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What is the New Testament?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Romans 1:16-17
What is the New Testament? Book Cover

Who is Jesus? What was it like to follow in his footsteps? What was his message? To whom was it given? Who believed? What is the connection between the narrative and prophecy of the Old Testament and the gospel (good news) of the New Testament?

The New Testament, twenty-seven books written in Greek between AD 50 and 100, reveals the fulfillment of the Old Testament’s promise of a savior—Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John use eye-witness accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament’s promise of the one who would save us from sin and death. And the rest of the New Testament chronicles the spread of Christianity in the first-century world. Together, the Gospels and letters of the New Testament offer wisdom and hope for Christ-followers living in a broken world. And that hope will be fully realized when Jesus returns, as promised in the final book of Revelation.

The ministry of Jesus isn’t just something to be observed. There is a call to action found throughout the New Testament. Jesus called his followers to go into the all the world, making disciples (Matthew 28:19–20). The book of Acts records those first missionary journeys and church plants. Led by Paul and Peter, the earliest believers in Jesus as Messiah set out to share the good news of salvation and to equip local groups of Christians with truth for living transformed by Jesus.

And so, the church was born.

As we know well, throwing off the sin that so easily entangles us and running with Jesus is hard. We get tripped up by tradition. Beset by bad habits. Discouraged by doubts. Caught up in comparison. Worn down by worldliness. And the early church did too; we see it played out all through the New Testament.

Paul and the first evangelists didn’t just covert Christians and move on. They continued to equip and encourage. The letters that follow the Gospels were written to specific groups of Christ-followers within the first hundred years after Jesus’s life and resurrection. In them, we see that the Christian life is only successfully lived when it is empowered by the Holy Spirit and lived within the context of community. In these letters, we find the answers to questions we should never stop asking. What is church life supposed to look like? How are we supposed to engage with unbelievers? How do we admonish the wayward brother or sister in Christ? In what do we place our hope? What awaits us in eternity?

The fulfillment of this last question is breathtakingly displayed in the Bible’s final book, Revelation. In it, God promises that one day there will be no more sin and sorrow, only light and life—Revelation gives us the hope we need to press on.


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Understanding the Bible

Daily Question

What steps can you take so that your engagement with God’s Word leads to ever-increasing spiritual maturity?

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Comments (10)

I think participating in this Bible study is probably the strongest, foundational step I can take in engaging with God’s word. By slowing down and reading passages in whole, focusing on the words and message, not only is my knowledge increasing but my relationship with Christ is deepening as I continue to observe, interpret, and apply the daily passages.

I need to go back to the basics, God’s word, His promises, His message instead of relying on others (humans) for guidance in a lost world. I need to trust that His word will speak clearly to me if I meet him with a faithful, humble, obedient heart.

Look to God’s Word not just in difficult times but also in good times. Pray before reading God’s Word so you can hear Him speak to you.

Intentionally memorizing Scripture so that when I am nudged by the Holy Spirit I can move on Gods behalf to further the Kingdom of God here on earth. Moving in truth means the change is in a solid foundation that won’t be moved!

Take it seriously. Don’t read it thinking, "I know this," even when the words are familiar from years of study. Always ask God’s guidance as I read, and read with an open mind and heart, and always look for application, and be a doer of the word, nott just a hearer. I’m going to try to keep a journal again. It is not a discipline that comes naturally to me.

Ask Him for understanding and to quiet my heart and my brain to be able to focus and receive what He has given in His Word. Then read what it says (looking at the context), working thru what it means both to me as well as those to whom it was written, and then asking what do I do with what I just read. Maybe jotting down a note or two to carry w me thru the day to remind me of what hit me in my study.

Grow with Him & grow with others. No matter where we are on our journey, God is using everyone, everything, every moment, every circumstance as an opportunity to teach us…and His Word applies to all of it. Meditating on it daily, minute-by-minute, helps us gain vision for what He is doing. I am a running coach and I used to teach 11th grade English–I always know I break through when my runners say, "I hear your voice in my head when I want to slow down," or when my students would say, "I heard your voice reading the passages on my AP exam, and I knew what the author intended because of it." I didn’t need to physically do any of it for them: my heart was in theirs. That is what the Presence of Jesus is in our lives: as we live and move and have our being, is it by His Word? Can our thoughts, words, and actions find their foundation in Scripture? Are we rejecting broken vision because we know the Joy set before us? When we want to quit, when we’ve had enough, when we’re confused, is it His Voice that sustains us? When His Words are written on the tablets of our hearts, we are able to abide in Him and His Word, and whether it ever looks like we imagined, we bear much fruit.
The Voice of the Martyrs March focus on Nigeria contained an incredible quote from one of the local disciple-makers: don’t OBTAIN what you can’t MAINTAIN. It’s not just a command we "should" follow–it’s also a causal statement. We CAN’T obtain what we don’t maintain. What does maintenance look like in our lives? Bible, Prayer, Worship, Fellowship, Witness (as simply as I’ve ever heard it put lol–thanks, Evangelism Explosion).

Within Personal discipline is freedom. By setting up new habits that help me (or gently force me) to stay in Gods word, I can grow and learn to remember the Bible as a crutch, rather than my own limited abilities. Steps like reminders on my phone to read my Bible study for that day are helpful and in place.

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