A New Book!

August 4, 2014 — Leave a comment

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I am very excited to announce the release of my newest book, New Testament Snapshots. It has been almost two years since the release of Leading into the 21st Century…and Beyond and with the move to Brazil last year, I got a little behind in my writing. New Testament Snapshots is only going to be released as an ebook and I know that you are going to love it!

The book focuses on ten people in the New Testament that we all have heard of if we have spent any time at all reading the Bible. At the same time, we know very little about these ten people and it seems that they are often shrouded in mystery. I believe that these ten people still have something very important to say to us. This book explores what their messages are.

New Testament Snapshots is a fantastic way to stimulate your own personal study of the Bible. I provide some discussion questions at the end of each chapter to help you dig a little deeper. This book is also an excellent study guide for small group study. Most of these stories were discussed in our own small group. Annie and I lead an incredible Connect Group here at C3 Church Curitiba, and we all learned so much as we looked at these New Testament Snapshots.

I have kept the book short and very readable. It is only about 75 pages long. So many people get intimidated trying to read a 200+ page manuscript. We all know that “leaders are readers,” and it is easy to feel guilty if we are not cultivating the reading habit. New Testament Snapshots is a great way to pick back up on that New Year’s Resolution that you made in January to read some good books this year.

This is the first book that I have published myself and it is only going to be available here. I would so appreciate it if you would forward this post to anyone that you think might be interested in reading a great book. We are keeping the price low so that everyone can afford it.

So, how can you get your copy? This link will take you to PayPal. Just drop the small sum of $3.97 in the account of ntsnapshotsbook@gmail.com and I will send a copy your way. Thanks so much for your support!

As always, if you want to support our missionary work in Brazil, just click here. Obrigado!

 

Thiago Souza

Thiago Souza

My friend Thiago Souza is with Youth With a Mission in Brazil. Part of his job is to create leadership and training videos. A couple of months ago, Thiago asked me to share a few thoughts on leadership as it pertains to our work with C3 Church in Brazil. The video is only a couple of minutes long, but I think that you will really enjoy it.

Click here to watch.

As always, if you would like to be a part of our ministry in Brazil, just click here. There is no greater investment that when we invest in those that are helping building God’s Kingdom! Obrigado!

 

Our Family

Annie and I just got back to Brazil after a month in the United States. It was a wonderful time with our family and close friends! We started our trip in Las Vegas for the C3 America’s Conference. The conference was amazing! We were refreshed, challenged, and encouraged by some world-class worship and teaching. We also got to see so many friends from around the US and Canada. After the conference, we spent a couple of incredible days with our kids in Las Vegas.

From Vegas, we then went to Atlanta for three weeks. Annie and I loved being in C3 Church Atlanta for three straight Sundays. We got to share with the church a bit of what God is doing in Brazil. It was also exciting to get to speak at eight of the church’s Discipleship Groups. Many of these groups combined with another group so we could give our update to more people. These D-Groups are really the heart of the church and it was great to show some pictures from Brazil, tell some stories of what God is doing, and let our friends know what we have been up to.

So many people in these D-Groups support us financially, pray for us, and stay in touch with us. It was an honor to be able to let them know what they were a part of. Annie and I realize that we represent C3 Atlanta but so many people help us do what we do in Brazil. For many other people who are new to the church, it was an opportunity to let them know that C3 Church has a global vision as well as just a local one. Several people remarked that they had no idea that C3 was making an impact in so many places in the world.

Now that we are back in Curitiba, it is back to work. Pastor Dean Sweetman is coming down in a few days for a C3 Brazil Conference. C3 Santos and C3 Curitiba will be involved. The meetings will also be open to the public. Pastor Dean is an incredible communicator, the worship is going to be amazing, and we are believing God for many changed lives!

If you would like to be a part of what God is doing in South America, just click here. There is no better place to invest than in building God’s Kingdom! Obrigado!

 

greeknt

The next book in the the Christian Scriptures is the Acts of the Apostles. This book was originally a part of a two-volume set that included the Gospel of Luke. Luke is commonly accepted as the author of both books. Acts is a fast-moving and fascinating look at the first thrity years of the Church. It does this by focusing on the ministries of the two most emminent apostles, Peter and Paul. Acts provide a window into the early church and shows how they worshipped, handled conflict, evangelized, developed leaders, planted churches, and turned the world upside down.

After Acts, the Apostle Paul’s thirteen letters are listed with the longest first to the shortest. Most of his letters were written to churches that he had founded. The exceptions are Romans and Colossians. In each letter, Paul responds to questions from the particular church, addresses problems, and provides both doctrinal and lifestyle teaching. The letter to the Philippian church seems to have been written as a “Thank You” note for a financial gift that they had sent to Paul.

Among Paul’s letters are also four letters that are written to individuals. He wrote two to Timothy and one to Titus. These were co-workers of Paul and he wrote to them to give them guidance in the tasks that he had assigned to them. Paul also wrote a fascinating little letter to a friend of his named Philemon. Paul wrote to Philemon to address a situation involving a runaway slave named Onesimus. Paul was in jail at the time but had somehow encountered Onesimus. He is sending him back to Philemon with the letter in hand. This short note by Paul is a brilliant example of Paul’s leadership style and the way that he viewed slavery.

After Paul’s letters, the group of writings called the General Letters comes next. The authors include James, the brother of Jesus, Peter, John, and Jude, also the brother of Jesus. The letter to the Hebrews is anonymous and scholars have debated for years about who might have written it. Hebrews is actually more of a written sermon or teaching than it is a letter.

The last book in the New Testament is The Revelation. The Revelation is the only example of apocalyptic literature that is in the New Testament. The Apostle John wrote this book while exiled on the island of Patmos. Revelation has been interpreted in many different ways through the centuries and probably will be until Christ returns. In its simplest form, however, Revelation portrays the cosmic battle that is taking place in the heavens and on the earth and shows God’s ultimate victory.

One of the often overlooked aspects of Revelation is the centrality of the Church to God’s plan. Revelation opens with Jesus giving specific messages to seven churches in Asia. These churches could be said to represent the Church universal. Some of them draw Jesus’ praise while others draw his correction. Most of them receive a mixture of praise and correction.

The Christian Bible, like the rest of the Scriptures, has the power to have a lasting impact on those who will spend time reading and meditating in it. Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

How much time do you spend in the Bible each day?

Please consider joining our support team as we serve in Brazil. Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!

new-testamentThe New Testament is often referred to as “The Christian Bible” or “The Christian Scriptures.” This is a bit of a misnomer because the vast majority of Bibles that Christians own contain both the Old and New Testaments. Since the time of Christ, Christians have benefited from and been enriched by the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament.

In fact, the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Scriptures, were the only Scriptures for the first years of the early Church. The New Testament was in the process of being written and it was not until around 367 AD that the list of books was formalized and the canon was closed. The list of “approved” New Testament books, though, had been floating around since early in the second century.

The New Testament can be broken down into several sections. The first four books are usually referred to as the “Gospels.” Each of these books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is a presentation of the life of Christ. The Gospels appear to have been written to specific groups of Christians.

Mark is usually accepted to be the earliest of the four. John Mark was a close associate of Jesus’ disciples, especially Peter and Paul. Most scholars believe, and early Church tradition seems to bear out, that Mark’s Gospel is actually a compilation of Peter’s sermons about Jesus and his eye-witness recollections of Jesus’ ministry. Mark was likely written in Rome to the Christians there. This is where Peter spent his last days before being martyred for his faith.

Both Matthew and Luke’s Gospels draw heavily from Mark’s work. They both add material of their own but clearly make use of a large portion of Mark’s account. Matthew’s Gospel is aimed at Jewish Christians, probably in Palestine. He focuses on presenting Jesus as the fulfillment to many Old Testament prophecies. He also seems to portray Jesus as a new Moses. While Mark is more concerned with what Jesus did, Matthew is more interested in presenting what Jesus said.

Luke is kind enough to provide the reader with a methodology for how he wrote his book. Luke refers to other early Christian writings and says, “They used as their source material the reports circulating among us from the early disciples and other eyewitnesses of what God has done in fulfillment of his promises. Having carefully investigated all of these accounts from the beginning, I have decided to write a careful summary for you.” He speaks of the reports and eye-witness accounts that were circulating among the Christians. Luke then said that he had carefully investigated these accounts as he wrote his book.

Luke’s Gospel is the longest and probably the most chronological. As stated, he incorporates Mark’s Gospel, but also adds a lot of original material, probably gleaned from interviewing witnesses. Luke’s work appears to have been aimed at a sophisticated Greek audience. The Greek that he wrote in is, by far, the most cultured of the New Testament.

John’s Gospel is very different from the other three. It was probably written at least twenty years after the others, late in the first century. The Church Fathers believed that John wrote to supplement what had already been written about Jesus. John’s presentation of Jesus develops Christ’s character. John presents many long conversations that Jesus has with various individuals who were seeking to know the truth. John only provides seven miracles, but they are strategically chosen to reveal more of Christ’s divine nature.

John also articulated his reason for writing another account of Jesus’ life. “Jesus’ disciples saw him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life.” (John 20:30-31) John wanted his work to lead people to faith in Christ.

To be continued…

Would you like to be a part of what God is doing in South America? Annie and I are serving the Lord in Brazil. Click here to get involved. Obrigado!

 

Lincoln-on-Nov-8-1863-LC

One of the reasons for the enduring popularity of American Civil War History is the cast of characters that were involved. While the generals get much of the ink, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis are also notable for their key roles. Lincoln inherited the presidency in March of 1861, just a month before the nation was plunged into the Civil War. In his inaugural address the new president extended an olive branch to the Southern States, hoping to diffuse some their hostility. The South’s concern was that Lincoln was going to interfere with the institution of slavery. He said, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” These words from the president did little to calm the South and, in just a little over a month, the first shots would be fired in South Carolina.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated a month before President Lincoln. As a politician, Davis was much more experienced than Lincoln. Davis had been a Congressman, a United States Senator and the Secretary of War. Jefferson realized his task was daunting. He was the president over a brand new nation. This new nation lacked many of the resources the Union had and Davis knew that the Union would not likely let the Southern states just leave the Union. He said, “As a consequence of our new constitution, and with a view to meet our anticipated wants, it will be necessary to provide a speedy and efficient organization of the several branches of the executive departments having special charge of our foreign intercourse, financial and military affairs, and postal service. For purposes of defense, the Confederate States may, under ordinary circumstances rely mainly upon their militia; but it is deemed advisable, in the present condition of affairs, that there should be a well instructed, disciplined army, more numerous than would be usually required for a peace establishment.” As the president of a new nation, Davis was going to have to oversee the creation of its institutions during a time of war.

Neither Lincoln, nor Davis, was prepared for the conflict that they were about to endure. They would both be tried to the core of their beings. This war would turn out to be longer, bloodier and costlier than either man could imagine. For Lincoln, the Civil War would forge his character and his legacy as one of the United States’ greatest presidents. He preserved the Union at a tremendous cost and lost his own life in the process. Jefferson Davis was arrested after the war and charged with treason. He was held in custody for two years and finally released on bond. The charges against him were nolle prosequi in 1869 so Davis never stood trial, even though he had demanded one. Jefferson Davis passed away in 1889.

The two most notable generals of the war were the Confederate’s Robert E. Lee and the Union’s U.S. Grant. General Lee had had a long and distinguished military career. At the outbreak of the hostilities, Lee, a lieutenant colonel at the time, was offered command of the Union forces. Lee turned the offer down, refusing to raise his hand against his home state of Virginia and threw his lot in with the Confederates. Lee eventually commanded all the Southern armies.

Lee is often regarded as one of the greatest military minds that America has ever produced. He was able to keep the Union forces at bay and force them into a protracted and costly contest. The Southern government believed that if they could keep the war going that the North would eventually tire of it and recognize the Confederacy. This was a reasonable strategy that almost worked. There were many in the Lincoln administration that proposed this very thing. General Lee was able to win enough battles with his undersized army that many Northerners were crying out for peace.

In early 1864, however, General Ulysses Grant was elevated to the top general spot for the Union armies. Grant was determined, deliberate, and dogged in his pursuit of General Lee. Lee and his army fought well against Grant, at least initially. Lee was the master at maneuvering his army around the battlefield. Unlike his predecessors, however, Grant refused to retreat and refused to give up. While Grant’s army sustained many casualties, so did Lee’s. Lee’s casualties, though, could not be replaced because of the South’s limited resources.

Grant understood that his superior numbers would eventually prevail. They did and General Lee was forced to surrender his forces in April of 1865. Within just a few weeks, the war would be over. Presidents Lincoln and Davis were both patriotic and dedicated to their cause. Generals Lee and Grant were both brilliant military leaders. These four men are just four of key figures of the American Civil War.

My wife, Annie, and I are serving the Lord in Curitiba, Brazil. Would you consider becoming a part of our ministry? Click here to get involved. Obrigado!

Rick Probst

Rick Probst

My good friend, Rick Probst, is an incredibly talented man. He has been in radio in the Atlanta area for many years and you may have heard him lately on Sundays on 91.5FM. While we were in the US, Rick interviewed me about what Annie and I are doing in Brazil. This interview aired on 91.5 as well as Rick’s other show on 970am.

You can listen to the interview here. I know that you are going to enjoy it!

If you would like to get involved in what God is doing in Brazil, just click here. Obrigado!

 

 

The Martyrdom of William Tyndale

The Martyrdom of William Tyndale

The Apostle Paul was the first New Testament writer to clearly lay out the doctrine of Salvation by Faith. One of Paul’s clearest statements on faith is found in Romans 5:1-“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” Paul was the Church’s first great theologian and articulated in his letters the fact Salvation is a gift from God on the basis of an individual’s faith. As he writes in his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

After the original apostles died, a group of Church Fathers continued their teaching. In 367 AD, the Canon of the New Testament was finalized. As the Church got farther away from the time of the apostles and the Church Fathers, however, they also got further away from the teaching of the Scriptures. Church Traditions were established that were not based on Scripture. By the time of the Middle Ages, Church Services were still conducted in Latin, even though only the clergy and the very educated could understand Latin. The Scriptures were finally translated into a common language in the 1380’s, when John Wycliffe produced a hand-written English translation. William Tyndale produced and printed the first English translation based on the original Greek manuscripts in the 1520’s. Wycliffe only had the Latin manuscripts at his disposal.

Martin Luther was a German monk and seminary professor who had become more and more disillusioned with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther was especially angered over the sale of indulgences. Indulgences were sold by the Church as a means of offering forgiveness of sins. The more money one spent, the more forgiveness they were able to buy. In 1517, Luther was studying in preparation to teach Paul’s letter to the Romans. When he came to 1:17, Luther came to understand salvation in a new way. Paul says in that verse, “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

Luther saw Paul’s emphasis on faith as how our salvation is accomplished. It is not our works or purchase of indulgences. Salvation comes as we exercise our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. When Luther came to understand that he could not earn his salvation, “I felt entirely born again and was led through open gates into Paradise itself. Suddenly the whole of Scripture had a different appearance for me. I recounted the passages which I had memorized and realized that other passages, too, showed that the work of God is what God works in us… thus St. Paul’s words that the just shall live by faith, did indeed become to me the gateway to Paradise.”

It was Luther who is credited with launching the Protestant Reformation. One of the primary tenants of Reformation Theology is Salvation by Faith Alone. Luther translated the New Testament into German in 1522. As the Scriptures became available in more languages, people could read the Word of God for themselves. As people continued to read the New Testament, most of them came to the same conclusion that the Apostle Paul had taught Salvation by Faith all along. It was the Roman Church that had drifted away from the truth of the Scriptures.

Today, Salvation by Faith is a common belief among most Christian Churches. Most churches and Christian organizations have very similar doctrinal statements. Even though most of us believe in Salvation by Faith, however, there is always a tendency to drift away from the simplicity of the Gospel and try and make it more complicated than it really is. We must never forget that salvation is a gift from God. Our faith allows us to enter into a relationship with Him because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Would you consider becoming a part of our team? Annie and I are working hard in Brazil helping train and develop leaders so that we can plant more churches. Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!

Faith Throughout History

September 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

 

Photo by Frank Kovalchek

Photo by Frank Kovalchek

The idea of faith has always been an integral part of Christianity. The first recorded sermon of Jesus had to do with believing: “At last the time has come!” Jesus announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!” (Mark 1:15)

Jesus chastised His closest followers for their periodic lapses of faith: “And he asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?” (Mark 4: 40) In another place, Jesus referred to his disciples as, “You faithless people!” (Mark 9:19)

When He visited His hometown of Nazareth after His ministry had begun, “he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” (Mark 6:5) The reason Jesus was not able to do any mighty miracles was because of the people’s unbelief. Throughout the Gospels, faith is often seen as the link between people’s needs and God’s provision. A father once brought his son to Jesus for healing. The father said, “Have mercy on us and help us. Do something if you can.” Jesus’ answer showed the importance that He placed on our faith: “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father’s response was beautiful in its honesty, “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!” (Mark 9:22-24)

Jesus also rewarded those who exercised their faith towards Him. There was a woman with a serious bleeding problem. She believed that if she could just touch Jesus as He walked past in the crowd, she would be healed. Not surprisingly, she was healed when she touched Jesus. His response was, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. You have been healed.” (Mark 5:34) The Greek word that is used here for, “well,” is a derivative of “sozo.” This is the word we would get the idea of “eternal life” from. It implies more than just a physical healing. Jesus was telling this woman that her faith not only led to her natural healing, it also led to her spiritual healing and renewal.

Jesus praised those who demonstrated faith. A Roman Officer sent some Jewish Elders to ask Jesus to heal his very sick servant. The officer knew that if Jesus just spoke the word, his servant would be healed. Jesus was actually amazed at the Roman’s faith and said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all the land of Israel!” (Luke 7:9)

Of the four New Testament Gospels or accounts of Jesus’ life, the Gospel of John discusses the idea of faith and believing more than any of the others. John mentions “faith” or “believing” almost one hundred times in twenty-one chapters. It is John’s Gospel that contains perhaps the most famous verse in the entire Bible, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Here, John very clearly links belief and faith to a person’s eternal salvation. John also makes the point that this idea of faith and belief in Jesus was why he wrote his book. He said that Jesus did many more signs and miracles than the ones that John recorded. “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life.” (John 20:31)

To be continued…

Looking for a good place to invest in building God’s Kingdom? My wife, Annie, and I are working with C3 Church in Curitiba, Brazil. We are helping train and develop leaders and focusing on church planting here. Join our team! Obrigado! 

woman-studying

When approaching the Bible, it is important that one never approach it as just another book. First of all, it is a collection of sixty-six different books and letters, written by many different authors, over a period of 1,500 to 2,000 years. The Bible was written to many different audiences over that time. It was also written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, and then later translated into the other languages.

An excellent way to begin studying the Bible would be to take a particular book and focus on it for a period of time. For example, if one were going to do a detailed study on one of the Apostle Paul’s letters, he or she might start with the letter to the Galatians. This is a good one to start with because it was one of Paul’s earliest letters, it is fairly short, and the subject matter is very important.

To get a good feel for the letter, it should be read through in one sitting. It would take someone about 20 minutes to read Galatians through. If the person would read Galatians through in its entirety several times, he or she would begin to get an idea of what the book is about. If the person read the entire book once a day for a week, this would be a good start to the study.

After several full readings, it is time to get some background on the book. There are many sources available where one could go to get some help for his or her study. An excellent link for Bible Study is BibleStudyTools.com. This excellent site provides commentaries, different Bible translations and other tools to assist in a study of the Scripture. Another website to help with Bible study is The New Testament Gateway. There is also an Old Testament version.

These sites provide background information and detailed study material on the book that one is studying. In the case of Galatians, one can easily find out about the circumstances of Paul’s ministry in that region, the churches that he planted and the reason for this letter. Because the student has read the book through several times and has already seen the basic themes, this background study will help fill out his or her knowledge and understanding of the book. This is a good time to start taking some notes. An online program like Evernote or an actual pen and notebook will both work. The important thing is that the student begin to write down what he or she is learning, insights that he or she has gained and ways in which what he or she is studying can be applied.

After the student has explored some material on the author of the book, the circumstances for his writing, and the audience that was being written to, he or she should read the book through in its entirety again. Armed with this new knowledge, the student should find the document beginning to come alive with meaning. It is now time for the student to become more specific in his or her study.

For this more detailed study, the book should be broken down into smaller sections. For a letter like Galatians, this can easily be done by chapters. As each chapter is read, the student can look for the one or two main points of that chapter. What truth is Paul trying to communicate? How does he drive that point home to his audience? How does that truth relate to the modern reader?

The student should answer those important questions in his or her notes as he or she focuses on each chapter. After working through the book by chapters over a period of a few weeks, the student might want to break the chapters down even further, depending on their length. Picking a key verse or two from each chapter will help reinforce the main themes of those chapters. Actually memorizing verses or key passages from the book will also serve to help the student internalize the Scriptures that they are studying.

Another popular Bible study method is to focus on a particular theme. In this type of study, the student will trace a theme throughout the Scriptures, rather than just focusing on one book. This can lead to very interesting discoveries, but it is a much more involved type of Bible study.

One interesting theme that one might want to consider would be Jesus use of miracles. Jesus performed many miraculous signs and healings in all four of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each writer presented them a little differently, however, depending on the point he was trying to make and depending on to whom he was writing.

A good place to begin a study like this is to examine the miracles that are common in more than one Gospel. Because Matthew, Mark and Luke are so similar, they have much common material. Mark is commonly accepted as being the first Gospel written and the one that Matthew and Luke drew heavily from. Each Gospel, for example, presents the feeding of the 5,000 people. At the same time, each author frames the story for his particular audience.

In John’s presentation of the feeding of the 5,000, he presents more of Jesus’ teaching surrounding the event. John’s Gospel is written to lead people to faith in Christ, so the writer often explains the spiritual significance of the miracle. John goes to great lengths to help the reader understand that this miracle is more than just Jesus’ miraculously feeding some hungry people. It is about the fact that the true Bread of Life, Jesus himself, has been sent to Earth to save mankind. The other Gospel writers present the same miracle but let the sign speak for itself instead of trying to interpret it.

For this kind of study, it is recommended that the reader use the study tools listed above to find where all of the common miracles are in the Gospels. Reading each account multiple times will allow the person to see the similarities and the differences. These insights should be written down or stored in your online notes. The next step would be to use some Bible dictionaries and Biblical commentaries to see what others say about these miracles.

After one has taken a thorough look at the miracles that the Gospels have in common, it might be interesting to examine those miracles that are only listed in a single Gospel. Matthew, for example, is the only book to record Peter’s walking on the water after Jesus had fed the 5,000 people. John presents several miracles that are not listed in the other Gospels. The same methods could be used to study these miracles. The reader might then explore why the author included that particular miracle.

A study of the Jesus’ miracles, like any other study, should seek to understand what message the author was trying to convey to his original hearers. The next step would be to see what applications a modern reader might draw from the study. A final step of any type of Bible study would be for the student to begin to apply the fresh truths of God’s Word to his or her life. 

What are some other methods that you have used to study the Scriptures?

Would you consider supporting Annie and I as we serve the Lord in Brazil? Every gift makes a difference! Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!

 

 

cross-of-christ

The earliest New Testament writing to mention the idea of “redemption” was the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Most scholars believe that Galatians was one of the first, if not the very first, of the New Testament documents to be written. In fact, it is very likely that most of Paul’s letters were written before any of the other New Testament books. In Galatians 3:13-14 Paul says that Christ has “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Paul then goes on to say that Christ redeemed people “in order that the blessing given to Abraham” might come.

The Greek word that Paul uses here in Galatians is exagorazo. This Greek verb that is translated as “redeemed,” carries the meaning of “to buy out of the market-place.” It also has the meaning of buying back something that once belonged to them. The idea that Paul seems to be conveying here is that Christ has purchased believers’ freedom through his death. The Christians in Galatia were struggling with the idea of trying to follow Christ but also feeling that they had to obey the Law. Paul made it clear that Christ’s redemption of them had set them free from having to obey the Law. Paul seems to be saying that Christ’s death has purchased or redeemed His people from having to follow the Law. Since Christ was put to death under the Law as a once for all sacrifice, all the requirements of the Law have been fulfilled already.

A second Greek word that Paul uses that is translated as “redemption” is apolutrosis. In Ephesians 1:7, Paul says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…” Apolutrosis carries the meaning of being delivered or set free from from something. In this passage, Paul says that Christ has delivered people and set them free from their sins. Rather than being in bondage to the sin nature, Christ has redeemed his followers to walk in freedom from sin. Through His “redemption,” Christ has purchased the freedom of his people.

One of the most famous passages in the entire New Testament relating to the idea of redemption came from Jesus’ own lips. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many.” The Greek word here is lutron and means to deliver someone through the payment of a ransom. When the price is paid, the prisoner is set free. This was what Jesus accomplished through his death. He purchased freedom for all of mankind.

The New Testament portrays Jesus as the One who redeemed mankind. Redemption is a completed work accomplished through Christ’s death. In this act, Jesus has accomplished three things. First of all, his redemption has set his followers free from the Law. They are no longer subject to the demands of the Law. A second thing that Christ has accomplished is that he purchased humanity as someone would have purchased a slave at a marketplace. His redemption actually indicates his ownership for all of his followers. The last thing that Jesus’ death accomplished was that of paying the ransom so that his followers might be set free. Someone had to be punished for mankind’s sins. Jesus took that punishment on himself and offers the gift of redemption to all who will accept it.

Would you consider supporting Annie and I as we share the message of redemption in Brazil? Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!