Let’s be honest. For most people, reading the bible on their own can be both an overwhelming and intimidating thing. I mean it was written a few thousand years ago, by about 35 different authors, in a language and context far different from our own. Of course, it can be difficult at times!
We are excited to offer to you a new on-demand class we’ve launched called God’s Storyline. This class is designed to give you a comprehensive overview of the entire Bible from cover to cover. It will look at major themes and help make sense of difficult concepts. Things like how the Old and New Testaments fit together, how to reconcile God’s wrath with his love, and even make sense of books like Leviticus (which to be honest most of us tend to skip over). It will be like seeing the box-top to a puzzle, so you can better discern how all of the pieces (including your own!) fit together into this epic story God is writing.
The material is meant to be covered over a six week time period but you can jump in at anytime and go through the videos at your own pace.
All sessions are taught by Kevin Poest, the exexcutive pastor at Western Reserve.
- You will need your own Bible, and I highly recommend a physical one. If you are not familiar with this version it’s called a “book,” they are made out of real paper and everything! I prefer a physical bible for the class because it will give you a better sense of layout and story progression. You can also write in it, take notes and highlight things. And perhaps best of all it doesn’t have any notifications to distract you. I will be using an NIV bible so if you have the ability I would get the same version so its easier to follow along (note: I am using an older NIV version so the newer ones might have small differences).
- Do the challenges: there will be some weeks where I give you additional challenges. This could be anything from going for a walk to completing a worksheet (sounds exciting I know). It will be super tempting and easy to skip these extra assignments, but I strongly encourage you to fully commit to everything. The more you can immerse yourself in this class the more you will get out of it. And on that note, you will need to buy a fresh ripe mango for next week (or some other very delicious fruit). Seriously.
- Give yourself process time: we live in an instant culture that likes instant results. And while I can give you lots of information quickly, that doesn’t mean you will process it quickly. In order to let this all sink in I recommend taking notes and giving yourself time to reflect and process after each session is over.
Try and find a quiet space to watch the videos. Online church during the pandemic has reinforced to me personally how hard it can be to focus when there are distractions all around. The same will be true of these videos. Do your best to find a quiet space where you can focus each week.
Take a moment to pray before you start. Ask God to speak personally to you through each session and to both challenge and encourage you.
Watch the videos at whatever pace you want each week. That’s the beauty of on-demand. Both on Sunday? One on Monday and one on Wednesday? Doesn’t matter. I would, however, recommend giving a little space and time to process between videos. To get the most out of this class I would watch session #1, give yourself some reflection and process time (20-30 minutes if possible), and complete the challenges before watching session #2. Again, it’s easy to get the information quickly. It will take your mind and soul a little longer to really digest it. Processing out loud with a spouse or friend could also help.
Do the challenges. One involves a mango and it will probably seem silly. But try to be a kid again and simply marvel at the world God has created for us. There is so much we take for granted and it will be harder than you think!
Invite, invite, invite. Because of the format of this class it’s never too late for someone to join. You have my full permission to share these videos with neighbors, coworkers, family, anyone you think it could benefit.
This week is pretty straight forward from a content side. There is an assignment after session #4 that involves looking up a bunch of verses and categorizing them. I would again encourage you to make time for that as it will really help you better understand the law from God’s perspective.
Below are the links to sessions #5 and #6 along with some important thoughts and instructions:
- Stay the course: as we get into sessions 5 and 6 I want to challenge all of you to stay the course. Session #5 will be both the longest and the hardest part of the whole course, and therefore also the section where some might be tempted to give up. The fruit of all of your labor will really start to show up in sessions 8-9, but we need to lay this foundation first in order to get the full payoff. So, as we get into some more obscure parts over the next few weeks hang with me and I promise when this is all over you will be glad you did.
- A warning about session 5: At the end of Session 5 (end of part 2) there is a video of an animal being killed. This is designed to help you really understand and feel the weight of what the life of an Israelite was really like. This is obviously not the Sunday school version! I am asking you to please use personal discretion. Do not watch if you are not comfortable, and do not watch around children. There will be plenty of heads up in the video, so you don’t need to worry about it surprising you. We also did not have anything to do with the killing of this animal, we are simply using this video as a tool to help our understanding.
- Details for session 5:
- Read Exodus 25:1-9 and try to answer the following question: Why is this an important passage in the storyline?
- Watch Session 5.1 (about 10 minutes)
- Pause the video and look up the Understanding Leviticus verses (15 minutes)
- Watch the rest of Session 5.2 (19 minutes)
- Watch Session 5.2 (26 minutes, the animal part comes in the last 2 minutes of this video)
4.Details for session 6:
This week we finally cross over into the New Testament (ACT 4)! Below are the links to everything you need. The challenge at the end of session 7 is perhaps one of the most important ones I think you will do, so please take it seriously and set yourself reminders. Session 8 will hopefully be a “light bulb” session for many of you where we start to make some important connections from the OT to the NT. Remember to post any questions you have on the FB group page and we should have a live Q&A coming up as well.
- Read over messianic hope part 2 (emailed out on Saturday night before)
- Watch session #7
- Take challenge to view world through the eyes of Jesus this week.
- Do handout: Understanding the death of Jesus
- Watch session 8
- Read Hebrews Chapters 7-10
This week we will close out ACT 4 and enter into ACT 5 (the church). This is a huge change for us because ACT 5 is the ACT in which our characters finally enter the story. All that we have been discussing up until this point should give us the foundation to start to understand how our characters rightly fit into the drama. A refreshed vision of the church and why God created it is absolutely essential in understanding your characters place in the drama. So as we near the end of the storyline I want to encourage you to stay the course and finish strong. Keep setting aside the time and putting in the work, the finish line is in sight!
- Take 10-15 minutes to answer the pre-class questions below:
Given all that you have learned so far:
- What is the gospel?
- How are people saved?
- How do “good works” factor in?
- What about people in the Old Testament? How were they saved?
- Watch session 10
- Spend time in reflection asking yourself the question: Am I really part of God’s ekklesia, or am I just “playing church” and going through the motions of religious activity?
- Watch session #11
- Read over the following passages and reflect on how your character is doing at rightly playing out their part in the story.
What’s the same:
- Worship God
- Personal holiness
- Share your faith
- Disciple others
- 1 Cor 12, Romans 12:1-9, Eph 4:1,11-13, 1 Peter 4:10-11
- Watch session 12
- Spend some time reviewing everything you have learned over the past 6 weeks, and write down 3 tangible changes you want to make moving forward.