Following Jesus: Focus On The Message – Unit 1: Introduction To The Bible

 

Getting started

Description

Welcome to Focus On The Message – the first component of our Following Jesus discipleship program. This web page contains the lessons for:

Unit 1: Introduction to the Bible

Purpose

Follow this link for information about these key aspects of our training: Purpose, Goals, Habits, Ministries, and Assignments.

Lesson 1: Preparation

Doing the Bible

Doing the Bible is the first of our Core Values at Life Church and in order to do the Bible we have to learn the Bible and teach it to others. If you want to get the most out of this material then make a commitment to do the following:

  • Find a group or at least a partner with whom you can engage this material.
  • Read the Bible passages that are linked here.
  • Watch the videos. Watch the short Bible Project videos several times so that the teaching becomes a part of you.
  • Teach this to others as you are learning it. This, more than anything else, will deepen your own understanding!
    • Start with a friend or family member (including your spouse and/or your children). – Deuteronomy 6:1-9 NIV – Bible Gateway
    • Find others who are hungry to learn and have no one with whom to study.

Habits

Now is the right time to prepare your disciple for what’s coming next by coaching him/her in developing the following habits:

  • Prayer
    • Set aside a daily time to spend with God when you won’t be disturbed.
    • Use this time to pray. Ask your disciples to teach you how if necessary.
    • Keep a notebook that you can use to write down what the Lord says to you during this and other times.
    • Review what God says to you with the person who is discipling you.
    • Read “My Heart Christ’s Home”.

Approaching the Bible

Some background for urban disciples:

  • Christianity is not a western religion! It is a middle-eastern religion that has had a significant, yet sadly inadequate influence on the west.
  • Christianity is “revealed” religion – it is entirely about God taking an initiative to communicate specific truths to us and our response to his initiative. It is NOT about us finding our way to God! If God did not exist, Christianity would be meaningless. If it turned out that God exists, but hasn’t actually communicated anything, then Christianity would be meaningless. We are entirely dependent on God’s desire to make himself known. If God did not want to reveal himself to us we would have no hope of finding him or figuring him out.
  • No one from any of the colonizing European nations was involved in writing the Bible!
  • The story of Jesus is not based on the Egyptian god Osirus.
  • The Ten Commandments are not based on the 42 Principles of Ma’at.
  • The Bible was not written in English! The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic; the New Testament was written in Greek. Every English Bible we have is a translation from these languages.
  • When you read the Bible you are eavesdropping on a conversation that God had with someone else. You are eavesdropping with his permission, indeed his encouragement, but you are still eavesdropping and you need to interpret everything from the perspective of the initial audience. The Bible was written for us, but not directly to us.

Training assignment (do this yourself, and use it to help train someone else):

  • Find a group or at least a partner with whom you can engage this material.
  • Set aside a daily time to spend with God when you won’t be disturbed.

Understanding the Bible

Lesson 2: Overview

Perhaps the best way to understand the Bible is by approaching it the way the founders of The Bible Project do:

The Bible is a small library of books telling a unified story that leads to Jesus.

Let’s take a look at what we mean by this:

Topics to explore in discussion:

  • How your views about the Bible have evolved over time.

Additional resources to check out:

Training assignment (do this yourself, and use it to help train someone else):

  • Watch each of the 3 videos above.
  • Discussion Questions:
    • What questions have you had about the Bible, Jesus, Christianity?
    • What do your family members and friends believe about these subjects?
    • Where have you looked for answers? Have you found the answers you needed?

Habits

  • Set aside time at the end of every day to pray and to reflect on what God has been saying and doing in your life.
  • Set aside time at least weekly to review the past lessons from this discipleship training.
  • Keep meeting with your mentor/discipler.

Let’s add some more detail to each of these:

Lesson 3: A Small Library of Books

Explore the following materials:

Topics to explore in discussion:

  • How your views about the Bible have evolved over time.

Additional resources to check out:

Training assignment (do this yourself, and use it to help train someone else):

  • Watch the entire “How To Read The Bible” video series above.
  • Discussion Questions:
    • Has the material you’ve seen so far been helpful?
    • What remaining questions have you had about the Bible, Jesus, Christianity?

Habits

  • Set aside time at the end of every day to pray and to reflect on what God has been saying and doing in your life.
  • Set aside time at least weekly to review the past lessons from this discipleship training.
  • Keep meeting with your mentor/discipler.

Lesson 4: Telling a Unified Story

Now lets dig a little deeper into the unified story that the Bible is telling us.

  • Video: How to Read the Bible: Biblical Story | BibleProject™
  • Getting to heaven is NOT the focus of the Bible: When Heaven Meets Earth. | BibleProject
  • The Bible Project – Themes: The Covenants
  • Milestones in God’s Plan:
    • Creation
      • God creates the world.
      • God creates us to represent him in it (this is the meaning of “in his image”).
    • Humans Rebel
      • God exiles, but does not destroy the human he created.
      • This is a hint that his creation project is not hopelessly ruined.
      • The Bible now records God’s progressive attempts to solve the problem of human rebellion. God is walking us through the levels of the required solution so that we can:
        1. understand the depth of the problem we caused,
        2. understand God’s ultimate solution,
        3. understand the lifestyle that aligns with God’s solution,
        4. understand how that lifestyle solves the problem of our rebellion.
    • Noah’s Flood
      • God chooses the best man he can find along with his family
      • God wipes out everyone else.
      • Humanity continues but the problem of human rebellion is unsolved.
      • This is the “tic-tac-toe” level solution: Wipe out all the bad people and start over from scratch.
    • Abraham / Israel
      • God chooses a people, redeems them, in order to make them a showcase of his love in a broken world.
      • This is the “checkers” level solutions.
    • Jesus
      • God sacrifices his life to redeem Israel and rescue the world.
      • This is the “chess” level solution.
  • The Big Picture Diagram

Topics to explore in discussion:

  • How your views about the Bible have evolved over time.

Additional resources to check out:

Training assignment (do this yourself, and use it to help train someone else):

  • Watch the “When Heaven Meets Earth” Bible Project video above.
  • Watch the “Big Picture” video with N. T. Wright above.
  • Discussion Questions:
    • What did you believe about the Bible’s story before you looked at this material?
    • Has your understanding of the Bible changed? If so, how?

Habits

  • Set aside time at the end of every day to pray and to reflect on what God has been saying and doing in your life.
  • Set aside time at least weekly to review the past lessons from this discipleship training.
  • Keep meeting with your mentor/discipler.

Lesson 5: Leading To Jesus

The unified story that the Bible tells leads to Jesus. We will now explore this in more detail.

Topics to explore in discussion:

  • How your views about the Bible have evolved over time.

Additional resources to check out:

Training assignment (do this yourself, and use it to help train someone else):

  • Read the Bible passages above.
  • Watch the “The Gospel” and “The Gospel of the Kingdom” Bible Project videos above.
  • Review the scriptures in the “good news” and “follow me” keyword searches above.
  • Discussion Questions
    • Review what you, your family, and your friends have believed about Jesus.
    • What do you believe about Jesus now? Who is he to you?
    • Are you a follower of Jesus? If so, how did you become one?

Habits

  • Set aside time at the end of every day to pray and to reflect on what God has been saying and doing in your life.
  • Set aside time at least weekly to review the past lessons from this discipleship training.
  • Keep meeting with your mentor/discipler.

Bible Resources

Lesson 6: Bible Versions

The Bible was not written in English! The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic; the New Testament was written in Greek. Every English Bible we have is a translation from these languages.

Checkout these resources:

We strongly recommend that you read or listen to the Bible in a modern word for word translation such as one of the following:

We do not use the King James Version (KJV) since it uses outdated English that will get in the way of your understanding of the text. We also do not recommend using paraphrase, or idiomatic versions such (The Message, The Living Bible, etc.) since these make it harder to directly engage the words from the original languages. We do not recommend using the Amplified Bible since it can give the misleading impression that all of the potential meanings of various Biblical words are actually intended at any given point at which that word appears. Finally, you should never use the New World Translation by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (The Jehovah’s Witnesses).

Interpretation & Translation Issues

Topics to explore in discussion:

  • Describe your past experience reading the Bible.
  • Has the language of the Bible ever been  barrier for you?

Additional resources to check out:

Training assignment (do this yourself, and use it to help train someone else):

  • If you haven’t done so already, begin using a modern English translation (e.g. NIV, ESV, etc.) of the Bible.
  • Put your King James Version of the Bible away.
  • Discussion Questions
    • What versions of the Bible, if any, have you used?
    • Have you found the Bible difficult to read, easy to read, or somewhere in between?
    • If you have any favorite Bible passages, compare them one or two of the versions that you are now aware of.
    • How do you feel reading a modern English version of the Bible?

Habits

  • Set aside time at the end of every day to pray and to reflect on what God has been saying and doing in your life.
  • Set aside time at least weekly to review the past lessons from this discipleship training.
  • Keep meeting with your mentor/discipler.

Lesson 7: Online Bible Resources

The Bible Project

The Bible Project is an amazing resource that includes dozens of excellently produced videos and study guides that will greatly enhance your understanding of the Bible. There are links to videos from The Bible Project in the section above and throughout this web page.

The site also includes a 1 year Bible reading plan that you can download.

The One Year Bible Online

This Bible reading plan is the online version of the One Year Bibles available in print in various versions (NIV, ESV, etc.). From this web site you can do your Bible reading on the standard plan (January 1 – December 31) or you can create a plan with a start date of your own choice. You can even order the One Year Bible in print!

Bible Apps

Other Online Resources

Topics to explore in discussion:

  • How comfortable are you doing extensive reading online?
  • How comfortable are you using the Bible online?

Additional resources to check out:

Training assignment (do this yourself, and use it to help train someone else):

  • Review the resources above and choose a plan for reading through the Bible in 1, 2, or 3 years.
  • Discussion Questions:
    • Have you ever read through the entire Bible before? If so, how many times have you done this?
    • Do you like to read? What types of reading, if any, do you enjoy?
    • What Bible software/apps have you installed on your computer and mobile devices?
    • How much of the Bible do you think you can faithfully read per day?
    • What will you do when you run into problem or have questions about your Bible reading? How comfortable are you with asking for help?
    • What’s the best way for me to help you grow in faithfulness in your Bible reading?

Habits

Here are the habits that your disciple should develop next:

  • Review the resources above and choose a plan for reading through the Bible in 1, 2, or 3 years.
  • Establish a regular time for reading through the Bible. You may choose to combine this with your prayer time.

Lesson 8: Buying Bibles

Topics to explore in discussion:

  • ?

Additional resources to check out:

  • ?

Training assignment (do this yourself, and use it to help train someone else):

  • Review the Bible vendors above and purchase two modern English hardcover or softcover Bibles:
    • A Study Bible
    • A convenient Bible for mobile use.
  • Set up access to online Bible resources on your computer, and mobile devices.
  • Discussion Questions
    • Do you need help buying an appropriate Bible? When, where, and how will you buy it?

Habits

  • Set aside time at the end of every day to reflect on what God has been saying and doing in your life.
  • Set aside time at least weekly to review the past lessons from this discipleship training.
  • Keep meeting with your mentor/discipler.

Lesson 9: Teaching Assignments

Students who take this class will be asked to take turns teaching lessons from this curriculum. This will typically begin after the class has completed Matthew 10 (Unit 3 Lesson 10) – the chapter in which Jesus sends the disciples out to preach the Kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons. Once the class crosses this threshold, the students will take turns covering material that they’ve already heard being taught – starting with Matthew 1 (Unit 2 Lesson 1). We do this so that the students will gain experience in teaching this material to someone else. This makes them better prepared to carry out the ultimate goal of this material: discipling another believer (i.e. bringing another believer to spiritual maturity). We have the students start with Matthew 1 so that they will be handling material that they’ve already seen being taught in class.

Here are some things to keep in mind when your turn to teach comes up:

  • Don’t freelance! Don’t rely on Google! Use the notes, books, videos, and other resources that we have provided or linked on this web site. There is a lot of information available on the web, but the sources (even the well-known ones) aren’t necessarily aligned with the perspectives and approach that we use in this class. If someone from outside of this class assists you, make sure that their help is based on the material and resources that we are using in this class.
  • Your goal is to learn how to lead someone else through the Gospel of Matthew in a way that allows them to experience what God wants them to learn.
  • This is NOT a sermon! It is not even a formal Bible study. It is a chance for you to discover how well you understand the material and how well prepared you are to present it to someone else.
  • Plan to take about 5 – 15 minutes for your presentation and invite questions afterwards.
  • When you review for the first time, material that you plan to present to someone else, you will often encounter the following:
    • Expressions or terms that you’ve been taking for granted, but realize that you don’t understand well enough to explain to someone else. This is normal and is an opportunity for learning on your part.
    • Questions you have that you haven’t thought to ask before. This is also normal and is also an opportunity for you to learn.

Topics to explore in discussion:

  • ?

Additional resources to check out:

  • ?

Training assignment (do this yourself, and use it to help train someone else):

Here are some things you can do to prepare for your time to teach:

Habits

  • Set aside time at the end of every day to reflect on what God has been saying and doing in your life.
  • Set aside time at least weekly to review the past lessons from this discipleship training.
  • Keep meeting with your mentor/discipler.


Advance to Unit 2: Matthew 1 – 4

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