Proposed Doctrinal Statement

Proposed Doctrinal Statement

To Be Voted on 8/10/16

 

I.           Of the Scriptures

We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter, that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.

II Tim. 3:16-17; II Tim. 3:15; Proverbs 30:5-6; Romans 2:12; Phil. 3:16; I John 4:1

II.          Of the True God

We believe that there is one, and only one living and true God, an infinite intelligent Spirit, whose name is YAHWEH, the Maker and supreme Ruler of heaven and earth; inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love; that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.

John 4:24; Ps. 83:18; Heb.3:4; Rom. 1:20; Jer.10:10; Ex.15:11; Ps.147:5; Isa.6:3; I Pet.1:15-16; Rev.4:6-8; Mark 12:30; Rev.4:11; Matt.10:37; Jer.2:12-13; Matt.28:19; John 15:26; I Cor.12:4-6; I John 5:7; John 10:30; John 5:17; John 14:23; John 17:5&10; Acts 5:3-4; I Cor.2:10-11; Phil. 2:5-6; Eph. 2:18; II Cor.13:14; Rev. 1:4-5.

III.     Of Creation

We believe that the universe and all that are in it were formed by the decree of God and is rightfully his own possession; that God created as a sovereign act of love, not to fulfill any deficiency in himself; that the act of creating was a triune act, decreed by the Father, executed by the Son and superintended by the Spirit; that the Son continually upholds the created world by His power; that the original creation was very good, without any shadow of evil; that this creation testifies of the eternal glory of God and convicts all men for their failure to worship; that the formation of things which are seen from the things which are unseen is the declaration of faith; that the days in Genesis 1 are literal days ; that on the sixth day, God created mankind in His image as the apple of his eye and the crowning glory of the created order; and that physical bodies and the material world are not inherently evil, but have been placed under the bondage of vanity in positive expectation that they will be entirely restored on the last day.

 

Gen. 1:1; Ps. 24:1-2;Ecc. 11:5; Is. 66:1-2;Jer. 10:16; Acts 17:24;Ex. 3:14; John 5:26; Acts 17:25; Rom. 11:36; Rom. 4:11; Gen. 1:2; Psalm 104:30; John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Psalm 36:6; Mat. 10:29-30; Acts 17:28; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; Gen. 1:31; Ecc. 7:29; Isa. 45:18; Heb. 4:3; Neh. 9:6; Job 12:7-10; Psalm 148:13; Is. 40:25-28; Rom. 1:18-20; Hebrews 11:3; Gen 1:5;  Ex. 20:11; Gen. 1:26-27; Ps. 100:3; Gen. 3:17-19; Rom. 8:20-22; Heb. 6:8; 2 Pet. 3:10-12

 

IV. Of Sexuality

We believe that gender is a good gift of God’s creation, whereby from the beginning He created them male and female, so they may manifest unique attributes of God by distinct roles, both being from the moment of conception wholly in His image; that marriage is designed to be a lifelong, covenant union of man and woman as one flesh; that marriage serves as a picture of Christ’s relationship with His church; and that the marriage bed is to be held in honor among all, with sexual intimacy and cohabitation reserved for the married as a unique manifestation of the oneness we experience with the Lord and our eternal home with Him.

Gen. 1:27; Gen. 2:20-24; Gen. 5:2; Ex. 15:3; Is. 66:12-13; I Cor. 7:1-7; I Cor. 11:3-16; Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 5:22-23; I Tim. 2:11-15; Titus 2:1-5; I Peter 3:1-7; Prov. 31:10-23; Gen. 2:23-24; Mal. 2:14; Matt. 19:6; Rom. 7:2; I Cor. 7:32; Prov. 5:15-19; John 14:2; John 17:23-26 Acts 15:20; Rom. 1:24-27; I Cor. 6:19-20; I Cor. 7:3-5; II Cor. 5:1; Heb. 13:4; I Thess. 4:3-8; Rev. 19:7-9.

 

V.                Of the Fall of Man

We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.

Gen.1:27; Gen.1:31; Ecc.7:29; Acts 17:26-29; Gen.2:16-17; Gen.3:6-24; Rom. 5:12; Rom.5:15-19; Ps.51:5; Rom.8:7; Isa.53:6; Gen.6:12; Rom.3:9-18; Eph.2:1-3; Rom.1:18,32; Rom.2:1-16; Gal.3:10; Matt. 20:15; Ezek. 18:19-20; Rom.1:20; Rom.3:19; Gal. 3:22.

VI.             Of the Way of Salvation

We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace; through the Mediatorial offices of the Son of God; who by the appointment of the Father freely took upon him our nature, yet without sin; honored the divine law by his personal obedience, and by his death made a full atonement for our sins; that having risen from the dead, he is now enthroned in heaven; and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfections, he is every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all-sufficient Saviour.

Eph.2:3, Matt. 18:11, I John 4:10, I Cor.3:5-7, Acts 15:11, John 3:16, John 1:1-14, Heb. 4:14, Heb. 12-24, Phil. 2:9&14, II Cor. 5:21, Isa. 42:21, Phil. 2:8, Gal. 4:4-5, Rom. 3:21, Isa. 53:4-5, Matt. 20:28, Rom.4:25, Rom. 3:21-26, I John 2:3, I Cor. 15:1-3, Heb.9:13-15, Heb.1:8, Heb. 1:3, Col. 3:1-4, Heb. 7:25, Col. 2:18, Heb. 7:26, Ps. 89:19, Ps.34

VII.          Of Justification

We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in him is justification; that justification includes the pardon of sin, and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood; by virtue of which faith his perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.

John 1:16, Eph.3:8, Acts 13:39, Isa. 53:11-12, Rom5:1-2, Rom. 5:9, Zech. 13;1, Matt. 9:6, Acts 10:43, Rom. 5:17, Titus 3:5-7, I Peter 3:7, I John 2:25, Rom. 5:21, Rom. 4:4-5,

Rom. 6:23, Phil. 3:7-9, Rom. 5:19, Rom. 3:24-26, Rom.4:23-25, I John 2:12, Rom. 5:3, Rom. 5:11, I Cor. 1:30-31, Matt. 6:33, I Tim. 4:8

VIII.     Of the Freeness of Salvation

We believe that the blessings of salvation in the new birth are made free to all by the gospel; that this salvation secures newness of life now and eternal life in the age to come; that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial penitent, and obedient faith; and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth, but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the gospel; which rejection involves him in an aggravated condemnation.

Isa. 55:1, Rev. 22:17, Rom. 16:25-26, Mark 1:15, Rom. 1:15-17, John 5:40, Matt.23:37, Rom.9:32, Pro. 1:24, Acts 13:46, John 3:19, Matt. 11:20, Luke 10:27, II Thess. 1:8; John 3:3, John 3:6-7, I Cor.3:14, Rev.14:3, Rev. 21:27, II Cor. 5;17, Ezek. 36:26, Deu. 30-6, Rom. 2:28-29, Rom.5:5, I John 4:7, John 3:8, John 1:13, James 1:16-18, I Cor. 1:30, Phil. 2:13, I Peter 1:22-25, I John 5:1, Eph. 4:20-24, Col. 3:9-11, Eph. 5:9, Rom. 8:90, Gal. 5:16-23, Eph. 3:14-21, Matt. 3:8-10, Matt.7:20, I John 5:4, 18

IX.                Of Repentance and Faith

We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties and also inseparable graces without which no man may be saved, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Savior.

Mark 1:15, Acts 11:18, Eph. 2:8, I John 5:1, John 16:8, Acts 2:37-38, Acts 16:30-31 Luke 18:13, Luke 15:18-21, James 4:7-10, II Cor. 7:11, Tim. 10:12-13, Ps.51, Rom. 10:9-11, Acts 3:22-23, Heb. 4:14, Ps.2:6, Heb. 1:8, Heb. 7:25, II Tim. 1:12

 

X.              Of Sanctification

We believe that sanctification is the process by which according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness; that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration; and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means, especially the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer.

 

I Thess. 4:3; I Thess. 5:23; II Cor. 7:1; II Cor. 13:10; Phil. 3:12-16; I John 2:29; Rom. 8:5; Eph. 1:4; Pro. 4:18; II Cor. 3:18; Heb. 6:1; II Peter 1:5-8; John 3:6; Phil. 1:9-11; Eph. 1:13-14; Phil. 2:12-13; Eph. 4:11-12; I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18; II Cor. 13:5; Luke 11:35; Luke 9:23; Matt. 26:41; Eph.6:18; Eph.4:30

XI.            Of Perseverance of the Saints

We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end: that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special providence watches over their welfare, and that although they may stumble and wrestle with sin, grieving the Spirit and depriving themselves of temporal blessings, they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

John 8:31; I John 2:27-28; I John 3:9; I John 5:18; I John 2:19; John 13:18; Matt. 13:2021; John 6:66-69; Job 17:9; Rom. 8:28; Matt. 6:30-33; Jer. 32:40; Ps.121:3; Ps. 91:11-12;

Phil. 1:6; Phil. 2:13; Jude 24:25; Heb.1:14; II Kings 6:16; Heb. 13:5; I John 4:4

XII.           Of a Gospel Church

We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by his laws; and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his word; that its only scriptural officers are bishops or pastors and deacons whose qualifications, claims and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus; that God has restricted exercising church authority and teaching to men; that the church has no King but Christ, yet he administers His reign through the Holy Spirit in the membership and that no corporate or denominational body has any authority to bind them.

I Cor. 1:1-3; Matt. 18:17; Acts 5:11; Acts 8:1; Acts 11:21-23; I Cor. 4:17; I Cor. 14:23; III John 9; I Tim. 3:5; Acts 2:41-42; II Cor. 8:5; Acts 2:47; I Cor. 5:12-13; I Cor. 11:2; II Thess. 3:6; Rom. 16:17-20; I Cor.11:23-24; Matt. 18:15-20; I Cor. 5:6; II Cor. 2:17; I Cor. 4:17; Matt. 28:20; John 14:15; John 15:12; I John 14:21; I Thess. 4:2; II John 6; Gal. 6:2; Eph. 4:7; I Cor. 14:12; Phil. 1:1; Acts 14:23; Acts 15:22; I Tim. 3; Titus 1; I Cor. 14:34;  I Tim. 2:1; Eph. 4:15;

XIII.        Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

We believe that the Christian baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost; to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried and risen Savior, with its effect, in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life; that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation, and to the Lord’s Supper; in which the members of the church by the sacred use of bread and the fruit of the vine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination.

Acts 8:36-39; Matt. 3:5-6; John 3:22-23; John 4:12; Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12; Acts 16:32-34; Acts 18:8; Acts 10:47-48; Gal.3:26-28; Rom.6:4; Col. 2:12; I Peter 3:20-21; Acts 22:16; Acts 2:41-42; I Cor. 11:26; Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; I Cor.11:28; I Cor. 5:1-8; I Cor. 10:3-32; I Cor. 11:17-32; John 6:26

XIV.      Of the Lord’s Day

We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, commemorating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead; and it is to be kept sacred to worship by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private and public; and by preparation for the rest that remains for the people of God.

Acts 20:7; Gen. 2:3; Col. 2:16-17; Mark 2:27; John 20:19; I Cor. 16:1-2; Ex. 20:8; Rev. 1:10; Ps. 118:15, 24; Isa. 58:13-14; Isa. 56:2-8; Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 11:26; Acts 13:44; Lev. 19:30; Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2-3; Ps. 26:8; Ps. 87:3; Heb. 4:3-11

XV. Of the Civil Government

We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society; that it ought to always respect the freedom of the conscience, not interfering with or accomplishing the spiritual work of the church, but rendering unto God what is God’s and unto Caesar what is Caesar’s; that its power is necessarily limited, being weak through the flesh, such that it can never accomplish the work of the gospel in affecting true righteousness; and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed; except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.

Rom. 13:1-7; Deu. 16:18; II Sam. 23:3; Ex. 18:23; Jer. 30:21; Matt. 22:21; Titus 3:1; I Peter 2:13; I Tim. 2:1-4; Acts 5:29; Matt.28; Dan. 3:15-18; Dan. 6:7-10; Acts 4:18-20; Matt. 23:10; Rom. 14:4; Rev. 19:16; Ps.72:11; Ps.2; Rom. 14:9-13

 

XVI.        Of the Righteous and the Wicked

We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in his esteem; while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked, and under the curse; and this distinction holds among men both in and after death.

Mal. 3:18; Pro. 12:26; Isa. 5:20; Gen. 18:23; Jer. 15:19; Acts 10:34-35; Rom. 6:16; Rom. 1:17; Rom. 7:6; I John 2:29; I John 3:7; Rom. 6:18,22; I Cor. 11:32; Pro. 11:31; I Peter 4:17-18; I John 5:19; Gal. 3:10; John 3:36; Isa. 57:21; Ps. 10:4; Isa. 55:6-7; Pro. 14:32;

Luke 16:25; John 8:21-24; Pro. 10:24; Luke 12:4-5; Luke 9:23-26; Ecc. 3:17; Matt. 7:13-14

 

XVII.           Of the World to Come

We believe that the end of the world is approaching; that at the Last Day Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place; that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.

I Peter 4:7; I Cor. 7:29-31; Heb. 1:10-12; Matt. 24:35; I John 2:17; Matt. 28:20; Matt. 13:39-40; II Peter 3:3-13; Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7; Heb. 9:28; Acts 3:21; I Thess 4:13-18; I Thess. 5:1-11; Acts 24:15; I Cor. 15:12-58; Luke 14:14; Dan. 12:2 John 5:28-29; John 6:40; John 11:25-26; II Tim. 1:10; Acts 10:42; Matt. 13:49; Matt. 13:37-43; Matt. 24:3031; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 22:11; I Cor. 6:9-10; Mark 9:43-48; II Peter 2:9; Jude 7; Phil. 3:19; Rom. 6:23; II Cor. 5:10-11; John 4:36; II Cor. 4:18; Rom. 3:5-6; II Thess. 1:6-12: Heb. 6:1-2; I Cor. 4:5; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:2-16; Rev.20:11-12; I John 2:28; I John 4:17; II Peter 3:11-12

 

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Private

Genesis 5, Matthew 5

Matthew 5, the opening of the Sermon on the Mount is some of the most important ethical teaching in the Bible, as Jesus sums up the moral code of the Kingdom. The sermon is beyond counter-cultural, it is subversive of the world order itself. In other revolutions, the same basic structure is always retained; the only difference is in who holds the power. Not so with the Kingdom of God! It subversively begins with a baby, treats service as the aim of leadership (not a means to acquire it) and . While other revolutions are really reformations of who holds power, the coming of the Kingdom changes the very definition of power.

The sermon begins with the so-called “Beatitudes,” the blesséds. Each one of these says that the common definitions of good and bad circumstances are completely reversed: the mourner, the meek, the merciful, the poor in spirit, the persecuted and the peacemaker are praised over the partying, the bold, the fair, the proud, the powerful and the victor. Jesus intends for His people to be radically different in their values and their behavior.

From there, Jesus explains that He “fulfills” the Law. What does this mean? The Law is not a prophecy (any more than “Out of Egypt I will call my Son” was a prophecy in Matthew 2:15), so it cannot be fulfilled in the sense of “occurred as predicted.” In 2:15, Hosea 10:1 was fulfilled in that Jesus brought the words to their fullest sense by being everything Israel ought to have been. In the same sense, Jesus fulfilled the Law by becoming everything it was ever intended to do. He did not just carry out the commands, but kept even His heart pure (He expounds on the Law in this way in the rest of the chapter). He did not just carry out the rituals, but every ritual ultimately pointed to His sacrifice. Both commands and rituals were made “full” in Him – passing away when all was accomplished (Matthew 5:18).

Ultimately, the Law is an edifice built on the foundation of faith (Romans 3:31), so Christians, freed from the law, follow the ethical injunctions from the rest of the chapter – fulfilling the Law. The sermon on the mount is a call to the highest level of living.

Family

Acts 5, Ezra 5

In Acts 5, we come to the account of Ananias and Sapphire. At this stage, the church exists as a commune, where all resources are shared. Once Christians were excommunicated from the Jewish society, this became the most practical way to live. This entire system was threatened by the dishonesty of a couple who hoped to live on the benefits of the society, while holding back for themselves. These two are then struck dead by God for their dishonesty. It is interesting to see that God often uses extreme measures at the beginning of a new period of dealing with people (sometimes called a “dispensation,” if we define the term carefully). The apostles are then forbidden to preach in the name of Jesus, to which they respond with a rousing sermon. The high point is Acts 5:29-32.

Ezra 5 tells the story of continuing opposition to the work of rebuilding the temple. Providentially, the people are not stopped until a letter can be taken to King Darius and returned, because the eye of their God was upon them, a beautiful, intimate picture of God’s attentive love for us (Ezra 5:5).

Things to Talk About

1.) In Acts 5:29, Peter says that we should obey God instead of men. What are some ways where you can fail to do this and let people’s opinions come before God’s?

2.) The enemies of the Israelites sent a letter to verify if permission had really been granted to rebuild the temple. Can you discuss a time when you were protected by your own upright character?

3.) Ananias and Sapphira are killed for lying at the beginning of the church age, but there is no record of anything even remotely like this in the rest of the Bible. How can disciplines at the beginning of a time, like the year, set the tone for things to come? f you are lazy with your Bible reading or prayer when you first resolve to do it, why do you think that makes it easier to slack later?

4.) Gamaliel, a Jewish rabbi in the Sanhedrin, gives several examples of rebellions and then says that if God is in something it will succeed, and if not, it will not last long. Is he right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things to Talk About

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Private

Genesis 3, Matthew 3

Most people will admit that there is something wrong with the world. Some will argue it is because of the imperfections of blind chance, some will point to the actions of a malevolent deity, and some to wars between competing powers. The Bible gives a different perspective. All things were created good and perfect by a Good and Perfect God. It was only with the events of our reading today in Genesis 3 that the vice-regents in God’s Kingdom used their delegated authority to destroy. Most stories exist in four movements: (1) The exposition, which sets the story up. (2) The crisis, which creates the conflict. (3) The climax, where the crisis is solved. (4) The resolution, were the solution of the climax is worked out. The Bible’s story can be described, roughly,  in the same way: Creation (perfectly by God), Fall (completely by man), Reconciliation (completely by Jesus) and Consummation/Restoration (perfectly by God).

Because of this, Genesis 3 is the essential crisis around which the rest of the Bible’s plot line revolves and it is (imperfectly) the entire story of the Bible in miniature. Things begin perfectly, as God intended. Human beings choose to sin and squander what God has given them. God seeks humanity out and offers deliverance through the Seed of the Woman, who will crush the serpent. God clothes rescued humanity for a new life. Of course, it is incomplete: Genesis 3:15 only promises the Coming One and the new life they are sent into is one of exile (although still covered by the grace of God).

However, the main ideas are all present here in the opening pages of the Bible. God knew this moment would come, just as He knew every moment after. He allowed it to happen, because He was determined to rescue (Matthew 18:12). He covered them now, because in the distance, He saw a cross where the One who fulfilled all righteousness (Matthew 3:15) would cleanse those who profaned it. Despite the sin of man, this miniature portrait of the plan of God shows that He is the eternal King.

Family

Ezra 3, Acts 3

In Ezra 3, Zerubbabel leads the unified people to rebuild the altar and then begin to rebuild the temple with joyful shouts of praise and song (but also weeping). Acts 3 shows Peter and John healing a man who had been lame by the power of Jesus. Since healing the lame was one of the miracles Jesus performed, this shows that the same Jesus is still working through His church in Jerusalem. Peter then preaches a sermon where he outlines the basic gospel: Jesus came, you killed Him, God raised Him, He’s coming again so repent and believe in Him!

Things to Talk About

(1) Why do you think it is important that Ezra 3:1 points out the people were united? (We can’t do much for God when we are bickering with each other. In the New Testament, Jesus even says that it is by our love that people will know we are His disciples – John 13:35).

(2) Why do some of the older men weep when they see the foundations in verse 12? (It reminded them of the great temple they had seen before. Haggai 2:3. God had forgiven them and allowed them to build a temple, but it still wasn’t like it was before. When we sin, even when we are forgiven, trust and relationships still take time to rebuild.)

(3) Several titles of Jesus are mentioned in Acts 3. God’s Servant (v 13, 26), the Holy and Righteous One (v 14), the Author of life (v 15), God’s Christ (v 18) and the Prophet like Moses (v 22). How do the titles used help us understand Jesus?

(4) Acts 4:26 says that it is a blessing to be turned from sin (iniquities/wickedness). Do you think about being made a better person as a good thing, or a punishment?

(5) Can you summarize the message of what Jesus did and how to be saved from Peter’s sermon?

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Private

Genesis 2, Matthew 2

Our reading in Genesis today recapitulates what is described on the sixth day of chapter one. It is a common feature of Hebrew storytelling to describe the big picture of a story, then to describe one scene in detail. Man, made from the dust but full of the breath of the God, serves as a bridge between the natural and the supernatural world, both material and immaterial.

Many of the family problems of the world today would be eased if the basic principles of the man and woman explained here were recognized. (1) Man and woman are of the same essence. She was taken out of him, so they are not of fundamentally different material. (2) They are distinct. Adam was created first and there is some distinction of role (in God Himself we see this, the Father, Son and Spirit do different things, but are all equally God). The woman is called the helper of man, where they are too often rivals. Does this imply a subordination of value? No. The word for “helper” is used 9 times in the Old Testament; two times in Genesis 2 it refers to the woman, but the other 7 times it refers to God. (3) As they are separated, they are designed to come together. The wholeness of humanity was in some sense separated by the woman being taken out of man, and they are made one person. (4) The man (and by implication, the woman) leaves his father and mother. This is not an abandonment (the fifth commandment refers primarily to adult children and their parents), but it is a realignment of priorities. The wife is not grafted into the husband’s family or vice versa, but something new is formed.  (5) Although Adam had direct fellowship with God, God said that it was not good for him to be alone. In some sense (although it feels almost blasphemous to write), direct fellowship with God was not enough for Adam. How is this possible when God is the ultimate source of all delight? Throughout the Bible, we see that the relationship of husband and wife serves as a portrait of God’s relationship with His people, so at least part of the answer to this mystery is that Eve helped Adam enjoy God. While God gives the grace of some to not marry (Matthew 19:12), for those of us who do marry, let it be someone who helps us see God, and who we help to see God.

Matthew 2 is largely straightforward narrative, but one thing will catch the eye of careful readers. Matthew writes that Jesus fulfilled Hosea 11:1. But that verse is not a prophecy! How can Jesus “fulfill” a historical fact? There is a specific prediction about this event in Numbers 24:8, but God has laid something else on Matthew’s mind: Jesus is the true and better Israel.  Jesus “fulfills” the saying “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” not by matching up with a prediction, but by being in the “full”est sense everything the nation should have been. The failing servant was to be delivered by the perfect one.

Family

Ezra 2, Acts 2

Ezra 2 is a fairly straightforward log of the people who moved back to Israel. Acts 2 is a watershed in the New Testament. It is not really when the church began to exist (Jesus had already established His ekklesia and instructed that as early as Matthew 16 – in this chapter people are added to the church, implying it already exists), but when the church was empowered. The elements were in place, but the Spirit enlivens her. With this power, what does Peter do? He preaches the same central message we use. The key event of history is past – God has come down, died for us and risen again. That should still be the message of churches today.

Things to Talk About

1.) Why would a chapter like Ezra 2 be in the Bible? (It shows that the Bible is not just a fairy tale, but is based on real, physical history.)

3.) Why were the disciples still all in Jerusalem? (Jesus told them to wait until they received power from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes rushing is worse than waiting for the right time. Patience is hard to learn, but very important.)

4.) Why did the disciples gain the ability to speak every language at once on Pentecost? (There are at least three reasons. One was to confirm that their message was really from God. A miracle is like God’s signature, proving He is really the one sending a message. There may be a miracle done by the devil which is not a message from God, so we still have to compare to Scripture, but when God had a new message, He proved it with a miracle (Hebrews 2:4). Two was as a sign of judgment against Israel. They had failed to represent God, so he spoke to them with a foreign tongue (Acts 28:11). Three, it made it possible for the gospel to be spread very rapidly in the multi-cultural world of the first century.)

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Personal

Genesis 1, Matthew 1

Genesis 1 and Matthew 1 are both the stories of a King, establishing His domain. In Genesis 1, God creates His domain in an instant, by the power of His Word. He is truly free – He does not act because of any cause external to Himself, but because of His own unbridled Will. Angels may sing at His mighty works, but there is no need of their labor: His decrees are accomplished simply by virtue of being decreed. How different from the stories of the pagans! There is no war, no negotiation, no God who is part of nature or formed by it, but the God who sits enthroned above the entire cosmos. He is the King and the universe is His Kingdom; a temple to be filled up with the Glory of His Presence. In three days he builds it, then in three days He fills it. On the sixth day, He places in this cosmic temple, not a stone or wooden idol (which could never be anything but an insult to the Living God), but a living image bearer – mankind as His representative and vice-regent in this Kingdom, designed to represent Him and to exercise His authority.
Human beings are in the image of God not in appearance or anatomy, because male and female are both in His image and God has no body, but in their substance (being a trinity of body/soul/spirit corresponding to the Son/Father/Spirit) so that they can be in His image in their function: representing and ruling. They have dominion and authority – the power to name from the God who speaks and stewardship from the God who creates.
This authority was forfeited by sin, and Matthew 1 marks the return of the King to His Kingdom. The God who is truly independent (not-dependent) and who exists untamed takes on a body and family tree forevermore. The Everlasting Father and King of Glory becomes the Son of Abraham and the Son of David. The Lawgiver born under the Law and the truly Free born in captivity to the Romans. If speaking is a strange way of creating, Immanuel is a strange way of saving; but glorious ways indeed.

Family

Ezra 1, Acts 1

The last of the Israelites had been taken into slavery in 587 BC in Babylon because of their sin, but God lovingly placed it on the heart of the king who is oppressing them (Cyrus, because Persia had taken over the old Babylonian Empire) to send them back in about 536 BC. Cyrus was generally friendly to other religions because he thought it made people easier to govern. Chapter 1 mostly just gives the technical details of what happened.

Acts 1 tells us that the stories are kind of a sequel to the book of Luke, which tells the story of Jesus’ life. It begins with Jesus going into Heaven after His ressurection and his final commission. Acts 1:8, as the mission of the church is a good verse to memorize. Then the apostles basically draw straws to select a replacement for Judas, the apostle who had betrayed Jesus and then killed himself.

Things to Talk About

1.) Who is the King who sends the people back? (Cyrus)

2.) Why were the people in Persia in the first place? (The did not follow God.)

3.) Does Cyrus really believe everything he says in verse 2? (Maybe not, but God still causes him to say things that are true. Later, the priest who kill Jesus will say it is better for one man to die for the people. He thinks he means that it is better for one man to die to prevent a riot, but God has really caused him to use the words that predict Jesus dying for our sins.)

4.) Where is Jesus now? (In Heaven. It is very important to know He is not a ghost in Heaven,, but is still in His body. One day, all of the dead will be resurrected and Jesus’ new body is the first piece of a whole new creation).

5.) Why were there 12 apostles? (Israel, the physical people of God, had twelve tribes. Jesus picked twelve apostles to show He was forming a new people of God – twelve “tribes” that would include people from all kinds of backgrounds, all languages and from all over the world. “Red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”)

Got questions about the Bible, Christianity or these four chapters? E-mail JustinGatlin@unityrichwood.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can and maybe post the answer on the website.  

 

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