Orwell Bible Church’s Land Purchase

On the last day of 2013 Orwell Bible Church finalized the purchase of a 3.75 acre parcel. Lord willing in the near future we will build a meeting house on it. Here are some pictures of it (to make the image bigger, click on the picture, then ctrl+ to enlarge)– 322 Property 2 322 Property 1

When the temperature gets a little warmer I’ll walk the property and add some pictures from various vantage points.

Daily Bale for October 2, 2012

Today started significantly different than most other days. Hannah is getting braces and that’s done at Case Western Reserve. It’s a lot cheaper but it isn’t exactly around the corner, being a good 45 minute drive away. Of course, there isn’t a whole lot around the corner where I live anyway! ;-)

 

While Josiah and Lydia were doing school I worked on Wednesday evening’s Bible study, Proverbs 1:20-33. I’ve enjoyed the time in Proverbs the last few weeks, especially the opportunity to get back into the Hebrew. Mine’s definitely rusty, but there’s only one way to strengthen saggy muscles, and that’s work and exercise.

Several emails and phone calls, followed by dinner, pancakes and sausage! Yum, deeeelicious. Hannah and I rode around Ashtabula county for an hour while she continues to learn to drive. When we got home we then watched half of a creation video that was given to us.

Worked on what messages I’ll be teaching for a Bible Conference down at Morrow Bible Church November 9-11. Haven’t nailed down a nice sounding theme yet, but it will focus on End Times. Here is the basic gist of the messages I’ll be speaking on–

  • God’s Purpose and Plan in Human History
  • The Key to Interpreting Prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27)
  • Christ’s Prophecies for the End Times (the Olivet Discourse)
  • Christ’s Word to the Church in the End Times (Acts 1:1-11)
  • Christ’s Coming Kingdom

This will be the first Bible Conference I will be conducting and I’m looking forward to it! I’ll give more details once it’s finalized.

Continued plowing through the minutes of the Ohio Regional of the IFCA.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. :-)

Upcoming Bible Class

I’ll be teaching a new Bible Class at Orwell Bible Church beginning next month on the Old Testament.

The primary focus of the class will look at each individual book of the OT, but also give consideration to important aspects of the OT such as how did they worship (looking especially at the sacrificial system), salvation, interpreting the OT, the kingdom, and other items.

You won’t learn everything about the OT in this class! You will learn enough of the basics of the OT so that you will be able to correctly understand and apply it to your life.

Introduction to the Gospels

You can download a PDF of this here.

Having introduced the New Testament, let’s now briefly consider some basic things about “the Gospels.”

The English word Gospel comes from the Anglo-Saxon word godspell and is made up of god (God) and spell (a story). Gospel, then, means either God-story or good story. This last meaning lines up with the Greek word for which gospel is commonly translated. Used over 70 times in the New Testament, gospel always refers to the message, the good news of what God has accomplished through Jesus Christ. Thus, we should understand the Gospels as referring to “the good news about Jesus Christ.”

Why were the Gospels written? It’s common to think of the Gospels as biographies of Jesus, but that’s not accurate. Biographies give a lot of information about someone’s life, but the Gospels are very selective as to what they tell about Jesus. Being guided by the Holy Spirit, the Gospel writers carefully chose what they wrote about Jesus. They had a goal or purpose in why they were writing.

The Gospel writers had at least three motives or goals for these accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. First, they wanted to help the missionary work of the church, showing who Jesus was so that others would trust in Him. Second, they helped the church defend their beliefs, providing answers to questions about who Jesus was and what He did. Third, the Gospel writers wanted to help the church teach believers about their Savior and strengthen their faith in Him.

Why are there four Gospels? It is common—and probably correct—to recognize that because each gospel writer had a specific purpose in writing he also had specific people he was writing to. Thus the gospel writers tell about Christ in a way best suited to whom they were writing to. Matthew wrote to Jews showing Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Jewish King. Mark wrote to Romans, portraying Jesus as the tireless Servant of the Lord. Luke wrote to Greeks, depicting Jesus as the Son of Man who came to rescue the lost. John’s account is addressed to all men, proving that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who alone can provide eternal life.

The ultimate reason, however, why there are four gospels is inspiration—the Holy Spirit moved these writers to produce written records of Jesus, guiding and protecting them so that they wrote exactly and accurately the truth about Jesus Christ.

Before surveying each of the Gospels, there are five important things you must understand in order to interpret them correctly.

First, recognize the Old Testament background of the Gospels. For example, when the New Testament talks about the Christ or the Messiah it does so from the standpoint of what the Old Testament said about the coming Messiah—who He would be, what he would do, etc. The New Testament doesn’t ignore or change the meaning of the Old Testament—it builds on, continues, and fulfills it!

Second, recognize that Jesus’ earthly ministry was mainly to the Jews. Jesus was “born under the Law” (Gal 4:4), was “a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers” (Rom 15:8), and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24). We should expect this as Jesus was first of all the Jews’ Messiah! Sadly, they rejected Him, with the result that revelation was given that the Old Testament gives no hint of—the church (Eph 3:5–6). Though the Gospels say little about the church they definitely show the gospel is for everyone and that disciples be made of all the nations.

Third, understand the meaning of the phrases “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven.” These mean the same thing (Matt 19:23–24; Mark 10:23–25). Matthew uses “Heaven” instead of “God” because the Jews he wrote to had such reverence for God’s name they would say “heaven” instead. Also, this kingdom refers to the Messiah’s future, literal rule on earth. When Jesus talked about the kingdom, His Jewish hearers knew exactly what He was talking about—a literal earthly kingdom with the Messiah ruling. If Jesus was thinking of a different kind of “kingdom” He would have said so, but He never does this. Jesus is the head of the church (Col 1:18), he is never called the King of the church.

Fourth, understand the nature and purpose of miracles. Miracles are supernatural acts that only God could do. They were God’s “stamp of approval” on His messenger and the message to prove that they were truly of God (Matt 11:2–6; Acts 2:22). Jesus thus did miracles to prove to people that He was the promised Messiah (Luke 7:18–22).

Fifth, understand the nature and purpose of parables. People often think that Jesus taught in parables to help others understand what He was saying, much like using an illustration. The fact, though, is the exact opposite! Jesus didn’t start teaching in parables until after the Jews rejected Him (Matt 13:10, 34–35). Jesus used parables as a form of judgment. Parables gave truth to Jesus’ disciples but at the same time withheld that truth from those who rejected Him as the Messiah.

Introduction to the New Testament

For our Wednesday Bible studies at Orwell Bible Church we’ve begun a new series I’m calling Scripture Summaries. The objective is to give a clear, concise overview of one book of the Bible at a time. We started this past week with an Introduction to the New Testament. You can download a PDF of the following here.

Introduction to the New Testament

The last 27 books of the Bible are called the “New Testament.” “Testament” is the translation of a Greek word that means “covenant.” At one time “testament” referred to a covenant between God and man (compare the KJV with NASB in passages such as Luke 22:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:25, “this is the new testament/covenant in my blood”).

“Covenant” refers to a relationship. “Old Testament” refers to the relationship that existed between God and men before Jesus Christ, whereas “New Testament” refers to the relationship God now has with men through Jesus Christ. “New Testament” refers back to the “new covenant” of Jeremiah 31:31. There God reveals four aspects of the new covenant that He will establish with Israel. Today, all who trust in Jesus Christ participate in three of those aspects: they know and obey God, have forgiveness of sins, and have the Holy Spirit indwelling them.

We do have a biblical basis for referring to two sections of the Bible as “testaments.” In 2 Corinthians 3:14 Paul says that when Jews read “the old covenant” their minds are blinded to its truths because they do not believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

God gave His Word in written form through men, protecting them from error and guiding them so that every word they chose was exactly what God wanted written. This Word from God is inspired, meaning “God breathed.” As time progressed God’s people recognized the character of these writings and welcomed them as God’s Word, a process called canonization. Because the New Testament was originally written in the Greek language and Christians needed God’s Word, it was copied and translated into thousands of languages and thus transmitted to Christians.

As Christians, we know that the 27 books of the New Testament are the Word of God because the Holy Spirit has taken away the hostility toward it we had as unbelievers and has replaced that hostility with a love, certainty, and conviction that the Bible is from God and is His truth.

Because the New Testament is God’s Word Christianity is rightly called “a religion of the Book.” We do not worship the ink and pages, but the statements of truth conveyed by that ink on those pages tell us about the one true God so that we can worship Him in spirit and truth. Some may criticize our attention to and faith in the written Word of God, but the Bible is no mere human book, it is the very Word of God!

Why do we have the New Testament? What is its purpose? Why was it written? Answering these questions can be challenging as each book of the New Testament is unique, having its own characteristics and purpose for being written. However, as we look at all 27 books we are able to see that the purpose of the New Testament is to give the church God’s written revelation of Christian doctrine and practice. The New Testament tells us what believers in Jesus Christ should be convinced of and how they should live.

As we consider the entire New Testament, we are able to see two basic sections or divisions. The first section provides the basis for and growth of Christianity and consists of the four Gospels and the book of Acts. The Gospels provide the basis of Christianity—the person and work of Jesus Christ and Israel’s rejection of Him as their Messiah. Acts provides the birth and growth of Christianity throughout the then known world.

The second section of the New Testament sets forth the doctrine and practice of Christianity and consists of what are called epistles or letters, the books from Romans to Revelation. Doctrine is truth that believers in Christ must know and base their practice on. In the New Testament, issues of lifestyle, church life, and even petty problems are dealt with in light of God’s truth.

Earnestly Contending

During this afternoon’s service I reviewed the basic, essential purposes of a church thus:

A local church exists to glorify God by obeying Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. A local church glorifies God by obeying Christ’s commands, which are—

  1. Evangelize the lost through personal witnessing and public preaching of the gospel (Acts 1:8; 2:47)
  2. Edify believers through the systematic teaching of the Bible (Acts 2:42; 1 Tim 4:13; 2 Tim 4:2), public worship (Col 3:16; 1 Tim 2), ministry of believers (Eph 4:12), observance of the ordinances (Acts 2:42), and the administration of biblical discipline (Matt 18:15–16; Rom 15:14; Gal 6:1–2; 1 Thess 5:11, 14; Heb 3:13; 10:24–25; 12:12–13)
  3. Equip believers to do the work of the ministry for the unity, maturity, protection, and growth of the body (Eph 4:11–16)
  4. Exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in public worship (1 Cor 14:24–25; Col 3:16)
  5. Establish churches of like faith and practice at home and abroad (Acts 14:23, 27; 20:17, 28; Gal 1:2; Phil 1:1; et al)
  6. Earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints (1 Tim 3:15; 6:12; 2 Tim 4:2; 2 Pet 2:1–3; 1 John 4:1; Jude 3)

I spent a bit of time on the last point as extremes can be easy to fall to on this (either not contending or being contentious). After the service one of our men (Dave Ring) came up to me and shared this excellent thought:

Another difference between earnestly contending and being contentious is that in the one you’re seeking to glorify God but in the other you’re glorifying yourself.

That’s a paraphrase, as I can’t remember the exact wording, but that was excellent, I thought. I’m thankful for godly men like Dave at our church!

Election as Our Motivation for Thanksgiving

At Orwell Bible Church, which I pastor, each week we put out a little booklet called, “This Week’s Walk with the Lord.” Most of my thoughts on biblical passages that I record here are the result of my daily Bible reading from that booklet.

This morning I read 1 Thessalonians 1. I have always been both interested and amazed to consider the things Paul taught these Christians whom the Lord saved–in a matter of three weeks (Acts 17:2-4)! Especially interesting is his teaching concerning the Lord’s return. Most churches would probably not rank eschatology as an essential part of new believers’ discipleship, but it was!

In opening his letter, Paul characteristically expresses his thanks and praise to God for his gracious work in the lives of those he writes to. Here, while Paul is moved to thank God for the fruit evident in the believers’ lives (1:3), the ultimate reason for thanksgiving is God’s gracious choice of each individual believer to salvation in Christ (1:4–”knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you”).

This motivation for offering thanksgiving to God only makes sense. Would I thank someone else for something you were responsible for? The ultimate reason for the salvation of any and every believer is due to God’s gracious and sovereign will and action.

How did Paul know that these former pagans (1:9–”you turned to God from idols”) were elect? Did he have some kind of personal pipeline to the mind of God? He gives the basis for this knowledge in verses 5-7. Paul knew that God had sovereignly chosen these individuals to salvation in Christ because of his experience while preaching the gospel (v. 5) and the response of these pagans to that gospel (vv. 6-7).

If you have experienced Christ’s salvation, have you thanked the One responsible for it?

’Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
Hadst Thou not chosen me.
Thou from the sin that stained me
Hast cleansed and set me free;
Of old Thou hast ordained me,
That I should live to Thee.

’Twas sov’reign mercy called me
And taught my op’ning mind;
The world had else enthralled me,
To heav’nly glories blind.
My heart owns none before Thee,
For Thy rich grace I thirst;
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first.

–Josiah Conder (1836)