Friday, December 14, 2018

Those Around the Birth: A Study of the People in the Nativity Story (Session 1 - Zechariah and Elizabeth)


The Bible is full of wonderful stories about people who demonstrated qualities that we should either follow or avoid. And although most of us have heard the stories, we’re less familiar with the people. To address this, during the next few years, we’ll offer both messages and studies that focus on the men and women who played a crucial role in the Bible. We started our biblical “who’s who” Bible study series, by looking at the people we associate with the birth of Christ. Our first session dealt with Zechariah and Elizabeth.

A podcast of the discussion is below.







Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Living in the Fast Lane: A Study of the Letters of Peter and Jude (Session 1 - Introduction to First Peter)

During this nine-session series, we'll look at the letters of Peter and Jude and consider how they might help us live in our hectic world. Below is the passage we looked at during our first session.

1 Peter 1:1-12

Image result for apostle peterPeter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look!


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Heaven and Hell (Session 6 – The Resurrection: God’s Promise of Life Aft...

Heaven & Hell (Session 6 – The Resurrection: God’s Promise of Life After Death)

During this seven-session series, we're dealing with the nature of life after death. Below is an outline and podcast of our sixth discussion when we discussed the general resurrection of the dead.

Dissension within the Judeo-Christian Tradition
  • There were groups within the Jewish tradition that didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead.
  • Jews who considered the writing and prophets inspired accepted a general resurrection. 
    • Job 14:14-15 - If mortals die, will they live again? All the days of my service I would wait until my release should come. You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands.
    • Daniel 12:2 - Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
  • The earliest Christians were Jews.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • The resurrection of the Jesus Christ is a pivotal event within the church.
  • The resurrection was presented as an event in history.
  • The resurrection of Jesus points toward the general resurrection.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:12-28 - Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.
  • The nature of what’s raised is different.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:35-55 - But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
  • Paul believe this message should offer comfort to Christians.
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Heaven & Hell (Session 5 – Is Heaven God’s Reward for the Righteous?)

During this seven-session series, we're dealing with the nature of life after death. Below is an outline and podcast of our fifth discussion when we discussed Heaven.

Related imageHeaven in Our Dreams
  • Within Christianity, the description of Heaven varies. 
  • The popular belief is that people enter heaven when they die. 
  • Heaven would make a general resurrection of the dead confusing. 
Heaven in the Bible
  • The Greek word for heaven can have three locative meanings, as follows: 
    • The Place of God 
    • The Place of Stars and Planets
    • The Surrounding Air
  • According to Matthew, God’s rule is called the Kingdom of Heaven.
Questions Related to Heaven
  • Did Elijah go to heaven?
  • The Thief on the Cross 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Heaven & Hell (Session 4 – Will a Loving God Punish People Forever in Hell?)

During this seven-session series, we're dealing with the nature of life after death. Below is an outline and podcast of our fourth discussion when we discussed the nature of Hell.

Hell in Church Traditions
  • The idea of Hell has been present in the church since Tertullian and Cyprian. It’s also present in the confession from the Council of Constantinople, the Lateran church council, and the Augsburg Confession. 
  • Teachings on the subject of Hell have been inconsistent. 
  • This view of Hell led to the view of an angry God. 
Hell in the Bible
  • There’s four different Hebrew and Greek words translated “Hell” in the English Bible.
    • Sheol/Hades
    • Tartaroo
    • Gehenna 
  • Fire is an important image related to the end.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Heaven & Hell (Session 3 - The Biblical Truth About the Immortal Soul)

During this seven-session series, we're dealing with the nature of life after death. Below is an outline and podcast of our third discussion when we discussed what the Bible has to say about the immortality of the soul.

The Role of Greek Philosophy
  • The words “immortal” and “soul” never appear together in the Bible.
  • Plato taught that the body was temporal but the soul was eternal.
  • Plato’s view of the physical and spiritual influenced his view of life and death.
  • Plato’s view of the physical and spiritual influenced early Christianity.
The Soul/Nephesh in Hebrew scriptures
  • Genesis 1:20-23 – And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
  • Genesis 1:24-25 – And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
  • Genesis 2:7 –  then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 
  • Ezekiel 18:19-20 – Yet you say, “Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?” When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own.
  • Ecclesiastes 9:5 – The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost.
The Soul/Psyche in the New Testament
Image result for resurrection of the body
  • Matthew 10:26-31 –  “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
  • Romans 6:22-23 –  But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Philippians 3:18-19 – For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 –  But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.