I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in Her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed. I then give readers an opportunity to register to win a free copy of that resource. This week’s resource is The Gospel Project: The Rescue Begins for Kids, Students, and Adults. Our Groups team helped with this blog.
The Gospel Project is a Christ-centered Bible study for all ages that shows how all Scripture points to redemption through Jesus Christ, and it drives participants to be on mission. Today I want you to revisit some of the most familiar stories in a fresh light and see how these stories can grow our love for Christ and His mission to redeem the world.
Is it possible to study the Gospels and miss the gospel?
It sounds redundant, if not absurd. In the Gospels we see Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, God in the flesh. We see Him teach with authority, perform amazing miracles, forgive sins, command demons, and even raise the dead! How can we read these stories and see Jesus as anything other than who He claimed to be?
But that’s the irony, isn’t it? If you’ve been a Christian for any significant period of time, you know these stories. They’re familiar. But there’s a danger with familiarity, which is that these stories become just that—stories. There’s a danger of becoming almost apathetic, and in doing so, of missing the gospel itself in the Gospels.
So how do we protect ourselves from this danger? Let me suggest three ways:
1. Study the Gospels with an Attitude of Dependence.
How many times have we come to the Scriptures for our quiet time, devotions, or intensive study and have just opened the book and gone to work? Am I the only one? It’s not wrong to read this book like any other book, in one sense, of course. It is good and right to read large chunks at a time, to devour it the way you would a good novel or an engaging work of history (or even a book on accounting if that’s your thing). But we should always come to this book first with an attitude of dependence. One that acknowledges our need for God and the Holy Spirit’s help understanding this book. He inspired it to be written to make known to us the glory of Jesus, to help us be in awe of Jesus because He is truly awesome. If we don’t pray, if we don’t depend on God’s help, we will slip into apathy.
2. Study the Gospels with an Eye to the Larger Story.
It’s not enough just to read the details. Look for the point the Evangelists are trying to make. For example, what does it mean for Jesus to choose His apostles from among unexpected and unlikely people, such as fishermen and tax collectors? What does His compassion toward morally compromised people (like the Samaritan woman and the woman caught in adultery) help us understand about God’s love for humanity? What does His escalation of the demands of the law help us see about our (in)ability to meet God’s expectations? We should study His Word. This is not just looking to understand the details of the specific story but to see that story’s place in the larger story of Scripture: God’s redemption of the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we don’t look for the connection to this greater story, we miss out on the point of these “little” stories.
3. Study the Gospels with a New Believer (or an Unbeliever).
As believers, we’re all called to make disciples. Is there someone you are discipling or intentionally pursuing with the good news of the gospel? Ask this person to read the Gospels with you, and try to put yourself in his or her shoes. Wrestle with the questions this person asks of the text. Reading with fresh eyes can help you once again see the wonder of what God has done (and is doing) as this good news goes into all the world.
It’s good to be familiar with the Gospels, and as believers we must be familiar with them. But it’s possible to miss the gospel in the Gospels if our familiarity slips into apathy. By studying these stories with dependent prayer, a focus on the big story, and as you disciple others, you can protect your passion and, by God’s grace, keep seeing the beauty of the gospel in the Gospels.
This week, you can register to win a complete set of resources from The Gospel Project for all ages. This includes a copy of the Leader Kits and Leader Guides available for each age group as well as a sample of the Personal Study Guide or Activity Pages you would want to order for each participant or group member. The winner will receive the following:
- For Adults—a Leader Guide, Leader Pack, and Personal Study Guide
- For Students—a Leader Guide, Leader Pack, and Personal Study Guide
- For Preschoolers—Leader Kit (which is also the leader guide for babies and toddlers), Activity Pages, and Poster Pack
- For Kids—Leader Kit (includes resources for “younger kids” and “older kids” groups), Activity Pages, and Poster Pack
- Timeline Posters for all age groups
Enter here or in the form below to win a complete set of resources from The Gospel Project for all ages before 11:59pm CT tonight, November 22, 2016. We will notify winners within a week via email.