Week One Discussion Board Thread Instructions
Squares, Triangles, Circles, and Hearts:
After reading the assigned chapters in Everyday Bible Study (Chapters 1-5), identify the following items:
- Squares: 4 ideas that, in general, square (fit) with your thinking
- Triangles: 3 angles you have never considered before
- Circles: 2 questions that are circling in your mind
- Hearts: 1 idea that you loved.
Once you have identified these 10 items, list and explain them in a thread. Your full thread should contain at least one quote from Everyday Bible Study to support the thoughts and ideas you are presenting. Your thread should be at least 400 words in length. For an example of this type of thread, please see the provided example in the Course Content folder.
Book – EVERYDAY BIBLE STUDY
Growing in the Christian Faith
by John Cartwright and Chris Hullshof
How to Look at the Bible
Chapter 1 Looking at the Bible Theologically
A Theological Definition of the Bible
The Bible is Gods story about his plan to rescue, redeem, and restore what was lost in the fall of humanity. In Gods plan and through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the relationship between God and humanity has been restored. This restoration is personally applied by the work of the Holy Spirit to the heart of an individual. It is a work that leads the individuals to respond in faith, repent of their sin, and profess faith in Jesus Christ as the savior. Lets consider this definition more closely.
The Bible Is Gods Story
The Bible is first and foremost the story of God. He is its author and the main character. To read and study the Bible with another presumption of authorship and character is to create a story line that does not fit the framework of the text. Understanding the Bible as Gods story implies two important conclusions.
First, the Bible is a story. More specifically, the Bible is a book of stories that are woven together to tell one complete story. It is essential to remember this as you study the Scriptures in their various genres. This may not be difficult as you are reading through the history of Israel, the life of Christ, or the events of the early church. It will be more challenging to remember the overarching storyline of the Bible when you are considering proverbs, laws, and parables.
Second, the Bible is Gods story. Rightly taking this approach to Scripture will place us in an appropriate relationship to the text. We are not the principal or even supporting characters in the Bible. This is one of the dangers of adopting a life verse mentality regarding the biblical text. When we do this, we replace the centrality of God in his own story with our own motives, desires, or plans. We have moved ourselves to the central character slot and have moved God to the supporting cast member role. The Bible is Gods story. He is its primary character. Through each person, law, psalm, proverb, or prophecy, God is drawing attention to himself and what he is doing as he works out his plan.
About His Plan
Gods story details his plan. There should be a certain level of comfort in those five words. When we read the Bible, we are not reading a recap of a supreme being who is making it up on the fly. Instead, we are reading the plan of God as he works his will out in the lives of the numerous characters of the Bible. There are no random personalities, events, or circumstances. There are no unexpected situations. None of the actions recorded in the Bible caught God by surprise. Each word of Scripture is designed to move the plan forward in a way that glorifies God and points to Christ.
It may be challenging to think through Scripture in these terms because we are so used to our plans going astray. We dream, hope, and strategize only to be caught off guard by something we did not foresee happening. As a result, we move to plan B or plan C as a way to accomplish only a fraction of what we had originally intended. Our failure to execute our plan stretches our minds to consider a God who is sovereign over the affairs of his creation. His rule and reign are not reactionary in nature. It underscores his purposeful plan to bring his created world back into a proper relationship with him.
To Rescue, Redeem, and Restore What Was Lost in the Fall of Humanity
What is the basic purpose of Gods plan as it is revealed in his story? Gods plan is to fix what was broken when Adam and Eve disobeyed Gods instructions. His plan is to rescue, redeem, and restore all that was lost through this rebellious act.
First, Gods story reveals his plan to rescue humanity. The condition of every human being is one of lostness. We are desperately and hopelessly lost because of the actions of our first parentsAdam and Eveand our own willful sin. This lostness means that we are incapable of rescuing or saving ourselves. In fact, the more we attempt to save ourselves, the worse we make things. This is because our self-rescue efforts highlight our belief that we are strong enough, smart enough, and self-sufficient enough to fix the error of our ways. However, Gods plan reveals that the help we need must come from outside of ourselves rather than from inside of ourselves. If our rescue is to be successful, God will need to do the rescuing.
Second, the plan of God is to redeem the lost. In Ephesians, Paul wrote, in him we have redemption through his blood (Eph 1:7). In this short phrase, he has articulated our need and the accomplishment that meets this need. All have sinned and are in need of redemption. This redemption can only be accomplished through the bloodthe sacrificial deathof Jesus Christ. In his commentary on Ephesians, John MacArthur notes that in Eph 1:7, Paul highlights the idea of a ransom being paid to a captor. He rightly points out that we are enslaved to sin, the captor of mankind. However, God has set out to redeem fallen man: Biblical redemption refers to the act of God by which he Himself paid as a ransom the price for our sin. With all this in mind, we can see that Gods plan reveals we are terribly lost and in need of rescue. Our lostness comes with a price. In order to be set free, to be redeemed, a price must be paid. As slaves to sin, we ourselves cannot pay this price. Thus God willingly pays the price to free us. He redeems us and sets us free from sin.
Third, Gods plan goes beyond rescuing and redeeming. His desire is to restore the relationship and fellowship he had with human beings in the garden of Eden. He does not rescue and redeem us simply to leave us on our own. Rather, he desires to restore what was lost. Those who have trusted God should find great comfort in the restoration of God. He is not simply saving us, setting us free, and then begrudgingly accepting us. Instead, he has purposefully set in motion a plan to restore the bond he had with his children before it was severed through sin.
Through the Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ
God accomplishes his plan through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we focus only on certain aspects of the life of Christ. Every December, we may read, think, and talk about the importance of the birth of Jesus Christ. We set up manger scenes and reflect gratefully on what it means that Jesus came to Earth as a helpless baby. We return to the Christmas stories recorded in Matthew and Luke and are drawn into the wonder of Gods Word and the fulfilled promise of a Messiah. As winter turns to spring, we are reminded of the approaching Easter Sunday. We consider the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We read the passion narratives and are again astounded that the Son of God would offer his life for sinful human beings. We attend a Good Friday service and take communion. The bread and the cup impress upon us the depth of Christs sacrifice and the weighty remedy of Gods plan. As Friday turns to Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life. Life is more meaningful because death has been defeated. We anticipate our own resurrection one day, and we remind ourselves of this hope in light of friends and family members who have preceded us in death.
Unfortunately, for many Christians, Christmas and Easter are the only times they truly reflect on the life and work of Jesus Christ. The Christmas season leads to a quiet reflection on Christ coming to Earth as a helpless baby. Easter serves a reminder of his sacrifice and victory for us. There is little contemplation about the theological significance of his sinless life. Instead, any focus on Christs life is directed to his teachings, his miracles, and the parables he told. When we dive into each of these elements, it is only to mine them for practical significance or personal spiritual success. Thus we fail to realize the theological significance of the sinless life of Christ.
We are unable to live the kind of life required by God. We cannot live a life of total obedience at every turn and in every moment. In short, we are unrighteous. However, Jesus Christ can and did live the perfect and sinless life. He is righteous. In Christs death, God credits us with Christs righteous life. In this great exchange, we inherit his righteousness, and he takes our sin. The flawless life of Christ is significant to you and me as we daily walk in grace.
The same is true about Christs ascension. Sadly, the significance of this event is mostly lost on the average Christian. What does it mean to you that Christ ascended to heaven? At minimum, the ascension of Christ spotlights the fact that we have an intercessor who is in the presence of God on our behalf. It is Christ who pleads for us as we bring our confessions, prayers, and petitions to God. The Scriptures describe Satan as the accuser of our brothers and sisters (Rev 12:10). The one who provides an answer to those accusations is Jesus Christ. Where Satan accuses, Christ intercedes on our behalf. The importance of Christs ascension should not be lost on the believer. It is another aspect of Christs work that has a daily impact for each and every Christian.
The Relationship between God and Humanity Has Been Restored
What is the intended outcome of Gods plan? The outcome of Gods plan was to restore the relationship between him and the crown of his creation, human beings. The relationship that was severed in the garden was restored through the life and work of Jesus Christ. We could easily assume that, since we fractured the relationship, God is willing to restore it to its former significance. But this is not the case. While human beings are covenant breakers, God, the grand covenant keeper, remains faithful to the relationship he has restored. For believers, this means that God continually loves us. This love is not based on our ability to keep our promises to God. Rather, it is based on Christs ability to keep his promise to God. It is based not on our poor performance but on the perfect performance of Jesus Christ. The story of Gods plan, the Bible, shows us that through Christ Jesus we are loved by God, adopted as his sons and daughters, and declared heirs through God (Gal 4:7). [CartwrightHulshof (2019). (p. 7). Everyday Bible Study, Second Edition. Retrieved from https://app.wordsearchbible.lifeway.com]
Chapter 2 Looking at the Bible Contextually
History is not merely a thing of the pastit is always relevant, even today. If you know the history of a person or event, you will have a better understanding of that person or event. For example, imagine you have been asked to write about the issue of slavery that led to the Civil War. To write an effective paper, you would first want to look at the origins of the slave trade in North America before the nineteenth century. You would need to consider the economic motivators with respect to tobacco and cotton cropshow financial greed and the prospects of free labor motivated slave owners to resist efforts to make slave ownership illegal. And, of course, you could not ignore the historical events leading up to, during, and after the Civil War. In addition, you would not want to ignore the long history of events involving the slave trade that preceded the founding of the United States. To effectively discuss an event or topic, it is helpful and necessary to have a firm grasp on the historical context of that event or topic.
Take, for example, the popular Bible story of Daniel in the lions den. While it is an encouraging story about a man who trusts God when his life is in peril, many do not understand the historical background. If you know the history of this story, you can understand the circumstances that brought Daniel the Israelite to Babylon and how difficult it was for Daniel to choose to honor God in a hostile environment.
Bible study depends on a greater understanding of the whole Bible. This chapter establishes a chronology of the Bible in order to provide the historical context of each biblical book. By understanding this chapter, you will better understand where any particular book falls on the biblical storyline. This will enable you to see how the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments relate to each other. As you understand the historical contexts of each biblical book, you will better grasp their themes and emphases.
Old Testament History
As the two chronological charts below demonstrate (see further below for the New Testament chart), each testament of the Bible is composed of certain narrative books that cover its historical time line (the primary layer of books on the chart) and other books that take place somewhere inside of this historical time line (the secondary layer of books).
Genesis (and Job)
Genesis, which means beginnings, is the beginning of the story of the Bible and can be divided into two sections: chapters 111 and 1250. The first eleven chapters cover (among other things) the stories of creation, humanitys fall into sin, the flood, and the tower of Babel. Chapters 1250 cover the stories of the patriarchs of Israel. Here the reader encounters the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From Jacob came many sons who would eventually represent the tribes of Israel. Among these sons was Joseph, who was sold by his brothers into slavery and eventually became the second most powerful man in Egypt. Genesis ends with Joseph, his brothers, their families, and Jacob in Egypt. This is important because it explains why the people of Israel (the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) are in Egypt when the book of Exodus opens. Job, one of the most famous books of the Bible due to its focus on the sufferings of a righteous man, is believed to have taken place during the time period of Genesis.
Exodus (and Leviticus)
The first eighteen chapters of Exodus tell the story of Gods deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt. Included in these chapters are the stories of Mosess birth and the ten plagues upon Egypt. Chapters 1924 discuss Gods covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai and introduce the Ten Commandments (chapter 20). The third and final section of Exodus (chapters 2540) opens with Moses on the mountain, receiving Gods instructions for the tabernacle. At the same time, the people of Israel rebel against God and build a golden calf to worship. After Gods judgment on the people, followed by the renewal of the covenant, the tabernacle (Gods dwelling place) is constructed. While Leviticus overall is not a historical narrative like the book of Exodus, it does contain a few chapters (chs. 810) that fall into this category. It serves as a guide for how the people of God were to worship him and also discusses the fundamental categories of priesthood and atonement for sin that set the background for Christs sacrificial death.
Numbers (and Deuteronomy)
The book of Numbers explains how God prepared Israel to enter the Promised Land. The name of the book comes from the multiple censuses that Moses took of the people. Perhaps the most famous story is the account of the twelve Israelite spies sent to scout out the land of Canaan. Most of the spies feared the Canaanites and convinced the people that they could not take the land. As a result of Israels unbelief, God made Israel wander in the wilderness for forty years. The last section of Numbers describes the new generation of Israelites whom God prepared to take over the land he promised. Here we also learn about Mosess successor, Joshua. Deuteronomy means second law and includes a repetition of many of the laws included in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.
The next chronological book in the Old Testaments is Joshua. Here we learn about Joshuas leadership of the people of Israel. Beginning with the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, we read of Israels conquest of Canaan (both successes and failures) and the division of this land among Israels tribes.
Judges (and Ruth)
Judges is a record of the generations that followed the conquest of the land of Canaan. Often referred to as the cycle of Judges, the book includes a repeated story line. The Israelites would rebel against God, and God would punish their sinusually by allowing an enemy nation to subdue them. This judgment would be followed by Israels repentance and prayer to God, which would lead to God sending salvation at the hands of a judge (thus the name of the book). This deliverance would lead to a time of rest for the nation. But soon after, Israel would again fall into sin, and the cycle would repeat. The events of the book of Ruth take place during the time of the Judges. The book of Ruth provides a contrast of faithfulness against the backdrop of unfaithfulness seen in the book of Judges, and two of the main characters, Ruth and Boaz, are ancestors of David and ultimately Christ.
Up to this point, the nation of Israel has no king. But this changes with 1 Samuel. During this time, the Lord has the prophet Samuel anoint Saul as the first king of Israel. However, by the middle of the book, God has rejected Saul as king because of his disobedience. In the second half of the book, we read of Davids anointing as king, Davids victory over Goliath, Sauls jealous attempts to kill David, and the end of Sauls disastrous reign.
2 Samuel (and 1 Chronicles and Psalms)
The reign of King David is recounted in 2 Samuel. The first half of the book tells of Davids great successes, and the second half tells of his great failings. The pivotal event in the middle of this book is Davids adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband Uriah. One of the saddest events of this half of the book is the rebellion of Davids own son, Absalom. This rebellion was eventually defeated, but it cost Absalom his life. First Chronicles parallels the events of 2 Samuel. Almost half of the Psalms were written by King David.
1 Kings (and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon)
First Kings begins with the rule of King Solomon, the third and final king to rule over an undivided kingdom of Israel. The first half of the book describes Solomons reign. He is described as the wisest man to have ever lived and yet made some very unwise decisions including polygamy and idol worship. The second half of the book describes the division of the kingdom. The tribes of Benjamin and Judah formed the southern kingdom of Judah, while the remaining tribes made up the northern kingdom of Israel. King Solomon wrote the books of Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and (most of) Proverbs.
2 Kings (and 2 Chronicles)
In 2 Kings, readers see a dark period in which the two kingdoms are led by mostly evil kings. It is during this time, however, that God raised up the prophets to be his voice when the royal leadership failed. Both kingdoms were evil, but the northern kingdom was the worst of the two. In 722 BC, the Assyrians defeated the northern kingdom of Israel and carried the people into captivity. At the end of the book, in 586 BC, the southern kingdom of Judah is carried into exile by the forces of Babylon. Unlike their southern counterparts whose exile was temporary, the northern kingdom is never heard from again. As with 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles parallels parts of 1 and 2 Kings and focuses exclusively on the kingdom of Judah.
Ezra (and Esther)
Ezra records Judahs return after a seventy-year exile in Babylon. A highlight of the book is the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. The events of the book of Esther take place just after the exile during a time in which not all of the Jewish people had returned to Jerusalem. Persia had conquered Babylon. Esther, a young Jewish woman, had become queen to the Persian king Ahasuerus. During this time, a plan was hatched to destroy the Jewish people, but the plan was foiled and the Jewish people were saved.
In Nehemiah, readers learn that while the temple had been rebuilt in Jerusalem, the city had no walls. Therefore, the nation was still vulnerable to enemy attacks. Once the walls were rebuilt, the nation of Judah could be reestablished. Nehemiah records the recommitment of the people to Gods laws including the public reading of scripture and the reestablishment of the Sabbath.
For the most part, the prophetic books are best seen historically in their relation to the seventy-year exile of the southern kingdom in Babylon (after 2 Kings but before Ezra). A simple way to categorize these prophetic writings is as follows: those who warned of the coming exile (preexilic prophets), those whose ministry was primarily during the exile (exilic prophets), and those whose ministry was primarily after the exile (postexilic prophets).
Preexilic prophetic books include Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. Exilic prophetic books include Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Postexilic prophetic books include Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The closing of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament are divided by 400 years of silence.
New Testament History
The Old Testament represents thousands of years of history. By way of contrast, the New Testament represents fewer than 100 years. The history of the New Testament is also simpler to structure. The first third of the New Testament includes the Gospel accounts, the second third covers the story of Acts, and the final third is the post-Acts era. The chart below is a chronology of the New Testament.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Each of the four Gospels covers essentially the same period of time. The Gospels can be summarized as the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each Gospel account is written from a different perspective and at times records different material. So one must consider all four Gospel accounts together to study the life of Christ.
Acts (and James, Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon)
Acts is part two to Lukes Gospel and is a historical record of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel and of the establishment of the New Testament church. Acts 1:8b serves as a key verse: You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. In chapters 17, the gospel spreads in Jerusalem, and in chapters 812, the gospel spreads through Judea and Samaria. The remainder of the book is the beginning of the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Many of the New Testament letters were penned during this time. James was the half brother of Jesus and probably wrote his letter during the early part of the period of Acts. Ten of Pauls thirteen letters were written during the time period of Acts. Galatians and both Thessalonian letters were written during Pauls second missionary journey. The Corinthian letters and Romans were written during his third missionary journey. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (also known as the Prison Epistles) were written during his imprisonment.
Post-Acts (1 Timothy; Titus; 2 Timothy; 1 and 2 Peter; Hebrews; Jude; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Revelation)
After the events of the book of Acts, several other letters were written. Here is a quick overview of them in the order that they were most likely written. Paul wrote three more letters (1 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Timothy) before being martyred in Rome. Following Pauls life and ministry, Peter wrote two letters. While Pauls letters were always to either churches or individuals, Peters letters appear to be to believers in general. Following Peters epistles is the only anonymous letter in the New Testament, Hebrews. Following Hebrews is the letter by Jude, another half brother of Jesus, that addresses false teaching. The final four books of the New Testament were all written by the apostle John: 1, 2, and 3 John and Revelation. The genre of Revelation is unique, as we shall see.
Having a basic grasp of how the Bible fits together is incredibly important. An understanding of the historical framework of the Bible will provide you with better perspective on any book or passage you study. It will also enable you to understand how each book, chapter, passage, verse, event, or individual fits into Gods big story. [CartwrightHulshof (2019). (p. 8). Everyday Bible Study, Second Edition.
Chapter 3 Looking at the Bible Categorically (Part 1)
I enjoy sports. Some might say I am a fanatic and that I care too much about my teams winning. Guilty as charged. But there is just something about the game, the competition, and the rivalries that I love. Moreover, my love of sports is not confined to one game. Yes, football (the American variety) is by far my favorite. But I also love baseball, basketball, and hockey. Now that I have growing children, I even love soccer, which is not a sport I grew up playing or watching. I suppose its a result of my upbringing. My father was a multisport star in high school and college. So sports are etched into our family DNA.
I also enjoy music, although my love for music is not on par with my love for, or knowledge of, sports. As with sports, there are different types of music: classical, jazz, pop, blues, country, bluegrass, rock, disco, R&B, and the list goes on. The music I listen to at any given moment depends on a variety of factors.
Food is another of my loves. Whether its a premium steak, delicious sushi, authentic Italian meatballs, or a good old-fashioned cheesesteak from my native Philadelphia, food is not just a means of survival for me.
What do sports, music, and food have to do with studying the Bible? Consider sports for a moment. Each sport has its own set of rules, equipment, and strategy. Each of these has a direct impact on the game itself. To illustrate this, imagine attempting to play basketball in football pads and on ice skates! Music types are also unique. While there are fusions of different music types, few could argue against the claim that Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven are in a class by themselves. Classical music is different, on many levels, from goth. Similarly, food types tend to fall into ethnic categories.
Like sports, music, and food, there are different kinds of literature. Literature types are referred to as genres (fiction, nonfiction, satire, tragedy, etc.). Similarly, the Bible, as literature, includes a variety of genres. The best way to understand the different genres of the Bible is to think of them like sports, music, or food. The genres of the Bible share some things in common (just as different sports share some things in common); however, each genre can be set apart from the others in its own category. Football and soccer share some characteristics, but there are major differences that affect your understanding of each sport and your ability to play and enjoy them.
The same is true of the Bible. Yes, the Bible is all equally Gods Word, but the books of the Bible include a variety of types, or genres, of literature. Understanding these different genres is critical to good Bible study. That is because, like sports, each genre has its own set of distinguishing characteristics and guidelines for interpretation. For example, it makes a difference whether you are reading a historical book describing an event or a letter in which the author is instructing a church congregation. When you correctly understand the genre of a book or passage, your expectations and strategy for interpretation are better framed. Some biblical genres, such as poetry, are found elsewhere. But other genres, like the Gospels, are unique to the Bible. This chapter will describe the four main genres of the New Testament: Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation.
The Greek word for gospel (euangelion) means good news. The word is not unique to the Bible. It was often used in ancient times to announce military victories. Paul defined the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1 Cor 15:14: Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to youunless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. Paul defined the gospel as the record of Christs death, burial, and resurrection. The genre known as the Gospels is the collection of the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each of these is a record that describes Christs life, ministry, death, and resurrection. However, it would be best not to think of the Gospels as biographies of Jesus given that very little space is dedicated to his early life and, conversely, a large amount of space is dedicated to his final days. Each of the four accounts was written by a different author for different audiences. Therefore, there is value in studying each account by itself. However, since a single event is often recorded across multiple Gospels, there is value in studying an event across the various records. Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart emphasize this in their work, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. They recommend first reading individual accounts within the context of their Gospel. It is always best to understand a story within its own context. However, it is also useful to study that account across the various Gospel records. Since each writer may have had a different emphasis, or chose to include different details, a study that includes all the records will result in a more comprehensive view.
There are a few other important factors to consider when interpreting the Gospels. When reading a parable, you should resist the urge to allegorize the various details of parables. In other words, rather than speculate on what every detail might symbolize (or allegorize) it is better to grasp the main idea of a parable. Often the meaning of a parable is revealed in the surrounding context of a passage. You may have difficulty trying to determine the meaning of the parable of the lost coin in Luke 15 if