Join us as we take 13 weeks through 14 books of the New Testament in the next chapter of "Immerse - Saturating Yourself in the Word of God."
The Gospel Journey is a daily Bible reading program that follows the amazing story of the events that took place when God unleashed His power on a small group of men and charged them to take the story of their Redeemer, Jesus Christ, to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
It began as Jesus promised a few frightened, confused men that they should wait in Jerusalem to be “clothed with power from on high” (Acts 1:8) and then they were to go out as His witnesses. We don’t know exactly what the disciples were expecting as they waited and prayed in Jerusalem, but the “power from on high” did not disappoint. God sent the Holy Spirit amidst rushing winds, flames like fire and men speaking new languages! The unseen indwelling power from on high was God Himself, the Holy Spirit, now residing in the hearts of men and intent on changing the world.
As the gospel spread, it changed the hearts and lives of thousands of new believers and the church was born. God encouraged and directed the growing church through the preaching and written letters of the apostles, many of which form much of our New Testament.Our Gospel Journey follows both the narrative in Acts and the accompanying letters written by Paul. Each time Acts takes us to a town or region that received a New Testament letter from Paul, we will read the letter before continuing on to our next destination. This reading strategy provides so much context and new understanding that we know you will be blessed in a fresh way by these books.
Acts is the sequel to the book of Luke giving the 30-year history of the initial spread of the gospel and the birth of the church. Acts is our first look at mankind after the single most important event in history, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That pivotal event changed so many things that Ray Stedman compares the time of Acts to a revolving door sweeping out old ideas as new ones were coming in. Much time will be devoted to the significant transitions: From law to grace; Old Covenant to New Covenant; apostles to church leaders; from Jews to Jews and Gentiles; and from Judaism to Christianity.
God followed a pattern as he communicated these changes. He announced and affirmed. The apostles announced His plans through preaching and God affirmed those messages with miracles. The affirming miracles are at their strongest when the message was new (and usually unpopular). It happened at Pentecost when Peter proclaimed Jesus as Lord. The people were cut to the heart and three thousand were saved that day. It happened again in Chapter 10 when God shocked the Jews by extending the gospel to the Gentiles. When the skeptical Jews heard all the ways that God had affirmed the message, they were silent and then glorified God.
As you read, watch for these announcements and affirmations during the first 2/3 of the book and then notice how they are no longer prominent in later chapters. The gospel now has a solid footing, believers are growing and Christ is being proclaimed in many regions. God’s plan has been set into motion and the enduring church is firmly planted.
Paul wrote 13 of the 21 epistles in the New Testament. The role of the epistles in the scriptures is significant because only here are the full ramifications of Jesus’ work on the cross explored in depth and taught. These letters speak directly to the church era in which we live, and thus form the bulk of the doctrine and theology churches follow today.
Paul’s letters follow a logical structure: opening comments, body and closing comments. The opening usually identifies the author(s) and greets and prays over his intended audience. The closing comments are usually personal in nature; sending messages to people, giving travel details, prayer requests and a prayer of benediction. The body of the letters usually addresses specific situations in the receiving church or region, such as the infiltration of false teaching, questions over a certain doctrine or weariness from persecution. We are better readers of these letters if we continuously ask God to show us how we are like the recipients, how God is asking us to change, and how the truths in the letter can breathe more love, faith and grace into us.
We do not read the Bible to gain knowledge; we read to know Christ and to become more like Him. During the Gospel Journey we will be saturated with the gospel, and it is exciting to contemplate how God will transform us through such exposure! Toward that end, we have provided application questions for us to consider as we read each book. We pray that this project will greatly increase our love for Christ and will compel us to live more for his glory. Grace and peace to you!