Abide Class: Biblical Theology

What is Biblical Theology?

Biblical theology is distinct from systematic theology, historical theology, or other fields of theology. Systematic theology asks the Bible modern questions and systematizes answers, organizing these answers into different categories, such as the theology of God, theology of man, and theology of salvation. Historical theology recounts the historical contributions to the field. Biblical theology takes the Bible on it's own terms by recounting the biblical narrative, tracing a theme through the whole Bible, or investigating a smaller corpus within the Bible, such as Paul's letters. Jim Hamilton writes in his book God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment:

[Biblical theology] seeks to understand the Bible in its own terms, in its own chronology, as reflected in its canonical form. One of the key tasks of biblical theology is to trace the connections between themes and show the relationships between them . . . The great challenge in biblical theology is to hold together everything the Bible says so that nothing is nullified, negated, or neglected.

What will this class be like?

The goal of our Abide Classes is to grow our understanding of the Bible, equipping us to delight in God and overcome darkness. As our Life Groups help us apply what we know to overcoming darkness through discussion and relationships, Abide Classes will focus on content through teaching.

The content of this course will begin explaining biblical theology and the salvation narrative. It will provide a framework for understanding the whole Bible as one connected story, trace themes through the entire Bible, and make some connection to how these affect our lives.

How to Read the Bible

How do you read the Bible?

  • "I don't know how to apply this passage."
  • "I don't have a clue what's going on in this story."
  • "How do I find time?"
  • "Will I ever understand?"
  • "The Bible is boring."

If the Bible seems impossible to understand, apply, or just plain read from day to day, this Abide Conference was designed to provide you with the basics of biblical interpretation where all Bible reading is directed toward application and worship.


The Basics

Purpose

We’re not done interpreting the Bible until we apply it & are led to worship (2 Tm 3:16–17; Ps 119:11; Mt 22:36–40).

Step 1: Their Land

What is the author saying to the original audience? What is their situation? Consider genre, figures of speech, context, culture, location, time in history, recent biblical events, & their relationship with God.

Step 2: Principle Bridge

What timeless principles are present in this text? Don’t create meaning. Discover it. Consider differences & similarities between their land & our land, relevance to both their land & our land, agreement with the rest of Scripture, doctrine, godly character traits, what it says about God.

Step 3: Our Land

How might these principles be applied to your life in specific ways? Each individual may find slightly different application depending on one’s life situation, stage in growth, culture, relationships, strengths and temptations. The Bible will more often challenge sin & inaction than validate & excuse our current behavior.


Basic Christian Doctrine (Part 2)

WHAT IS SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY?

Any study that seeks to answer the question, “What does the whole Bible teach us today about any given topic?” in an attempt to summarize the teaching of Scripture in a brief, understandable, and very carefully formulated statement.

Knowledge about God which attempts to collect and understand relevant passages in the Bible on various topics and then summarize their teachings clearly helping us to know what the Bible teaches on a particular topic. The structure is often arranged around major topics or categories of ideas which theologians have agreed upon over the centuries (e.g., Bibliology, Christology, Pneumatology, Ecclesialogy, Soteriology, etc.).

Our Abide Conferences will divide systematic theology into nine major sections loosely based on Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. We will divide these into two Abide Conferences:

BASIC CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE: PART 1 (JULY 26, 2015)

   1. Bibliology (Doctrine of the Word of God)
   2. Theology Proper (Doctrine of God)
   3. Anthropology (Doctrine of Man)

BASIC CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE: PART 2 (OCTOBER 25, 2015)

   4. Christology (Doctrine of Christ)
   5. Pneumatology (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit)
   6. Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation)
   7. Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church)
   8. Eschatology (Doctrine of the Future)

Check out our other Abide Conferences as well.

The Physical Steps of Fasting

This post is a continuation of our primary post on How to Start Fasting, which is a good place to start to learn the purpose and first steps of learning how to fast. This post will tell you give you some tips on dealing with the physical dynamics of fasting.


The following is an excerpt from Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline (New York: HarperCollins, 1998):

    Contemporary men and women are largely ignorant of the practical aspects of fasting. Those who desire to fast need to acquaint themselves with this basic information.

    As with all the Disciplines, a progression should be observed; it is wise to learn to walk well before we try to run. Begin with a partial fast of twenty-four hours’ duration; many have found lunch to lunch to be the best time. This means that you would not eat two meals. Fresh fruit juices are excellent to drink during the fast. Attempt this once a week for several weeks. In the beginning you will be fascinated with the physical aspects of your experience, but the most important thing to monitor is the inner attitude of the heart. Outwardly you will be performing the regular duties of your day, but inwardly you will be in prayer and adoration, song, and worship. In a new way, cause every task of the day to be a sacred ministry to the Lord. However mundane your duties, for you they are a sacrament. Cultivate a “gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.” Break your fast with a light meal of fresh fruits and vegetables and a good deal of inner rejoicing.

    After two or three weeks you are prepared to attempt a normal fast of twenty-four hours. Drink only water but use healthy amounts of it. Many feel distilled water is best. If the taste of water bothers you, add one teaspoon of lemon juice. You will probably feel some hunger pangs or discomfort before the time is up. That is not real hunger; your stomach has been trained through years of conditioning to give signals of hunger at certain hours. In many ways the stomach is like a spoiled child, and a spoiled child does not need indulgence, but needs discipline. Martin Luther says “. . . the flesh was wont to grumble dreadfully.” You must not give in to this “grumbling.” Ignore the signals, or even tell your “spoiled child” to calm down, and in a brief time the hunger pangs will pass. If not, sip another glass of water and the stomach will be satisfied. You are to be the master of your stomach, not its slave. If family obligations permit it, devote the time you would normally use eating to meditation and prayer. . . .

    After having achieved several fasts with a degree of spiritual success, move on to a thirty-six-hour fast: three meals. With that accomplished, it is time to seek the Lord as to whether he wants you to go on to a longer fast. Three to seven days is a good time period and will probably have a substantial impact on the course of your life. . . .

    Although the physical aspects of fasting intrigue us, we must never forget that the major work of scriptural fasting is in the realm of the spirit. What goes on spiritually is much more important than what is happening bodily. You will be engaging in spiritual warfare that will necessitate using all the weapons of Ephesians 6. One of the most critical periods spiritually is at the end of the fast when we have a natural tendency to relax. But I do not want to leave the impression that all fasting is a heavy spiritual struggle—I have not found it so. It is also “. . . righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

    Fasting can bring breakthroughs in the spiritual realm that will never happen in any other way. It is a means of God’s grace and blessing that should not be neglected any longer.

How to Start Fasting

Join Us for 3 Weekly Fasts (Oct 11 – Nov 1)

Please join us as we fast once per week on the day of your choosing for the 3 weeks of October 11–November 1. We are committing to do this as a church for the purpose of vividly reminding ourselves that we prefer the eternal over the temporary. We are dedicating ourselves to leaving an eternal impact.

The Purpose of Fasting

Fasting is practicing self-denial in order to remind ourselves that only Christ satisfies us. Our hunger reminds that we "hunger and thirst for righteousness" even more than food (Matt 5:6). Every pang of hunger reminds us to pray and turns our eyes to Christ. Every ache of the stomach turns our thoughts not to our empty stomachs but our needy souls. We seek not to be filled with food but with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23).

Christ expected his followers to fast just as he expected them to pray.  Jesus says to his followers, "When you fast," (Matt 6:16) and said that we "will fast" (Matt 9:15).

Fasting is an exceptional measure, designed to channel and express our desire for God and our holy discontent in a fallen world. It is for those not satisfied with the status quo. For those who want more of God’s grace. For those who feel truly desperate for God. — Desiring God

How to Fast

Fasting is a discipline that must be learned. Consider these lessons as you take your first steps.

1. Start with a Partial Fast.

Take it one step at a time. A Normal Fast abstains from all food but not water for several meals, but we recommend starting out with a Partial Fast of a limited diet, such as abstaining from solids for two meals while still drinking juice to sustain sugar and energy levels. On your second fast, you may take the next step. See also our post on The Physical Steps of Fasting.

2. Fast for a Purpose.

As Dr. Don Whitney says, "Without a spiritual purpose for your fast it's just a weight-loss fast" (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life). Surveying examples and teachings on fasting in the Bible, Whitney has cataloged ten purposes for fasting. At the beginning of your day of fasting, pick a category and a specific prayer that you will pray throughout that day.

  1. To strengthen prayer (Ezra 8:23; Neh 1:4; Danie 9:3; Joel 2:12-17; Acts 13:3)
  2. To seek God’s guidance (Judges 20:26-28; Acts 14:23)
  3. To express grief (Judges 20:26; 1 Sam 31:11-13; 2 Sam 1:11-12)
  4. To seek from God deliverance or protection (2 Chr 20:3-4; Ezra 8:21-23; Esther 4:16; Ps 109:21-26)
  5. To express repentance and the return to God (1 Sam 7:6; Joel 2:12; Jonah 3:5-8)
  6. To humble oneself before God (1 Kings 21:27-29; Ps 35:13)
  7. To express concern for the work of God (Neh 1:3-11; Isa 58:6-7; Daniel 9:3)
  8. To minister to the needs of others (Isa 58:6-7)
  9. To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God (Matt 4:1-11)
  10. To express love and worship to God (Luke 2:37)

We are specifically focusing on our earnest desire to see the lost in our community come to faith in Jesus. We are also asking God to guard us against the schemes of the evil one as we continue to push back darkness.

3. Substitute Prayer for Mealtimes.

Since you aren't eating, that doesn't mean you've got spare time on your hands. Instead, you've got an extra three devotional times in addition to your normal devotional time. With four set-aside times for prayer during the day, and many quick prayers throughout the day prompted by every pang of hunger, you will certainly start to understand what it feels like to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:17).

4. Guard Against "Showing Off."

Jesus taught, "when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward" (Matt 6:16). In other words, be careful about telling everyone about your fast. It is tempting to seek the respect and esteem of others because we are fasting. One who is truly fasting is too caught up in his pursuit of God to be concerned with the praise of men.

5. Focus on Heart Change, not Rules.

Don't focus on distracting questions like, "Is this or that allowed in fasting?" Fasting isn't about rules that earn favor with God. Nobody's checking your report card. Fasting is a way to emphasize your prayers through disciplining yourself. Set your personal rules at the beginning of your day and make sure you don't compromise. Avoid compromise. That should be your only rule. That being said, on your first fast, you will need to play it safe for health reasons, which leads into our last point. 

6. Consider Your Health.

Consider your particular health concerns by consulting a doctor or adapting your fast. Take your first fast slow and watch how your body reacts. Diabetics, nursing mothers, those fighting migraines, and others may need to keep an extra watch on their sugar levels, perhaps never giving up juices. If health prohibits any type of food fast, consider fasting from something other than food. Fast from something that is regular, healthy, and perhaps needed but that you can do without for one day.

Fasting is for this world, for stretching our hearts to get fresh air beyond the pain and trouble around us. And it is for the battle against the sin and weakness inside us. We express our discontent with our sinful selves and our longing for more of Christ.

When Jesus returns, fasting will be done. It’s a temporary measure, for this life and age, to enrich our joy in Jesus and prepare our hearts for the next — for seeing him face to face. When he returns, he will not call a fast, but throw a feast; then all holy abstinence will have served its glorious purpose and be seen by all for the stunning gift it was.

Until then, we will fast. — Desiring God

Essential Reading

Additional Resources

Sunday Worship Service Cancellation for 9/13

Friends of Crossing Church,

Since the funeral for Taylor Martin (a student at Thomas Nelson) will be held on Sunday 9/13 at the High School, we will not be having a worship service. We will, however, still hold the Abide Conference from 5:30–8:30pm but the location has changed to Old Kentucky Home Middle School. Click here for directions

The death of Taylor has been a big blow to this community, and there will be an enormous crowd gathering to show their support for this family at the funeral on Sunday. Since we consider ourselves part of the TNHS community, the leaders and I thought that it would be appropriate for Crossing to help with the funeral (since it will be very large) because we cannot use our space for worship. For this reason, we are asking any of you who are able to consider volunteering your time to help with the complicated logistics of running such a large funeral. They need our help with parking, ushering, and perhaps working with the food (many have already donated it, though they will need help with serving it). Since this has never happened at this High School and there is not an established order for volunteers, you may need to just show up and be available. Many of us will be there before 10am to greet visitors and inform them of the change. The funeral is at 2pm.

Since we have committed ourselves to being a source of hope for this community, this is a good opportunity to surround a grieving family and community with love.


Sincerely,
Pastor Daniel

"By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." –John 13:35

Basic Christian Doctrine (Part 1)

What is Systematic Theology?

Any study that seeks to answer the question, “What does the whole Bible teach us today about any given topic?” in an attempt to summarize the teaching of Scripture in a brief, understandable, and very carefully formulated statement.

Knowledge about God which attempts to collect and understand relevant passages in the Bible on various topics and then summarize their teachings clearly helping us to know what the Bible teaches on a particular topic. The structure is often arranged around major topics or categories of ideas which theologians have agreed upon over the centuries (e.g., Bibliology, Christology, Pneumatology, Ecclesialogy, Soteriology, etc.).

Our Abide Conferences will divide systematic theology into nine major sections loosely based on Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. We will divide these into two Abide Conferences:

Basic Christian Doctrine: Part 1 (July 26, 2015)

   1. Bibliology (Doctrine of the Word of God)
   2. Theology Proper (Doctrine of God)
   3. Anthropology (Doctrine of Man)

Basic Christian Doctrine: Part 2 (October 25, 2015)

   4. Christology (Doctrine of Christ)
   5. Pneumatology (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit)
   6. Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation)
   7. Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church)
   8. Eschatology (Doctrine of the Future)

Check out our other Abide Conferences as well.

New Testament Survey

What is New Testament Survey?

Every week we gather on Sundays to to fellowship and worship, cultivating a delight in God that is carried on in mid-week life groups as we apply the Bible to our lives to overcome darkness. In this New Testament Survey Abide Conference, we want to give people the tools they need to help them know how to read each book of the New Testament as well as providing some background information on the early church and the formation of the New Testament.

Check out our other Abide Conferences as well.

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