Want to shake up the way you read the Bible? Take the New Testament Challenge! Read through the whole New Testament in a simple but revolutionary edition of the New Testament called The Books of the Bible, New Testament. By reading this Bible, which arranges the books in a disruptive yet insightful sequence, you gain insights and make connections between books in a way that is both revealing and fascinating. Pastor Jeff Manion introduces the books you will be reading in the coming week, sharing the key characters and themes you will encounter as you read, giving insights into the relevance of each book of the New Testament.
The New Testament asks, "How can the presence of God be restored?" The answer is, God himself enters the planet in Jesus. In the gospel of Luke, we explore the themes of the early events of Jesus's life, the place of women, the ministry that took place during meals, and the Holy Spirit. The relevance of Luke is in understanding how God might be calling your voice.
The main themes of Acts are its places, the sermons that were preached, conflict and persecution, and the movement of the Holy Spirit. The key lesson of Acts is that God is at work in our disappointment. In the epistles to the Thessalonians, Paul gives encouragement in their suffering, and urges them to make a clean break from their old life and step into their new life.
Paul's letters to the Corinthians answer their burning questions about some of the grey areas, and address their troubling problems that were causing division amongst them. His letter to the Galatians focuses on our inner transformation and the fruit of the Spirit. In Romans we get a fresh encounter with God's love, mercy, and grace by learning about justification, redemption, and sanctification.
Paul warns the Colossians that a growing faith is a threatened faith. The Ephesians needed to know that belonging drives behavior. Paul pled with Philemon to restore a runaway slave. To the Philippians he wrote that even when we are where we don't want to be, God can use our lives powerfully. His Timothy letters give guidance for an affluent culture, and in Titus we see that the way we live reflects on the reputation of Jesus.
The main themes in the gospel of Matthew are the fulfillment of prophecy, the ways Jesus' life replicates the history of Israel, non-Jewish people coming to Jesus, and Jesus' authority. The main question to ask yourself from Matthew is, "Does Christ have authority over you?"
Hebrews draws the contrast between the old system and Jesus' new system. The main lesson of the books is that the journey of following God has always been a journey of trust. In James we see how faith impacts our daily walk; Scripture is intended not for information but transformation. Mark's main theme is Jesus' authority. His suffering for us can encourage perseverance in persecution.
Peter's letters come from a man whose life lesson could be summed up by saying Jesus is not done with us yet, no matter the failure. He shows us how to endure persecution, and Peter and Jude assure us Jesus will keep his promise to return and restore the world. The gospel of John was written for those who are exploring their faith, questioning their faith, or have a worn-out faith.
In 1-3 John we are struck by how Jesus knows what it means to be human. We are called to love one another, watch out for false teachers, and open our homes to true teachers. Revelation is the story of the re-creation of the world. The Bible begins with the presence of God and the loss of his presence, and ends with God's presence returning.