INTRO

A lot of people feel stuck. They get nowhere. They are treading water in their uninspiring jobs and go into society's hamster wheel without direction.  We eat dinner with recordings on the internet as our only company and we are stuck in lonely, aimless job-home-job-home-cycles. Some of us long for something more, dream of seeing the world or writing a book, while others have been struck down by the oppressive voices of life and society so they can no longer dream beyond the weekend.

 

At the same time, many of us believers, are standing frozen. We have turned our fellowships from living communities to places where we stand and sing songs we barely understand, listen to slightly encouraging sermons while scrolling through social media posts in the church pew. 

We stand contentedly on the sidelines of a society which has deemed our faith to be irrelevant.

 

We hope for an eternity but have neglected the here and now.

 

CHAPTER ONE

God

The Bible starts with a ten word sentence: 

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth."

 

But what was before that? 

 

Before the ground under our feet existed, before the waves of the oceans, before the song of the birds. Before anything and for all eternity, God existed.


In all His splendour and glory, He is far greater than we can comprehend, but there are 3 aspects of His nature that are so quintessential to us knowing Him. He is, within Himself, a perfect community of love, full of power to create, and those attributes are the source of everything created and the eternal destination all of creation is moving towards and intended for.

GOD - BULLET POINTS


- God always was - infinite in His nature. - Three key aspects to who He is: unified community, perfect love and creative power. - Because we live at the mercy of the stories we believe, it is crucial for us to know who God is, as it is such an important key in shaping our understanding of the unfolding story we participate in.





QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION


- Why is the story of our origins so important? - When you look at the world, in what ways do you recognize God’s fingerprint all around us? - Describe, in your own words, the original mandate God gave to us? - What does this mandate look like in your own life, today? - What does it mean for you to have God as your source of life, wisdom and knowledge? - When you think of the 3 key aspects we were created from and for (unified community, perfect love, and the creative spark), how do you experience them: In your family? At school? With your friends? At church? - What would creation look like if it was stewarded and cared for according to God’s original intents? - When you reflect on our origins (who we were created by, how we were created, and what we were created for), what areas of your life would you like to look differently?





 

CHAPTER TWO

Creation

How was the world created? This question has stirred speculation and wonder across cultures and time.

 

In Norse mythology, the world is created from the body from a slain giant. Likewise, the Babylonian creation myth describes how heaven and earth are formed from the body of the dead ocean god. These stories tell us that the world is born out of death, war and violence.

 

In the very first lines of the Bible we are shown how God differs from the false gods of mythology. In the opening pages of Genesis, we see a God of peace who speaks order, beauty and abundance into a chaotic void. From nothing, he creates everything and he says that it is good.

 

As the crown jewel of his creation, more beautiful than the vast mountain ranges and more precious than the stars of the galaxies, he creates humans - which He calls very good.

 

Humans differ from the rest of creation because they are formed in God’s image.  We were created as image bearers,  intended to live in unified community, community filled with perfect love and the creative spark. 

 

The  story starts with God placing us in a garden, which was a template, a small beginning, an example, of how we were to engage with the rest of creation as good stewards. He called us to take dominion and fill the Earth, harnessing its raw potential and transforming it into diverse expressions of beauty, order and abundance, so that His invisible attributes would be made manifest throughout the Earth. 

 

And ultimately, God’s desire was to walk with us in this process, for all eternity, teaching us His wisdom and filling us with all knowledge. We belong in an eternal community of love and creativity, and that is the simple, but deep truth of what we were created for.

GOD - BULLET POINTS


- God always was - infinite in His nature. - Three key aspects to who He is: unified community, perfect love and creative power. - Because we live at the mercy of the stories we believe, it is crucial for us to know who God is, as it is such an important key in shaping our understanding of the unfolding story we participate in.





QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION


- Where has God given you a choice for you to make on your own? - How do you think we are participating in the Rebellion today? - Where do you see the effect of these 4 Broken things in your life?





 

CHAPTER THREE

Rebellion

So, here we are. We’ve been placed in a good creation by a good God who desires relationship and intimacy with us. God then gave us a good and clear mandate to fill the Earth and subdue it and we now have a choice as to how we will go about this.

 

In Genesis, that choice  is represented, on one side, by the tree of life and on the other side, by the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 

The tree of life represents God’s desire to walk with us in intimacy and be the source of what is good, what is beautiful, what is true, teaching us how to go about the amazing mandate He’s given us.

 

The tree of knowledge of good and evil represents the choice we have to spit on the offer God is extending to us and turn our back to Him. It is the option we have to become our own source of knowledge, being the deciders, the judges of what is good and what is evil.

 

This choice had to be given to us, because God did not want to force Himself upon us, which is the very nature of love. It’s an invitation. But an invitation we need to be free to refuse.

 

And that is what we did as humans. We actively turned our back on God, rejecting Him as the source of life and deciding that we would take matters in our own hands, going about our mandate without Him.

 

We rebelled against the God who created us and wanted to spend eternity walking with us, and told Him: ‘’back off!’’

 

And that’s where things took a turn for the worst...

REBELLION - BULLET POINTS


- The scene is set for us to embark on a beautiful adventure. - We are given a choice as to how we’ll go about it: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. - We chose to push God aside and declared ourselves better deemed to be the source of knowledge for what is true, and what is good. We turned our back to ‘’Immanuelness’’ - God with us. - We were not mere victims of a deception, as the word ‘’fall’’ entails. We were active participants in a ’’rebellion’’. - Our eyes were opened - we realized our own vulnerability (nakedness), but also our ability to inflict pain to others. Fear, shame and guilt made their entrance into our reality and began distorting our outlook on the world, as 4 things were broken: our relationship with God, our view of self, our relationship to others, and our relationship to the created order. - God’s loving response to our betrayal - He comes and looks for us. - He asks us three important questions: Where are you? (state of your heart) Who told you? (who has authority in your life? Who do you listen to? What story do you believe?) Have you eaten the fruit? (brings us to understand the full weight of our action). - There is no sign of repentance whatsoever from our side. - Our betrayal puts a curse on creation - God is simply telling us that this is now what will happen since we’ve decided to turn our back on Him. - Start with the snake (the deceiver, the father of lies). Its head will be crushed by the offspring of the woman - God is immediately setting into action a plan announcing the work Jesus would later accomplish. It is the promise of a saviour. - The curse for humans : Gen 3:16-19 - Sin (khata) - miss the target. Inequity (avon) - wickedness. Transgression (pesha) - breaking trust. - The mandate remains but it will be painful and hard toil because we decided to go about it without God. - Humans placed outside the garden - they cannot eat from both trees. They made a choice. They chose not to eat from the tree of life, and therefore God is showing them in a clear and obvious manner that they cannot both enjoy His presence and intimate relationship with Him, and at the same time reject Him and decide to live on their own terms. You can’t choose life and death simultaneously. - God clothing humans - first sacrifice. There is a high cost to alienating ourselves from God. - Cain and Abel - blood continues to be spilled. - Seth (Adam & Eve’s son) Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech (there is an increase of violence), Noah. - Increasing corruption on Earth - all the intentions of men were evil, all the time. God regretted He created humans and He was grieved to His heart. - Here comes the water...





QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION


- COVENANT WITH NOAH After God has sent a flood to cleanse the earth from evil and corruption, God promises Noah that even though he knows that humanity will continue in their evil ways, he won’t suspend the natural order to disrupt humanity's creational mandate again. - COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM In God’s quest to rebuild a trusting, loving relationship with humanity he chooses a man called Abram (later Abraham). Abraham makes huge, cowardly mistakes and yet, in his grace and love, God promises to make a great family out of him. If Abraham teaches his family to follow God, they will one day become a blessing to the rest of the world. - COVENANT WITH ISRAEL After many generations, Abrahams family has grown into a big nation. God promises that if they obey a set of his laws they will function as his representatives (image bearers) to the rest of humanity and extend God’s desired blessings to the whole world. - COVENANT WITH DAVID The covenant with David continues the trajectory of the abrahamic covenant. Israel has become a great nation and God promises King David that an even greater king will come from David's lineage and spread God's blessing to the entire earth. - The people of the Bible lived in an ancient culture with different ideals and ethics that may be hard for us to understand. But through the biblical narrative we see God meeting the people where they are, with all their broken cultural practices, but pushing them toward a higher moral ideal. - Jesus is the promised Messiah from the line of David who is able to open up a pathway to God and welcome everyone into the new covenant family. He fulfills the promise made to Abraham by spreading the blessing, not only to Abraham's descendants, but to all of humanity.





 

CHAPTER FOUR

Covenants

The Bible describes our relationship with God in many different ways. God is portrayed as a good father, a loving friend, a gracious lord, and a just judge. But we often neglect to mention God as a partner.

 

The partnership between God and humanity is shown from the very beginning as He places his image bearers in the beauty of creation. God, in all his infinite wisdom, could have created the Garden of Eden to be a self-sufficient paradise without anyone to steward it.

 

 But it doesn’t seem like God wants to work like that...

 

 Instead, he creates humanity to take care of the garden and spread its beauty to the rest of the world. But you know the outcome: us humans rebel against God and flush that partnership down the toilet..

 

But fortunately, God doesn’t let the story end there. Because the rest of the Bible is an epic opus spanning hundreds of years as God repeatedly extends His loving hand to humanity in order to make a way for us to come back into His original plan of community with mankind.

 

Throughout the biblical narrative, God does this through so-called covenants where he gives promises to smaller groups and asks them to fulfill certain commitments. He’s looking for partners. People who will tame their rebellious urges to go about on their own and join in on God’s plan to reconcile all things back to Himself.

 

Surveying the Old Testament, we see God establishing four covenants with humanity: one with Noah, one with Abraham, one with the people of Israel and one with King David. God chooses broken people to re-establish the partnership with the ultimate intent of extending his blessing to the whole world, going back to His original desire for His creation.

But time and time again humans fail to honor these agreements. We are stuck in our endless loop of sin, transgression and iniquity, unable to be the image bearers God desires us to be. But thankfully, God is a faithful partner, and despite our inability to hold our part of the deal, He continues to faithfully move towards opening up a way for humanity. Weaved in the Old Testament story, we are given the hopeful promise of a saviour who will come to restore the original covenant and welcome mankind back into perfect fellowship with the God of love.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION


- Where has God given you a choice for you to make on your own? - How do you think we are participating in the Rebellion today? - Where do you see the effect of these 4 Broken things in your life?





QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION


- The scene is set for us to embark on a beautiful adventure. - We are given a choice as to how we’ll go about it: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. - We chose to push God aside and declared ourselves better deemed to be the source of knowledge for what is true, and what is good. We turned our back to ‘’Immanuelness’’ - God with us. - We were not mere victims of a deception, as the word ‘’fall’’ entails. We were active participants in a ’’rebellion’’. - Our eyes were opened - we realized our own vulnerability (nakedness), but also our ability to inflict pain to others. Fear, shame and guilt made their entrance into our reality and began distorting our outlook on the world, as 4 things were broken: our relationship with God, our view of self, our relationship to others, and our relationship to the created order. - God’s loving response to our betrayal - He comes and looks for us. - He asks us three important questions: Where are you? (state of your heart) Who told you? (who has authority in your life? Who do you listen to? What story do you believe?) Have you eaten the fruit? (brings us to understand the full weight of our action). - There is no sign of repentance whatsoever from our side. - Our betrayal puts a curse on creation - God is simply telling us that this is now what will happen since we’ve decided to turn our back on Him. - Start with the snake (the deceiver, the father of lies). Its head will be crushed by the offspring of the woman - God is immediately setting into action a plan announcing the work Jesus would later accomplish. It is the promise of a saviour. - The curse for humans : Gen 3:16-19 - Sin (khata) - miss the target. Inequity (avon) - wickedness. Transgression (pesha) - breaking trust. - The mandate remains but it will be painful and hard toil because we decided to go about it without God. - Humans placed outside the garden - they cannot eat from both trees. They made a choice. They chose not to eat from the tree of life, and therefore God is showing them in a clear and obvious manner that they cannot both enjoy His presence and intimate relationship with Him, and at the same time reject Him and decide to live on their own terms. You can’t choose life and death simultaneously. - God clothing humans - first sacrifice. There is a high cost to alienating ourselves from God. - Cain and Abel - blood continues to be spilled. - Seth (Adam & Eve’s son) Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech (there is an increase of violence), Noah. - Increasing corruption on Earth - all the intentions of men were evil, all the time. God regretted He created humans and He was grieved to His heart. - Here comes the water...





CHAPTER FIVE

 

Jesus

Here’s the simple, but deep beginning of the Gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. 

 

John then embarks on a complex and beautiful lyrical soaring that culminates with us understanding that the Word that was there at the beginning, with God, and was God, is Jesus.

 

But who was Jesus and why is He so key in this big, beautiful story told for us through the Bible?

 

As we’ve just moved from the covenants, the last thing we saw is that God established a partnership with David, telling him that through his descendants, a messiah, a saviour, a king would be born. A man who would fullfil all that was announced since and in Genesis 3.

 

So, how did God decide to come into the world? 

 

Following on the time’s current trend, anyone or anything that called itself divine, or at least divinely appointed, went out of their own way to make sure they would identify as little as possible with the human condition. Humanity was a sign of weakness, of vulnerability, something that had to be kept at a distance. And the idea was therefore to keep the expanse between oneself and human condition as big as possible.

 

And God just flipped the whole thing on its head.

 

He came to us. Became one of us. Fully identifying with our brokenness, our pain, our limitations and our vulnerability. Fully God, fully man, embracing the human condition and setting the stage for the long-awaited promise God had made to humanity back in the garden.

 

Because of what had been broken back then, we needed someone to show us what it meant to be image bearers of God - the true and eternal identity we were given by God in the beginning. We were lost and confused as to what that meant and we needed someone to show us. Someone who would be with us, amongst us, being tempted and tried in every way, but withstanding the temptation to flush God and go solo. And that’s what Jesus did. Showing us the way, the one true way for returning to the original source of life God intended Himself to be for all humanity.

 

But there was still the problem of our original rebellion. Through our fatal choice,  death became the master we chose to serve and a price had to be paid for us, as slaves, to regain our freedom from this deadly master. Jesus was the only one that could pay the price, because he lived a life that was perfectly choosing ‘’life’’, lifting and defeating the yoke that was binding us, keeping us in chains. He reclaimed, purchased back the original authority we were given to choose life over death and to drink from the source of life, choosing intimacy with God and regaining authority to fulfill our original mandate as image bearers placed on earth.

 

Choosing to reject God had a cost. A  terrible cost. This cost was the loss of life in perfect intimacy with God. Therefore, the price that had to be paid to regain this relationship, this connection,  was a life that had been lived in perfect intimacy with God. Jesus lived this life and therefore, He was the only one who could pay with it for the cost we put upon ourselves back at the beginning. He paid the full price with His own life.

JESUS - BULLET POINTS


- COVENANT WITH NOAH After God has sent a flood to cleanse the earth from evil and corruption, God promises Noah that even though he knows that humanity will continue in their evil ways, he won’t suspend the natural order to disrupt humanity's creational mandate again. - COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM In God’s quest to rebuild a trusting, loving relationship with humanity he chooses a man called Abram (later Abraham). Abraham makes huge, cowardly mistakes and yet, in his grace and love, God promises to make a great family out of him. If Abraham teaches his family to follow God, they will one day become a blessing to the rest of the world. - COVENANT WITH ISRAEL After many generations, Abrahams family has grown into a big nation. God promises that if they obey a set of his laws they will function as his representatives (image bearers) to the rest of humanity and extend God’s desired blessings to the whole world. - COVENANT WITH DAVID The covenant with David continues the trajectory of the abrahamic covenant. Israel has become a great nation and God promises King David that an even greater king will come from David's lineage and spread God's blessing to the entire earth. - The people of the Bible lived in an ancient culture with different ideals and ethics that may be hard for us to understand. But through the biblical narrative we see God meeting the people where they are, with all their broken cultural practices, but pushing them toward a higher moral ideal. - Jesus is the promised Messiah from the line of David who is able to open up a pathway to God and welcome everyone into the new covenant family. He fulfills the promise made to Abraham by spreading the blessing, not only to Abraham's descendants, but to all of humanity.





QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION


- COVENANT WITH NOAH After God has sent a flood to cleanse the earth from evil and corruption, God promises Noah that even though he knows that humanity will continue in their evil ways, he won’t suspend the natural order to disrupt humanity's creational mandate again. - COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM In God’s quest to rebuild a trusting, loving relationship with humanity he chooses a man called Abram (later Abraham). Abraham makes huge, cowardly mistakes and yet, in his grace and love, God promises to make a great family out of him. If Abraham teaches his family to follow God, they will one day become a blessing to the rest of the world. - COVENANT WITH ISRAEL After many generations, Abrahams family has grown into a big nation. God promises that if they obey a set of his laws they will function as his representatives (image bearers) to the rest of humanity and extend God’s desired blessings to the whole world. - COVENANT WITH DAVID The covenant with David continues the trajectory of the abrahamic covenant. Israel has become a great nation and God promises King David that an even greater king will come from David's lineage and spread God's blessing to the entire earth. - The people of the Bible lived in an ancient culture with different ideals and ethics that may be hard for us to understand. But through the biblical narrative we see God meeting the people where they are, with all their broken cultural practices, but pushing them toward a higher moral ideal. - Jesus is the promised Messiah from the line of David who is able to open up a pathway to God and welcome everyone into the new covenant family. He fulfills the promise made to Abraham by spreading the blessing, not only to Abraham's descendants, but to all of humanity.





CHAPTER SIX

 

Spirit & Church

After being born to earth and walking as a human being among mankind, after performing miracles and establishing broken people, after dying and rising to form a new covenant between God and man, Jesus ascended to heaven.

 

His disciples and followers must have felt lost. Their Lord and friend had left them in a world still scarred by rupture. But before Jesus left the earth, he spoke of a helper who would live among his followers. Someone who would give strength and boldness to those who believed in God.

 

Holy spirit arrived Empower us to be image bearers (Isaiah passage)

Why?


 

Identity etc.


 

We are in a society where everyone is very concerned about themselves and what they can achieve. But we are also at a point in time where a lot more opportunities are at our disposal. We can choose so many different ways for our Future that we are overwhelmed with all the choices we have to make. And all of that is super stressful without being a christian. But then there comes the part of having to make choices that God agrees with or he told you to make. If we don’t really know what we want and like, these choices can be really daunting. How can we come to a point, where we feel confident in ourselves, that we are not scared to make choices, but that when we make them, that we can be sure that we made the right one. 

 

We are often very concerned about ourselves and the way we look, what we just said and how that sounded. If we know who we are and believe it, we can come to a point, where we don’t have to worry, how we look, but we can take time to see how the people around us are doing and how we can contribute to them. That would mean that we have time and the attention to see them for who they are, because we are not constantly thinking about ourselves. 

 

  • Who has God made me to be?

  • We are made in God’s Image, but what does that mean.

  • Giftings and attributes 

  • Your church and town 

  • Jesus sacrifice enabling us to get a restored relationship to ourselves, in the light of our relationship with him, so that we may relate to others and engage the world from a place of true knowledge, wisdom and goodness.

  •  

 

Vison, Calling

 

God is calling us into a specific task or position where we will join into the work he is already doing here on earth. He is not telling us what to do and after that he leaves on the mystic cloud he came, but he is in constant conversation with us. A Calling can be for one Person alone, a whole Group or a Nation. The Vision is the solution we see for a Problem we are Passionate about. We will not be called to something we are not passionate about. We should not wait for God to show us the plan for our lives. 

 

  • For us specific and personal

  • Thorn and garden

  • Living here and now, in the faith and hope of the future reality where all shall be restored, renewed. Ambassadors.

  • What are we aiming at? Why? How do o you know what to aim at?

 

How to make disciples

 

  • God intends his wise, creative, loving presence to be reflected to the world through us

  • God cares for spiritual and physical

  • Bless, belong, believe, behave

  • Shame, guilt fear

  • When where how

  • What does a discipled nation look like?

  • The Jesus challenges (1,2,3,4,5)

  • Great commission breakdown - make disciples, baptize them and teach them

  • Jesus is the source of that command - it is the command to live in the way God wanted us to live from the beginning, doing this as we call others into this renewed reality.

  • Living as ambassadors, here and now, in the ultimate hope of what will be be there and then (the renewal of all things)

CHAPTER SEVEN

 

Eternal Kingdom

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