And so I've begun! Horray. I love starting new studies. The newness of them is exciting. I'll let you know when it wears off :) However for now, I'm going to enjoy the newness. I always read everything in the beginning of a book. The introduction and preface have good stuff in them. John MacArthur gave the introduction for this particular book and gave it high praise. Generally speaking I trust his opinion, so it only grew my excitement to dig in! It was followed by Acknowledgements, an introduction, and a section that was simply titled with the title of the book (and this blog entry). That final section is where I'll sit at for today. Dever breaks the New Testament down into three concentric circles: Christ, God's covenant people, and the renewal of all of creation. "First we focus on Christ; then we expand outward to the new covenant people; and, finally, we take in all creation." This section made me curious of Dever's thinking in the area of covenant vs. dispensational theology. I really don't know how he interprets scripture in this area. I'm thinking it may become more clear as we get to that section of the book and look through the Epistles. There were some great quotes I could share, but I hadn't gotten permission to highlight from my husband yet (he is particular about highlighting :) Now that I have done so, I'll have more quotes to share in the future. However he has some great reflection questions at the end of each chapter. I won't go through them all every time (there are roughly a dozen) but I'll share some that I thought really meaningful.
"What is the riddle of the Old testament. Explain how Christ alone solves that riddle."-"The riddle is this: how can God 'forgive wickedness' and yet 'not leave the guilty unpunished'? The Levitical priests could not solve the riddle by sacrificing bulls and goats. The answer is found, of course, in Jesus. Jesus came as priest, sacrifice, temple, and substitute, in order to interceded between God and man by taking upon his body God's punishment for sin. God could then forgive the wickedness of his people and yet ensure that their wickedness is punished. The New Testament provides the answer to the riddle posed in the Old."
"Surrendering the things we long for requires a kind of death--the death of a desire. And willfully choosing that death is hard to do. It requires us to believe--really believe!--that what God promises is even better. Can you remember a time in your life when God proved himself faithful to his promise of something better? Do you think he would do otherwise next time?" --I love his question here. Ok maybe I don't love it because let's be honest, I don't always want to surrender my desires. But it reminds me of a truth I recently learned, that in every instance where I choose sin it's because I'm not believing God's promises. I don't believe in that moment that what God has for me is better than whatever it is that I'm willing to sin to get in that moment. God's promises are always better than my desires in the long run. I've seen that over and over again in my life. Where have you seen it?
"In sixty seconds or less, what's the good news of Christianity?"--I love this. I've heard Dever state it before. In fact I think they require this of their members, to explain the gospel in 1 minute or less. It's hard to do! See if you can do it!
So there is the beginning. I began reading through Matthew this morning... in the Bible not Dever's book. I was struck with the number of women in the genealogies and it made me want to do a study on those particular women and why they ended up in the genealogy. Maybe a teaching serious coming?! :) We'll see. It's definitely one I want to mark down to go back to!