On page 218, it says that "The high degree of common concern was rooted, however, in a high regard for Christ and His commands, not in bare humanitarian impulse." Oh, how that could be true today. How much better would this world be if our common concern for others matched the concern Jesus had for His entire creation? How many churches are there in the world? How many of these churches actually believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and is the only way to God? My guess would be thousands; enough to make a huge difference in the world we, as Christians, are leaving in the devil's hands a little more each day. How many people use the humanitarian impulse to drive them to help others? If a humanitarian effort is not a Christian organization, who is it really serving: Christ or the guilt and shame some people feel for having more than they should? How many efforts are nothing more than "projects" done for show and recognition? How many rich people help others just to get a break on their already low taxes? If you talked to any of these people, they would tell you that they are doing these things from their heart. Well, that may be true. But, if their heart doesn't belong to Jesus, then whose heart are they referring to, and who benefits from their efforts the needy or themselves? Is God thankful for the things these people have done, or is it all counted for nothing because they didn't belong to Jesus?
On page 231, there is the word "simony", a word I had never heard before. This word means "the buying and selling of church office or privilege.' Simon the Sorcerer, wanted to pay Peter money for Peter's ability to heal others so he could make a profit off of the healings he could do (Acts 8:9-25). The only place that I can think of where people sometimes paid to have their sins forgiven and to find completer salvation is the indulgences of the Roman Catholic Church back in the days of Martin Luther. Luther wrote his 95 theses mainly because of these indulgences (Theses 31-57) that were nothing more than an individual paying (monthly) for the right to have the penalty for his sins paid for and forgotten. This was done because the Catholic Church then didn't believe that God's mercy was enough to have your penalties from sin taken away. They didn't believe that Jesus satisfied the penalties by His death on the cross. Martin Luther also wrote the theses to prove to the church that Jesus had already completely paid the price for all our sins in every way. Salvation, he said, was by grace and not works.
On page 262, in the "Revelation and Scripture" section, it talks about the relevance of the Old Testament as it relates to the New Testament. It's a shame that more Christians do not read the Old Testament more often. It is the bridge between the prophecies concerning Jesus and the fulfilling of them. The Apostles and all who taught the gospel in the first century had no New Testament to follow, so they used the Old Testament to prove that Jesus words were true, that He was the Son of God come to earth to save humanity. The early church knew the significance of the Old Testament and made it known, through the prophets that the Messiah had indeed come, died and rose just as the prophecies of old said He would. Who better than Paul to spread the gospel to the Gentiles? He was a very learned man who knew the scriptures backwards and forwards. Who better to take the old scriptures and translate them into the words that Gentiles, who had no scriptures of their own, could understand and want to follow? The Old Testament is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. We should read it, study it, and understand it just as much as we do the New Testament.
A heritage of great evangelistic teaching (martin luther, p. 11-13). (1988, 1989, 1996). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Elwell, Walter A., Yarbrough, Robert W. (1998, 2005). Encountering the new testament: a historical and theological survey 2 ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Comment: "The last thing that really stuck out to me was which letters Paul wrote, I never realized that he wrote that many."
Author Response: If there was one ever person who loved Jesus Christ with more passion and zeal it was the Apostle Paul. Every one of his letters shows that he was indeed taught these things by Jesus Christ Himself. No one else shaped our beliefs about Jesus and how we are to follow Him better than Paul. There was no way that Paul could not love Jesus after being saved by Him instead of being stoned to death for killing Jesus' people. If we could ever meet Jesus face to face while still here on earth, I wonder if we would spread the gospel to the extent that Paul did. Would we be able to face persecution as he did? Would our great zeal at being taught by Jesus Himself implore us to drop everything in our lives and tell everyone we come in contact with the wonderful mercy, grace, and forgiveness, and love of the only way they can be saved and go to heaven to spend eternity with God in a life of joy, peace, and comfort? With all the distractions we have in this world today, I wonder...
Comment: "The amount of distance Paul traveled while on his three missionary journeys is incredible. It is easy to think that he just went from A to Z not realizing all the places and stop he made along the way."
Author Response: Isn't that the incredible wonder of the Holy Spirit's leading in his life? Paul did not set foot in any territory that the Spirit did not send him, and he did not leave until the Spirit said so. Being obedient to the Spirit will give you the strength to do anything He tells you to do. While it is surprising to us today that Paul mostly walked all of those miles, we must remember that, in his time, people walked everywhere, possibly using a cart, horse, or camel from time to time, but, for the most part, they walked. Jesus walked everywhere. The only time we hear of Him riding anything is when He entered Jerusalem on a donkey, otherwise He walked everywhere else. Today, we just don't have the leg power they did because we don't like to walk anywhere today. Cars make it too easy to get everywhere, and there are some people that will even drive to the corner store two blocks away instead of walking there. Gee, a lot of people find riding a bike too tiring. We've gotten lazy. How many times have we heard someone walking around our country proclaiming the gospel everywhere they went? None that I know of.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.
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