It is important to read the Bible, but HOW do you read the Bible? Find a random page and point to a verse? Chapter by chapter in a certain book? Following a devotional book that jumps from topic to topic? Word studies? Doctrine studies? Topical studies? Understand a passage in the Bible ids all about context of who wrote it, where it is in the Bible, what precedes or comes after the passage, and letting the passage drive the message rather than seeking support for what we already believe.
Listening to the God Who Speaks: Theology may be intimidating but it is all about “God Talk.” It’s about the knowledge of God. A couple of problems with theology include:
- Christians can’t agree on details of theology, so why bother?
- Doctrine divides, mission unites.
- Studying theology waits time we could be telling people about Jesus.
- Theology fills us with pride: we are to love people not correct their doctrine.
Since God is the one who has revealed himself to us through the Bible, what can we know about him?
God Spoke Creation into Existence: When God speaks, things happen (Genesis 1:3, 5, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, Psalm 33:6, 9, Hebrews 11:3). Our God is powerful and spoken words brought things into existence.
God Speaks His People into Existence: God reveals himself to his people (Genesis 12:1-3, Ezekiel 37:1-11). God creates people anew through his Word.
God Reveals Himself Through Speaking: What we know about God is through what he has revealed and spoken (Exodus 33:18-19, 34:6-7, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Through his self-revelation and people writing it down, we know about God’s character, desires, plans, and mission for the church.
Listening to the God Who Speaks: When we hear him speak, are we listening for what to do with what we hear? In the Bible we read about the wonderful things he has done for us in Christ. Theology is really the careful listening to and reflecting on what God said, in order to respond rightly in our lives.
The Lifeblood of the Church: This is not the books, Bibles, classrooms, lectures, and sermons. Theology is also not a sideshow in the church, limited to an occasional seminar or class.
Theology is for Life: To get healthy, we feed on God’s Word. Theology is not just information on a page but becomes our marching orders in this life (Romans 12:1-2). Read the theology of Ephesians 1-3 and immediately after the lessons comes the practical application of Ephesians 4-6. How are we to be imitators of God and how should walk in this life (Ephesians 5:1-2)? Truth is for transformation. Listen and follow.
The Lifeblood of the Church: Breaking news, it is theology. What is a requirement of a pastor (Titus 1:9-10)? Upon what does Paul insist (Titus 3:4-8)? Sound doctrine is the bread and butter of the church. This makes the church different from any other social gathering. We are not a club, we have a mission and a textbook (Colossians 3:16-17). We come together to worship God and to build up one another. Theology spills over into everyday life. We help each other grow into maturity (Ephesians 4:16).
The Greatest Story that Ever Happened: The Bible is a big book, so where do we start? The Bible is not like reading a novel but it is a running narrative; the scarlet thread through it all is Jesus. God is revealing himself through the whole Bible, leading his people toward the cross and redemption of mankind. This is one epic story.
The Grand Overview of the Bible: Jesus is on every page… (Acts 7:2-53, 13:16-47)
- Historical Books: the beginnings, creation, choosing a people, God interacting with his people, and how sin earned God’s judgment.
- Wisdom Literature: how to rightly relate to God and live in a world broken by sin and brightened by God’s promises.
- The Prophets: these convict the people of sin and point them toward God’s future provision of salvation and restoration, and how God will save the nations.
- The Gospels: these are the stories of Jesus and how God provided the Messiah to fulfill the prophetic expectations for his people. The story of Jesus tells us about the sin-bearing Messiah Deliverer, and the death and resurrection of Jesus. These books present the teaching and example of the sinless one who came as a ransom for the world.
- The Acts: how the story spread cross the empire and how the church was birthed, established, and grew.
- The Epistles: these letter teach believers how to live out their faith in a world that opposes the gospel.
- The Revelation: like the prophetic books of the Old Testament, this one reveals that which is hidden, and what will happen in the future, bringing eternal destinies to fruition for the righteous and the wicked.
What Difference Does the Story Make? Since the Bible is one interconnected story, how we interpret it and apply it to life is of utmost importance (Luke 24:25-27, 47, John 5:39, 2 Corinthians 1:20). The Bible is the main witness to God’s saving work in Christ and invites us into that story. This book is much more than a divine rule book, but the story of how God redeems us from sin and death.
Living Inside the Bible Story: While the Bible is not about us, it is certainly FOR us, and we are to live within that story. Future promises are OUR promises. The Bible explains why things are the way they are. We see God’s plan for salvation throughout the pages. From Genesis to the Revelation, this is about new creation and how to be saved from the effects of fallen humanity.
The Best News Ever Told: At the heart of every story is a bit of good news, the best news. The gospel means good news. Why is this good news?
Gospel Confusion: Even among fellows believers, they don’t agree on what the gospel really is.
- A message on how to live a better life.
- The message of God wanting to be your friend.
- That God wants us to be happy, healthy, and wealthy.
- That God wants us to transform the world through us.
The Gospel in HD: We don’t have to figure out what the gospel is, God tells us in the Bible. Here is the best definition ever (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Note the phrase, “first importance.”
- The gospel is missional: it was preached to others.
- The gospel is Christological: it’s about Jesus, notice the words HE.
- The gospel is Scriptural: notice the phrase, “according to the Scriptures.”
- The gospel is Theological: notice the he “died for our sins” bringing salvation and reconciliation.
- The gospel is Historical: Jesus appeared to many in this passage, it was an historical event.
- The gospel is Personal: notice the repeated word, YOU.
The Gospel at Work: How does one deal with sin in their life? How is one made right with a holy God? How does one share this good news with others?
Growing Gospel Fruit: How do we define fruit? Consider these types of fruit…
- Character (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Conduct (Philippians 1:11, Colossians 1:10)
- Contributions (Romans 15:28)
- Converts (John 4:36, Romans 1:13, 1 Corinthians 16:15, Colossians 1:6)
Growing Gospel Fruit in the Church: corporate fruit may look like this…
- The gospel grows forgiveness: (Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 18:21-35).
- The gospel grows unity: (Philippians 2:1-11).
- The gospel grows generosity (2 Corinthians 8:8-9)
- The gospel plants seeds: through preaching, teaching, worship, and discipleship.