Don’t Quit-Remain Confident in Him!

#DontQuit

#RemainConfident

Have you been feeling that this is just too much for you?  Don’t give in to that feeling. He is with us even in the hardest times in our lives. We have confidence in Him that we can and will grow in His grace and knowledge. We have confidence in Him that we are being transformed.  It is a race of endurance like a triathlon.  When one initially decide that they are going to take part in a triathlon and become a triathlete it is grueling.  The training is intense.  Every muscle in your body will scream STOP!!!! You will have doubts and fears that you can complete the rigor of this training.  You are concerned that you will not be able to transform you body into the type of body that can do at the level of physical rigor needed for a triathlon.  At some point you will have to decide if you will endure the training or quit trying.  So, you decide that you will continue because this is important to you.  You enter your first race.  You are competing against people who are well versed in this event.  You make the mistake of comparing their years with your inexperience and you begin to doubt the training that you have received.  You press on.  The event begins and you experience challenges.  You begin to realize that a triathlon is an event of endurance as well as skill. Mid-way through the race you once again assess the level of your commitment to this race. Do you quit now because every muscle in your body is screaming for you to quit or do you endure to the end?

The spiritual race is the same.  As we walk, talk, and grow in the Lord we are prepping of spiritual body for the race ahead.  Obstacles and warfare rages in the background that we are not fully aware of. The Holy Spirit is interceding on our behalf.  Angels are combating demonic forces and the bastions of hell that are determined to discourage you. The do We-s!

  1. Do we run this race with endurance?
  2. Do we trust God to transform our mind and spirit into the person He wants us to be?
  3. Do we lose focus and begin to compare ourselves among ourselves – and become discouraged because we think that someone else is light years away from us spiritually?
  4. Do we look at ourselves with our human eyes and become discouraged because we do not see the perfection in us that we see in others? [No human being is perfect-no human being will ever see the full measure of the growth in us as God sees us.]
  5. Do we become discouraged when the sin that we have struggled with rears its ugly head – anger, gossiping, drinking-to excess, gluttony etc., self-reliance?

The list is very long as long as we see ourselves as fleshly human beings and as long as we compare ourselves among ourselves we will always stay discouraged.  Yes, people can see our growth because they can see the spiritual fruit on our spiritual trees. The fact that there is fruit on the tree at all is evidence that we are growing. Don’t Quit.  The spiritual race is for our benefit and the benefit of others who will hear our story and accept Christ. Let Christ strengthen you as you “live” life because He is confident that you will finish this race and finish well!!

Contact us if you need help we are here to pray for and with you-in Jesus name.

 

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Go, going, gone?

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:16-20 (KJV).

 

Jesus’s final words to his disciples before ascending into Heaven are recorded for us at the end of Matthew’s gospel.  These instructions are often referred to as “The Great Commission” and lay out the work that Jesus left for his followers, back then and today, until his return. Reading these instructions in our modern English, it seems that there is an emphasis on the word “go.” We must remember, however, that the Bible wasn’t written originally in English, it was written in Greek.The construction of the passage in its original language can help us better understand what was being said. Without getting into a lesson on biblical Greek it is enough to know that the imperative (or command) in the Great Commission is “make disciples.”One could read the sentence as, “Make disciples as you go…” The Great Commission assumes that Jesus’s disciples will go about their lives, going to work, going to school, going to cookouts with their neighbors, etc. and instructs them (and us) to be about the business of making disciples as we are going. Just as the grace of God touches every part of our daily lives, so should the Great Commission (Pastor Henry Criss 2017, Week 4-Day & Of Prayer Journal).

Note that the verse does not denote nor connote gone.  The going is a life long pursuit for we will not reach every human being on planet earth before Christ returns – Revelations demonstrates that.

The “going” part of this commandment has been the most contentious command within the gospels. I have seen people become belligerent when as if they are going. I have seen people become abusive when asked if they will share while they are going about life.

I have seen people just refuse to talk or even think about sharing the most precious gift that they have ever received in their lives, as they are going about life, playing games in social media, and chatting with total strangers in social media.  We will talk about anything but Jesus and His shed blood for us.  I was not sure why that would be until I was reminded what true discipleship looks like in a Christian’s life. Listen to this sermon I hope that it will have the same impact on your life that it did on mine.  It reminded me that we cannot expect children [a Christian who is still a baby Christian] to do the same things that a parent [A Christian who is at the parent level in their walks with Christ] can and will do! As you listen to the sermon think about where you are in the cycle of a Christian’s life and pray for the Lord to reveal to you how you can grow from one stage to another. Then pray for Him to send someone who is will to “disciple” you so you can grow from one stage to another.

 

Who am I and where am I going?

“I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6).

Belief in Jesus Christ as the only way to eternity, the triune God as the embodiment of truth and repentance of my sins before my heavenly Father is my confession of faith it places me in the Family of God.

Repentance of my sins?

This requires me to see myself as separated from God because of who I am and what my life has been up to the point of repentance.  It requires me to comprehend/diagnose my spirit man. not just emotionally, but within the deep recesses of my soul that I am:

  1. Sinful – my only cure is Jesus
  2. Guilty of breaking all of God’s laws and should receive the punishment which is – eternal separation from God – death – to be dead to Him eternally.
  3. In need of redemption: to be freed from the will and desire to live as I choose. Jesus is that redeemer. Christ died for me on the cross. He is my redeemer, in other words, He died so I would not have to.  After accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, my Redeemer, my God something happens to me.
  4. Now I have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. He calls me free.

“You will know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32).

But free from what?

  1. Free from the condemnation of the law of God that called me guilty, judged, and imprisoned by sin.
  2. Free from the imprisonment that sin placed on my life.
  3. Free from being separated from God eternally.
  4. Free from eternal death.
  5. Freedom from fear – I can trust God to be my protector at all times and in all circumstances. Nothing will ever happen to me that He does not know about and cannot fix!
  6. Free to love my neighbors.
  7. Free from societal morays that constrict how I see my “neighbor.”
  8. Free from the political boundaries of this world that try to confine me to love only people from my locale or culture.  Why? Because in Christ every living human being is my brother, sister, or at the Bible says, “neighbor.”  The freedom to love as God loves is the most outrageous experience that I experienced.
  9. Free from the clutches of hate. This world is permeated by hate and that comes only from the devil.
  10. Free from worry – because God is my provider.

Alright, so what if I am free? This type of freedom frees your mind, your heart, and your soul to love in a way that is not humanly possible without being a child of God who is filled with the Holy Spirit. No social activist, no politician, or political party, or act of congress can legislate this type of freedom. It comes only from being a part of the Family of God.

Where am I going – not that I am so free and so loved?

First of all, I am asking my Heavenly Father to send me out to share this freedom news with my neighbors. To tell them how they can be free from sin too.  Secondly, I know that when I close my eyes I will be living with the eternal Family of God where God dwells. I will bot be separated from Him eternally. I will not be going to hades/hell.  Call it what you may, living eternally in a place where there is no peace is not what I want for me, my children, my friends, or my neighbors.

“Who hath saved [me] and called [me] with a holy calling, not according to [my] works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given [me] in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Imagine that. He knew me before I was even thought of by my parents.  But more importantly, He had a plan of redemption for me before sin entered this world. He loved me so that He sent His one and only Son to die for my sins. So, do you want to know where you are going? Do you want to be free?  Watch this video and contact us right here on this page.

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ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? (a)To act justly, (b)and to love mercy(c) and to walk humbly with your God. Then the Lord Jesus left us directives in the New Testament as to the purpose of a Christian’s life. ” He answered,

(A) “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and (

B) with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27 NIV).

However, he extended that second statement with this one.

  1. “A new command(A) I give you: Love one another.
  2. (B) As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
  3. (C) By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35).
  4. Then he completed our purpose by giving us this commandment,

The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.

  1. (A) 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
  2. (B) 19 Therefore go [He is sending us to do something] and make disciples of all nations,
  3. (C) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
  4. (D) 20 and teaching
  5. (E) them to obey everything I have commanded you.
  6. (F) And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:16-20 NIV).

What an awesome God!! He did not leave my future in the hands of a human being. He did not leave me floundering and wondering.

  1. “WHAT IS MY PURPOSE IN LIFE?”, or even
  2. “WHAT IS HIS WILL FOR MY LIFE?”. He was crystal clear!

I am so thankful for these words of admonishment and direction. My desire is to follow these commands. Yes, I know I am not perfect, but so does God!! What about you? Do you feel a sense of relief knowing what it is that God wants you to do with your life?  Just ask Him to place people in front of you whom you can teach how to grow in His knowledge and Grace and also teach them how to develop others!  Our lives are in His hands!

Can I have a relationship with God?

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8 [Now he provides for Adam’s physical needs!]And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. (Gen 2:7-8 KJV)

 

 

He made man from the dust of the ground for one specific purpose to worship Him. Now God lives in Heaven and man is on earth. The trees, plants, and animals cannot communicate with him.  He needs a person to talk to.  God understood the human need for relationships. So, he provided a person for Adam who would be with his field of vision 24/7. Someone with whom his human senses could experience oneness.

He made a wife for Adam and her purpose was the same as her husband – to worship God to establish a horizontal relationship with her husband and a vertical relationship with Him.”And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Verse 18.

The relationships went well at the beginning; they had no sinful thoughts and or actions to block that horizontal relationship with God.  They were pure and holy.  Their relationship with God brought about a feeling of fulfillment.  However, they were created with free will.   Even so, as they walked and talked with God in the Garden they had a horizontal relationship. Why was it horizontal?  They were speaking to Him face to face.

Then the worst thing that ever happened in the history of humanity occurred.  Adam and Eve exercised their free will and chose to listen to the devil (Gen 3).  When this happened it separated them from the horizontal relationship that they had with God.  Their relationship became only a vertical one. Only God could restore that relationship.

What did God do to restore that broken relationship? 

He sent his Son, His one and only Son to take on himself the penalty of death that we had incurred when Adam and Eve sinned.  Only through the Holy Spirit can that relationship become restored.  His word states,

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. [It takes the wisdom of the Holy Spirit for us to get to know him better.]  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called) you, [We cannot begin to comprehend the size of the calling that God has placed on our lives without the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and revelation. We will not experience] the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, [we will not comprehend] his incomparably great power for us who believe [without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit](Eph 1:17 : Ex 28:3; Isa 11:2; Phil 1:9; Col 1:9; Eph 1:18 : Job 42:5; 2 Co 4:6; Heb 6:4; Eph 1:18 : S Ro 8:28 Eph 1:18 : ver 7; S Ro 2:4; Eph 1:18 : ver 11; Eph 1:18 : Col 1:12 Eph 1:19 : Eph 3:7; Col 1:29; Eph 1:19 : Isa 40:26; Eph 6:10).

Even after Adam and Eve sinned God still wanted to have a relationship with humanity. Due to the original sin of Adam and Eve, we cannot experience the perfect horizontal relationship that God had with Adam and Eve; however, we can experience a vertical relationship with God now.  He yearns for it. When we answer the call of the Holy Spirit to a relationship of worship with God, He in turn, “nurtures us, cares for us, and gives us peace”.[1]

  1. How does an individual become a worshipper of the Holy and Mighty God?
  2. How can you have a relationship with a person whom you cannot see, hear, or touch?
  3. How could He ever love you when you are a sinner?

Wheeler and Whaley have three specific statements that answer these questions.

  1. REALIZE YOU’RE A SINNER. God’s word teaches us that we’re all sinners. And it’s because of our sin that all people from every generation experience death (see Ro 6:23). Even though we’re sinners, God loves us so much that he sent his son to live on earth, die on a cross, and rise victorious over death so we could become worshipers (see Ro 5:8-9).  Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn’t live and died in our place to pay for our sin.
  2. ASK JESUS TO FORGIVE YOU OF YOUR SINS. The next step in becoming a worshiper of God involves repentance. This is recognizing the wrong you’ve done and being sorry about it.  It involves feeling regret about sin or past actions and changing your ways or habits.  It involves living for God instead of self.  This is transformational worship in action.
  3. ACCEPT JESUS AS YOUR SAVIOR AND LORD. God sent Jesus into this world for the sole purpose of providing a way for [us] to have a loving relationship with God. The Bible teaches if we confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we can become genuine worshipers of God.  God removes all the sin from our lives, and we stand before him as justified by faith.  The relationship with God begins that we were made to enjoy (see Ro 10:9-10).[2]

Have you ever taken the steps above?  Tells us what it felt like to you.  If you have not taken the steps above then contact us by clicking this button:

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Tell us how to reach you.  An e-mail address is fine, or a phone number.

We will walk you through the process.

We will help you to find a Bible teaching church near you.

If you already have a relationship with God can you think of any way that you can strengthen it?[3] Write it down and take the proper actions.

[1] David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley, Worship and Witness: 74.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 75.

Written Assignment 4 – DSM 500 – D13 Discipleship Ministries – Liberty University Online, by Joyce Gerald, November 21, 2014

Introduction

The author will present the importance of a healthy church, and how one can determine if a church is healthy. The author will also discuss the three areas to be addressed to create a healthier body of Christ.  Finally, steps to improve the unhealthy church will be presented as the final argument of the paper.   A spiritually healthy church does not happen by itself it is fostered by a spiritually healthy leader.

A Healthy Church: The Goal for Discipleship

            The spiritual health of a congregation defines the success with which discipleship is implemented.  The book of Acts proffers five demonstrative facets of a healthy church.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had a need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47).[1]

 Paul stated that the healthy church becomes one through fellowship, exponentially through discipleship, spiritually stronger through worship, expands through ministry, and dimensionally larger through evangelism.  The healthy church of Paul’s time operated as “one body” the “very body” of Christ; therefore, they were “synonymous”.[2]  Therefore, what are the signs of a healthy church and how do these signs impact discipleship?

According to Earley and Dempsey, “Paul points out that the body of Christ is to be built up and that it grows strong by the proper working of each individual part.”[3]  The authors define “each individual part” working properly as essential the health of the church; “It is an organic system where all the parts work together.” [4]  The authors also stressed the importance of “spiritual gifts and “each individual part” of the congregation knowing what their gifts are and are they are being used.[5]  The authors expressed that the defining sign of a spiritually healthy church is the extent to which effective discipleship is occurring[6]

Scazzero and Bird proposed that a healthy church practiced self, congregational, and leadership reflection to ensure that emotional and spiritual health lined up with the will of God for the congregation.[7] The authors declared, “I have seen young
people training to be leaders respond brilliantly and experience significant changes in their lives when exposed to a discipleship model that integrates emotional and spiritual maturity.” [8] Robert Webber described the methodology of discipleship that occurred within a healthy church,

. . . . we must emphasize the cost of discipleship, the absolute dam of God over our entire lives, and the necessity of a faith that issues forth in obedience. It’s a problem of balance and emphasis. The need is to return to the biblical message and its demands.[9]

He continued by describing how an unhealthy church launched discipleship,

One reason why modern evangelism may be divorced from obedience is due to the purpose of evangelists. Evangelists seek to elicit a response, to get someone to make a decision, to make a commitment to Christ.[10]

In order to prevent the previous poor example of unhealthy discipleship from occurring, churches must adhere to what Putman, Harrington, and Coleman proposed. The healthy church leader must implement “a fundamental shift in [their] thinking — from informing people to equipping them . . . . to [lead lives that are] . . . . transform [ed].”[11] Transformation is the final goal of discipleship (Romans 12:1-2). Telling the church that it must lead transformed lives does not meet this definition of equipping. The leaders of a healthy church lead by example when it comes to discipleship.

The healthy church is succinctly described in a lecture presentation by Dempsey. Dempsey proffered the following evaluative statements,

A healthy leader knows who he or she is and they know their role in the body.  The spiritual leader knows his/her role in the body and helps other people to grow in their relationship with Christ. [A healthy church is led by a] spiritual leader who is a person of influence.  He or she follows God’s will for their lives and influences others to follow God’s plan for their lives as well. [12]   

Finally, a spiritually healthy church is led by spiritual leaders who are healthy and has believers who are healthy, and are actively engaged in discipleship. [13]   A healthy church is immersed in Christ, obedient to him, and carries out The Great Commission.

The Top Three Areas to be Addressed to Create a Healthier Body of Christ

            The top three areas of concern in the writer’s congregation are; (1) lack of leadership in discipleship, (2) lack of a specific discipleship plan, and a (3) lack of relational groups that are functional and healthy. Area one: If the pastor of the congregation has an organizational structure that is family and friends based then new persons entering the congregation are not encouraged to utilize the gifts that God has given them for the betterment of the body.  Discipleship must be demonstrative and fueled by the healthy pastor.  A pastor of a congregation offered a discipleship class to the congregation and announced that only eight people signed up for the class. That was the end of the discussion with reference to discipleship.

Area two: The lack of a specific and sustained discipleship plan hinders discipleship. This church did not have a specific plan for discipleship.  If someone has an idea of something that they wanted to do the pastor simply told them to go forward with it. The main community outreach activities for the congregation were the Easter egg hunt and the fall festival.  There are numerous fundraisers for the rehabilitation program and the outreach to Honduras.  However, there are no small groups or training for small group leaders.  There is no training program for mentorship of leaders who will develop a discipleship program.

Area three: lack of relational groups that are functional and healthy.  The only groups that exist in this congregation are Sunday school classes; there is also a women’s ,circle of friends, group.  The Sunday school classes are lead by personal friends of the pastor and or the youth leader.  The only functional relational group within the congregation is the youth group.  They are disciplining members of the group and are “multiplying” it.  The congregation demonstrated a lack of meeting the need to “belong”.

An announcement was made to the congregation, by the pastor, that visitors to the church complained that the church was not welcoming.  The pastor told the congregation to go out during the meet and greet time to show the visitors that they are indeed welcoming.   As a new member of this church, this writer has not yet received a visit from the pastor.  When a member is in need of prayer, they must – as directed by the church secretary who is pastor’s wife’s sister – make an appointment to see the pastor at the church.  One day the pastor called out into the congregation to determine if a member who was missing, whom the church knew was ill, had been contacted by anyone. That is an indication that pastor is not taking care of the “sick and infirmed” (Jas. 5:13, 1 Pet 5:20, and 2 Thess. 3:2).

Steps to Improve Spiritual Health

            The initial step that must be taken to improve the health of the church is to improve the health of its leader.  The pastor is the blood flow of the discipleship process of the church.  This leader needs to know his role in the body and return to the work of developing leaders who plant churches, as he did in the past.[14]  The church celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary with the current pastor and visitors testified of how he trained them to become church planters.   The pastor must become “a spiritual leader of influence” which develops and or trains other persons of influence who understand the importance of discipleship.[15]  The church organization must develop a plan that involves an “intentional disciple-making [process] that [focuses on] relationship [s] and a clear-cut strategy to eventually birth new group [s]. “ [16]  The leader must also develop a process, “where new believers are intentionally and individually nurtured and developed.” [17] Thus, producing a church that becomes a place where the process of “multiplication” is a reality and not a theoretical construct.[18]

Conclusion           

            Healthy churches demonstrate the spiritual disciplines as a living organism.  They do not develop these disciplines by themselves. They require leaders who are spiritually healthy and who invest in leaders who are also spiritually healthy; thus, providing a body that is healthy and prepared to carry out The Great Commission.

Notes

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New

International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998).

[2] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is–: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville: TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), Location 3271, Kindle.

[3] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, Loc. 3271, Kindle.

[4] Ibid., Loc. 3302-3.

[5] Ibid., Loc. 3302.

[6] Ibid., Loc. 3315.

[7] Peter Scazzero and Warren Bird, The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 77.

[8] Peter Scazzero and Warren Bird, The Emotionally Healthy Church:77

[9] Robert Webber, Common Roots The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.), 157.

[10] Robert Webber, Common Roots , 157-158.

[11] Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman, DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 98.

[12] Rod Dempsey, “The Connection between Disciple and Leader” (video of  lecture, DSMN 500-D13 LUO, week 6, Liberty University, Fall 2014), accessed November 21, 2014.

[13] Allen England, “Creating a Healthy Church” (reading, DSMN 500-D13 LUO-week 6, Liberty University, fall 2014), accessed November 21, 2014.

[14] Rod Dempsey, “The Connection between Disciple and Leader”.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, Loc. 2570-2571 and 3617, Kindle.

[17] Ibid., Loc. 3673 and 3990.

[18] Ibid., Loc. 3990.

Bibliography

Dempsey, Rod. “The Connection between Disciple and Leader.” Lecture, Video of Lecture, DSMN 500-D13 LUO, Week 6, Liberty University, fall 2014, Accessed November 21, 2014.

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is . . . How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013. Kindle.

England, Allen. “Creating a Healthy Church.”( Reading, DSMN 500-D13 LUO-week 6, Liberty University), Accessed November 21, 2014.

Putman, Jim, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman. DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013.

Scazzero, Peter, and Warren Bird. The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.

Webber, Robert. Common Roots The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.

Link

Christ in Discipleship Submitted to Liberty University in partial requirement for DSM 500 Discipleship Ministries

by Joyce Gerald

October 21, 2014

 

Contents

Introduction. 1

Importance of the Centrality of Christ in Christian Discipleship. 1

Obedience and the Discipleship of Christ 2

The Three Stages of Discipleship. 4

Stage One: Declaration. 4

Stage TwoDevelopment 5

Stage Three: Deployment 5

Conclusion. 6

 

 

Introduction

 

The author of this paper details the importance of the centrality of Christ in Christian discipleship and obedience to the will of Christ and how it reflects the discipleship as dictated by Christ. The author will proffer areas that a disciple must submit to the authority of Christ. Finally, the author will outline and expand on the stages of discipleship presented by Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey in the textbook.

Importance of the Centrality of Christ in Christian Discipleship

The message of the great commission encompasses the deity of Christ and the manner in which he commissioned His disciples. According to Schreiner, the Pauline theology was Christ-focused and Christ-centered.[1] Every focus of his ministry pointed towards Christ; he worked, lived, and preached all for the glory of Christ.[2] Schreiner declared,

 

When we think of Pauline theology, I think we need to focus on what is most important in Paul’s theology.  And the focus, I would argue, is on God and Jesus Christ.  Paul’s theology is God-centered and Christ-centered.  We think here of Romans 11:36, speaking of God: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.”  So, Paul’s theology is focused on God, the One from whom all things come and through whom all things are accomplished.  And ultimately all things are for His glory.  In Pauline theology God is the center of that theology.[3]

 

Thus, Christians are notified that Christ is the central figure of the gospel. The disciple and discipled, must comprehend, live by, and maintain Christ as the focal point of their lives and commission.[4] Delio portrayed the centrality of Christ as, “True knowledge. . . [that is embodied in] the person of Jesus Christ.[5] It is essential that the disciple affirms and believes this construct before the process of discipleship begins. Horton, as interviewed by Galli for Christianity today, confirmed that “The gospel is not good instructions, not a good idea, and not good advice. The gospel is an announcement of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.”[6]

Earley and Dempsey present the importance of Christ and a focus on Him as the main thrust of discipleship, “However, when we focus on Jesus and on what He did and how He did it, certain things come into focus.”[7] The main thing that enters into focus for the believer is obedience to Christ and the purity of the commission that he handed to his disciples.[8] The Apostle Paul made this point clear when he stated, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16 NIV).[9] Presenting Christ as the central theme of the gospel is simply an act of obedience to the Great Commission.

Obedience and the Discipleship of Christ

 

Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey postulates that obedience to the will and words of Christ is the central point of being a disciple.[10] Earley and Dempsey also present the argument that in order for a Christian to disciple others they must first be a disciple themselves; obeying all that Christ commanded.[11] It is worth noting what Earley and Dempsey stated, “Before you can be a disciple, you need to begin obeying everything Jesus commanded.”[12] The authors then posed the question, “Do you even know everything Jesus commanded?”[13] Therefore, obedience is hinged on knowing what Christ commanded, then adhering to those commands.

Accordingly, David Wells declares that discipleship of the modern world, on a global basis, is only possible when obedience to the purity and truth of the gospel is realized in the great commission.[14]  Consequently, it is not possible to participate in discipleship without absolute obedience to the dictates of The Lord.  For a disciple to do this they must be willing to submit every area of their lives over to The Lord (I Peter 5:6 and James 4:7). As a follower of Jesus Christ we must be willing to live by the example of submission to the will of the Father (Luke 22:42).

Earley and Dempsey express that the areas of a disciple’s life that require submission to Christ are, “commitment, trust, obedience . . . learning, and taking the next step of faith”.[15] This implies letting go of one’s self and allowing the Holy Spirit to take control. A disciple must embrace the construct of being a “learner or “follower”.[16]  A learner admits that they are not in control of the learning environment.  A learner understands that skills acquisition requires time and effort on their part and a learner is cognizant of the end product of learning.  In this case of a disciple of Christ the end product is the Great Commission; for modern day disciples, the Great Commission is disciplining others for their entrance into The Kingdom of God.[17]  Furthermore, Putman, Harrington and Coleman detailed the four spheres in which a disciple must demonstrate growth [or submit to Christ, because growth in a Christian only comes through submission].[18] (1) The centrality of a relationship with God; (2) Relationships within the Family of God, [church attendance etc.,]; (3) Relationships at home [Christ becomes the head of the home], and (4) Relationships with the world [witnessing to the world as the disciple lives his life].[19] What are the specific stages of discipleship and how does a disciple inculcate them into the discipleship process?

The Three Stages of Discipleship

Stage One: Declaration

The stage of declaration is the first step of obedience to God’s calling on a believer’s life. It requires the new believer to begin the process of “investigating” who and what Jesus Christ is, repenting, believing in his deity, and learning what he requires of them.[20] Although John 3:16 declares God’s love for mankind it is not enough to just believe that statement.  The believer must take the next step and ascertain what it means for them personally. John 3:36 states, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them”. What does this rejection mean to a new believer?  John 15:10 tells the believer that if they keep his commandments then they will remain in his love. John 14:21-24 reiterates this sentiment but goes further by stating, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” The believer can conclude that rejection Christ would be to reject his commandments.  Rejecting his commandments is an act of willful disobedience and a display of a lack of love for The Redeemer. Disobedience to the commands of Christ will hinder the second stage of discipleship.

Stage TwoDevelopment

The second stage of discipleship is development and the act of obedience to the call of God on a disciple’s life.  This stage implores the believer to begin the process of transformation that Paul speaks of in Romans 12:1-2. The transformation of the new believer will only take place when the believer is engaged in the act “the renewing. . . [their] mind” Ro 12:2. Dempsey and Early identified this stage as the steps of immersion into a deeper relationship with Christ [by talking to him daily in prayer];  into the Christian Community[by spending time with other believers]; into the word of God [through intense Bible study], and finally immersion into ministry itself.[21] Each of these stages requires obedience to the disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and gathering together with the saints as described in Hebrews 10:25.  Negating any of these areas as a disciple of Christ is a demonstration of disobedience. The stages of development and transformation do not complete the process of discipleship  Without the stage of deployment the process comes to a halt.

Stage Three: Deployment

During the deployment stage, obedience to Christ dictates that the disciple is expected to begin and maintain the process of intentionally following the great commission of Matthew 28:18-20.[22]  Earley and Dempsey affirmed that “its [the church’s] mission is not the invention, responsibility, or program of human origin. It flows from the character and purposes of God.”[23]

What this looks like is different for each disciple.  It could be a calling to the ministry, or only reaching out on a daily basis to every person that one meets to tell them of the redemptive act of Jesus Christ. In either case, the disciple does not keep the act of redemption to themselves.  They go forward in their sphere of influence and declare who Jesus is to any and everyone who will listen. Not all believers are called to the position of a pastor; however, all believers are called to minister to others and to the act of teaching others how to follow Christ.

Conclusion

            The author discussed the importance of the centrality of Christ in Christian discipleship. Discipleship in centered in Christ and the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and nothing else. A disciple of Christ demonstrates obedience to His will and that obedience is reflected in how the disciple obeys His commandments. Finally, the author outlined and expanded on the three stages of discipleship; Stage one required investigation into Christ and culminated in repentance, belief, and obedience to follow his directives for their lives. Stage two declared the expectation of transformation from what one was to becoming immersed in Christ, the church community, and finally into ministry itself.  The final stage of deployment is actively carrying out the great commission.  Reaching others for the kingdom of God according to the calling that God has placed on a believer’s life is an essential part of the transformed life.  Not all believers are called to the position of pastor, but all believers are called to minister to others through discipleship. 

Bibliography

Delio, Ilia. “Theology, Metaphysics, and the Centrality of Christ.” Theological Studies 68, no. 2 (June 1, 2007): 254-73. Accessed October 22, 2014. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is–: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013. Kindle.

Galli, Mark. “Christ at the Center.” Christianity Today 53, no. 11 (November 2009): 47. Accessed October 22, 2014. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/november/30.47.html?start=2.

Putman, Jim, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman. DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples. Grand Rapids: MI: Zondervan, 2013.

Schreiner, Tom. “Centrality of Christ and God in Paul’s Theology.” BiblicalTraining.org. Accessed October 21, 2014. http://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/centrality-christ-god-paul-theology/biblical-theology/van-pelt-blomberg-schreiner.

Webber, Malcolm. “The Centrality of Christ.” Ministry Today Magazine. September 2014. Accessed October 21, 2014. http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/culture/18176-the-centrality-of-christ.

Wells, David F. “Christian Discipleship In a Postmodern World.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 51, no. 1 (March 2008): 19-33. Accessed October 21, 2014. http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/51/51-1/JETS_51-1_019-033_Wells.pdf.

Notes

[1] Tom Schreiner, “Centrality of Christ and God in Paul’s Theology,” BiblicalTraining.org, accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/centrality-christ-god-paul-theology/biblical-theology/van-pelt-blomberg-schreiner.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Malcolm Webber, “The Centrality of Christ,” Ministry Today Magazine, September 2014, “Conclusion,” accessed October 21, 2014, http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/culture/18176-the-centrality-of-christ.

[5] Ilia Delio, “Theology, Metaphysics, and the Centrality of Christ,” Theological Studies 68, no. 2 (June 1, 2007): 267, accessed October 22, 2014, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.

[6] Mark Galli, “Christ at the Center,” Christianity Today 53, no. 11 (November 2009): 47, accessed October 22, 2014, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/november/30.47.html?start=2.

[7] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2013), Loc., 822, Kindle.

[8] Ibid., Loc., 832, Kindle.

[9] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).

[10] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…, Loc. 856, Kindle.

[11] Ibid., Loc. 858, Kindle.

[12] Ibid., Loc. 870, Kindle.

[13] Ibid., Loc. 874, Kindle.

[14] David F. Wells, “Christian Discipleship in a Postmodern World,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 51, no. 1 (March 2008): 33, accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/51/51-1/JETS_51-1_019-033_Wells.pdf.

[15] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…, Loc. 1037, Kindle.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid., Loc. 1048, Kindle.

[18] Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman, DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Grand Rapids: MI: Zondervan, 2013), 78-90.

[19] Ibid., 89-91.

[20] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…, Loc. 1059, Kindle.

[21] Ibid., Loc. 1199-1347, Kindle.

[22] Ibid., Loc. 1382, Kindle.

[23] Ibid., Loc. 1393, Kindle.

Link

The Stages of Discipleship: Written as an assignment for Liberty University DSM500 November 2014.

According to the Earley and Dempsey, there are three stages of discipleship: declaration, development, and deployment. We will discuss each stage below.

Stage One:  Declaration. [1] 

During the stage of declaration, the seeking unbeliever begins to investigate the person of Christ. [2] Discussing who Jesus is and what He is to you, the disciple, is an excellent way to personalize this stage.  Talking about how the disciple came to know Christ and sharing scriptures such as John 3:16 (NIV) will open the door to questions from the person being discipled.  Discussing one’s personal thirst for knowledge of Christ and how that thirst was quenched presents a visual image to the listener of how their own thirst can be quenched.

The focus of the declaration stage requires the use of scriptural references such as the woman at the well. The declaration stage includes the discussion of sin, the forgiveness of sin, and how that forgiveness brings about repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.[3]  Earley and Dempsey declared that “The goal is to arrive at a place of committed belief.” [4] However, it is essential that the individual being discipled understands that commitment to faith also requires absolute obedience to Christ and His word.  Providing current demonstrative examples od Christian helps the new believer to comprehend that the construct of holiness does not apply to just the “holy men” of the Bible, but it also applies to people today and more importantly can be accomplished through the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Stage Two: Development:

The stage of development focuses on immersion into the new life with Christ, abandoning the contacts, connections, and lures of the old life, and becoming a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.[5] Stage two is the act of being prepared and ready to serve the church community as well as preparation and training for sharing the gospel with others.  The training process must be intentional.  Accountability and ongoing coaching are critical at this stage.  Start with small incremental assignments and areas where the disciple can serve and experience success.  During the development juncture, the act of obedience and the submission of the believer’s entire life to the way of the cross and service to Jesus Christ becomes a way of life. During this stage, the transformation process has begun.  Immersion into the church community and being provided with opportunities to serve, while still being mentored, will grow the disciple during the stage of development.  Development/transformation is an ongoing life long process. It is essential that the new believer knows this; share (Romans 7:15-20) and let them know that you are there to encourage them when they feel that they have challenges.

Stage Three: Deployment or intentional global commissioning.[6] 

As the disciple grows through stage two and becomes proficient in the word they intentionally begin the process of disciplining others. The disciple is sent to present salvation through the gospel to future Christian believers.  [7]The mentor expresses the importance of the act of obedience and the willingness to go where ever it is that God sends the disciple.  During the deployment stage, the disciple becomes a multiplier[8]. This stage is not fulfilled until the believer is called home to be with Christ in heaven.  This is the fulfillment of the great commission.

The Role of the Pastor

Explaining, demonstrating, and implementing these stages in the local congregation is easier if it is done with the framework of small group ministry.  Small group ministry makes the training process intimate and personalized.  It is highly probably that present key leaders in the congregation will have to be trained in the process of “multiplying and discipleship” before it can be launched as a full-scale church initiative.[9]  However, it should not be left until “individuals’ have perfected the process!  Sharing one’s own story of how they became a Christian is a personalized way of beginning the process. The mentee/discipled will understand that in a more rapid fashion that just quoting the Bible and passages to them. Discipleship is just telling your story as a means of opening the way to sharing Jesus with others.

[1] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is. . . How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), Loc. 1109, Kindle.

[2] Earley & Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, Loc 1109, Kindle.

[3] Ibid., Loc. 1182.

[4] Ibid., Loc. 1064.

[5] Ibid., Loc. 1066.

[6] Ibid., Loc. 1073.

[7] Ibid., Loc. 1512.

[8] Ibid., Loc. 2712.

[9] Ibid.

Bibliography

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is . . . How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013. Kindle.

Link

Do we have a Moses, Ezra or Nehemiah in America or is that our job?

Moses mapped out under God’s revelation, and directives – way before Samuel, David and or even Solomon the cultus of the Priesthood, and the roles of each person in priestly or kingly leadership was set. He even mapped out what the intended tabernacle should look like and the roles of prophets. He also mapped out the rulership based on a the “kingly” rule. No God was not telling Samuel that he didn’t want the nation to have a king.

AN OUTLINE OF DEUTERONOMY

  1. The Covenant Setting (1:1-5)
  2. The Historical Review (1:6-4:40)
    1. The Past Dealings of Yahweh with Israel (1:6-3:29)
    2. The Exhortation of Moses (4:1-40)
  3. The Preparation for the Covenant Text (4:41-49)
    1. The Narrative Concerning Cities of Refuge (4:41-43)
    2. The setting and introduction (4:44-49)
  4. The Principles of the Covenant (5:1-11:32)
    1. The Opening Exhortation (5:1-5)
    2. The Ten Commandments (5:6-21)
    3. The Narrative Relating the Sinai Revelation and Israel’s Response (5:22-33)
    4. The Nature of the Principles (chap. 6)
    5. The Content of the Principles (chaps. 7-11)
      1.  261Dispossession of Nonvassals (7:1-26)
      2. Yahweh as the Source of Blessing (8:1-20)
      3. Blessing as a Product of Grace (9:1-10:11)
      4. Love of Yahweh and Love of Men (10:12-22)
      5. Obedience and Disobedience and Their Rewards (11:1-32)
  5. The Specific Stipulations of the Covenant (12:1-26:15)
    1. The Exclusiveness of Yahweh and Worship of Him (12:1-16:17)
      1. The central sanctuary (12:1-14)
      2. The sanctity of blood (12:15-28)
      3. The abomination of pagan gods (12:29-32)
      4. The evil of false prophets (13:1-18)
      5. The distinction between clean and unclean animals (14:1-21)
      6. Tribute to the sovereign (14:22-16:17)
    2. Kingdom Officials (16:18-18:22)
      1. Judges and officials (16:18-17:13)
      2. Kings (17:14-20)
      3. Priests and Levites (18:1-8)
      4. Prophets (18:9-22)
    3. Civil Law (19:1-22:4)
    4. Laws of Purity (22:5-23:18)
    5. Laws of Interpersonal Relationships (23:19-25:19)
    6. Laws of Covenant Celebration and Confirmation (26:1-15)
  6. Exhortation and Narrative Interlude (26:16-19)
  7. The Curses and Blessings (chaps. 27-28)
    1. The Gathering at Shechem (27:1-10)
    2. The Curses that Follow Disobedience of Specific Stipulations (27:11-26)
    3. The Blessings that Follow Obedience (28:1-14)
    4. The Curses that Follow Disobedience of General Stipulations (28:15-68)
  8. The Epilogic Historical Review (chaps. 29-30)
  9. Deposit of the Text and Provision for Its Future Implementation (31:1-29)
  10. The Song of Moses (31:30-32:43)
  11. Narrative Interlude (32:44-52)
  12. The Blessing of Moses (chap. 33)
  13. Narrative Epilogue (34:1-12)
(Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti, p 279-280).
He had already planned that out, and He had already determined that it would be David. He had already determined that Christ would be his direct descendant.
No, the people were not spiritually ready for that yet.

“The account opens where Chronicles ends—with a Hebrew version of the edict of the Persian king Cyrus authorizing the Jews of the exile to return to their homeland “(Ezra 1:1-4; cf. 2 Chr 36:22-23; Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti, 344).

When Ezra was called by God to go back to the exiles to reinstitute the cultus of the priesthood and reinstitute the temple worship he could not even begin there.

The narrator then recounted the preparations for return including the amassing of precious metals Ezra (1:5-11). 

Next follows a list of the returnees (chap. 2), the total number of which was 42,360 (2:64). 

To this list should be compared a nearly identical one in Neh 7:5-73. 

On their return, the leaders of the community assembled with the populace to rebuild the great temple altar and to offer on it the festival sacrifices, all, so far, without the benefit of a temple (Ezra 3:1-7). Burdened by this deficiency, Zerubbabel, the governor, and Jeshua, the priest, undertook the temple construction in the second year of the return (c. 536 BC; 3:8-13), an undertaking whose very commencement gave rise to intense local opposition (4:1-4).  (Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti, ibid).

The remnant had become so polluted in every way through interfaith marriages that led to spiritual adultery and idolatry – which was totally contrary to what was laid out in Deuteronomy – well let’s just say the Pentateuch, that He had to begin with the personal cleansing of the people.

Having arrived in Jerusalem with a large entourage, Ezra confronted some problems that had engulfed the Jewish state since its reestablishment 80 years earlier. 

   Chief among these was the intermarriage of Jews with Gentiles, a matter which, after much prayer and confession (9:1-10:4), he addressed head-on by mandating divorce across the board (10:5-44).

He ordered all of the men who had married women who were pagans to divorce their wives. Now we in or the modern world would think about the psychological damage that would have done, the unfairness of it all.

NEHEMIAH COMMISSION: Meanwhile Nehemiah had heard reports of these and other calamities from his vantage point in Susa and, having gotten permission from King Artaxerxes for a leave of absence to go to Jerusalem (Neh 1:1-2:8), undertook to do so (2:9-11). 

Once there he assessed the ruinous condition of the city (2:12-16) and determined to do something about it (2:17-20). The work of rebuilding the walls, though carried out with the most well-thought-out strategy (chap. 3), was impeded in every way possible by locals who were determined to subvert it (chap. 4). Meanwhile, Nehemiah had to contend with internal problems such as the exaction of usury by one Jew against another (5:1-13), a practice much at odds with Nehemiah’s own self-sacrifice even though he was governor (5:14-19). Having dealt with this, he had to continue to resist the blandishments and threats of his enemies (6:1-14)  until, at last, the walls were finished (6:15-19; Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti, 344-345).

 

Israel was supposed to be God exemplary nation. It was meant to be the country that all countries looked to as an example of how to live a Holy Life – there is a point to this.
God promised the patriarchs of old that there would always be a remnant left in Israel, but for multiple generations, His chosen people had chosen Baal over Him. The book is very intense but loses its validity if it is not read at the same time as Nehemiah, and if one does not know the history of the nation of Israel…that is why the Bible has to be read according to the MT order and not our current order of the Bible. Anyway.
Ezra went back home with the Pentateuch to set up “shop” so to speak, but transformation had to take place first. The people of Israel had lived 70 years in exile, and spent numerous dynasties is absolute disobedience to God’s law.
Juxtapose Ezra & Nehemiah with 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles and you will begin to get a picture of the base depravity of that nation.
Then read what Jeremiah had to do when he was sent to the nation to tell them to accept simply the just punishment that God was going to rain down on them. It is really easier to listen to these books of the Bible; it sinks in more.
Th priesthood was in shambles. Holiness did not exist in the temple. God’s presence was not there because the people who were responsible for “maintaining” a holy environment and created “an unholy mess”. Now let’s jump back to our present day.
America is where it is because of the state of our churches. Let’s just take the blue pill and deal with it.
Go back into our own history and see how well we have adhered to Matthew 5,6, and 7. I am not even going to go into the NT after Acts. In what way have, we treated the strangers in our gates with love and respect as dictated by the love of God?
“Let’s clean up the church house and leave the Whitehouse to God because He and only He can fix that.”
We have a biblical responsibility to that building and the people who are in DC.
Let’s us maintain that biblical responsibility.
We have local responsibilities to our neighbors – who are our neighbors? Every living human being whom we are in contact with, not just the people who we go to church with and our family members.
Our nation is a mess because we – the church is a mess.
What would happen in this country if we were all on mission for Christ??

“Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20 NIV). “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalms 19:1 NIV).

Among the books of all religions the Old Testament (OT) canon “Bible” is original in its construct and theology. It purported that there is only one God who is the sovereign creator of all that is, was and is to come, and He breathed His book the Bible through His chosen vessels (Genesis 1:1; 2 Tim 3:16-17). The historicity of that belief, juxtaposed against the backdrop of modern scholars’ need to disprove the historicity of the Bible, thus, negating the validity of the theology of the Bible is a widespread problem and lends itself to meet a scholarly need to disprove all things theological.  Lee McDonald posited that Josephus argued for the historicity of the OT; the historicity of the OT was preserved throughout the history of Israel by the prophets (p. 110).  Therefore, giving credence to the truthfulness of the Bible and validating its content.

To claim that any part of the Bible is false purported that it is all false.  There is no middle ground. God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23: 19).  Archeological discoveries of Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) literature supported the historicity of the Bible and validated its contents (Eugene Merrill, Mark Rooker, and Michael Grisanti, p. 63).  Merril, Rooker, and Grisanti identified the parallels between the historical culture of the times referenced in the Bible but did not present the social structures as equal to the historicity of the Bible as dictated by God to the writers of old (p. 69).  The scholars cautioned readers that “The idea . . . that the OT is merely a human book that converted ANE mythology into another version, the concoction of Israelite poets and theologians” is a false premise (ibid).

God revealed Himself to His people through His then living servants, and He reveals Himself to us through the Bible.  Just read this Psalm of David.

1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; they skies proclaim the work of His hands.

2 – Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

3 – There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

4 – Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens, He has pitched a tent for the sun

5 – which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 – It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

7 – The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

8 – The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

9 – The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.

10 – They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

11 – By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is a great reward.

12 – Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.

13 – Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

14 – May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19 NIV).

That simple psalm speaks to the sovereignty of God and His availability to all of humankind. Through His word and His creation.  There is a prevalent worldview that believes that denying the existence of God and claiming that the Bible is just a myth negates their responsibility to engage in a covenantal relationship with Him.

Merril, Rooker, and Grisanti also posited that this worldview will lead readers to surmise that the Bible is merely a book of myths or legends,  “concocted” to meet the theological need of a group of people (p. 71). On the other hand, Oswalt pointed out that one can contend that a “legend” is a false story about the past while still asserting that a “history” is a truthful rendition of the past; however when making that assertion one must posit the question “false or true according to what standard?” (p. 16). Consequently, one cannot propose that the historicity of the Bible is false without saying at the same time that the theology of the Bible is false. In concluding, it is necessary to reiterate that,

All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 Amplified Bible AMP).

As people of faith, we contend that our faith is adequate to support our arguments against historical errors. However, history has proven that researchers cannot argue that their findings are the final word on a particular topic.  For instance, Oswalt began his discourse on the historical perspective of the “Bible and Myth” by presenting Wright, Stahlin, and Weiser’s view on the topic (Oswalt, 29). Not even a page later Oswalt iterated that opinions have now changed by citing the work of Oden, Smith, and Rogerson (p. 30). Furthermore, Oswalt contended that reliable data did not support the change in opinions, but iterated that the opinions were mere “assumptions of [the] scholars” (ibid). Of course,Oswalt was discussing the construct of the Bible being a myth; however, the premise of Oswalt‘s reasoning can be generalized to other research presented concerning the historicity of the Bible.

In addition, Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti proffered that archeology has provided credible evidence that the historicity of the Bible is accurate; further, the scholars contended that to present an argument that the Bible is mythical and or legendary would be unduly biased (46). MerrilRooker, and Grisanti posited that archeological finds of The Merneptah Stele, The Tel Dan inscription, Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Tel Amarna letters supported the historicity of the Bible ( MerrilRooker, and Grisanti 47-48).  From a research standpoint, a believer can stand on the promise that empirical research proved the historicity of the Bible.  However, it still takes faith to believe that there is a God who is sovereign over all things and that te Bible records His words in a book penned by Him through human instruments.

Bibliography

McDonald, Lee Martin, and Lee Martin McDonald. The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority. Peabody, Hendrickson Publishers, 2007.

Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, B&H Academic, 2011. https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=9iq5AwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PR4.

Oswalt, John N. The Bible among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. https://play.google.com/books/reader?printsec=frontcover&output=reader&id=9zgRdJy1X80C&pg=GBS.PA6.w.0.0.0.5.

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