Beginning With the Scripture

Acts 8:26-35 (emphasis on the last words of verse 35)

We read in this passage of a man who first had a willingness to learn more from the what? The Bible. Where, above any dictionary or encyclopedia or website, do we attain the best information there is to gain?Where is it we find the ways to live so that we can enjoy an eternity of bliss? The Bible.

As Christians, we have been given the amazing chance to be a part of the greatest plan that has ever existed; spreading the truth of what the Bible has to say to the world is just that. Isn’t it? But do we do it without ceasing and with the eagerness and readiness that we read Phillip with? If God, with His magnificent voice spoke to you, the way He did to Phillip, would your immediate action be to get up, go, and run for the opportunity to study?

We may say, “Well I don’t know about running, but I’d get there eventually!”  Shouldn’t show the enthusiasm of spreading the knowledge of the Bible the way Phillip did? What would you consider to say to a man or women who had a question about the Bible? Where would we turn to find the answer? 2 Timothy 2:15 says we should study to show ourselves ready. Does this mean just for when we’re at church? Or just when we’re at Bible class? The answer is obvious. This means we should strive to know our Bible, our life’s guidelines, enough to able to answer any question for any one, or at least know where to find the answer! Often there are people who’s willingness to dive into their spiritual life’s development is not matched with their knowledge of how to do so. If we recall what the eunuch asked Phillip, in verse 31, we notice what many people deal with in this society.

Acts 18:24-28

It would not have been possible for the example Apollos sets to have been so significant if he had first not been familiar with the Scriptures as Acts 18:24 tells us . If our lives begin with the Scripture, we have an endless amount of opportunities to grow in our faith and spiritual strength.

When we think of the questions, “How does this apply to our life?” and “How does it apply to our Bible study?” we could answer those with another question, “How could it not?” This characteristic of our Christian life should be made a pillar! Beginning with a knowledge of the Scripture, making it a priority to know the Bible before we act, is what separates us from those who teach and practice false doctrine. Can we think of any occupation today that doesn’t require some type of knowledge beforehand? Of course not. How could we then, with the responsibility of saving souls from this world by teaching them the things in this Book, be able to do so without knowing the things in that book?

People may ask, “Well how do I learn all of that stuff, isn’t the amount overwhelming?” By submerging oneself into His Word in a willing manner and letting His Words prick the innermost part the heart, a person will gain the understanding of why a desire to stay connected with what has been preserved for thousands of years is so crucial to our faith. It may be a lot, but when we take into consideration the importance and affect the Bible has on the world, and on the eternity of the people we teach it to, it’s clear why the amount of material it contains isn’t insignificant.

In the passage we read earlier, it would seem that Apollos made the Scriptures a part of his life. Taking the message that the Scripture holds into the world requires a commitment to it that is and should be unparalleled by anything else that could occupy our time. In regards to what most of us title the Great Commission, our marching orders given to us by Jesus are “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19&20) In order to follow through with this command, a prior knowledge of what God has put in our hands is what’s essential to do so effectively.

Scriptures and Thoughts: “Faith”

Definitions of Faith
Biblical definition of “faith”: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. [Hebrews 11:1-3 NASB]

Webster’s definition of “faith”: firm belief in something for which there is no proof; something that is believed especially with strong conviction 

Translations:
Greek translation of the word “faith”: πίστις (pistis): faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness.

Hebrew concepts of the word “faith”: ‘Ᾱman: reliability, stability, firmness
‘āman-hiphil: to be certain, sure; to be assured
‘āman-niphal: to be true, reliable, faithful

Thoughts

“Faith” is a word and concept that has been spoken and re-spoken throughout time. From the first of man to the present age, this word and concept has been an active part of humanity. From Abel to Apollos, people’s faiths have shaped the history of Christianity, and has set a foundation for the faithful followers of today. Whether a person is referring to its meaning in its noun form or its meaning as a descriptive characteristic, if the individual that reflects on himself or herself can confidently say that they hold both meanings in their actions and thoughts, then that person is blessed indeed. When our attention is directed by Paul to Abraham in Romans 4, as he (being Abraham) is remembered as one of the ultimate examples of both having faith and living faithfully, the point is made that without faith, the promise of righteousness would not have been granted to him and those who were to be born under his faith. Other examples in the Old Testament provide like points of having faith in the Lord: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Daniel in the den of lions; and Hosea in regards to his relationship with Gomer. Such a concept of significance is faith. How can we do this word justice by studying it without taking into consideration several perspectives?

What is faith?
(Hebrews 11:1) “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

(2 Corinthians 5:6-8) “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

(Ephesians 2:8-10) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

What does it mean to have a faith the size of a mustard seed?

Mustard seed parable about the Kingdom: (Matthew 13:31-32) (also Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19)

“31 He presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of theair come and nest in its branches.’”

Mustard seed parables about faith: (Luke 17:5-6)
“5 The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and be planted in the sea”; and it would obey you.’”

(Matthew 21:21) “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” it will happen.’”
– It means anything is possible
(Mark 9:21-25) And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.”

(Mark 10:27) 27 “Looking at them, Jesus said, ‘With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’”
(Hebrews 11:17-19) “17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son18 it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called.’ 19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.”

How is faith more than mere intellectual consent?
(Hebrews 11:3) “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

(Hebrews 11:6) “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

(James 2:19-26) “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?22You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,’ and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

Is faith all I need to be saved?

See verses in James in question above.  “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

How do we reconcile this with:

(Ephesians 2:8-10) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Should we have blind faith?

(Proverbs 3:5-7) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”

(Matthew 26:39) “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’”

Do we need evidence to have faith?
(Romans 1:18-21) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

(1 Corinthians 1:20-25) “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

(1 Corinthians 2:4-6) “and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

How can we grow in our faith?

(James 1:2-4) Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(Romans 10:17) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Does God answer prayers in proportion to faith?

(Isaiah 59:1-2) “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

(2 Chronicles 7:13-14) “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

(James 1:5-7) “5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

(James 4:3) “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

(James 5:16) Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
(1 Peter 5:7) “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

(Matthew 21:20-22) 20Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

(Matthew 7:11) “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

How can we use wisdom in allowing our faith/children’s faith to be tested?

 

Scriptures and Thoughts about: Proclaim

Old Testament concepts:
To cry out (as the prophets)
To call upon one (often God) for help
To read aloud, or to appoint, or to be summoned

New Testament:
Kerusso – “to be a herald, to officiate as a herald; to proclaim after the manner of a herald, always with the suggestion of formality, gravity, and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed; to publish, proclaim openly something which has been done; used of the public proclamation of the Gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles, and other Christian teachers.”
Does everyone have a responsibility to proclaim the gospel?

(Matthew 5:16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

(Matthew 28:16-20) “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

(Mark 16:15-16) “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.’”

(Acts 8:3-4) “But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”

(Acts 4:29-31) “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

(Matthew 9:37-38) Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

(Isaiah 6:8) And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Is it okay to have a “paid” and “located” preacher?

(1 Corninthians 9:8-18) I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. 15But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

(2 Corinthians 11:8-9) I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.

(Philippians 4:16) For even while I was in Thessalonica, you provided for my needs once and again.

(Acts 18:11) And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

(Acts 19:8-10) And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

(Acts 20:31) “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.

Is it okay NOT to have a “paid” or “located” preacher?

See references for question above.  Also:

(Acts 18:3) and he stayed and worked with them because they were tentmakers by trade, just as he was.

(1 Thessalonians 2:9) For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

(2 Thessalonians 3:8) nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. Instead, in labor and toil, we worked night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you.

(1 Timothy 5:17) The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 

Does the presence of a paid or located preacher relieve the other church members of some of the responsibility to proclaim?

(2 Timothy 4:1-5) I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 

(2 Timothy 2:2) The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

(Luke 12:8) “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,

(Colossians 4:6) Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

(Proverbs 11:30) The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.

To what extent is the “preacher” in a recognized leadership position in the church?

Consider various elements of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus

(2 Timothy 4:5) As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.


(1 Timothy 4:11-16) 11Prescribe and teach these things. 12Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 13Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

(Ephesians 4:11-12) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

There are no qualifications given in scripture, does this have any bearing on the question?

Why is “evangelism” scary and how can we overcome our fears?

Evangelism is from the same word as gospel, and means good news.  What is so scary about sharing good news?

(Acts 4:29-31) “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

(Romans 1:14-17) I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

(Romans 10:14) How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

(1 Corinthians 1:21) For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

Is there a method of proclaiming that you prefer?

(1 Corinthians 9:22) To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 

(1 Peter 3:15) But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

What can we learn from the illustration of a “herald?”

(2 Corinthians 5:20) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

(1 Corinthians 2:13) And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

“I am under obligation” – Romans 1

“All authority has been given to me… therefore go…” – great commission

(2 Timothy 4:1-4) 1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

(1 Timothy 4:13) Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.

Is street preaching effective?  Should we do it?

(Proverbs 1:20) Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square;…

(Acts 17:2) And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

(Acts 19:9-10) But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

(Acts 17:16-22) 16Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20“For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21(Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) 22So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said

Do Not Be Arrogant

When Paul wrote his letter to the church in Rome, he had to spend a good deal of effort helping the Jews to overcome the pride and arrogance that could blind them to the true beauty of Christ. It was an unfortunate irony that their rich heritage of religious practices and the cherishing of scriptures might actually work against their ability to obey the gospel.

For one thing, many of the Jews thought that simply being Jewish guaranteed them God’s favor. This led Paul to ask two specific questions designed to help them realize the important distinction between a) conditions favorable to spiritual growth and b) inherent spiritual superiority.

The first question, found in Romans 3:1 is this: “What advantage has the Jew?” and the answer given is “Great in every respect.”

The second question, in verse 9, is this: “What then? Are we better than they?” and the answer given is an emphatic “not at all.”

Notice the specific differences in the wordings of these two questions, for within their subtleties lie the unraveling of the Jew’s false sense of superiority.

The first question, “what advantage has the Jew?” asks simply what special and unique blessings have been enjoyed by the Jewish people. And indeed, there were a great many blessings that the Jews had received. As Paul states in verse 2, “they were entrusted with the oracles of God.” That is to say, that the typical Jewish person grows up hearing and memorizing God’s prophecies concerning His Son and His cosmic scheme of redemption.

The second question, “Are we better than they?” asks not simply what special blessings the Jews have received, but whether or not they are inherently more valuable to God or more worthy of His grace.

The implication is clear, Jews have been favored by God in the sense that He has blessed them with conditions favorable to spiritual growth, but He has most certainly not favored them in the sense of making them ethically, morally, or spiritually superior simply for being a Jew.

Now apply this to your own situation. Perhaps God has blessed you with conditions favorable to receptivity. We a individuals have been blessed with some or all of the following:
• Living in a country with religious freedom.
• Living in a country where Christianity is common.
• Having access to a Bible.
• Being born into a Christian family.
• Being reached out to and taught the gospel by a Christian.
• Attending a church that studies the Bible thoroughly.
• Having a heritage in the Restoration Movement.

We must not make the same mistakes that many of the Jews were making.

We must not, for instance, assume that simply because our church has its roots and heritage in the Restoration Movement, that God will accept us regardless of our specific individual and congregational actions and decisions. Simply having “Church of Christ” on a sign guarantees us nothing. Actually being Biblical in practice is essential.

We must also realize that we are not Biblical Christians because we are just so much wiser or more spiritual than the billions of other people on this earth, but in large part because God has blessed us with conditions that are favorable to our spiritual growth. Had we been born in another country, or another family, or another century, we might not have received the blessings that have brought us to the understanding of the truth that we have today. This realization should result in humility, not arrogance.

100 Facts about the Church of the Bible

100 facts about Christ’s church as demonstrated in the book of Acts.
From a 7 month bible study at the church of Christ in Mankato.

Chapter 1

  • Is a people who is waiting.
  • Is a people who have unity despite their differences.
  • Is devoted to praying together.
  • Trusts in God to guide them.

Chapter 2

  • Teaches the truth about repentance.
  • Teaches the truth about baptism.
  • Is supportive of one another.
  • Spends time together often throughout the week if possible.

Chapter 3

  • Has more to offer than the world would ever imagine.
  • Points out the sins of the world, yet with gentleness.
  • Takes every opportunity to share the gospel.

Chapter 4

  • Sometimes teaches a message that the governing authorities do not endorse.
  • Maintains the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ only.
  • Is full of members who are bold proclaimers of the word of God. 

Chapter 5

  • Has its own scandals, but handles them appropriately.
  • Has favor with outsiders.
  • Is protected and aided by God.

 Chapter 6

  • Takes care of its widows.
  • Has a leadership devoted to the Word and prayer.
  • Appoints men to serve in various capacities.

 Chapter 7

  • Has members who really know the Bible.
  • Is sometimes slandered falsely.
  • Is willing to die for Christ.
  • Is amazingly forgiving.

Chapter 8

  • Is sometimes physically persecuted.
  • Must not be corrupted by money.
  • Conducts one on one Bible studies resulting in baptism.

Chapter 9

  • Should not write someone off, assuming they could never come to Christ.
  • Is called to accept and encourage all who would receive the truth.
  • Sometimes gains its most powerful evangelists in its most drastic conversions.

 Chapter 10

  • Has godly women who continually show kindness.
  • Is no longer under Mosaic dietary restrictions.
  • Is open to all people, Jews and Gentiles.

 Chapter 11

  • Is not “set in its ways” so that it cannot learn new information.
  • Are known as “Christians.”
  • Sends men to preach wherever there is a need.
  • Collects money to send to brethren in need.

 Chapter 12

  • Is affected by the senseless whims of an unstable world.
  • Gathers in each other’s homes to pray.
  • Sometimes cannot believe what God is doing.
  • Is sometimes under a wicked government, yet still grows.

 Chapter 13

  • Combines prayer and fasting.
  • Boldly condemns false teaching.
  • Preaches an interesting message.
  • Shakes the dust from its feet.

 Chapter 14

  • Can become the center of public controversy.
  • May have charismatic leaders, but they are only human.
  • Suffers many tribulations.
  • Has elders in every church.

 Chapter 15

  • Doesn’t automatically know everything.
  • Seeks God’s help in uncovering truth.
  • Sometimes has quitters.

 Chapter 16

  • Connects the old and the young.
  • Has women that convert their families.
  • Emphasizes the urgency of baptism.
  • Uses the status of its members for good.

 Chapter 17

  • Reasons from the scriptures.
  • Searches the scriptures daily to see if teachings are accurate.
  • Speaks to outsiders in a language they can understand.

 Chapter 18

  • Has both “vocational” and full time ministers.
  • Has individuals with incomplete knowledge.
  • Is gentle in correcting the genuinely mistaken.
  • Uses scripture as its authority on all matters.

 Chapter 19

  • Is concerned with the details of baptism.
  • Comes in congregations of all sizes.
  • May find more open hearts among the “pagans” than the religious.
  • Confesses sin and repents.
  • Operates in a crazy world.

 Chapter 20

  • Gathers on the first day of the week to break bread.
  • Is overseen by elders, who shepherd the church.
  • Must be on the alert for troublemakers.
  • Builds emotionally powerful relationships.

Chapter 21

  • Has counted the cost.
  • Is universal, even as individual congregations are autonomous.
  • Must be careful to get the whole story before jumping to conclusions.

Chapter 22

  • Shares its personal stories.
  • Has its sins washed away in baptism.
  • Will encounter individuals who are blinded by emotion.

Chapter 23

  • Does not violate its conscience, but does not think it is infallible either.
  • Respects those in authority.
  • Weathers the storms of outside groups in turmoil.
  • Has important roles for young people.

Chapter 24

  • May be falsely accused.
  • Has much in common even with those outside the faith.
  • Refrains from unjust practices.
  • Can make people uncomfortable.

Chapter 25

  • Will always have enemies.
  • Will always be a minority.
  • May be perceived by the world as boring or unimportant.
  • Must be patient and wait on God’s timing.

Chapter 26

  • Is unashamed of its belief.
  • Repents in deed, not only in word.
  • Makes a clear and personal evangelistic appeal.

Chapter 27

  • Issues a warning that is sometimes ignored.
  • Earns respect as time reveals the truthfulness of its message.
  • Becomes the natural leader in times of turmoil.

Chapter 28

  • Develops positive relationships with its neighbors.
  • Sometimes gets special opportunities to make an appeal to the lost.
  • Convinces some and loses others.
  • Makes the best of circumstances that are less than ideal.church-206650_640

An Outline of the Book of Romans

Colosseum in Rome
The following is an overview of Romans based on our weekly Sunday Morning Bible Study at Mankato Church of Christ from June-July, 2015.

Introduction.
Paul addresses himself to the Romans and expresses a desire to come see them. (1:1-17)

 No one is justified by works.
The world is a dark place, spiraling downward into sin. (1:18-32)
Even “good, moral people” fall short. (2:1-29)
Being a Jew does have some advantages, but NO ONE has the ability to justify himself to God based on his own merits. (3:1-20)

We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus.
Salvation is made available to us through Jesus Christ. (3:21-5:21)
It is a gracious salvation, it is not deserved. (3:21-5:21)
We access it by faith. (3:21-5:21)
Faith is a trust in God despite discouraging circumstances, and is completed and evidenced by obedience. (4:18-25, James 2:14-26)

We are not only justified, but also sanctified.
This salvation is not merely forgiveness, so that we may continue in sin that grace may abound. It is also comprised of a transformation, as we die to sin and are set free from our slavery to it. (6:1-23)

How and why the Old Law has been done away with.
How can Jews simply lay aside the Old Covenant law code? Because they died to it when they died with Christ, that the law of the Spirit might replace it. (7:1-6)
Are we saying that the law is bad? Not at all, but that sin has used it to ruin us. We are in desperate need of Jesus Christ, not merely the law, to solve this problem. (7:7-25)

Sanctification by the power of the Spirit.
It must remain amply clear that living according to the flesh still leads to death, even under this new covenant. (8:1-13)
Walking not according to the flesh but in righteousness is achieved by following, setting the mind on, and being indwelled by God’s Spirit. It is a matter not merely or rule keeping, but of inward change. (8:1-8:27)

What a glorious plan God has made, that He should justify us to Himself, that Christ Himself would not condemn, that having given us His Son, God would also give us all that we need. (8:26-39)

God is not breaking any promises to Israel.
God always knew that not all Hebrews would be saved, and that the Gentiles would come in, and has spoken accordingly through the prophets. (9:1-33)
The invitation is certainly open to all Jews, since Christ is the fulfillment of Judaism. (10:1-11:6)
Gentiles ought not to be arrogant about this, for though God may use them to make the Jews jealous, He can just as easily remove them from the plan if they display unbelief. (Romans 11:7-36)

Therefore, give your life to God.
In light of this doctrine, your service and your sacrifice to God is to give your life to Him. (12:1-2)

Your relationships with fellow Christians should be mutually edifying. (12:3-13)
You should treat your enemies with kindness rather than revenge. (12:14-21)
You should be in subjection to your government. (13:1-7)
All of your relationships are to be governed by the law: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. (13:8-14)

Do not judge your fellow Christians over matters of personal opinion. (14:1-12)
Avoid causing a brother to stumble by your actions, even if those actions are not inherently sinful. (14:13-23) 

Closing thoughts and reminders
Accept and edify each other. (15:1-12)
Paul’s expression of personal joy at the success of the congregation and the salvation of the gentiles (15:13-21) and reaffirmation that Paul wants to visit. (15:22-33)
Warning about those who cause divisions. (16:17-20)

Greetings to many diverse Christian brethren. (16:1-16, 21-24) 

All glory to God through Jesus Christ. (16:25-27)