine of Adoption

 

I. We obtain sonshp through the Holy Spirit placing us into the family of God (Romans 8:14-15)

II.  Adoption is through faith in Christ (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26, Ephesians 1:5)

III. We become joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)

IV. The Holy Spirit testifies to our adoption (Romans 8:16, Galatians 4:5-6)

V. Our Inheritance is incorruptible (1 Peter 1:4)

VI. Gentiles are also adopted through the Gospel (Ephesians 3:6)

Spiritual Renewal and Recovery Themes in Revelation

Spiritual Renewal and Recovery Themes in Revelation

Redemptive History reaches its final culmintation in the Book of Revelation and it is here where God gives us our final lessons on being renewed and restored to relationship with Him and our final lessons on recovering from our sin…

 

God Rules Over All

God is sovereign. He is greater than any other power in the universe. Nothing and no one can compare to him. When we look at the turmoil in the world today, the problems we face, the pain we have suffered or the pain we have caused others, we may wonder whether God will really be able to right all the wrongs. But John wrote this book to assure us that though evil may seem to win today’s battles, God is all-powerful and will assert himself for his people. In the end, all things will be made new in Christ.

God Is the Source of Hope

The book of Revelation reveals to us the ultimate source of hope—Jesus Christ. He is coming again and will deal with the problems of our sin-scarred world, restoring what is broken and dealing with the injustices around us. Life is never hopeless, regardless of what has happened to us or what we have done. We can focus on God’s love, grace and forgiveness. He has made our restoration possible in Christ, and Christ will return to complete his task of renewal throughout all creation. If we are looking to Christ, we can hang on to our hope despite the difficult circumstances that we may face.

The Pain of Consequences

Every one of us cries out for justice. When evil and injustice prosper, we begin to feel angry. It often appears that people get away with their selfish and wicked deeds. But in reality God will judge all wicked actions. Those who openly defy him will ultimately face the awful consequences of their sin. Those who turn to God in repentance for forgiveness need not fear the future day of judgment. Judgment is an awful thing, and the pain of sin’s consequences should motivate us to turn our lives over to God and obediently follow his plan.

Justice Belongs to God

Being in recovery does not release us from our sense of justice. As we deal with the wrongs we have done, we may feel that others are not dealing with theirs and that we have legitimate grudges to harbor. While these feelings are natural, they are not godly and endanger our recovery. The book of Revelation makes it clear that justice belongs to God; he alone has the right to avenge the wrongs of others. What’s more, he alone has the power to change their lives. Anger and bitterness make recovery more difficult than it already is. Part of giving our life and our will over to God is releasing the bitterness we feel toward others.

**This lesson is adapted from the NIV Spiritual Renewal Study Bible and the KJV Life Recovery Bible**