LifeWork Bible Study, DL Miller

Tags: gates of hell, Disciple Nations Alliance, Read Matthew, God and Satan, Coram Deo, Read Genesis, Lifework, Biblical Theology, Praise Jesus, the Body of Christ, Jesus Christ, Darrow L. Miller, International Bible Society, gates of the city, book of Revelation, Abraham, kingdom of God, God created the heavens and the earth, God's creation, the City of God, Bride of Christ, God created man in his own image, the incarnation of Christ
Content: LifeWork Bible Study Understanding the Biblical Theology of What You Do Every Day by Darrow L. Miller
LifeWork: A Biblical Theology of What You Do Every Day Bible Study Copyright © 2009 by Darrow L. Miller Published by the Disciple Nations Alliance 1110 E Missouri Avenue, Suite 393 Phoenix, AZ 85014 United States of America Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided you do NOT alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproducing and you do not make more than 1,000 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website,, is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be explicitly approved by the Disciple Nations Alliance, Inc. Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: ©Darrow L. Miller, published by the Disciple Nations Alliance. Printed in the United States of America First Printing, 2009 Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations in this book are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. 2
Contents Introduction .........................................................................................................p. 4 About This Study ..................................................................................................p. 6 Session 1: The Call to Action ..............................................................................p. 7 Session 2: Coram Deo: Before the Face of God ..............................................p. 12 Session 3: The Meta-narrative: God's Transforming Story ..........................p. 17 Session 4: Culture and the Cultural Mandate .................................................p. 23 Session 5: The End of Culture ..........................................................................p. 27 Session 6: The Call ............................................................................................p. 33 Session 7: The General Call: To Life ................................................................p. 37 Session 8: The Particular Call: To Work .........................................................p. 41 Session 9: Characteristics of our Lifework ....................................................p. 46 Session 10: Stewardship: The Protestant Ethic .............................................p. 51 Session 11: The Gates of the City ....................................................................p. 57 Session 12: The Church Without Walls ..........................................................p. 62 Leaders Guide ....................................................................................................p. 68 Resources for further study ............................................................................p. 70 About the Disciple Nations Alliance ................................................................p. 71 Notes ...................................................................................................................p. 72 3
Introduction For many, the word "church" brings to mind images of a building, or an activity that happens on Sunday morning. But the church isn't a building. It is the Body of Christ, not only when it gathers for worship on Sunday, but twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week! The church remains the church on Monday Morning as God's people scatter into every domain of society. God has given the church a task to disciple nations--to be ambassadors of His rule and reign, bringing healing, blessing and restoration to all nations. This mission involves sharing the message of salvation through Christ, but evangelism is just the starting point. God's mission is nothing short of the restoration of all creation. In the inspired words of Dutch statesman and educator Abraham Kuyper, if Christ truly be Creator and Lord over all, then "there is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, `This is mine! This belongs to me!'" For the church to faithfully fulfill this mission, every member of the Body must be envisioned, equipped, and engaged as agents of redemption and restoration in those places where they are called and deployed. Ken Meyers of Mars Hill Audio said it well: "Faithfulness to the Lord of all creation is cultural faithfulness; it is faithfulness in every realm of human experience, from science to sports, from making movies to making babies, from how we build relationships to how we relate to buildings. Following Christ is a matter first of inner transformation, and then of living faithfully in accord with the order of creation as He made and is redeeming it, in all of our cultural convictions and practices concerning a host of abstractions and concrete realities: food, sex, time, music, history, language, technology, family, justice, beauty, agriculture, and community." But there is a problem. In the words of Os Guinness, "God has his people where he wants them. The problem is that they are not being his people where they are." While Christians can be found in every domain of society, they all-too-often fail to function as missionaries of restoration. Rather than operating from a Biblical framework, they unintentionally function according to the worldly beliefs and values that frame the agenda for their particular area of work. Rather than discipling the nation as Christ commanded, the nations all-too-often disciple the church. The good news is that this is rapidly changing. Christians like you are beginning to reconnect faith and vocation, understanding work as a calling--a vocation. There is a growing movement afoot that shares a common vision: to see substantial social and cultural renewal as Christians 4
intentionally function from a Biblical worldview in every sphere of society--as educators, business people, lawyers, medical workers, homemakers, artists, or government workers. We hope this study will aid you on your journey as you seek to bring blessing and restoration to every area of life through your Lifework. Scott D. Allen President, Disciple Nations Alliance July 2009 5
About This Study This study offers a look at the Scriptures underpinning my book Lifework: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day. The lessons correspond to the following chapters in Lifework: Session 1 = Chapter Four: One Lord, One Realm Session 2 = Chapter 5: Coram Deo: Before the Face of God Session 3 = Chapter 7: The Essential Session 4 = Chapter 8: Culture: Where the Physical and Spiritual Converge & Chapter 9: Elements of the Cultural Mandate Session 5 = Chapter 10: The Fall, the Cross and Culture Session 6 = Chapter 11: The Call: Lifework Session 7 = Chapter 12: The General Call: To Life Session 8 = Chapter 13: The Particular Call: To Work Session 9 = Chapter 14: Characteristics of our Lifework Session 10 = Chapter 15: Stewardship: The Protestant Ethic Session 11 = Chapter 18: The Gates of the City Session 12 = Chapter 22: The Body of Christ: the Church without Walls You can study by yourself or with a small group. There are 12 sessions in this study that will walk you through many aspects of your lifework. Each of the sessions is broken down into the following sections: · Key Verses to Read. After the opening narrative, a key Scripture passage has been selected for each session. Carefully read the verses and answer the questions after it. These key verses provide a Biblical framework for the central teaching of each session. · Key Verses Insights. This narrative section offers a deeper look into the key verses and questions. Carefully read it, taking notes as you go along, highlighting meaningful or important points, and writing down questions that come to mind. · Discovery Questions. This section is designed to take you into God's Word for a deeper understanding of the whole session. Woven among the questions is more narrative, providing insight into the questions. · Personal Application. Here's where the study gets personal. These questions are designed to help you reflect on your own life and experiences and move you towards personal application. · Closing Thoughts. This section provides a "wrap up" of the session. If you're leading a small group through this booklet, please read the "Leader's Guide" section at the end of this booklet before beginning. Guidelines are provided that will help you enhance your group's effectiveness. Please join us as we review Scripture and discover how God is calling you to your lifework. 6
Session 1: The Call to Action For those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior, we rest assured in the knowledge that he will one day return to earth as our triumphal Messiah. We know the Kingdom of God will reign supreme. Unfortunately, Christians throughout history have fallen victim to a theology of waiting. We sit back and wait for Christ's return, feeling no need to increase the already-present kingdom of God on earth today. In this lesson you'll study Jesus' call to action, and begin to see that we are not called to a theology of waiting. You will also begin to understand how God has equipped each person to occupy territory for Jesus until he returns. Key Verses to Read The Parable of the Minas While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. `Put this money to work,' he said, `until I come back.' "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, `We don't want this man to be our king.' "He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. "The first one came and said, `Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' "`Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. `Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' "The second came and said, `Sir, your mina has earned five more.' "His master answered, `You take charge of five cities.' "Then another servant came and said, `Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.' "His master replied, `I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?' "Then he said to those standing by, `Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.' "`Sir,' they said, `he already has ten!' "He replied, `I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.'" --- Luke: 19:11-26 7
1. Outline who the man of noble birth was, where he went and what he was going to do. 2. The 10 servants represent us as Christians, and the minas are the `talent' God has given each of us. What did the nobleman expect the servants to do with the minas? Why? 3. For how long were the servants expected to take care of his money? 4. Outline how each servant replied when asked what he had done with his mina. How did the nobleman respond? Key Verses Insights False Expectations The people Jesus was talking to were expecting the kingdom of God to be imminent, and so they were waiting for it to appear. The followers of Jesus had a theology of waiting: they saw the coming of the kingdom, and believed it was all Christ's work. Instead of actively taking part in God's kingdom, they were simply waiting to receive its benefits. Christ wanted to correct their theology from being passive and waiting, to being active and engaged in building the kingdom. Christ was the man of noble birth, returning to his Father in heaven, to be crowned king and prepare a place for us in the kingdom of heaven, returning in the fullness of time with his kingdom. We are the servants. The minas are the natural and spiritual capital that God has given to each and every Christian. Those who have been most fruitful with their capital will be given more responsibility for the kingdom of God. On the other hand, those who have been less productive will have less responsibility. Finally, those who have not used the gifts that God has given for his purpose will lose them. God wants us to put the capital to work to do business, turn a profit, to "occupy till I come," to work to advance his kingdom. This is our call to action. When Christ returns, we are to be found employed in the work of the kingdom. 8
Discovery Questions Our Capital Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines capital stock as "the sum of money or stock which a merchant, banker or manufacturer employs in his business." God has invested each of us with `capital stock', which we are to employ in the business of advancing his kingdom. Study each of the following verses, and describe how God has capitalized human beings: 1. Genesis 1:14-19, 29 2. Psalm 8:4-6 3. Isaiah 40:29 4. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 27-28 God has capitalized us in four primary ways. The first two are forms of common grace. From the start of creation he provided us with `seeds' from the natural environment: the sun, the moon and stars, soil, water, and minerals. These things give us heat and energy, a way to govern, grow and protect creation, all of which are necessary for us to increase the kingdom of God. In addition, God gave us the natural gifts and talents we were born with, our natural endowment. The last two ways God's capitalizes us fall under the category of special grace. First, we are given spiritual gifts when we become Christians, known as our spiritual endowment. Second, God uses signs and wonders, miracles, as he breaks through into history. When Christ returns he will ask each of us what we have done with the gifts and talents he gave us. Have we used them to advance his kingdom in our family, community and workplace? Or have we hidden them in the ground? Like any investor, Christ expects us turn a profit with the capital that he has entrusted us. 9
Now look at the following passages, and outline why God put us on the earth, and why he saved us. Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15, 19-20 Matthew 25:31-46 Matthew 28:18-20 Acts 22:6-10 Personal Application Waiting or Action? Jesus clearly wants us to take action now. We are called to use the gifts he has given to us to advance his kingdom now, instead of waiting for his return. The following questions will ask you to take what you have learned, and apply it to your life. 1. Which of the three servants best describes you? Why? Are you willing to become more like the first servant? 2. Make a list of the capital God has invested in you and your world: Seeds (i.e. the natural environment) Natural Endowment (i.e. gift, talents, skills, education) Spiritual Endowment (i.e. spiritual gifts, fruit of the spirit) Signs and Wonders 10
3. How will you respond when Christ asks you: "What did you do with the natural and spiritual gifts and talents that I invest in you?" What will you say? 4. Pick one natural or spiritual endowment that you have "hidden in the ground." What will you do to use this capital in the coming week? Come prepared next week to share what you have done. Closing Thoughts God chose to include you in the work of his kingdom. How will you respond to this gift? Will you sit back, secure in your salvation until the day Jesus returns, or will you use your gifts and talents to advance his kingdom now? Praise God for including you in his salvation plan. Thank him for the many ways he has capitalized you. Ask God how he wants to use you to advance his kingdom. Commit to being open to his call. The Next Lesson: A look at how we are to live every minute of our lives before the face of God. 11
Session 2: Coram Deo: "Before the Face of God"
Most Christians have no problem giving Sunday to God ­ we go to Sunday School, worship service, church potlucks etc. without a second thought. But when Monday rolls around, we revert back to our other life, the one consumed with work, family and fun. This is not the way God wants us to live. You are called to live every minute of your life coram Deo, `before the face of God,' including the time you spend at your vocation. In order to live coram Deo you must begin to see that God is the center of all things, and in response you are to worship him with all your life, not just the time spent in church on Sunday morning. In this lesson, you will learn how to live before the face of God. Key Verses to Read The Comprehensiveness of Christ He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
1. What does this passage reveal about Christ Jesus?
--- Colossians 1:15-20
2. How many times does the word "all" or "everything" appear in these verses? What does this indicate?
3. Why did Jesus die on the cross? What does this reveal about God's interest--about his "big agenda?" 4. In vs. 18 it says that Christ is supreme or preeminent over all things. What does this mean? Key Verses Insights God's Desire for Intimacy Our 21st century mindset compartmentalizes everything ­ we have family time, work time, church time, `me' time. In the same way we allow Jesus access to certain parts of our lives ­ we know he is present at church, but don't invite him to watch the afternoon football game with us, because we might use language that is offensive to him, or drink one too many beers. This way of living is not what God desires for us. Christ is supreme over everything: he is the image of the invisible God; the firstborn of all creation; he created all things; all things exist for him; he existed before all things and holds all things together; he is the head of the church; he is the firstborn of the dead; he is the fullness of God; he reconciled all things to himself. The words "all" and "everything" are found 8 times in the Key Verses, reflecting the wholeness or comprehensiveness of God's agenda. Christ is to have first place over all things, not just spiritual things. That means that all of your life, not just the `spiritual part' is to be lived before the face of God. Christ's blood was shed, not just for the salvation of your soul, but also for the reconciliation of all things. Discovery Questions Christ Reconciles All Things The best way to begin living coram Deo is to deepen your intimacy with God. Open yourself to God by using the following questions to learn about the level of intimacy God desires to have with you. 1. Read Genesis 3:8-9, Exodus 25:8-9, John 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 6:16. What do these passages reveal about God's desire? Where does he want to be? 2. What word images are used to describe God's desire for intimacy? 13
3. There are a variety of images of God's desired intimacy. Read Exodus 3:7. How deeply does God know you? What is his level of concern for you? 4. Read Exodus 33:11, Deuteronomy 5:4 and 34:10. Each of these passages contains the phrase "face to face." What image does "face to face" bring to your mind? 5. Read Deuteronomy 33:7 and Psalm 1:6. How does God want to relate to you? How does he want you to relate to him? Now look at the following list of verses and outline what they tell you about how to live coram Deo. 1. Zechariah 14:20-21 2. Romans 12:1-2 3. 1 Corinthians 10:31 4. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 5. Colossians 3:17, 23 God's agenda is not only big--it is also intimate. He wants to be near you, to be relationally involved in your life. In fact, God wants you to relate to him "face to face." On a human level this is the intimacy of lovers, or of a mother and a child. It is said that "the eyes are the window to the soul," and so the lovers, 14
and the mother and child, share soul to soul. This is the human image of the divine intimacy that God desires to share with you. God wants his people to be distinct from the world. You should not allow the world's patterns of thinking and behavior to be your patterns. God wants you to live all of your life before his face and to provide kingdom leadership for your communities, the place where you work and your nation. Personal Application Practical Living Whether you know it or not, we all live `before the face of God' ­ coram Deo ­ since nothing we do is hidden from him. Now that you are aware of this fact, you are to sanctify the common things - bells on horses, cooking pots, what we eat and what we drink. It is not simply the big things that are to be dedicated to Christ, but all things. The Apostle Paul exhorts you to bring every thought captive to Christ--not just the religious thoughts or spiritual thoughts, but every thought. Thus, areas such as the arts and communication, science and math, economics and politics are to be shaped by Biblical worldview and principles. Use the following questions to think about how you can change your lifestyle, and begin living `before the face of God.' 1. When you think about the fact that Christ died to reconcile all things, what are the implications for your life? 2. Why do you think that God desires to be intimate with you? How do you feel/respond to this desire? 3. Make a list of how you can begin to think `Christianly', bringing every thought captive, about your vocation. How can you advance the kingdom of God through your occupation? Choose one of these things and begin to apply it this week in your place of work. 15
Closing Thoughts God desires intimacy with you. In order to truly enjoy this intimacy, you must first start to intentionally live every moment `face to face' with him. Thank God for desiring to know you. Confess to him the many times that you have not lived coram Deo and commit to doing so. Ask him to help you live in such a way that his kingdom is advanced. The Next Lesson: A look at the Meta-narrative ­ the Biblical Story. 16
Session 3: The Meta-narrative ­ God's Transforming Story The Bible is God's story, beginning in the book of Genesis and ending with the book of Revelation. This story is powerful and transforming, leading to a healthier life and adding greater meaning to work. When we live our lives within the context of Biblical history, our life and work can mature towards God's full intention. People's understanding of their lives and work is related to their "cultural story" ­ meta-narrative -- that they learned as they grew up in their society. If the cultural story is based on a lie, then poverty, injustice, and tyranny result. If the story is rooted in the truth of the Scriptures ­ God's Transforming Story -- then bounty, justice and freedom are the results. In this lesson you'll learn about the four aspects of God's Transforming Story, and how to connect your lifework to God's unfolding Kingdom. Key Verses to Read The Breadth of the Story 1. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth ... Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." ... God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day. --- Genesis 1:1, 26-28, 31 17
2. Now, the serpent was more crafty than any of the Wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, `You may eat from any tree in the garden?'" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, `you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' " "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves ... To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `you must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." --- Genesis 3:1-7, 16-19 3. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. --- John 3:16 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. --- Colossians 1:19-20 18
4. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away..." The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. --- Revelation 21:1-4, 23-26 1. In your own words, describe what each set of verses reveals about the Bible's grand narrative. 2. If you could describe each set of verses by one key word, what would the four words be? Key Verses Insights God's Four-Fold Plan There are four major milestones in the flow of human history: Creation, the Fall, Redemption and Consummation. This is called the breath of scripture. `In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth:' he existed before he created and so creation is made in his image. Likewise, he created mankind in his image. The inherent community of the Trinity is reveled in mankind's longing for community and communication. God's creation was perfect, but it was not complete ­ he tasked mankind with filling the earth with its potential. As man was fulfilling this role, the serpent ­ Satan ­ began his work of distorting the truth by encouraging Adam and Eve to rebel. When they did so, the primary relationship between God and man was broken, affecting all other relationships in its stead. Relationships among mankind and between mankind and creation were broken. The rebellion against God had overarching consequences: all of man, all of his relationships, and all of creation were damaged. 19
God did not abandon his creation to their rebellion. Instead he sent his son, Jesus, to die for our sins. This first coming of Jesus marks the point where he won the battle: Jesus triumphed over Satan and laid the foundation for the restoration of all of mankind's relationships ­ with God, with each other and with creation. The framework of the kingdom of God again shapes man's life and work. When Christ returns in glory, this foundation will be strengthened and the power of the Cross will be consummated. When Christ returns, all things will be totally reconciled in him and the harmony that existed in the world before the Fall will return. In the midst of this grand narrative, there are life stories about people and how they related to God: Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Esther, Hosea and Gomer, Peter, James and John, Christ and his church. All of these sub-stories contribute to the breadth of the whole story. Discovery Questions The Depth of the Story 1. Read Psalm 19:1-11, 27:4 and Isaiah 6:3-5. What critical things in God's nature do these verses reveal? 2. What does this mean for human beings? In addition to the breadth of the story outlined above, there is a depth to the story. The depth reveals the meaning of the story. Who is God? What is man? What is the nature of creation? The scriptures reveal that God is (among other things) personal, rational, moral and beautiful. This means that the universe in which we live is personal, rational, moral and beautiful. These characteristics should act as parameters -- providing the wonder-filled context for our lives and we, as Christians, should manifest these things in our families, our communities and our vocations. 3. Read Genesis 1:26-27 and 2:15. What is the purpose for which human beings have been put on this planet? What are the implications for women? 4. Read Psalm 139:13-16 and Romans 3:23. What do these verses reveal about the nature of human beings? 20
5. Read Genesis 1:1 and 1:14-19. Did God exist before the universe? Does he exist inside or outside of creation? Why is this important? 6. Why do the sun, moon and stars exist? 7. What does Psalm 8 imply about the universe and about man? What is the meaning of these things? Man is made in the image of God and so human life is sacred. Even though man is in rebellion against God, we are made to work. Each individual person is special and has a unique part to play in the advancement of God's agenda. We are not here by chance as Atheists would say. In addition, work is not a curse and life is not fatalistic as many traditional religions argue. Human beings were put on the earth to be God's vice regents ­ to rule in God's stead and to develop or steward the earth. The stewardship was done by the use of hands, working and taking care of the garden; and by imagination, with the naming of the animals. Creation is an "open system;" open to the intervention of God, angels and mankind, with an impact on history. Wealth can be created and stewarded and so man is to have dominion over creation, not creation over man. Economic systems are to be developed that focus on the creation and moral stewardship of wealth, not the redistribution of scarce resources, as much of the modern world believes. Personal Application The Impact of the Story God's transforming story has the power to change lives, communities, and nations as it is allowed to permeate into all areas of our lives. 1. Now that you understand your role as God's vice-regent on earth, what does this mean for your life? 21
2. How do the insights about either the breadth or depth of Scripture impact your understanding of the nature of, or rationale for, work? List 4-5 specific things. 3. What one thing will you do differently this next week in the setting of your work? Be specific. Closing Thoughts You can only change your view of work and your vocation in as much as you root yourself in God's Transforming Story. Praise God for making you in his image, and allowing you to be part of his Transforming Story. Ask him to show you what your place is in his Story and where your life and work connect to his kingdom. Commit to taking your place within his Transforming Story -- taking this knowledge with you everywhere you go. The Next Lesson: An examination of the nature of culture and the cultural mandate. 22
Session 4: Culture and the Cultural Mandate The word cult is the root of the words `cultivate' and `culture.' At its heart, culture is not about the artifacts of a nation. Cult means to worship and so culture is a reflection of a nations' belief system, a reflection of the god or gods that a nation worships. We are not made, as the followers of Darwin argue, primarily like animals. Rather we are made like our Creator himself. As we discovered in the previous lesson, we have a part to play in creation ­ what God created was perfect but not complete. Our role is to create culture that reveals the glory of God's primary creation and God as Creator. In this lesson your eyes will be opened to the impact you can make on your culture, since you are created imago Dei, "in the image of God." Key Verses to Read The Cultural Mandate Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." --- Genesis 1:26-28 1. What does it mean that human beings are made in the image of God? 2. Why did God put humankind here on earth? What is our primary purpose? 3. What are the two secondary factors that contribute to the primary purpose? 23
4. Why did he make human beings male and female? 5. What does it mean that God "blessed them?" Key Verses Insights Imago Dei ­ `In the Image of God.' There are three important aspects of our being made in the image of God that need to be unpacked. First, you are made like God: God has an image - he loves, he is creative, he makes moral decisions, etc. and your image is patterned after his. This is known as the Structural View. Second, the Relational View states that God is community: one God, three persons, forming the Trinity - and so you were made for community - male/female and children. Third, is the Functional View: you have a God ordained purpose or function, to rule (steward) creation in God's place. Another way to look at this is to realize that you were placed on the earth for a purpose: To steward the earth - what God had made was perfect, but it was not finished yet! You are to take the seed or germ of what God had made and bring forth all its rich potential. To create culture - culture is the result of worship. As you worship the living God, you create Godly culture. To be vice-regents ­ you are a steward who governs in God's stead. In addition to this primary purpose, there are two secondary tasks that contribute to the fulfilling of your primary purpose of creating culture: Societal - "be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth" ­ the man and the woman were instructed to form families and then send families of image-bearers all over the world. Developmental - "...and let them rule ... subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea..." - the man and woman were told to take the raw material, the capital that God has built into human beings; such as language, imagination, reason, creativity, volition, etc., as well as the capital he has built into creation - nature, social capital, God - and create bounty with it. We are to work as stewards to fulfill the potential of God's creation. 24
So, your secondary tasks are to create more `image-bearers' and to fill them with the knowledge of God, and to steward and work to bring out the full potential of God's creation. One important part of the cultural mandate that is often overlooked is the idea that it is a shared mandate; it required both male and female. A single man could not have fulfilled this purpose nor could two males. It is a community project. Not only does it take male and female to pro-create ­ the societal mandate takes the unique gifting of male and female to co-steward. Therefore, both male and female have co-responsibility for stewarding creation. They have a common origin and a common destiny to co-create and pro-create; to co-rule as God's vice-regents; and to costeward. Both the male and female imago Dei are equally valued in their being and their function, they are the royal vice-regents, the kings and queens of creation. God blessed them; equipping or capitalizing them for the work that He had commissioned them to do. Discovery Questions Creating Godly Culture 1. Read Psalm 8:3-8. What is God's purpose for mankind? 2. Read Isaiah 11:9, Habakkuk 2:14 and Revelation 22:1-5. What is the end to which we are to live and work? Mankind has been put on the earth to rule over the works of God's hands and to "fill the earth with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea". The Cultural Mandate was given in a garden and the fulfillment of the mandate will be in a city in a garden ­ the City of God. Read the following verses and then outline the two primary ways we are to engage in creating Godly culture. 3. Genesis 1:14-19, 2:19-20 4. Genesis 1:29-30, 2:15 There are two primary ways to steward creation: with our physical bodies ­ hands and feet, to work and tend the garden, to use the seed; and with our hearts and minds ­ soul and spirit, observing the sun and 25
moon to manage space and time through maps and calendars, naming the animals and thus having dominion over them. Personal Application Kingdom Culture You are called to create `kingdom culture': to cultivate both the soil, to make it plentiful in its provision, and the soul, to be bountiful in knowledge, truth, wisdom and the arts. You are to cultivate culture! 1. What is the meaning of this for your life and your work ­ your lifework? 2. What has been the backdrop for your life: Making money? Being successful? Having recognition or power? Being able to retire and play golf or go fishing? 3. The backdrop of your life is supposed to be to "steward creation:" fill the earth with the knowledge of God; contribute to the building of the City of God ­ creating kingdom culture. List below five things that you can do differently in terms of your life and work: 4. Which one of these things will you begin to do this week? Closing Thoughts Kingdom culture is built on the nature and character of who God is. As you move forward in fulfilling the cultural mandate, you will create kingdom culture. Praise God for who he is ­ his nature and character. Praise him for creating you in his image, with the need for community. Praise him for making mankind both male and female. Tell him the ways in which you can create kingdom culture. Commit to doing so. The Next Lesson: A more detailed look at the end of culture. 26
Session 5: The End of Culture As we studied in session 3, the breadth of God's Transforming Story includes the Fall and the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. In this session we will look at what this means for us, today, in terms of our individual lifework and our ability to fulfill the cultural mandate. When mankind rejected God, we rejected all that he stands for and began creating ungodly culture. In relation to our lifework, it is easy for us to allow the "weeds to infest the ground", and see work as a necessary drudgery. However, Jesus has overcome death and shown us how to live. The Fall certainly made the stewardship aspect of the cultural mandate more difficult, but when we follow in the footsteps of Christ we can stand firm against its consequences. This means we are to work to create Godly culture, and to see our lifework as a calling. In this lesson you'll study the City of God and begin to think about what kind culture your nation will have to present to God. Key Verses to Read The City of God I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. --- Revelation 21:22-27 1. How would you describe this scene and the City of God, the New Jerusalem? 2. What is the illuminating focus of this divine reality? 27
3. What are the kings of the earth doing? What are they bringing into the city? What is the meaning of this? 4. What is not going to be brought into the city? Key Verses Insights The Glory and Splendor of Nations In historic times, when a king or queen visited another royal, they would bring the best unique gift from their nation to give to the visited king (Mt. 2:1-2, 9-11, 1 Ki. 10:1-13). It might be a natural element like gold or precious jewels, or it could be something made or created like cloth or paintings or music, something representing the glory of the visiting king's culture. At the end of history, Christ will return with the fullness of his kingdom ­ the City of God, the New Jerusalem. He will be the focus of the city -- the light that draws all nations to him. The gates of the city will stand forever open to symbolize the shalom peace that will prevail for eternity. The kings of the earth will bring their tribute to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. And what is that tribute? It is the glory and splendor of their nations. Each nation will offer the beauty of its culture: its natural resources as well as its music, art, dance and crafts. What is the beauty of your culture? What will your culture be able to offer to the King of Kings? As theologian Anthony Hoekema has written: Is it too much to say that, according to these verses, the unique contributions of each nation to the life of the present earth will enrich the life of the new earth? Shall we then perhaps inherit the best products of culture and art, which this earth has produced?1 In the last session, we learned about God's desire for us to create kingdom culture, and in this lesson you will learn the importance of creating such culture: it is this type of culture that we should be able to present to Christ upon his return. 28
Discovery Questions The End of the Story 1. The following Scriptures provide some of the images that reflect the end of the story, the consummation of history and culture. Describe these images in your own words: Genesis 12:2-3 Isaiah 60:1-3, Revelation 21:21-26 Habakkuk 2:14 Revelation 19:6-9 Revelation 21:1-4 2. The next set of verses from Isaiah 60 and Revelation 21 reflect a common vision of the coming of the City of God. Make a list of the key pictures in these passages. What does each of these elements mean? Isaiah 60:10, Revelation 21:25 Isaiah 60:19-20, Revelation 21:23 Isaiah 60:18, Revelation 21:4 Isaiah 60:1-3, Revelation 21:24 Isaiah 60:6-7,9,13,17, Revelation 21:22- 27 29
The end of the story, the consummation of history and culture, will be marked by all nations being blessed; the earth being full of the knowledge of the Lord as the water covers the sea; the wedding of the Lamb; the coming of the City of God -- the New Jerusalem; the ingathering of the nations to worship; and the revealing of the glory of the nations. Furthermore, some of the key elements of the end of the story as revealed in the City of God are that the gates are never shut, since there is no more danger or war. Christ the lamb is the lamp with God being the source of light. It is this light that draws the nations, like a light at night draws moths and insects. Also, there will be no more suffering in the City of God, no more death, hunger or sorrow. 3. Read the following three sets of verses, stating what form of evil is described in each one: Genesis 6:5-6, Romans 3:23 Genesis 3:16-18, Romans 8:19-22 Amos 8:5, Isaiah 58:6, Ezekiel 22:29, Micah 2:2 4. Each of the following verses describes a stage of a process related to the word form. What does each verse contribute to the concept of the word form(ed)? Genesis 1: 1-2 Genesis 1: 3- 31 Romans 1:18-31 Romans 12:1-2 Philippians 2:1-8 30
5. How does this process of form relate to the larger context of our lives? We live in a fallen world and so we live our lives and pursue our vocations within this fallen context. Scripture describes three forms of evil to contend with: personal evil ­ our sinful hearts, words and actions; natural evil ­ pain, death, floods, drought, and poverty; and institutional evil ­ racism, tribalism, corruption, and abortion. It is our calling as Christians to strive against all forms of evil, to work to eradicate it from our culture since surely we will want to present the purest form of culture possible to Christ upon his return. The word `form' itself has a wide range of uses as we follow the Biblical narrative. In the first chapter of Genesis, starting with creation, we see that the world is unformed, and then the Spirit of God begins forming creation. With the Fall, Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-31 that man's rebellion leads to deforming, as we give ourselves over to our sinful desires. By the grace of God, Jesus' act of redemption on the cross gives us the ability to transform our minds and lives (Rom. 12:1-2). In the final act of consummation, when we are fully united with Christ, we will be able to totally conform to Christ (Phil. 2:1-8). We live in a world that God made perfect but the Fall brought a deformity to all of life. Christ died so that the goodness God created in the beginning could be restored. We have the privilege, as Children of God, of being engaged in the transforming and conforming process of redemption and consummation. Our prayer lives are one way that we can work towards the restoration of our nations. Read the following verses then outline what the focus of our prayers should be: 6. 2 Chronicles 7:14 7. Matthew 6:5-14 8. Read Genesis 12: 1-4. What is the nature of Abraham's call? What did this call cost him? 9. Read Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16. What was Abraham really looking for? What was the backdrop of his life? 31
Abraham heard the voice of God calling him to leave Ur, his home, his extended family and friends, his culture, everything that was familiar and "go to the land I will show you." In the physical realm, Abraham was looking for the "promised land" -- what today is known as Israel and Palestine. But what was he really looking for? We find out in Hebrews 11: "For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." While Abraham was called to wander in the wilderness, following God's voice to the land of promise where he would have a new physical home, his life was lived against the backdrop of the City of God. Personal Application Coming into Focus Like Abraham, the focus of our life's journey is to be the City of God. We are to live our lives within the reality of its coming and are to focus our work on contributing to the coming of the kingdom of God. 1. How does the fact that we should focus on the City of God provide the backdrop for our lives as Christians? 2. What one thing will you do to begin to frame your life with "the end" ­ the coming of the kingdom of God -- in mind? How can you use your life or work to contribute to the coming of the kingdom of God? 3. What might the unique cultural gift be from your nation? What can you do to help prepare your nation's glory as a tribute to Christ on his wedding day? Closing Thoughts Regardless of what our particular vocations may be, we are all culture-makers. As we begin to understand the true meaning of this, we will open ourselves to a better understanding of the Biblical theology of vocation. Thank the Lord for creating you as a culture-maker. Thank him for the unique offering your nation will bring to him in the City of God. Commit to focusing your life on the future coming kingdom of God, while working to create kingdom culture in the present. The Next Lesson: An examination of the call of God. 32
Session 6: The Call When asked life's most basic questions like "Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life? Why am I to work?" we too often give glib, superficial and expected answers. While we say that God has made us, too often we see our lives, and live them out, in the framework of a society that is set adrift. We do not connect our lives to God's purposes or seek his calling. We live our lives in the framework of a consumer economy where money drives everything. As Os Guinness writes: "If there is no Caller, there is no calling ­ only work."2 In this lesson you will learn that you have been made by God as an original, a one-of-a-kind person to make a unique contribution to God's purpose, the advancement of his kingdom. Key Verses to Read Created for a Purpose For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. --- Psalm 139:13-16 1. Were you a product of chance (Darwinism) or created by God for a purpose? 2. Let's go a little deeper with that last question. What is the thinking that drives your day-to-day understanding? How much has your culture shaped how you see your purpose? 33
3. What does this passage reveal about: How you were made? Your uniqueness? 4. What does this mean for your life? Key Verses Insights The Call of the Caller The atheistic narrative of secular materialism says that life has come about by chance. There is no purpose in life; and when we die, our existence is over! Death marks the end of this story, leading to the old hedonistic lifestyle of "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!" The purpose of life is to consume and thus the emphasis in the modern world on immediate gratification and consumer and national debt. In this cultural narrative we live in a consumer economy, living lives of radical individualism, self-absorption, relentless speed and a quest for things. Why do we work? We work for money! The marketplace determines our worth with money providing power and affluence, which in turn, allows us to buy things. In the theistic narrative, we live in what Os Guinness calls a "calling economy". 3 We are called for a purpose and so we live in a connected world of community: in relationships with God, our fellow human beings and with creation. Why do we work? We work to glorify God, serve the larger community, build just societies, and steward creation. We work to make our own unique contribution to the coming of the kingdom of God and, as my friend Dr. Robert Moffitt says, to "write our signature on the universe!" The Greek philosopher Aristotle made a distinction between oikonomia and chrematistics. Oikonomia (the root of the English word economics) means to manage the household, by God's laws, so as to increase the health and value of the household for the whole community and for future generations. This corresponds to a calling economy. In contrast, chrematistics is the manipulation of property and wealth for maximum gain for the individual, in the shortest time frame. This corresponds to a consumer or money economy. 34
Discovery Questions The Tale of Two Callings 1. Read John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Timothy 1:15-16 and 1 John 4:9-10. How would you describe the nature of God's call on your life? 2. Read Genesis 6:14, Exodus 3:1-12, Esther 4:13-16, Jeremiah 1:5, Hosea 1:1-2, Acts 22:6-10 and Galatians 1:15-1. How would you describe this call on your life? There are two aspects of God's call on our lives. First is the general call to all believers to be saved. Christ died on the cross so that we might be reconciled to God and have eternal life. The second call is the particular call on each believer to their assignment, their lifework. We have been saved for our unique assignment. 3. Read Genesis 3:8-9, Genesis 16:7-10, Matthew 2:13-14 and Luke 2:8-14. What do these verses have in common? 4. Read Genesis 1:26-29, Exodus 35:4-10, Matthew 25:14-17, Luke 19:12-13 and Ephesians 4:11-13. When God gives us a task, what else does he give us? God speaks to human beings: he calls them. When people hear the Voice, they are called to a task. It may be to repent, to follow, to go, or to do. People are free moral agents, free to obey or disobey the Voice, however when we hear it and respond positively we walk in our calling! The word vocation is derived from the Latin `vocatio,' from voco, to call. Our vocation is intrinsically linked to hearing the Voice and obeying it. This is what transforms work into a vocation; a job into a calling. We are to move from a consumer economy where we simply work to have money to buy stuff and retire, to a calling economy where vocation is connected to God's working in the world to advance his kingdom. 35
When God calls us for his assignment, he blesses us or equips us for that assignment. As we saw in the first lesson, he has given each one of us capital in the form of natural and spiritual gifting and external resources to fulfill the assignment we have been given. Personal Application A Consumer Economy or a Calling Economy? We are born into a specific family, at a specific time and are then called to salvation. However, the journey doesn't end there. God also calls us to a particular calling and place of deployment. 1. Describe in your own words the difference between work and a calling.
2. In a consumer economy our lives are framed by work. In a calling economy, our lives are framed by the coming of the kingdom of God and our calling or vocation to contribute to its advancement. On the scale below, as transparently as you can, locate yourself on the line with an "x".
Consumer Economy ________________________________________ Calling Economy
3. Make a list of three things that you can do to consciously move from where you are on the line towards the concept of "calling." Identify which one you will begin to apply this week! Closing Thoughts As we start to see our work as God's calling, we see that God will equip us for our occupation, the place we will do our lifework. It is here where we are to mature and grow until the work he has called us to is complete. Praise God for calling us both to salvation, and to a particular lifework. Thank him for your individual lifework. Commit yourself to its completion The Next Lesson: A closer examination of the general call to life ­ salvation.
Session 7: The General Call: To Life
The general call to life is a foundational building block to our particular call to work, for we will be unable to hear God's call to work if we are not a child of his. As we have seen in recent lessons, the results of the Fall were comprehensive, breaking both our primary relationship with God, and our secondary relationships with each other. To combat this, salvation must be equally comprehensive. In this lesson we will study the comprehensiveness of salvation and its ability to combat the Fall.
Key Verses to Read Complete Salvation
1. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God --- 1 Peter 2:18
2. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. --- Philippians 2:12-13
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who
are God's possession - to the praise of his glory.
--- Ephesians 1:13-14
1. Each verse above describes a different aspect of our salvation. What are the three tenses found in these verses?
2. What implications does this three-fold understanding of salvation have for your life?
Key Verses Insights The Word `Saved' As noted above, salvation must be comprehensive in order to combat all the results of the Fall. And so, when we begin to dig into the Scriptures and study our salvation we find that there are three tenses for the word "save". First, let's look at the past tense "I was saved." In theological terms, this refers to justification, the specific time in a believer's life when she accepts Christ as her Savior. The present tense of our salvation refers to the idea that "I am being saved," corresponding to the theological term sanctification. The emphasis here is on a lifelong process of becoming more Christ-like. As believers we can point to a specific moment of justification in the same way that a baby is born at a specific moment in time. As a baby then grows and matures, we must also grow and mature in our walk with Jesus. Thirdly, the future tense ­ "I will be saved" ­ corresponds to glorification. In justification we are declared holy and just, in sanctification we seek to live more holy and just lives, and in glorification we will be holy and just in all ways. Discovery Questions The Strength of Salvation 1. Read Genesis 1:4, 10, 13, 17, 22, 25, 31. What phrase does God use when he evaluates his creation? 2. Now read Genesis 1:7, 9, 11, 14, 30. What phrase does God use here? 3. What is God's final judgment when he finished creation? 4. Develop an analogy to describe in human terms what is taking place in eternity? At the end of each stage of God's creativity he stands back to observe what he has created and declares that "it is good" or "it was so." God is making a moral judgment that what he has made is in line with his 38
plan; it is in harmony with itself and with its Creator. We see in Genesis 1 the picture of a master painter who has in mind what the picture is to look like. At each stage of the painting the painter looks at his painting to see if the product is what he intended. 5. Read Genesis 3:1-8, Genesis 6:5-6, Romans 3:23 and Romans 8:9-22. What do these verses reveal about the nature of man's rebellion against God? In our rebellion ­ the Fall - our primary relationship with God was broken: human beings were separated from God and are thus spiritually dead. Because the primary relationship was broken, all the secondary relationships that were built upon it were broken as well: Internal to human beings ­ a person's relationship with herself/himself is broken: since our primary relationship with God was broken, we are now spiritually dead and corrupt. This corruption has a corrosive effect in all areas of our lives: our minds are vain, hearts are hardened and wills are bent toward evil. External to human beings - a person's relations with other people are broken: hatred, murder, broken families, war, greed and corruption have entered the world and reign. External to creation ­ a person's relationship to creation is broken: the rape of creation and conspicuous consumption, on the one hand, and the lack of development of creation, on the other, have been allowed to dictate our treatment of creation. Have no fear, however, because we know that salvation is comprehensive and thus able to offer restoration in our relationship with God and with our own selves and each other. Christ is now supreme over all things. 6. Read Colossians 1:15-20 and Ephesians 1:7-10. What do these verses reveal about the supremacy of Christ? 7. In addition to our personal redemption and forgiveness, why did Jesus die on the cross? 39
Personal Application Saving Our Relationships We are all experiencing broken relationships. These could be with other human beings ­ a family member, someone at work - or with creation. Our salvation calls us to work on restoring these relationships. 1. What one thing that you will do this week to serve a person with whom you have a broken relationship? 2. What one thing will you do this week to better steward - take care of - creation? Closing Thoughts Our lives and work are intrinsically connected to God's work of reconciling all things to himself, advancing his kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, in time and in eternity. Praise your Creator for providing Jesus as our reconciliation. Thank him for making that sacrifice on your behalf. Commit to actively undertaking your role in his desire to bring wholeness to all your relationships. The Next Lesson: A closer look at our unique call, our lifework. 40
Session 8: The Particular Call: To Work
In the last lesson, we took a deeper look at our general call to salvation. Once we are called into the kingdom, however, our journey doesn't stop there. The Bible reveals that after accepting Jesus as our Savior, we are each given a unique role in the work of God's kingdom. This role is to be fulfilled regardless of present circumstances ­ sickness or health, employment or unemployment.
Christians need to be wary of falling into the secular way of thinking that we work now because we must, and that one-day we will retire into a life of relaxation. Retirement is not a Biblical concept, though, since we are called to work for God's kingdom our whole lives.
In this lesson, we will learn that all Christians have a calling from God, not just clergy or missionaries, and that while each call is unique, they are of equal value and importance.
Key Verses to Read Body Parts
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1. How does Paul speak of the church in this passage?
--- 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
2. What is the significance of the idea that a body has many parts? 3. Are some parts or functions more important than others? Why? Why not? Key Verses Insights No Extra Parts Paul speaks of the church as the body of Christ, a body that exhibits both unity and diversity since it is one body with many parts. God has arranged the parts just as he wants them to be for their own unique purpose. To personalize this, you can say "I am a bank teller because God has placed me in this role, for his purpose." In addition, each part has a unique role to play in the body; or, "My role as a bank teller is indispensable to the work of God's kingdom." While each part has different roles and functions, they have equal value and worth. This is an important concept for us to grasp. If you have been attending church for any length of time, you will most likely have heard that the person who prepares coffee for the fellowship time is just as important as the pastor preaching the sermon. This is indeed true, and we need to heed this lesson. However, let's take it one step further. Your job as an accountant or schoolteacher is also just as important as that of the pastor because your particular calling, your lifework, is to that vocation. As Paul points out, all parts of a body are necessary for it to function correctly. As we will see in the next set of verses, there is a multiplying impact of the dispensation of gifting: different kinds of gifts lead to different kinds of service and different kinds of working. The same gift given to one person will, because of the uniqueness of that individual, have a different form of service than the same gift in another person. In the same way, the outworking of ministry will have a different impact in different settings, because of the unique context of each of those settings. Discovery Questions The Common Man 1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11. Note the Trinitarian reference to the same Spirit, the same Lord and the same God. What is the importance of the one and many pattern? 2. Because each person is unique, how are the gifts multiplied from one person to another? 42
3. What are all the gifts given for? The unity and diversity in the Trinity is foundational to the unity and diversity of how gifts are given in the body of Christ. This passage makes it clear that the same Spirit, Lord and God are giving the different kinds of gifts, services and workings. As all three parts of the Trinity are important and indispensible, so are all spiritual gifts. 4. Read Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Galatians 1:15-17. What do these verses reveal about the destiny of each individual? 5. Read Acts 22:6-10. In addition to being saved for eternal life, why else did Christ save Paul? Our lives are not an accident! We have all been made, in our mother's womb by the hand of God, for a unique purpose in advancing God's kingdom. If you are a Christian, you have been saved, not only to go to heaven, but for an assignment. Part of the joy of the Christian life is to discover the particular assignment for which you have been made. 6. Read Jeremiah 5:1, Ecclesiastes 9:13-18, 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 and 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. What do these passages reveal about the nature of our call? 7. Who does God use in the advancement of his kingdom? Now that we know God uses little people without `names' to advance his kingdom, let's look at the work God does. 8. Read the following verses. What do they reveal about God's work? Genesis 1:6-9 43
Genesis 2:8 Genesis 3:21 2 Kings 20:5-7 Psalm 23 Isaiah 66:10-13 9. Why is it significant that God works in these ways? Personal Application The Assignment In the previous section, we saw that God has identified, and done, some of the common things we do. He is like a water engineer, a gardener, a healer, a shepherd and a nursing mother. 1. Now that you understand that God has given you an assignment, what implication does this hold for your life? 2. Identify one gift, talent or ability that God has given you. How can you apply it more fully to your vocation? What will you do this week to strengthen this gift? 44
Closing Thoughts When Jesus came to earth to offer his life for our salvation, He worked for many years as a carpenter. He could have come as a political figure, or a priest. In addition he could have been born in a palace, or a city center. Instead, he was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Thank God for calling you to a particular assignment. If you have ever felt your assignment wasn't as important as that of your neighbor, confess this to him and commit to understanding that without your assignment, the whole body could fail. The Next Lesson: An examination of the characteristics of our lifework. 45
Session 9: Characteristics of our Lifework As we have studied over the past few lessons, the Bible reveals that God is our King, the world is his kingdom and we are his stewards. In fulfilling this role, we are to have dominion over creation and to follow Christ's command to disciple the nations so that they are prepared to present him with their glory when he returns. As individuals, we are called to manifest the kingdom of God through our work as part of our calling. This is in direct opposition to the common understanding held among Christians that we are to bring God's kingdom to earth either outside the context of our work or in our work. In this lesson we will see that God has placed each one of us here for a purpose and equipped us with unique gifts for that specific purpose. When we finish the work that he has for us, we bring him glory. Key Verses to Read The Micah Mandate With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. --- Micah 6:6-8 1. How are we not to approach the Lord? 2. What does God require of those who follow him? 46
3. What does this mean for your life? Key Verses Insights Riches via Mercy In the context of the Old Testament, this passage tells us that God is not looking for burnt offerings or human sacrifice. But how does this correlate to our lives? In the same manner that Christ tells us not to draw attention to our giving (Mt. 6:1-4), God is not interested in the fanfare with which we sometimes approach our work for his kingdom. Instead, he is looking for people who do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. This has been called the Micah Mandate. We live in a moral universe and so moral and spiritual ends and means must define our calling or vocation. Francis Schaeffer used to say that we are to do "the Lord's work in the Lord's way." The end of our work must be a kingdom end, and the means of our work must be kingdom means. In addition, our life and work are to be lived out within a moral framework or what Michael Novak calls a moral ecology.4 While we are to work hard, the fruit of our life and work are the result of God's grace, not our own efforts. This should prompt us to have a humble and thankful heart. Martin Luther wrote: "When riches come, the godless heart of man thinks: I have achieved this with my labors. It does not consider that these are purely blessings of God, blessings that at times come to us through our labors and at times without our labors, but never because of our labors; for God always gives them because of His undeserved mercy."5 Discovery Questions Standard of Excellence 1. Read Deuteronomy 8:18, 1 Corinthians 4:7, Philippians 2:12-13 and James 1:5. From where does the fruit of our life and work come? 2. What attitude should this prompt from our heart? 47
3. Read Genesis 1. Count how many times God evaluates His work with the following phrases: It was good It was so It was very good 4. What do these evaluations indicate? 5. Read Genesis 1:14-19. What are the sun, moon and stars given for? 6. Read Luke 19:11-15 and John 10:10. Why has God given us time? 7. Read Ephesians 5:15-16. How should we treat time? God is perfect and so what he created was perfect. It was in harmony with his nature, his plan and with itself. God is like an artist who is examining his work. Six times he evaluates it as good, five times he states that it is so - it compared positively to what had been planned - and once, after the creation of man, it is very good. God's work is excellent! This is to be the standard of our work. 48
The sun, moon and stars were given by God to allow man to govern space and time. We govern space by understanding direction (North-East-South-West) and creating maps. They allow us to create "clock time" by dividing time into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. God has given us time (the days and years of our lives) as a resource. Time is capital, just like a skill, talent or property. How do we use our time? Do we waste it or do we redeem it for God's purposes? 8. Read Deuteronomy 12:7 and 2 Chronicles 2:1-4. What do you think the standard of work would be for the craftsmen who were raised up to build the tabernacle? Why would they have this standard? 9. What does this tell you about for your lifework? 10. Read 1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 2:10 and Colossians 3:17, 23. What do these passages reveal about the quality of the work that we do? What should be the quality of our work? We are to do our work as unto the Lord. Many people, including Christians, do their work slovenly. They work for money, or they work for their boss. When the boss is not looking, they stop working or they do poor quality work. As the evangelist and social transformer John Wesley stated in his teaching on work: "You should be continually learning, from the experience of others, or from your own experience, reading, and reflection, to do everything you have to do better to-day than you did yesterday. And see that you practice whatever you learn, that you may make the best of all that is in your hands."6 11. Read Exodus 25:8-9 and 40:33-45. God asked Moses to build a tabernacle so that he could dwell among his people. What happened when Moses finished the work that God had for him to do? 12. Read John 4:31-35, 5:17 and 17:1, 4-5. How does Christ describe his work? What does his completed work bring to God the Father? 49
When Moses finished the work that God had given him to do, the glory of the Lord filled the work. God wants to fill the work that he has called you to do with his glory. For Christ, his work was as important as, or more important than, food. He came to earth to do the work that the Father had for him to do. In finishing the work that the Father had for him, he brought God glory. Personal Application To God be the Glory During his time on Earth, Christ worked to bring glory to God. In the same way we should strive to glorify God in our lifework. 1. Identify where you are on the scales below: Motivation to work: For money -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------For God's Glory Enjoyment of your work: Hate my work -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Love my work Quality of your work: Sloppy ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Excellent Inclination to: Laziness---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Hard Work 2. What does this reveal about your relationship to your work? 3. Identify one area in which you can improve. What one thing will you do differently this week to bring glory to God in your work? Closing Thoughts Your lifework is your means to bring glory to God. We are to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly as we walk through our life and our work. Thank God for providing you with a way to bring him glory. Commit to following the Micah Mandate every day of your life. Tell God the one way that you will change how you view your work this week. The Next Lesson: An examination of stewardship, in terms of the Protestant Ethic. 50
Session 10: Stewardship: The Protestant Ethic An important building block of our lifework must be a solid understanding of economics. If you were to make a list of all the times the Bible refers to salvation and then one recording the references to business and economics, which do you think would be longer? The list of passages referring to salvation would be shorter! They are all foundational passages for our lifework, but God also clearly wants to teach us how to steward creation and promote healthy economic activity. John Wesley used a motto that sums up the three basic tenants of what we now call the Protestant Ethic.7 His motto concerning work and the use of money can offer a simple framework for analyzing the economic teachings that Jesus wants us to follow: Gain all you can! Save all you can! Give all you can! In this study, we will see how the Bible encourages us to follow Wesley's motto. Key Verses to Read The Shrewd Manager Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, `what is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.' "The manager said to himself, `what shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg-- I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.' "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, `how much do you owe my master?' " `Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. "The manager told him, `take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.' "Then he asked the second, `and how much do you owe?' " `A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. "He told him, `take your bill and make it eight hundred.' "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So, if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? 51
"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight." --- Luke 16:1-15 1. What is your emotional reaction to this parable? 2. Name the `virtues' the rich man prized? Which `vices' did he loathe? 3. Which of these virtues and vices do you exhibit? 4. Who does the rich man represent? 5. Who does the manager represent? 6. What does the capital (money) represent in your life? 52
Key Verses Insights Virtues and Vices This is a difficult parable to understand at first glance, so let's delve in. Jesus is not praising the manager for his dishonesty, but for his cleverness. As New Testament scholar Arlund J. Hultgren writes, "One can only imagine what [the master] might do. He might slap his knee and say: `that scoundrel! I fired him just a couple days ago for mismanagement. But now look. He has feathered his nest among my debtors. And he has used what belongs to me to do it. What gall! But how clever! He is a rascal, but a remarkably clever one!'"8 In other words, the master doesn't condone his managers' actions, but appreciates his cleverness. In the application section of the parable, Jesus encourages his disciples to be as shrewd as those around them. This can be interpreted in two ways. First, in the way that `people of this world' manage their financial affairs with wisdom and attention to detail, we are to expend such focus to spiritual matters. Second, Jesus wants us to be both charitable and wise with our money, spending it on things that will advance his kingdom. This parable also clearly points to a number of virtues that we are to instill into our lives, versus their corresponding vice: thrift vs. compulsive shopping (v 1) accountability vs. irresponsibility (v 2) prudence (financial intelligence) vs. recklessness (v 8) risking to make a profit vs. fear of loss (v 9) charity vs. stinginess (v 9) trustworthy vs. corrupt (vv 10-12) devotion to God vs. love of money (v 13) living before the face of God vs. playing to the eyes of men (v 15) In summary, God has invested capital in each human being ­ gifts, talents, abilities, interests, time, etc and he wants this investment to be used wisely and prudently in order to produce a good return. Discovery Questions Work, Save, Give 1. Read Genesis 1:26-26, 2:2-3, 2:15, Exodus 20:8-11, Psalm 111:2 and Colossians 3:23. What do these verses reveal about the nature of work? 53
2. What is your culture's attitude towards work? 3. Read Proverbs 6:6-11, 12:24, 19:15, 21:25, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 and 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12. What do these verses indicate about work and laziness? Work is not a curse, as many people assume. Instead, work is a virtue. God works and put man in the garden to work it. We were created by God to work. Some cultures believe that work is a curse. Sadly, those cultures that avoid work and do not reward people for their work will become economically poor. While work is clearly a virtue, laziness is a vice. We are co-workers with God for the advancement of his kingdom. Hard work, diligence and industry are Christian virtues; idleness, sloth and laziness are vices. As John Wesley has reminded us, we need to work as hard as we can! 4. Read Exodus 20:17, Proverbs 30:8-9, Philippians 4:10-13 and 1 Timothy 6:6-10. What do these passages reveal about true contentment? 5. What are the implications for societies that are based on consumerism? 6. Read Genesis 41:46-49, Proverbs 6:6-8, 30:24-25 and Matthew 3:12. What do these passages reveal about savings? 7. How are these two sets of verses balanced in our lives? 54
We are to be people who are content and not covetous. Sufficiency is a virtue whereas opulence is a vice. As Francis of Assisi reminds us, we are to "live simply that others may simply live!" We are also called to be prudent. Since we live in a fallen world, there will be years of good harvests and years of bad harvests. We are to save in the good years so that we have resources for our family in the bad years. These sets of verses are not opposites. They help us balance our lives in relationship to money. We are to be dependent on God for our needs and are to act as free moral agents: saving for the future is a prudent thing as long as we do not rely solely on our wealth, instead of depending on God for our care. It is not money that is evil, but the love of money. Contentment, thrift, frugality and moderation are Christian virtues. Envy, covetousness, waste and compulsive spending are vices. As John Wesley has said, we are to save as much as we can! 8. Read Deuteronomy 15:7-11, Isaiah 56:6-10, 2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 8-9, 9:6-7. What is the nature and motivation of our giving to be? 9. Read Acts 4:34-35, Galatians 6:9-10, 1Timothy 5:8 and 1 John 3:16-18. To whom are we to give? The Bible brings to light three motivations for giving: The most basic is out of obedience -- God commands us to be charitable. The second is pragmatic -- we were made by God to give and give generously. When we give, things go well and we are satisfied. The third is out of thankfulness -- we are thankful for our salvation and for what God has done for us. This is the highest motivation: love of God. We are to give generously and joyfully, not only out of our bounty, but also when it costs us something to give. In addition we are called to give more than money; we are to give our time, our talents and ourselves. There is an ever-expanding circle to which we are to give: first to our family, second to fellow Christians and then to the deserving poor. The virtues of the Christian faith are community, benevolence, charity, generosity and compassion. Vices are stinginess, covetousness, greed and selfishness. Returning to Wesley's motto one last time: Give all you can! 55
Personal Application Area of Conviction Pick one of the three areas that we have discussed - work, save and give ­ to be your first area of change. Ultimately, you should look at all three areas, but let's start with just one. 1. Read the following quote from John Wesley: "I entreat you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, act up to the dignity of your calling! No more sloth! Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might! No more waste! Cut off every expense which fashion, caprice, or flesh and blood demand! No more covetousness! But employ whatever God has entrusted you with in doing good, all possible good, in every possible kind and degree to the household of faith, to all men! This is no small part of `the wisdom of the just.' Give all ye have, as well as all ye are, a spiritual sacrifice to Him who withheld not from you His Son, His only Son."9 Which area in your life do you have the greatest conviction that you need to grow in? 2. What will you do to grow in this area? Closing Thoughts The success of our lifework and calling to manifest God's kingdom in our world will be directly related to how we live out the Protestant Ethic. Thank your Creator for providing a manual for business and economic practices that are life-giving. Tell him what your action steps are for changing in the area you have chosen and commit to searching for aspects of change in all three areas. The Next Lesson: An examination of the Gates of the City. 56
Session 11: The Gates of the City Now that we have a better understanding of how God has equipped each of us for our lifework, we will turn our attention to the setting of this work. As citizens of God's Kingdom, we are called to occupy the `gates of the city.' This is not necessarily a call to command and control society, but rather to enter our cultures and the marketplace as servant-leaders, to bring truth, justice and beauty into our societies. In this lesson, we will look how Jesus wants us to engage the world, at the `gates of the city.' Key Verses to Read High Priestly Prayer My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. --- John 17:15-19 1. In this prayer, what did Jesus not pray for? 2. What did he pray for? 3. According to Jesus' prayer, what should be the relationship between the church and the world? 57
Key Verses Insights Into the World Jesus said this prayer during the Last Supper with his disciples. Knowing that he was headed to the cross, Jesus did not pray that the Father would take his people out of the world. Instead, he sends them into the world. Too often today, Christians see the church as a building and that the purpose of Christians is to get people out of the world and into the church building. As Jesus points out in this prayer however, the church is not a building -- the church is a people. Christ does not want his people in a building; he wants the church in the world. Let's break down this prayer even further. Christ: prays that the Father would protect the church from the evil one and sanctify them with truth for the battle that is taking place in the world. sends his people into the world: Just as Christ was incarnated in the world, now he wants to be present in the world through his Body, the church. The church is to be the church on Monday, being Christ's hands, feet, heart and mind. provides a principle: The church is to be in the world, but not of the world. This stands in contrast, on the one hand, to being in a building and out of the world, and on the other hand, being in the world and like the world. We as the church are to impact the world, not disengage from the world or conform to the world. wants his people to be in the marketplace and public square. They are to be the conscience of the nation. In Old Testament times, the elders -- leaders of the people -- would gather at the gates of the city to govern it. In these cities, `the gates of the city' were not simply the physical structure of the entrance to the city; they included land both inside and outside the gates where the city gathered. They served much as a town square or plaza does in Europe or in Central and South America. The gates of the city were the place where public life took place, providing a marketplace for business and commerce. In general, they were the place for public meetings and discourse. They offered a courthouse for the reading of the law and the settling of legal disputes and they functioned as a public square for maintaining governance, civil administration, the hearing of news and reading public announcements. In the next section, we will take a closer look at the function of the `gates of the city' to gain an understanding of what the church should look like today. 58
Discovery Questions Life at the Gates 1. Read Genesis 19:1, Deuteronomy 21:18-19, Ruth 4:1-12, Proverbs 31:23 and Job 29:7-10. These verses all mention the gates of the city. Who gathered at these gates? 2. Why do you think these men gathered at the gates? 3. The following list of verses describes the various activities that took place at the gates. Write down the activity recorded in each one: Genesis 23:17-18 Joshua 20:4 1 Kings 22:10 2 Chronicles 32:6-9 Nehemiah 8:1-3, 13 4. In your own words, how would you describe the functions of the gatekeepers? 5. What modern terminology could be used to represent the Biblical concept of the gates of the city? 59
Ideas, commerce and culture flowed through the gates of the city. Those who sat there provided governance for all the life of the city. In today's terms, the gates of the city would be considered domains, sectors or spheres of society. These would include the foundational domains of family and church, as well as law and governance, education, healthcare, business and economics, the arts, etc. 6. Read Isaiah 9:6-7, Daniel 7:14, Romans 8:33-39 and Colossians 1:15-20. What do these verses indicate about Christ and his kingdom? 7. Read Matthew 16:18. Who is on the offensive -- the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light? Who is on the offense and who on the defense? The church is on the offense. Satan is on the defense. There is a war going on between God and Satan, between truth and falsehood, good and evil, light and darkness, and between life and death, however the forces of evil are no match for the onslaught of the kingdom. In the end, the kingdom of God will prevail. The gates of hell shall not overcome the church. The advancement of Christ's kingdom and agenda will occur because the Lord of the universe has said it. The church in our generation has a mindset that Satan is on the offense and so we must be on the defense. However, we have just seen that this is the exact opposite to what the Bible teaches. This creates a defeatist mentality in the church. Instead, the church should be on the offense against the kingdom of darkness. She is to be proactive -attacking the very gates of hell and occupying the city gates with truth, goodness and beauty. She is to occupy the gates of the city. 8. Read Mark 12:30-31, Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 6:13-18. What do these passages tell you about how we are to engage the world at the gates of the city? 60
Personal Application Taking Control We are to love God with all our minds and challenge the strongholds of our culture -- whether secularmaterialist, animistic or neo-pagan. We are to seek to bring every thought captive to Christ and are to bring the foundations of art, science, economics, law, governance, family, etc. captive to Christ. 1. Identify a domain of society where you are engaged. It could be in your family or at your work. How can you begin to occupy that domain for Christ? 2. What can you do to begin to bring every thought captive to Christ in the place of your work? Closing Thoughts Our work at the `gates of the city' is for and with the King and his kingdom. We are working to bring his redemption of, and the fulfillment of his intentions for, creation. Thank God for calling you to serve at the gates of your city. Confess to him that you don't always remember that, as Christians, we are to be on the offensive. Praise Jesus for overcoming the gates of hell -- once and for all. Commit to occupying your domain of influence for Christ. The Next Lesson: An examination of the church without walls. 61
Session 12: The Church Without Walls As we take up our positions at the gates of the city, we must remember that we are taking part in a war between God and Satan, between truth and falsehood, between good and evil, and between life and death. However, we know that Christ has already won the war and is King of heaven. Satan is on the defensive. We have looked at our individual roles in this war in terms of our lifework, and now we must consider the role of the church. Is the church to hide behind the walls of her building, waiting for Christ's return, or is she to proactively push forward against the kingdom of darkness? In this final lesson, we will examine what role the church is called to play in our world. Key Verses to Read On Christ the Solid Rock And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. --- Matthew 16:18 1. When you think of the church and Satan, who do you think is on the offensive and who is on the defensive in the battle for the world? Who do you think will win the battle in your culture and nation? Why? 2. Many times when we look at this verse we miss something that appears small but is, in fact, huge. What is it that we often miss? 3. What gates are being attacked? If this is the case, who is on the offensive and who on the defensive? 4. What are the `gates of hell' -- places of darkness -- in your community or city? 62
Key Verses Insights Be on The Offensive This passage is often used to define the debate between Roman Catholics, who believe that the rock is Peter, and Protestants, who believe that the rock is Peter's faith. So, we tend to overlook the central point of the passage: the church is to be on the move in enemy territory. When Jesus says, "upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," he is building up his church from its foundation. The Greek word `will build' is in the future tense, active voice and indicative mood. For those of us who aren't Greek scholars, let me break this down a little further. When Christ says, "I will build my church ..." the tense indicates that he will do this at the same time that the active voice states that he is already in the act of building. As for the mood, the indicative mood is used for a statement of fact ­ the building is as good as done. The gates of a city are part of the defense of a city. What gates are to be attacked by the church? The very gates of hell. And Christ states that these gates "will not prevail" against the attack of the church. The church is superior in strength to, and thus will overcome, the gates of hell. The parsing of this verb is the same as the parsing of the previous verb. The church will actively do this; it is as good as done! Discovery Questions The Victor 1. Read Genesis 3:14-15, Matthew 26:36-39, 46, Acts 2:23-24, 32 and Hebrews 2:14-15. What do these verses reveal about the work of Christ? 2. What implications do these truths hold for your life? 3. How is the church described in the following verses? Romans 16:5 Ephesians 1:22-23, 2:19-20, 5:23-29 63
1 Timothy 3:15 1 Peter 2:9 Revelation 19:7 4. What are the implications for the church today? Christ conquered the fear of death in the garden of Gethsemane, and conquered Satan at the cross, and death at the resurrection. Satan is the conquered foe, Christ the unconquerable king. Because of this, we need no longer live in fear, especially the fear of death. Christ died on the cross and rose again, not to free us from suffering, but to free us for suffering for the sake of his kingdom. Christ has conquered death. He has called his people to occupy till I come! We are to attack the places of evil and darkness in our communities. We are to stop being so self-focused and self-absorbed. In order to follow this command, we may need to cut some of our church programs, get out of the walls of our buildings and follow Christ in battle to the very gates of hell in our communities. Stop being defensive: go on the offense! The church in the New Testament is described as a group of believers, a living temple, the Body of Christ, the household of God, a Holy Nation and Royal Priesthood and the Bride of Christ. The church is people, a community of believers, not a building. The church is organic not static; she is known for her life more than her structure. She is not defined by a building; she is the church without walls. 5. Read Matthew 5:13-16, 33, John 1:14, 17:15-23, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Ephesians 4:11-13 and Philippians 2:5-8. What do these verses indicate about Christ's nature? What about the nature of the church? 64
6. Read Acts 8:1, Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Colossians 1:1-2, Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18 and 3:1, 7, 14. What do these passages say about the church? 7. Does your church engage with other churches in your city? If not, why not? If so, how? As we have seen elsewhere in these studies, God wanted to dwell among his people and we see this most fully in the incarnation of Christ. "The word became flesh and dwelt among us!" (Jn. 1:14) Just as the word became flesh in Christ it is to be made flesh in his body, the church. At her core, the church is an incarnation community. Christ describes the church as the salt of the earth, the light of the world and the leaven in the loaf. Like salt is to the earth, so the church is to bring flavor, to preserve, to cleanse, and to create thirst. Like the light of the world, the church is not to be a fortress (protecting itself from the world or protecting its doctrine from attack or question), but a lighthouse shining on the community and nation. Like leaven in a loaf, so is the church to be in society: informing, explaining, enlightening, demonstrating, influencing, affecting. Not controlling, commanding, dictating, or manipulating. All this implies that the church is to be out of the building, in the culture, in the earth and in the world. The church is to be Christ incarnate in the world. She is to be his hands with which to minster, his feet on which to run errands, his mind with which to shape the ideals of culture, his heart of love and compassion. The church is a city church: all the Christians in a city. She is known by her unity in a location, not the diverse groups or denominations in a city. While today Christians may meet in a church building and form into denominational affiliations, this is not what is to define the church. The diversity of denominations, doctrines and styles is not a bad thing, unless it divides the church. Just as God is unity and diversity -- Trinity -- so too is the church. There may be many local churches in a city (diversity), but there is only one church in the city (unity). 8. Read Matthew 7:23-28 and Ephesians 2:8-10. When Christ returns he is going to judge those who claim to be his people. By what standard will he judge? 9. Read Matthew 25:31-46. How are these two groups labeled? What do these labels mean? 65
10. What happens to the people in each of these groups? 11. Is your church a sheep church or a goat church? 12. Read 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6 and 5:10. How does Christ describe the church in these verses? 13. Read Ephesians 4:11-12. What is the role of a pastor? 14. Read Matthew 28:19-20. What is the role of the church on Monday? When Christ returns, he will judge those who claim to be his people by how they demonstrated God's love, how they treated "the least of these." Some of the standards are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving a cup of cold water, visiting the sick and those in prison, etc. We have been saved by Christ, not just to go to heaven, but also "to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Eph. 2:8). Christ is the Good Shepherd, tending goats and sheep grazing in the same field. The sheep represent those who are innocent, who mimic Christ and love their neighbor as themselves. They are outwardly focused Christians and churches. The goats represent the unsavory that think only of themselves. In the end the shepherd will separate the animals into different folds, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of darkness. The Scriptures clearly announce that there is a new priesthood, made up of all believers: every Christian is a priest and every church member a minister. We are to be ministers at home and at work, in every area of our lifework. As such, Christ commands each Christian to disciple nations. This does not mean 66
that each Christian is to disciple all nations. It means that each Christian is to disciple the nation where he or she is living through his/her life and work. You are to bring biblical principles and worldview to bear in the place where you live and work. The equipping ministries (apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers) exist, not to minister themselves, but to prepare the saints to minister. If a church were to have a sign in front of the place of worship it should read: Pastor: (the name of the pastor) and Minister: the entire congregation. Personal Application Monday Church The church is not merely the church when she is gathered on Sunday, she is the church scattered on Monday through Saturday. 1. Place yourself on the following scale with an "X" and your church with an "O." Inwardly Focused ____________________________________________Outwardly Focused 2. What does this tell you about you? About your church? 3. What is one thing you can do this week to make your life more externally focused? Who is someone you know to whom you can minister? What will you do? 4. What is one thing you can do this week to help move your church to be a more externally-focused sheep church? Closing Thoughts The role of the church is to work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to push forward the kingdom of light. As soon as every Christian understands the call to be a minister, is equipped by the church to fulfill this call and working within the context of his or her individual lifework situation, then truth, goodness and beauty will flow from the church into our communities and nations. Thank Jesus for overcoming death and for standing victorious. Confess to him the ways you and your church have been inwardly focused. Commit to moving your church to a more outward focus. 67
Leader's Guide General Guidelines for group leaders · In considering how much material to cover for each meeting, make sure to factor in other things you want to include as part of your meeting time, such as time for coffee or refreshments, catching up on each other's lives, or group prayer. · If group members have their own booklets, instruct them to complete the session personally before they come to the meeting. · To guide the group effectively, complete each session personally before you meet together. Make sure you understand the main points of each session and seek to apply them in your own life. Then as you lead the group you can better facilitate the discussion by clarifying the questions when needed, and offering suggestions if the conversation lags. · To ensure that everyone contributes to the conversation; it's best to keep the group at six to eight participants (no more than twelve). If the membership increases, consider splitting into smaller groups during the discussion times and gathering together for concluding prayer. · For each meeting, make sure you arrive ahead of time to prepare the location (chairs, refreshments, teaching aids, etc.) and to greet each group member as he/she arrives. · For your very first meeting, be sure to take time to introduce each group member. You may wish to do an activity that will help group members get to know each other as well. Introduce the study by reviewing key ideas from the About This Study section. · Be a facilitator, not a teacher. Here are some suggestions: o Encourage group participation. Sitting in a circle (rather than rows) can help with this. o Use group members' names. o Ask different people to pray and read. o Ask questions; wait for answers; don't immediately give your own answer. o Thank group members for their ideas and ask others what they think. o Draw out members who aren't contributing much. o Tactfully redirect the focus from participants who tend to dominate the discussion. o Ask participants for explanation when they give simple "yes" or "no" answers. o Pace your study at a rate that allows for group members' maximum understanding. o Review as often as necessary. 68
Suggestions for Leading Each Session · Have a group member open and close each meeting time with prayer. · Begin the meeting by reviewing the application exercises of the last lesson. Encourage members to share how they fulfilled these exercises since the last meeting. · You may wish to assign the Key Verses to Read as a memorization exercise. If so, take time at the beginning of the session to allow group members to recite the verses corresponding to the session. This can easily be done in pairs to save time. · Read the Key Verses to Read and answer the questions provided as a group. · If each group member has a booklet, take turns reading the Key Verses Insights section together. If you're the only one with a booklet, you may wish to take a few minutes to share the main points that come out of this section with the rest of the group. · Answer the Discovery Questions together as a group. · Answer the Application questions together as a group. If group members do not have his/her own booklets, we suggest that you photocopy this section and hand it out to facilitate the group discussion. You may wish to break up into smaller groups (2-3 people) and have each sub-group read and answer the Application questions. 69
Resources for Further Study and Application We hope this book has challenged and inspired you with a vision for advancing God's kingdom through your unique vocation! To help you go deeper and apply the principles presented in this book, we invite you to visit Here you find a host of resources including: A chapter-by-chapter study guide with reflection questions for reflection, discussion and application. A free, downloadable companion Bible study designed for individual and small group application. A personal inventory to help you discover your unique design and calling. Information on hosting a conference on how vocation relates to the advancement of the kingdom of God. Helpful suggestions for how pastors and church leaders can envision and equip their congregations to advance God's kingdom through their vocations. And much more! 70
The Disciple Nations Alliance Equipping the Church to Transform the World The Disciple Nations Alliance is part of a global movement of individuals, churches, and organizations with a common vision: to see the global church rise to her full potential as God's instrument for the healing, blessing and transformation of the nations. The Disciple Nations Alliance was founded in 1997 through a partnership between Food for the Hungry ( and Harvest ( Our mission is to influence the paradigm and practice of local churches around the world, helping them recognize and abandon false beliefs, and embrace a robust Biblical worldview -- bringing truth, justice and beauty into every sphere of society, and to demonstrate Christ's love in practical ways, addressing the brokenness in their communities and nations -beginning with their own resources. For further information about the Disciple Nations Alliance as well as access to a host of resources, curricula, books, study materials and application tools, please visit our website. E-mail: [email protected] 71
Notes 1 Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), 285, quoted in David Bruce Hegeman, Plowing in Hope: Toward a Biblical Theology of Culture (Moscow, Idaho.: Canon Press, 1999), 87­88. 2Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998), 42. 3 Ibid., 141. 4 Michael Novak, Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 112. 5 Martin Luther, "Exposition on Deuteronomy 8:17­18," in What Luther Says: An Anthology, ed. M. Plass (St. Louis: Concordia, 1959), 1495, quoted in Leland Ryken, Redeeming the Time (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 99. 6 John Wesley, The Use of Money (Sermon 50, text from the 1872 edition), 7 Ibid. 8 Arlund J. Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus, A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2002), 153. 9 John Wesley, The Use of Money. 72

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