The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell about the life of Christ. We learn about Christ's life on earth and his personal ministry in the Gospels.
MATTHEW - Matthew presents Jesus as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. The book begins with the genealogy of Jesus "the Son of David." It was written primarily to the Jews. It is thought to have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. God acknowledges Jesus as His Son in Matthew 3:17. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The sermon on the mount is very familiar to all of us. Jesus in this sermon taught his disciples the following:
Jesus chose these twelve apostles to carry on His work then and after His ascension into heaven:
Matthias was chosen later to take the place of Judas Iscariot.
Jesus gave the great commission to the apostles in Matthew 28:18-20.
"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
MARK - Mark wrote to the Gentiles. He had a close association with Peter. Mark portrays Jesus in all His power and authority. He emphasizes His deeds.
LUKE - Luke was Greek and an educated man. He was a physician and was a companion of Paul on Paul's second missionary journey. The gospel of Luke was written to the Greeks and portrays Jesus as the perfect man. Luke presents Christ as the Son of Man as well as the Son of God. God again acknowledges his Son to Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. There He said, "This is My beloved Son: hear him." (Luke 9:35)
JOHN - This gospel was written some time after Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The first three gospels are called "Synoptics" (from the Greek, "a view together") because they give the same general view of the life and teaching of Christ. John portrays Jesus as the Son of God and the "only begotten of the Father." He tells us in the first chapter of John that Jesus was in the beginning with God. John 3:16 is a well known verse and means much to the Christian.
"For God so loved the world, that he have his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
ACTS - Luke, the physician, wrote the book of Acts as well as the book of Luke. Acts tells us about the apostles' activities in Jerusalem from Christ's ascension until the day of Pentecost when the church was established. The apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost. Peter preached the first sermon on the day of Pentecost. Then the apostles went to make disciples of all nations, as the Lord had commanded them. The book covers the history of the church, the spreading of the gospel to both the Jews and the Gentiles, and establishing congregations.
HEAR - Jesus instructed his disciples to go and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15, 16)
Paul says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
FAITH - One must believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus had said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16)
Peter said on the day of Pentecost, "Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36)
"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:31)
Philip said when the Ethiopian eunuch requested baptism, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." (Acts 8:37)
REPENTANCE - Repentance is a command.
Jesus said, "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning in Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47)
Peter said on the day of Pentecost, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38)
God ..."now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30)
CONFESSION - Confess Christ as the Son of God.
Paul said in the Roman letter, ..."with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:10)
Paul told Timothy to "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:12)
The Ethiopian said when Philip asked about his faith, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts 8:37)
BAPTISM - It is necessary for the remission of sins.
Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16)
Jesus (in His great commission) commanded his disciples to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 28:19)
Peter told the people on the day of Pentecost to be baptized and the scripture says, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41)
Peter tells us that baptism saves us. He likens it unto the saving of the eight righteous souls on the ark in the days of Noah. (1 Peter 3:20, 21)
The special letters were written by Paul to churches and to individuals.
ROMANS - Paul was in Corinth when he wrote this letter to the Christians in Rome. A controversy was dividing the Jewish and Gentile Christians. Paul points out that God is just and since "all have sinned" no one has preference over the other. Romans is a book of exhortation. One important passage is Romans 6:3-6.
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
1 CORINTHIANS - Paul talks about division in the church, immorality, lawsuits, bodily purity, marriage, abuse of the Lord's Supper, place and significance of spiritual gifts, and the resurrection.
2 CORINTHIANS - Paul emphasizes that he is God's messenger and upholds his position as an apostle chosen of God. He warns them against false teachers in their midst. He rejoices with them over their repentance and spiritual growth after receiving his first letter.
GALATIANS - Paul maintains that the gospel which he preached came from God and not man. He says that one who preaches any other gospel will be accursed. He also talks about the grace of God, justification by faith and not by law, and admonishes us not to be weary in well doing.
EPHESIANS - Paul states that Christ is the head of the church which is his body. He further states that all spiritual blessings are found only therein. He stresses the "oneness" of all things spiritual - one body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. This is found in Ephesians 4:4-6. He also admonishes them to put on the whole armour of God. (Ephesians 6:13-17)
PHILIPPIANS - Paul seemed to have a special love and bond for the Philippians. He wrote thanking them for their help in his hour of need, and used this occasion to give them some instruction on Christian unity. Paul exhorts them to stand fast in their hope in Christ.
COLOSSIANS - This book focuses on Christ as the head of his body, the church. Paul's purpose is to show that Christ is preeminent - first and foremost in everything - and the Christian's life should reflect that priority.
1 THESSALONIANS - Paul commends the church for their courageous behavior in times of persecution, giving special attention to their hope in Christ. He closes his letter with instructions regarding the return of the Lord.
2 THESSALONIANS - Paul seeks to clarify the misunderstanding that had arisen as a result of false teachers relative to the immediate coming of Christ. Paul commends the believers on their faithfulness in the midst of persecution and for the love they had for one another.
1 TIMOTHY - This is a very personal letter to a young man whom Paul had selected to preach in Ephesus. Paul instructs Timothy in the qualifications of elders and deacons and admonishes him to conduct himself as a mature man of God.
2 TIMOTHY - Paul is writing his second letter to Timothy from prison. He realizes his life of service is nearly over. He endeavors to encourage and strengthen Timothy for the great task of preaching the gospel. He warns him to beware of those who are enemies of the gospel. One of Paul's enemies was Alexander the coppersmith. He warns Timothy to beware of him also.
TITUS - Paul instructs Titus to set things in order in all the churches in Crete by the ordaining of elders in each one.
PHILEMON - This is a personal letter to one Christian man imploring him to receive his former slave, Onesimus, who had run away. Paul pleads with him to forgive and receive Onesimus as a brother for he is now a Christian.
HEBREWS - The writer shows the preeminence of Christ. He admonishes Christians to remain faithful in spite of persecutions and to "go on to perfection." "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) He mentions the greatness of faith with such examples as: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sara, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses among many others.
JAMES - The writer of this book is identified as a brother of Jesus. (Mark 6:3) Among other things, James teaches that faith without works is dead. He tells us that "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)
1 PETER - This letter was written to the churches in the northern part of Asia Minor. They were probably made up of both Jews and Gentiles. He tells them that they will undergo much suffering and persecutions. He urges them to be steadfast and to remember how much Christ suffered. He admonishes his readers repeatedly concerning their responsibilities as Christians.
2 PETER - This is probably written to the same churches as his first letter. In 2 Peter 1:3, he states that God's "divine power hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness..." He then instructs his readers to add to their faith seven great characteristics that have come to be called the "Christian graces."
Virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (love) (2 Peter 1:5-7)
He also warns of false teachers that would come but promises they will receive proper punishment from God.
1 JOHN - John confirms his personal witnessing of Jesus the Christ. He declares that through that relationship they may have fellowship with him and the Father. He pleads with them to walk in the light which is God. He tells them not to love the world nor the things of the world. One great message is to love God, Christ, and one another.
2 JOHN - Written to a special person or church rejoicing with them that they are walking in truth and commands that they love one another. Real love is walking after the commandments of God. He warns that if anyone comes to them with a doctrine not of Christ that they are not to receive them into their house nor bid them God speed.
3 JOHN - This short letter was written to Gaius wishing that he prosper in health as his soul prospers. This may suggest that Gaius was or had been ill. Gaius is highly commended for his hospitality to the brethren as well as to strangers. He speaks of the ungodly brother, Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them. John names some of the sins of Diotrephes and promises to deal with him when he comes.
JUDE - He is thought to be the brother of Jesus. He pleads with the brethren to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 1:3) He reminds them of God's judgment and punishment of all those who have been ungodly all through the ages.
REVELATION - The book of Revelation gives us the assurance of the ultimate triumph of the church over all evil. It gives a glimpse of the majesty of God on His throne and the saved of all the ages gathered before him and praising him continually.
When Jesus gave the great commission to his apostles as recorded in Matthew 28:19, 20, he told them to teach the new converts to observe all things whatsoever he had commanded them.
WORSHIP - (Hebrews 10:25-27) It is important that we meet for worship on the first day of the week.
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
LORD'S SUPPER - (Acts 20:7) As we take communion on each first day of the week (Sunday), we remember the Lord's death on the cross.
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." See also 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
PRAY - Prayer is very important in the life of a Christian.
..."The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)
"Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18)
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (1 Timothy 2:1, 2)
SING - This is another way we can express our love and devotion to God.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16) See also 1 Corinthians 14:15.
GIVING - Giving to the Lord is a command as we read in 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2.
"Now concerning the collection for the saints,
as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in
store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when
As Christians we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world, and the following scriptures will help us do that.
LOVE - Jesus said in John 14:15: "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37)
WORK - A Christian must work as we find in Philippians 2:12. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:58)
A GOOD EXAMPLE - We must follow the advice that Paul gave Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12.
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
"In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity." (Titus 2:7)
AVOID SIN - In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, we are told to "Abstain from all appearance of evil."
"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." (Romans 12:9)
GROW - A Christian must grow in his faith.
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." (1 Peter 2:2, 3)
"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God..." (Hebrews 6:1, 2)
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)
HELP OTHERS - Helping others is a part of our good work.
"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" (James 2:15, 16)
BE HONEST - Honesty is very important in our lives.
"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men." (Romans 12:17)
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8) See also 1 Peter 2:12.
BE TRUTHFUL - God brings this out in one of the ten commandments. We are not to bear false witness.
We are told in Ephesians 4:25, "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another."
Also in the same book (Ephesians 6:14), we are admonished to "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness."
BE TEMPERATE - This is one of the "Christian graces" in 2 Peter 1:6. We are to add temperance to our faith.
BE PATIENT - This also is one of the "Christian graces" which Peter mentions in 2 Peter 1:6.
"For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." (Hebrews 10:36)
"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:4)
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