Is it possible to understand its original message after centuries of tradition and conflicting ideas? Gooding and Lennox throw fresh light on these questions by tracing the Book of Acts’ historical account of the message that proved so effective in the time of Christ’s apostles. Luke’s record of its confrontations with competing philosophical and religious systems reveals
Christianity’s own original and lasting definition.
Right from the start of his Gospel Luke makes it clear that the story of Jesus is neither ancient myth nor contemporary fable. It is straightforward history. To emphasize this he provides us with historical coordinates. He informs us, for example, that when John began publicly to introduce Christ to his nation it was in the fifteenth year of the Emperor Tiberius’ reign, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, during the highpriesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. This is, then, an historical account. But what does Luke’s history of Jesus mean? And how can we be certain that we have understood the message that he has presented in his account of Christ’s life?
In a clear and concise manner informed by pastoral concern, David Gooding explains the meaning of Hebrews’ warnings as he expounds the letter as a whole. He carefully examines the position and temptations of its original readers in the first century. Many were undergoing such severe persecution that they might easily have wondered why, if Jesus really were the Messiah, they had to experience such pain and loss. He expounds its major themes in order to show that its unified message is that hope and enduring faith in Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, will never be put to shame. As he guides us step by step, he reaches outside the limits of the letter itself in order to explore rich fields of Old Testament history, prophecy, ritual and poetry from which the letter has drawn so many of its insights.
The wisdom of God is revealed in both Old and New Testaments, but it is impossible to appreciate that wisdom fully if the two are read in isolation. Sometimes the New Testament quotes the Old as authoritative. Sometimes it cancels things that the Old says. At other times it indicates that the Old was a type that illustrates New Testament doctrine. How are we to understand and apply its teaching? Is the New Testament being arbitrary when it tells us how to understand the Old, or do its careful interpretations show us how the Old was meant to be understood? Could it be that the New Testament’s many different ways of using some of its passages provide us with guidance for reading, studying and applying the whole of the Old Testament?
The Acts of the Apostles is about more than the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth. By the time the ascended Christ had sent the Holy Spirit to guide his disciples, they had no doubt what the basics of the gospel message were: that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day and would one day come again. But, according to Luke’s account, difficult questions and challenges arose for the apostles as they began to spread this message. These questions, when once settled by the apostles, would further define the gospel with answers that are definitive for us today.
How can one book be so widely appreciated and so contested? Millions revere it and many ridicule it, but the Bible is often not allowed to speak for itself. Key Bible Concepts explores and clarifies the central terms of the Christian gospel. Gooding and Lennox provide succinct explanations of the basic vocabulary of Christian thought to unlock the Bible’s meaning and its significance for today.
Just before his execution, Jesus Christ invited his disciples to join him at a borrowed house in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. As he faced betrayal, arrest and crucifixion, he taught them about the very heart of the Christian faith, namely, holiness. When the time came to leave the house, he continued his teaching. As they made their way through darkened streets that were filled with hostility to him, he spoke of how he would empower them to be his witnesses in a world that would often hate them too. Jesus was the teacher; the disciples were his pupils. It was the school of Christ.