Subj: Re: Testimony
Date: 95-1 1-30 22:51:41 EST From: BBurrowes
Your testimony was great! I’m sorry I didn’t reply to you right away but our phones were dead for three days and weren’t fixed until this afternoon. The problem was in a box outside the house, so fortunately we don’t have to pay anything.
I hope you are doing well in your new-found faith. Do not be surprised if Satan assaults you with all sorts of doubts and feelings. Just because you have feelings of anxiety, fear, doubt, etc. does not mean that you are not walking in faith. Just trust that it truly is Christ walking and living life out through you despite all appearances and feelings. Do not be led astray by feelings because feelings change. The next moment, hour, day, or week you might not have those "good" feelings. And then what are you going to say about who is living your life? So keep trusting Christ to live out your life (Gal. 2:20). I will see you sometime Saturday, I hope, or if not, at least on Sunday.
Date: Tue, Dec 12, 1995 8:35 PM EDT
Subj: Re: Bible
Thanks for writing. Once again, your letter was very good. You teach so much with just a few words. The group discussed how we wanted to direct our future meetings. The consensus was that we needed more scripture knowledge. I told them how you were being generous in providing me an overview of the Bible. I could pass them on to the rest of the group at the beginning of the week to read during the week. Then we could pick your brain on Sunday with specific questions. I think this would be a wonderful approach. What do you think? We would appreciate your time on this. The group also thought that if we picked one of Norman’s books, like Who am I and study a little bit of that each week, this would be good, also–like a two-part study session. You have more experience with the group study situation, so let us know what you think. Thanks again for writing. And may God bless you always, Brett.
Date: 95-12-11 22:55:22 EST From: BBurrowes
I hope you are doing well. I missed seeing you this past weekend but I’m glad I did not risk the snow and ice. I’ve had some difficulty putting together a list and deciding what should be on that list and in what order but here it is:
The Bible is the gradual unfolding of God’s plan to glorify Himself by
creating a people for Himself through whom He can display His character of love and goodness. God made the universe to display Himself in a multitude of different forms. At the apex of creation God created humanity, a race of persons as He is the Person, so that they might, on the one hand, appreciate who He is and how He has manifested Himself in Creation, and, on the other hand, that humanity might be the vessels through whom He displays His character. But something went drastically wrong when Adam made the wrong choice, preferring self over being an image or vessel of God. Of course, Adam’s choice did not take God by surprise, but, rather, God knew the fall would happen before Adam ever made his choice. The rest of the Bible is the story of how God has acted to redeem or deliver humanity and bring humanity back to Himself. So one might say that the Bible is the story of redemptive history, the story of how God has acted to save humanity from sin and the consequences of their sin. This concept of redemptive history is extremely important because almost everything in the Bible can be understood in terms of its place within this divine plan for the salvation of mankind.
Genesis, the book of beginnings, shows how God made the world and how Adam’s choice had far-reaching consequences for the rest of humanity, as illustrated in the story of Cain and Abel, and how the sin of humanity became so bad that God had to destroy the world by means of a flood in the time of Noah. After the flood, the sin of humanity became so great again that they tried to build a tower that reached Heaven (which was a direct challenge to God’s authority). God, in turn, responded by scattering humanity over the face of the earth and confusing their languages.
But in Chapter 12, God calls Abraham to leave the city of Ur in Babylonia and promises that he will bless all the nations of the world through him. Here God promises that He will redeem humanity from their sin, though He does not yet specify how He will do so. But what God does say is that the world will be saved through a specific people, the children of Abraham or Israel and, more specifically, one individual from that people, namely the Messiah. Of course, Abraham does not yet know of the Messiah, for that was not revealed to him–all he knows is that the world will be blessed through his descendants.
The rest of Genesis is the story of how the promise to Abraham was completed–how God actually did cause the Jews to increase in number and become as many as the stars in the sky and as many as the grains of sand on the shore. The story of Joseph shows how the Jews were led to Egypt by God, and the beginning of Exodus shows how they became slaves under Pharaoh.
Now the history of Israel–their slavery in Egypt and God’s deliverance of them from Pharaoh–is a "type" in the physical realm that foreshadows the later spiritual deliverance from spiritual slavery to the spiritual Pharaoh (Satan) that takes place through Jesus Christ in the New Testament. So the stories of the Old Testament are the elementary ABC’s in the physical realm that foreshadow what God ultimately desires to reveal to us in the New Testament.
God first reveals Himself and His plan in the external physical realm and then later fulfills the plan on the spiritual level. But don’t think that the Exodus (= "the way out") or the physical deliverance of the Jews from Egypt was only physical. Each of the ten plagues that God sent against the Egyptians was directed against a specific Egyptian god. And the tenth plague was specifically designed to show Pharaoh that he was not a god, since he could not prevent the death of his firstborn son. Through the ten plagues, God showed both to Israel and Egypt His absolute supremacy as God and His sovereignty over all that happened. Who was able to oppose God and stand?
But almost immediately after the Jews were delivered from Egypt, they began grumbling and complaining about how life was better back in Egypt. Even though they saw these mighty miracles of God and even though they had been physically delivered, they ended up worshipping a false god and making for themselves a golden calf (Exodus 32-34) in direct disobedience to God.
Now, in the book of Exodus God was starting over with the people of Israel who were to be a new humanity to replace fallen humanity descended from Adam. But Israel sinned and fell, just as Adam fell, and disobeyed God. Just as humanity got worse and worse until God had to destroy humanity in a flood, so Israel eventually became more and more sinful and idolatrous until God had to send her into exile and remove her from the land and the blessings that He had given her. But God, being merciful as well as just, made many promises through the prophets (who also had repeatedly warned Israel about her sin and commanded her to repent). Through the prophets, particularly Isaiah, God promised to redeem His people spiritually from their sin and from the punishment that was a consequence of their sin by sending a Messiah.
The whole Old Testament points forward to Christ and is not complete in itself. The Old Testament is a story that still looks forward to the climax, which is fulfilled in the ministry, death and resurrection of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. The ministry of Christ and His death and resurrection are described in the Gospels. The rest of the New Testament simply explains in detail the implications for us of what happened in Jesus’ death and resurrection and exaltation to God’s right hand.
Anyway, here is a list of what you should read:
Exodus 1-20; 32-34
Deuteronomy 4-11; 28-34
2 Samuel 7
Isaiah 1-2; 6-9:7; 11:1-16; 14:1-23; 40-66
Ezekiel 28:1-19; 36-37
Matthew or Luke
This should keep you busy for a while. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to read one of the Psalms every day.