Adult Education REsources

Browse through a selection of Adult Sunday school and education materials below. These materials come from our Sunday Morning classes so you won't miss out if you miss a week. 

Select a video then scroll down and click on the matching outline to read along as you listen.



Join us as we learn how to better study the Bible by exploring topics like the canon, archaeology, the reliability of Scripture, and research tools. This series is geared towards Christians who want to build essential FOUNDATIONS in their faith and study, as well as those who want to sharpen their skills and knowledge in order to teach others.

  • Main Question for today

    Why do we have different Bible Translations?

    As you listen, follow along using the material provided below, or click "Resources" beneath the audio recording above and download the worksheet the class used during the lesson.

    Judges 13:1

                                                    NIV                             ESV                            KJV                             NASB




    “Israelites” vs                 
    Children of Israel”


    “Sight” vs


    “Delivered” vs
    “Gave” vs



    On your own, sometime this week, repeat this exercise with verse 2 using different Bible translations.

    Judges 13:2

                                                    NIV                             ESV                            KJV                             NASB


    “____ A Certain man”
    “____ A man”



    Clan, Tribe, Family



    “Childless” vs
    “Barren” vs

    Judges 13:1 In Hebrew                              (Don't worry! There won't be a test!)                                              <-- Hebrew Reads right to left!

    וַיֹּסִ֙פוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת הָרַ֖ע בְּעֵינֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה וַיִּתְּנֵ֧ם יְהוָ֛ה בְּיַד־ פְּלִשְׁתִּ֖ים אַרְבָּעִ֥ים שָׁנָֽה׃


    Literal Translation— “and they added, sons Israel, they to do evil in the eyes LORD. And he gave, LORD, in the hand of the Philistines, 40 years.”


    Smooth Interpretation—“And again, the Sons of Israel, they did evil in the eyes of the LORD. And The LORD gave them into the hands of the Philistines, for 40 years.”


    It is not necessarily the words that bring understanding. Instead, it is the meaning and interpretation of the words that brings understanding. 

    All Translation is Interpretation


    For example, here are common phrases, whose words we must interpret in order to understand its meaning.  A Literal translation will not work or make sense in these instances.


    Numbers 14:18 “God is slow to anger, abundant in love.”

                Our English Bibles interprets “Long of Nose” as “Slow to anger.”

    But the meaning and interpretation of “long of nose” brings understanding to a translation.


    Euphemisms – “He fell asleep” = he is dead (ex. Acts 7:60—the stoning of Stephen)

                            “He is big boned” = he is fat

                            “The lights are on, but no one is home” = that person is dumb

    Metaphor— “He is the Lion of Judah” (see Revelation 5:5)

                            “She’s the apple of my eye”

    Personification—“The rocks will cry out” (ex. Luke 19:40)

                            “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood” (ex. Joel 2:31)

     Hyperbole--  “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1 Sam. 18:7)

                            “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!”

    Key Point

    All translation is interpretation

    Can we trust our translations?


    But how do we know if our interpretation is a correct interpretation?

    We test Scripture against Scripture

    We debate and have conversations

    We study diligently and do our best to understand God's word truthfully and faithfully.

    Take away

    Is it ok if someone else has a different understanding or interpretation of Scripture? Why or why not?

    Why does having different understandings of Scripture so important?

    Why does this matter for us today?

    How can we use what we've learned today the next time someone asks us a question about the Bible and our faith?

    What will you do differently know that you know this?

Spiritual Warfare

How does the Bible talk about the spiritual forces all around us? What can we do to protect ourselves against evil. This series focuses on the spiritual forces all around us. We explore who or what these forces are, how they interact with us, and what we can do to remain strong in the faith of Jesus Christ. 

Classes taught by Scott Curtis and Joshua Bush

  • Intro Question

    Based on your Old Testament knowledge only, who or what is Satan?

    What Scripture references can you point too to support your position on Satan?

    Take the time to Pause the audio recording for a minute or two and write down a few of your ideas. Write down who or what you think Satan is. Think of some Old Testament passages that you may use to support your reasoning and write them down.

    Main Question for today

    How does the Old Testament use the word "satan?"

    Background information

    The word "satan" comes from the Hebrew word שטן  and it means " an adversary," "opponent," or "one who stands in opposition to." So in the generic sense, it means exactly that-- someone or something that stands against someone as an adversary. 

    Now just שטן  on its own means “adversary,” but in Hebrew there is something called the “definite article,” and it is the English equivalent of the word “the.” The article looks like this ה and it shifts a word from an indefinite state to a definite state. For example, instead of “a ball,” “a church,” “president,” it becomes “the ball,” “the church,” “ the president.”  השטן

    So when this definite article is attached to a word, it makes it definite. And more specifically, in Hebrew, it can turn the word satan into a proper noun like a name or a title. So the presence of a definite article turns it into a title like “THE Satan”, while its absence usually means the generic word for “adversary” and is treated like a noun.  

    In total, the word "satan" appears about 27 times in the Old Testament-- sometimes with and sometimes without the definite article.

    Three Categories of Satan

    Human Adversaries

    Let's take a look at a few examples in the Old Testament where "satan" refers to Human adversaries

    1 Kings 5:4, 11:14, 23, 25

    1 Samuel 29:4

    Note that these passages do not contain the definite article when the Hebrew word "satan" appears. When no article is present, the English translates "satan" as "adversary," when used as a noun in these passages. in 1 Sam 29:4 the word "satan" is being used as a verb and is translated as "he will turn against." Here the Philistine commanders are calling David a "satan"-- one who will "turn against" the Philistines. 

    Think about how the word "satan" is being used in these passages. Write some of your thoughts down and think about how this information impacts your understanding of "satan" as we move forward.

    Celestial Opponents

    Let's take a look at a few examples in the Old Testament where "satan" refers to Celestial Opponents

    Zechariah 3:1-2

    Numbers 22:22, 32

    1 Chronicles 21:1

    (Just for fun-- 2 Samuel 24:1)

    The Zechariah passage does have the definite article with the word "satan." Satan is functioning as the "opponent" to God in this passage. Yet the broader context of the passage does not seem to indicate that Satan is or isn't evil. In fact it seems that Satan is serving as a prosecuting attorney (we will touch on this more in the Book of Job section below).

    Satan is not out to destroy Joshua, but rather argues that Joshua is not fit or qualified enough to be Yahweh's priest. Yet Yahweh argues that he is. So the Satan is serving as an opponent in the way someone would be an opponent in a debate or a court case. 

    Numbers 22:22, 32 is the story of Balaam's Donkey. There is no article attached to the word "satan."

    (Fun fact: This is the first time from the start of Genesis until now that the word "satan" appears in the Old Testament.)

    Who is the "opponent" or "satan" in this passage?-- An "Angel of the Lord." 

    Here the Angel came to "stand against" Balaam. 

    1 Chronicles 21:1 is when David is incited to take a census of Israel. There is no article attached to the word "satan."

    This is an interesting passage and is an exception to the rule we have talked about so far. Here, there is no article with Satan, yet it can still be translated into English as "The Satan"-- Capital "S" Satan as a proper noun or a title. 

    This passage is the only time in the Old Testament where Satan could be used explicitly as a personal name (rather than a title). 

    Just for fun-- take a look at 2 Samuel 24:1 and compare it to 1 Chronicles 21;1

    Who incites David to take a census? In 1 Chron. it's Satan, yet in 2 Sam. it's the Lord. One possibility is that God is functioning as a "satan" (opponent, adversary) to David who then succumbs to sin. This could work since there is no article attached to "satan" here, but this issue has some textual complexities with the note above about "satan" being used as a personal name in this passage. 

    So this point is very interesting and unclear. We wanted to point this out to you so you can get a taste for the complexities of Scripture and have a more diverse understanding of who or what this Satan figure is. 

    The Book of Job

    Let's take a look at the Book of Job for another perspective on  "satan."

    Job 1:6-12

    Job 2:1-7

    In these passages, Satan does have the definite article. These passages definitely describe a specific entity known as "Satan." Here the Satan could also be considered a Celestial Opponent to Job. 

    Consider this:

    If someone hit your car, or broke into your house, or stole something from you, would you want a really good prosecuting attorney or a bad prosecuting attorney? Why?

    You would want a good one of course!

    In the judicial system and in a court of law, what is the function of a prosecuting attorney? 

    A prosecuting attorney is someone that makes accusations against the defendant and who tries to get a guilty plea from them. So simply because they accuse people of wrong doing, that doesn't make prosecuting attorneys good or bad, it just means they are doing their job. Prosecuting attorney's simply fulfill their functions within a court case in order to ensure that justice is being carried out as well as making sure that those who may have committed crimes receive a proper punishment. 

    Having considered this, you could argue, that the Satan in Zechariah and Job is simply fulfilling his role as a prosecuting attorney. Yes, Satan caused the death of Job’s family, destroyed his riches, and ruined Job’s health, but who explicitly commanded and allowed/instructed Satan to do this to Job?

    God did. Yes the death of Job’s family is bad, but it was God who specifically instructed Satan to carry out these actions . Satan’s actions were approved by God himself. So Satan was simply carrying out his role and function obeying God's commands.


    How has this impacted your understanding of Satan? What has changed?

    Did you learn anything new? If so, why is this significant?

    Is any of this a salvation issue? Or is there room for different interpretations that does not impact our understanding of Jesus, the Gospel, or salvation?


    Notice how we did not cover Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden. Your homework for this week is this: if you believe that Satan is the serpent in Genesis 3, write down as many reasons why you believe this and provide scripture references to support your position. 

  • Intro Question

    If you believe that Satan was the serpent in Genesis 3, what arguments can you point to to support this idea?

    What Scripture references can you use to support your position?

    Main Question for today

    How does the Bible describe the serpent of Genesis 3 and how does the Bible describe the creature known as Leviathan, Litan, and Lotan? 


    If you haven't already, take the time to search the Scriptures for evidence supporting the idea that Satan was the serpent of Genesis 3.

    Feel free to pull from both the Old and New Testaments, Philosophy, Moral reasoning, etc. 

    Remember to back yourself with passages found in the Bible.

    Listen in to hear what the class came up with.

    As you listen, consider a new perspective on who or what the Bible may refer to when it describes entities such as the "Red Dragon" or that "Ancient Serpent" of Revelation 12 and 20. What about the one who was "in Eden" or the "guardian cherub" described in Ezekiel 28? What do we do with John 8:44 referencing the "father of lies?" and other examples the class came up with.

    As you listen, we want you to consider this new perspective by first learning about an entity known as Leviathan. Specifically, how the Old Testament describes Leviathan, how an ancient text known as the Baal Cycle describes Leviathan, and the descriptions laid out in Revelation 12 and 20 share similar descriptors to refer to this agent of watery chaos. 

    Leviathan in the Old Testament and the Baal Cycle

    Leviathan in Hebrew is לתן (equivalent to the English's consonants L T N--> Leviathan, Lotan, Litan) and it is used in Isaiah 27:1; Job 26:12-13, 41:13-21, 27-29; and Psalm 74:13-14

    Read Isaiah 27:1

    Listen to the phrasing and specific words used as Joshua reads two passages. Both Isaiah and the Baal Cycle share the same phrases such as the "Fleeing serpent," the "Twisting serpent." 

    Isaiah includes the phrase "The dragon that is in the sea."

    The Baal cycle also includes the phrase "The seven-headed monster." Remember these two phrases when we get to Revelation 12 and 20. 

    Read Job 26: 12-13

    Listen to the phrasing again and to the specific words used as we compare Job and the Baal Cycle.

    Note that Job uses the phrase "Fleeing serpent" just like Isaiah 27:1

    The Baal Cycle passage uses "The Dragon," "Twisting Serpent," and the "the seven-headed monster." 

    Remember these phrases as we take a look at Revelation 12 and 20

    Leviathan in Revelation and Apocalyptic Descriptors

    Read Revelation 20:2-3 and 12:3,9

    Here in Revelation, there is this dragon, this large chaotic entity that is described as an "ancient serpent" who is the devil, or Satan. Based on its physical descriptions (Large creature that comes from the sea, Chaotic force and strength, Seven-headed monster, 10 horns, 7 crowns), does this sound the serpent of Genesis 3?

    Interesting how the Baal Cycle calls the Leviathan a seven-headed monster, and Revelation describes it the very same way.

    Read Job 41:13-29

    Based on its physical descriptions (having an outer coat of armor; its back lined with rows of shields, snorts that send out flashes of light, eyes like the rays of dawn, flames that pour from its mouth, sparks of fire that shoot out, smoke from its nostrils, immune to damage from swords , spears, darts, javelins, arrows, slingstones, clubs, and lances, stronger than iron and bronze) does this sound like the serpent of Genesis 3?

    Read Psalm 74:13-14

    Here God crushes the heads (Plural--> Remember the Baal cycle passages?) of the Leviathan. Note this passage describes Leviathan has having several heads-- Re-read Revelation 20:2-3 and 12:3,9 and count if the dragon has just one head or several. 

    Does the Psalm 74 description of Leviathan sound like the serpent of Genesis 3? 

    Description of the Serpent of Genesis 3

    Read Genesis 3:1

    How does the text describe this serpent?

    1) It is more crafting than any of the wild animals

    2) It is a wild animal

    3) It is a creature created by God

    4) It can speak (we don't know how or why as the text never tells us--see Numbers 22 for Balaam's talking donkey

    If we look at verse 14 it says that

    1) The serpent will be cursed above all livestock and all wild animals (indicating that it, again, is itself a wild animal

    2) will crawl on its belly and eat dust

    Notice how the word "satan" never appears in this passage. 

    A New Perspective

    What if I told you that instead of the Revelation passages referring to the "Ancient Serpent" is not referring to the serpent of Genesis 3?

    What if, in fact, there was a more "Ancient Serpent" in the Bible found even early in Genesis?

    Turn to Genesis 1:21 and read it through.

    Re-read the first sentence again-- "So God created the great creatures of the sea..."

    Want to take a guess at what Hebrew word appears? Want to guess which entity is mentioned as the "great creatures of the sea?"

    The answer is Leviathan. The Hebrew has לתן here in this passage in a plural form. There is an even more ancient serpent in the Bible than the serpent of Genesis 3. Remember Isaiah 27:1 and Job 26:12-13 all call Leviathan a serpent, a serpent that twists and flees and comes from the sea. 

    You see, the Leviathan is mentioned in Genesis 1, well before the events of Genesis 3. With all of the other evidence from the Baal cycle, Isaiah, Job, and other passages, we see that this sea creature causes chaos all throughout creation. The passages in Revelation use the same descriptors (seven-headed, chaotic entity that is beyond the scope of human capacity to defeat, a serpent) as the Old Testament references found in Isaiah, Job, Psalms, and others.  

    This Leviathan, this other "ancient serpent" has caused tremendous trouble for Israel as seen through the time of the Judges and Kings. When Israel fell into Baal worship, they were constantly exposed to this entity, Leviathan, who caused Israel to fall into sin. Yes, the serpent in Genesis 3 caused Eve and Adam to sin, but Leviathan caused the whole nation of Israel to fall into sin for generations.

    Take Away

    Does this perspective change anything about our salvation?

    Is this an "essential" issue in the church or are we free to talk about and debate and challenge new and different views?

    How has this shaped your understanding of the descriptors of Revelation, descriptors in Isaiah, Job, and Psalms, and the descriptions of the serpent in Genesis 3?

    Next Week

    Next week we will revisit the other passages that we did not touch on this week. This week we only focused on the Leviathan passages, but next time we will talk about passages such as Ezekiel 28:1-19, Isaiah 14:12-15, John 8:44, re-visit Revelation 12 and 20, as well as touch on some of the moral/philosophical issues of sin and who brought it into the world.


    For more information on the theme of watery chaos, God's actions to bring order to creation, and God's plan to eliminate all agents of chaos at the consummation of creation, check out a sermon by Joshua Bush on June 15th of 2022. Click "Media" above and select "Listen to sermons" to get started.

  • Intro Question
    What do we do with the other Bible passages that do not reference Leviathan, yet are often used to describe the Serpent of Genesis 3?

    Main Question for Today
    How should we interpret passages such as Ezekiel 28:1-19; Isaiah 14:4-22; Revelation 12:1-9, 20:2-3, and John 8:44 in light of our new understanding of Leviathan and our conversations on the Serpent of Genesis 3?

    Let's take a look at some of the passages we didn't get to last week...

    Ezekiel 28:1-19
    As you listen, read along and examine for yourself 1) Who the central characters are and 2) How the characters are described.
    Are the characters human or is there room for something else?
    Is there anything in the text to indicate that the King of Tyre is anything other than a human king? if so, what?
    Yes, Eden language is used to describe the King of Tyre. Is the passage is still referring to the King of Tyre or is there something in the passage that tells us that we are suddenly talking about someone or something completely different?

    Isaiah 14:4-22
    As you listen, read along and examine for yourself 1) Who the central characters are and 2) How the characters are described. 
    Are the main characters human or is there something in the text indicating that we are talking about someone other than the King of Babylon? If so, what?
    How does this passage describe the King of Babylon? What terms, words, or phrases are used to describe this character?
    Are these the kinds of descriptors we would use to describe a celestial entity such as an angel, demon, or Satan? Or are these the kinds of words and phrases we would use to describe human kings?

    Lucifer is the Latin phrase for "Morning Star" or "son of the Morning." The Hebrew says "Heylel, son of the Morning" and is likely referring to an ancient Canaanite and Ancient Near eastern god known as Attar. (Note: it is possible that the Bible references Attar by calling him Ishtar, but this is unclear).
    Attar was the Ancient Canaanite god of Venus, the star known as the "morning star" in ancient times. At the time of his writing, Isaiah would have known about the story of Attar, how Attar tried to scale the walls of the holy city of heaven, but was struck down by the chief sun god. Attar fell to earth and was defeated. 
    So it's exceptionally biting here, that Isaiah is using the same kind of words and language that the King of Babylon was most likely using of himself. Isaiah used this same kind of boastful language to insult the King of Babylon. Essentially, Isaiah is saying, "Hey! King of Babylon, You call yourself the 'morning star,' but did you forget that the morning star fell from heaven when he tried to become a chief god himself? The Lord Yahweh says, 'don't think yourself a god, otherwise you will fall just like Attar fell.'"

    This was a chilling critique to the King of Babylon. God used Isaiah to criticize the King in order to make a point that the King was a mere mortal and not a god himself. 

    Revelation 12:1-9 and 20:2-3
    Re-read these passages from last week. Instead of focusing on the Leviathan concept, think more generally. 
    Could all of these descriptors be talking about a snake in Genesis 3? Or is there something more going on here?
    When do these events take place? Before creation? At the second coming of Christ? 
    There are timeline issues if we force this passage upon Genesis 3. 
    If this took place before creation, all sorts of problems arise like:
    Why don't we have any other biblical accounts of these events?;
    Who is the woman? Is she Eve? Is she symbolic or a metaphor? If so, what are they symbolic of and what scriptures must we turn to in order to support this?; 
    How can there be a wilderness before creation? and why only for 1260 days will she flee to that location?;
    How can there be day and night or a sun and a moon if creation had not yet taken place?

    John 8:44
    This passage is a strong counter example to the hypothesis that the serpent in Genesis 3 is just a serpent. 
    John 8:44 provides an example of some entity that was the "father of lies," from the beginning.

    However, note how else John uses the word for beginning. Look at John 6:64, 8:25, 15:27, 16:4; 1 John 2:7, and 2 John 1:5. 
    All of these passages reference the "beginning," yet are all of these passages referring to the beginning of creation?

    This is not to say that John 8:44 is not a reference to the beginning of creation, but it is important to note the broader understanding of the word "beginning" and not simply assume every usage of this word is referring to the creation event.

    A Logic Proof
    Here is a common line of reasoning that many people use to support the idea that Satan is the Serpent of Genesis 3

    Sin = bad
    Satan is associated with sin and bad things
    Therefore, Satan = bad
    Since the serpent of Genesis 3 brought sin into the world, the serpent is the 1st and the worst bad guy
    Who is the worst bad guy we know of?--> Satan
    Therefore, Satan must be the Serpent of Genesis 3.

    This makes a lot of sense logically, however, is it biblical? Sure this makes a lot of sense when we think about it, but is that how the Bible describes the serpent and Satan? 
    Does this Logic proof override or supersede all of the biblical evidence we have looked at over the past several weeks? 

    Who is Satan based on the Old Testament?
    Satan in the Old Testament is described in several ways. 
    In Job and Zechariah, Satan seems to be functioning as a sort of prosecuting attorney. Satan is fulfilling the specific role that God has given to him. Satan only does what God allows him to do and never goes beyond what God instructs. 

    Satan seems to have a negative function regarding this prosecuting attorney role. He kills Job's family, destroys Job's health, and accuses Joshua of not begin qualified enough for the priesthood. Yet, Satan still remains within the bounds of God's commands.

    The Old Testament doesn't seem interested in talking about where Satan comes from or what specifically Satan is.

    Satan seems to be a celestial entity, yet that remains unclear based upon the Old Testament text. Satan is in the presence of God as seen in Job. Satan can stand before God and converse with the creator without being destroyed or punished. Other than that, we must look elsewhere like the New Testament to learn more about who/what Satan is. 

    It is likely, based upon this conversation and the evidence we have examined, that Satan is not the serpent of Genesis 3. 

    By the time we get to the New Testament, Satan is DEFINITELY a bad guy. Where this shift happened, is unclear. It is likely that somewhere along the way, Satan over stepped his bounds and acted beyond what God had commanded him. 

    Consider this...
    What are your thoughts on this new perspective?
    Does the past three weeks change your understanding of who or what Satan is?
    Does this change anything about our salvation?
    How does learning something like this expand your understanding of the Bible, its complexities, and howe we should seek to examine God's word more closely in the future?
  • Fill out the following chart as you listen along

                                           Character/ Attributes                           Desire                                                 Acts



                                           People                                                  Culture                                                Church

    Satan's Influence

    HALT: You are most vulnerable when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired


    1 John 1:5-7; John 8:43-45; Deuteronomy 18:9-11; Ephesians 6:10-12; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Deuteronomy 6:24; 2 Timothy 4:2; Romans 1:20, 7:7; Matthew 7:1; 2 Timothy 4:2. 

  • Intro Question

    How does Satan influence our culture?

    Listen along or copy and paste the link below into a separate window to follow along

    Viewer discretion is advised

    Intro Topic

    Music and Satan's Influence

    Consider this: What is your take on the influence of music on people? How does Satan use music to influence people?

    Main Topic for Today

    Can Satan influence people through possession

    Take a look at Matthew 12:22-29 and 1 John 4:4 and listen as we read along

    What are the differences between demon possession and a demon's influence?

    Check out Matthew 12:43-45

    What happens when the evil spirit leaves the man?

    Let's consider Judas, the disciple that betrayed Jesus. How does Judas become so influenced by Satan that he ended up betraying the Son of God? 

    What do you think about people's rejection of Jesus when we don't get what we want?

    Is there any connection to this idea and Judas' actions to betray Jesus?

    How do people become influenced and sometimes even possessed in the first place? Is it something that just happens one day or is there something more happening within that person?

    There are two major mistakes that people make when it comes to Satan

    1) People sometimes do not believe in Satan at all.

    2) People sometimes attribute every evil thing to Satan and his influence.

    What does the Bible say about Satan's influence?

    1) Satan is real

    2) Satan affects us in a real, tangible sense

    3) Satan has an agenda

    People often don't just become possessed one day. People involve themselves in things that are contrary to God's commands resulting in a creeping influence from Satan. 

  • Main Discussion

    This week we explore a hard look at our culture and see different ways Satan Influences our culture and the church more specifically.

    What do you think the reason for the Law is? 

    Why do we have our own laws here in the United States?

    Why did God give us His law in the Bible?

    What do you think of what you hear "Just do it" ? 

    What does a phrase like this mean for our culture and how is it perceived by people given our sinful nature?

    How are we to judge? Are we to judge?

    Fill out the following chart as you listen along

                                           Character/ Attributes                           Desire                                                 Acts

    God                                Light, all Knowing                                Saving Relationship                             Gospel

                                           Truth, Love

    Satan                              Darkness, Liar                                      Destroy Relationship with God          Self-serving

                                           Murderer                                             Follow Him vs Follow Jesus                "just do it" 

                                                                                                        Wants to trap us                                 Deception

                                           People                                                  Culture                                                Church

    Satan's Influence

    Is Christianity a blind faith? Why or why not?

    Top three responses from those when asked "Why do you believe what you believe?" I believe because...

    1. I was brought up in this faith.

    2. God changed me to be a better person.

    3. I had a personal experience with God and my life changed forever.


    Deuteronomy 6:24; Romans 7:7; Matthew 16:18, 7:1; 21 Timothy 4:2; Romans 1:20

  • Main point for today

    How can we protect ourselves from Satan's Influence and from evil?

    The Full Armor of God

    Ephesians 6:12-17

    The Belt of Truth

    In order to protect ourselves from the influence of evil, we need to know, understand, and practice the truth found in the Bible.

    Given our conversations about Satan, Why is it important to know the truth?

    The Breastplate of Righteousness

    The Greek word for "Righteousness" is dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay) (δικαιοσυνη) and it means "a state that is in accord with standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior" --> "uprightness, righteousness, justice"

    Romans 1:17

    Romans 3:21-22

    What is self-righteousness? How does this breastplate protect us against our own self-righteousness?

    Does God require anything from us in order for us to receive salvation? Is there anything that we can do that will allow us to earn our way into God's Kingdom?

    Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace

    As Christians, what does this phrase mean? What does our Peace with God look like?

    What does Peace with God give us as we make our way through our lives?

    Romans 16:20

    Proverbs 16:7

    Shield of Faith

    How does Job's faithfulness help him throughout the book of Job?

    Job 13:15

    Why is acting on the knowledge that we have about Christ important? What does putting our faith in to action look like?

    Take the Helmet of Salvation

    What securities do we have knowing that we have placed our salvation in Jesus?

    Job 19:25-27

    Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God

    How can we use God's word to protect ourselves and those in the church?

    How can we harm people by using the Bible incorrectly? 

    Why is it important to speak truth, yet with love and gentleness? 

    Can we win people to Christ through arguing with them? Is it more important to win an argument or is it more important to show God's grace and love? Why?

  • Main Question for today

    What is a demon/ what are a demon's characteristics?

    Based upon your understanding of the Old Testament alone, what is a demon?

    Origins of Demons

    There are four potential theories that could explain where demons came from

    Theory #1

    Demons are disembodied spirits from a pre-Adam race of human-like beings

    Possible shortcomings with this view

    1) This view aligns with theistic evolution

    2) There is no biblical evidence to support this view as the Bible story does not indicate that such a race of human-like beings ever existed.

    Theory #2

    Demons are beings that coexisted with angelic beings known as Nephilim found in Genesis 6:1-4 and were human-angel hybrids

    Possible shortcomings with this view:

    1) This view only works if one interprets the "sons of God" as angelic beings.

    It's much more likely that these "sons of God" were simply human kings  as this was a common phrase used in the ancient world for kings.

    2) If the "sons of God" were angels, the Bible never describes angels as having relations with human women to produce offspring.

    This was an idea that came from the intertestamental texts such as 1 Enoch. 

    Theory #3

    Demons are Spirits of humans who escaped Sheol as seen in the Witch of Endor story in 1 Samuel 28:7-25

    Possible shortcomings with this view:

    1) There is only one passage in the whole Bible that supports this view.

    2) Would God allow such a instance to take place regarding a persons' soul?

    Theory #4

    Demons are fallen angels who were cast down with Satan from heaven

    Ezekiel 28:13-19; Isaiah 14:12-15; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 12:7-9

    Possible shortcomings with this view:

    1) Our previous discussions on the Ezekiel and Isaiah passages could just as easily be referring to the human kings of Tyre and Babylon as laid out in the text. This perspective forces a spiritual/apocryphal meaning onto a plain and clear text about human kings

    2) 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 are most likely quoting a passage from 1 Enoch, a text from the apocrypha. 

    3) Revelation 12:7-9 could be talking about a future event rather than an event that took place before creation. Additionally, if the angels described here are "bound" and awaiting judgement, how could they be on the earth now?

    Words for "demon"

    1) There doesn't seem to be a single word or concept that cleanly describes demons in the Old Testament

    2) The few Hebrew words we do have are rare and occur only a handful of times.

    3) The words we do use to translate as "demon" often refer to both evil entities as well as neutral "anonymous gods" in the Old Testament. 

    "Hairy ones"

    This Hebrew word occurs about 50 times in the Old Testament

    Two Hebrew words are used:

    Seirim--> ("Hair ones" or "Satyrs") שעירים 

    Isaiah 13:21 and Isaiah 34:14

    Sedim--> ("demon") שדים

    Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 106:37

    These terms are often associated with the male goats that were presented as a sacrifice for sin offerings on the Day of Atonement.

    Seirim and Sedim are also often associated with Azazel ("scape goat") found throughout Leviticus 16. The scape goat was a sacrifice that the sin of Israel was placed upon one of these goats, while the other was driven away from the Israelite camp to live in the desert places.


    Seen in other Ancient Near Eastern texts as a female demon associated with the Seirim and other unclean creatures. Also described as a succubus and a "child stealing" demon in other ancient cultures. 

    Translated as "night creature" in Isaiah 34:14


    Seen all throughout Leviticus 16 and is translated as "scape goat."

    Leviticus 16 can refer either to the goat itself or to a place in the wilderness as the Hebrew could be understood as the goat itself, or to a specific place in the wilderness, or as the name of a specific demon that lives in the wilderness to which the scape goat is dedicated to. 

    Demons responsible for or present within natural phenomena

    Plague/ pestilence--Hosea 13:145; Hab. 3:5; Psalm 91:6

    Destruction-- Deut. 32:24; Isaiah 28:2; Hosea 13:14

    Flame/firebolt-- (Deut. 32:24 translates "flame/firebolt" as "pestilence"); Hab. 3:5

    Terror in the night-- Psalm 91:5

    These identifications are based upon our understanding of other ancient near eastern texts and how they associated these phrases to demons and evil spirits. It seems that such phrases do not simply refer to the natural phenomena themselves, but to the demon or god responsible for, or present within, them. 

    Evil or Lying Spirits

    Check out 1 Sam. 16:14-16, 23 and 1 Kings 22:19-23

    These were lying or evil spirits sent by God. 

    What do we do with these. If God sent these spirits, why is God commanding evil spirits in the first place? Why did God command these evil spirits to afflict and cause harm? What do we do with these negative functions of these entities?

    Relationship to Satan

    Notice what major figure we left out of our discussion on demons so far?


    Why is that?

    The answer is because Satan is never mentioned alongside demonic entities within the Old Testament. Satan is strikingly absent within the Old Testament when it comes to language that describes demons. 

    As seen in our previous lesson on Satanology above, within the Old Testament, Satan seems to be functioning as a independent being who acts upon God's commands to carry out negative (note: not necessarily evil) functions as a prosecuting attorney. 

    Take Away

    What are our take away's from this?

    Are demons a major aspect of the Old Testament, or does it seem to be focused on other stuff?

    If the Old Testament isn't focused on demons, what does that mean for us?

    Should we be super fixated on demons or other entities such as these? Why or why not?


    Kuemmerlin-McLean, Joanne K., "Demons." In The Anchor Bible Dictionary: Volume 2, edited by David Noel Freedman, 138-140. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992.

  • Main Question for today

    What is a demon/ what are a demon's characteristics?

    Based upon your understanding of the New Testament alone, what is a demon?


    δαιμονιον ("dai-mon-ee-on") appears roughly 60 times in the New Testament and it means "Hostile/ evil Spirit" or "Demon"

    This word is one of the most common words used for demons and is found primarily in the Gospel accounts

    πνευμα ακαθαρτον ("peh-new-ma   ak-ath-ar-ton") appears multiple times throughout the New Testament and means "impure/ unclean spirit"

    Found especially in Mark and Luke

    Demonic Activity

    Take a minute to pause the video and answer this question: 

    Within the New Testament, what are some activities that are attributed to demons?

    When you are ready, un-pause the video and listen along to what the class had to say.

    Read the following passages for a better understanding of what the New Testament says about demonic activity

    Insane Behavior: Matthew 8:28 and Mark 5:1-5

    Inability to speak: Matthew 9:32

    Inability to hear: Mark 9:25

    Blindness: Matthew 12:22

    Symptoms of Epilepsy: Luke 9:39

    Self-destructive tendencies: Matthew 17:15

    Take a moment to think about these questions: 

    Do the gospel writers ever clearly explain the relationship between demon possession and sickness? Why or why not?

    Within the New Testament, are all sicknesses caused by demons? 

    Do all demons cause sickness?

    Read the following passages to gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between demons and sickness

    Acts 16:16ff

    Mark 5:21-43

    Mark 7:31-37

    Matthew 8:1-4

    Luke 6:6-11

    Does there seem to be a distinction between those suffering form diseases and those who are demon possessed? If you are unsure, check out these passages and see how the Gospel writers differentiate between the different categories of people brought before Jesus

    Matthew 4:24

    Mark 1:32

    Luke 7:21

    Jesus' Exorcisms and the Kingdom of God

    Read the following passages and listen along to the conversation from the class. As you read and listen pay special attention to what these have to say about "kingdoms."

    Matthew 12:25-29

    Mark 3:23-27

    Luke 11:17-22

    What do these passages say about Kingdoms?

    Read these passages also. What do these say about Jesus' commissioning of the disciples and the coming Kingdom of God?

    Mark 3:13-15

    Mark 6:7-13

    Matthew 10:8

    Luke 9:1-2

    What does this mean for us today?

    What is most significant here? is it the demons we should be focusing on or should we direct our attention to something else instead?

    Why is the connection between demons and God's Kingdom/ the Gospel message, significant?

    How does the ministry of Jesus serve as a way to give people freedom from the influence of evil forces?

    What does this mean for us today? How do we focus our attention to the Kingdom of God in light of everything we've learned today?

  • Main Question for today

    What is an angel/ what are an angel's characteristics?

    Based upon your understanding of the Old Testament alone, what is an angel?

    Words for Angels

    There are several words used within the Old Testament to reference angels...


    מלך  pronounced "ma-la-k" means "messenger" or "envoy." This can refer to both human and celestial entities. 

    The Greek version of the Old Testament--known as the Septuagint [LXX]--  often translates מלך as αγγελος "ang-gel-os".  αγγελος is where we get our English word "angel."

    "Sons of God"

    Examples include:

    Job 1:6; 2:1, 38:7 which our English often translates as "angels."

    Genesis 6:2,4 may  be a reference to angels. However, this topic of the Nephilim are often widely debated.

    Psalm 29:1 and 89:6 translates "Sons of God" as "heavenly beings."

    "Holy Ones"

    Examples include: 

    Psalm 89:5,7 which is likely a reference to celestial entities as they serve as an "assembly" and a "council" to God.

    "Hosts" or "Army"  +  "Ministers" or "servants"

    Examples include:

    Psalm 89:8 which our English often translates as "Lord Almighty" [Lit. Lord of Hosts].

    Psalm 103: 21 where both "Hosts" and "ministers/ servants" are used.

    Pre-Exilic Time Period

    There are three major categories in the pre-exilic texts that are used to describe angels and their functions:

    1) Divine council–Gen. 28:12; Psalm 89:6-9; and 1 Kings 22:19-22

    2) Heavenly Army– Deut. 33:2; Joshua 5:14; and 2 Kings 6:16-18

    3) Agents and messengers that:

    Announce births (of Ishmael in Gen 16:11-12 and Isaac 18:9-15)

    Give reassurances (to Jacob in Gen 31:11-13)

    Commission a person to a task (Moses in Exod. 3:2; Gideon in judges 6:11-24)

    Communicates God’s word to prophets (Elijah in 2 Kings 1:3; Isaiah in Isaiah 6)

    Intervene at crucial moments to change or guide a persons actions (Abraham in Gen 22:1-12; Balaam in Numb 22:31-35)

    Agents of protection (Isaac in Gen 24:7; Israel in the desert in Exod. 14:19-20)

    Agents for punishment (Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen 19; Against Israel/David for the census in 2 Sam 24)

    Take the time to read the following passages and ask yourself this question: 

    What is the relationship between the angel of the Lord and YHWH Himself?

    Genesis 22:11-12

    Genesis 31:11-13

    Exodus 3:2-6

    For more examples of the angel of the Lord, check out these passages...

    Genesis 16:7-13

    Genesis 21:15-21

    Judges 6:11-24

    Exilic Time Period

    There are two books with a lot of angel activity: Ezekiel and Zechariah. Let's take a look to see what these books have to say.


    There are two major categories for celestial entities that exist within Ezekiel: Cherubim and Seraphim


    Found in Chapters 1 and 10 of Ezekiel

    As you read along, listen and think about the descriptions of these Cherubim

    "Winged creatures with human and animal traits"

    Ezekiel 1:5-13

    Ezekiel 10:12-16

    "Watchdog Guardians"

    Genesis 3:24

    "Winged mounts that the Lord rides"

    Psalm 18:10

    2 Samuel 22:11

    "Throne bearers that God sits upon or above"

    2 Kings 19:15

    2 Samuel 6:2

    1 Samuel 4:4


    Found in Isaiah 6:2-7

    Seraphim do not seem to be described as Fiery-winged serpentine-snake-like entities that are associated with the worship of YHWH.

    Additionally, the same Hebrew word is used in Isaiah 14:29; 30:6; Numbers 21:6-9; 2 Kings 18:4 to describe venomous snakes that bite as well as the bronze snake that was used to cure the people of Israel as they wondered the desert.

    NOTE: None of the words used for "angel" (מלך , Sons of God, Holy ones, Hosts, army, ministers, servants, angels) are ever used to describe Cherubim and Seraphim. 

    This isn't to deny the celestial importance of what these entities are. However, there seems to be a difference between a group of celestial entities known as "angels" and other entities known as Cherubim and Seraphim.


    Zechariah seems to describe angels as those with Horses, riders, and chariots that roam the earth and return back in order to report to the angel of YHWH about a new restructuring of the earthly and cosmic orders

    Zech. 1:7-17 and 6:1-8

    Additionally, the Angel of YHWH is further described as

    -a sort of Guide or interpreter (Zech. 1-6)

    -an intercessor for Israel (Zech. 1:12-17)

    -a presider and judge in a council (Zech. 3)

    -a commander of angelic patrols (Zech. 1:11; 6:7)

    Post-Exilic Time Period

    Many angelic references are found in the Book of Daniel.

    Angels in Daniel are described as those who

    -Protect the pious–3:25,28 (Shad, Mesh, Abed)

    -Execute punishment– 4:13-26– cutting down the tree of Babylon

    -Keeps records– 7:10

    We are finally given names of Angels for the very first time

    -Gabriel– 9:21

    -Michael– 10:13, 21; 12:1

    Images of Fire, Metal, and precious stone.

    Dan 10:5-6

    Take Away

    How has this study changed your understanding of Angels?

    Does this complicate things? If it does, is that necessarily a bad thing?

    Is it better to have a biblical understanding of angels or should be force angels to fit into neat, clean categories that' we've created?

    What does this mean for us today? How will this information help us for next week's discussion on angels in the New Testament?

  • Main Question for today

    What is an angel/ what are an angel's characteristics?

    Based upon your understanding of the New Testament alone, what is an angel?

    Take the time to write down a few of your thoughts as you listen along to the discussion.

    Consider this...

    When and where in the New Testament do angels play a major role in the story?

    Thank about...

    The Birth narratives of Jesus and John

    Jesus' Resurrection

    The establishment of the Church

    and the Consummation of Creation as seen in Revelation.

    Ask yourself: What does this mean and what is its impact on the overall story of the New Testament?

    Two common Questions

    1) Who or what are the "powers" and "principalities" 

    2) What are guardian angels and what biblical evidence is there to support their existence?

    What is a "power" or a "principality" based on your understanding of the Bible?

    What passages can you point to to support your ideas?

    Common Greek words uses for "powers" and "principalities"

    αρχη (x56 in the New Testament) means "Beginning" [x42] or "ruler"

    -- When thinking about αρχη  John 1:1 is a good example of how this word is used.

    δυναμις means "power, might"

    εξουσια means "authority, right, power, control" and refers to one's authority to rule or have jurisdiction over.

    Powers and Principalities

    Read Romans 8:38

    Often this passage translates the phrase as "...neither angels nor demons (αρχη), neither the present nor future, nor any powers (δυναμις)..."

    αρχη elsewhere in the New Testament is used to: Refer to the leaders of the synagogue (Luke 12:11); refer to the leaders of Israel (Col. 2:15); and talks about human governments (Titus 3:1).

    What category is Romans 8:38 talking about when it says "powers?"  Angelic, Demonic, or Human entities? If it's talking about demonic structures, why not use the Greek word for "demon?"

    Read 1 Corinthians 15:24

    This passage is talking about God destroying ALL "...dominion (αρχη), authority (εξουσια), and power (δυναμις)..." So is this passage talking about Angelic, demonic, or human structures?

    Read Ephesians 1:20-21; 2:2; 3:10; 6:12

    Based on context, which categories are being referenced here? Angelic, Demonic, or human? Is there a combination?

    Christ is seated "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion." could be a human category as Christ is above both human and celestial powers and forces.

    2:2-- "of the air" and "Spirit of disobedience" is most likely referring to Angelic, demonic, or human structures?

    3:10-- "...of the heavenly realms" could be referencing angelic or demonic forces?

    6:12-- "...cosmic powers of darkness" and "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms..." is most likely referring to which category?

    Read Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 15

    1:16--"Powers"--> another Greek word is used here that indicates "Lordship" over something

    "Rulers" αρχη is used.

    "Authorities" εξουσια  is used

    What is this passage talking about when it says "thrones?" Often times we associate "powers" and "principalities" with "thrones." Lets see how the Bible uses the word "thrones." (θρονος

    θρονος is used x63 times in the New Testament, 61 of these usages are referring to the throne of God, the throne of the lamb, the thrones of Israel's elders and leaders, and to other heavenly throne references. So it's safe to say that an overwhelming majority of these usages are referring to "good" thrones.

    2:10-- which category is used here? Christ is the leader of all rulers and authorities so is this passage referring to all those who obediently follow his commands? 

    2:15-- which category is this verse talking about? Human? Jesus disarmed the rulers that put him on a cross and made them into a public spectacle by raising from the dead. 

    Consider this...

    Are "powers" and "principalities" only ever evil forces? Can they be good or heavenly or Human forces? What does this mean and how does this change our understanding of "powers" and "principalities."

    Guardian Angels

    What are your thoughts on Guardian Angels? 

    What are they and what passages can you point to to support your ideas?

    The Bible does seem to mention a group of angels that serve a protective function. Lets examine what the Bible specifically says about these angels.

    Matt:18:10 references guardians of Children

    Revelation 2-3 talks about angels that may serve as guardians of churches

    Acts 12:6-11, 15 talks about an angel that protected Peter and released him from prison

    Acts 5:19-20 mentions angels in relationship to the apostles

    Matt 4:6/Luke 4:10-11 angels are referenced with regards to Jesus' temptations.

    Matt 4:11/ Mark 1:13 mentions angels that minister to Jesus

    Matt 26:53 mentions angels that would defend Jesus while he was on the cross.

    Based on these passages, what are your thoughts on guardian angels?

    Most of the time we only point to Matthew 18:10 as the basis of angelic protectors of each and every person. What are the problems with this interpretation based on this verse?

    Take away

    What does this mean for us today?

    How has this study impacted your understanding of angels and demons?

    How can we used what we've learned in a real-life situation?

    What is your greatest take away from these studies?

  • Main Question for Today

    Why is there evil, pain, and suffering?

    To begin, Read Romans 8:18

    What does this passage tell us about pain and suffering?

    What is the motivation behind the question of pain and suffering?

    Why should we think about these things and ask this question in the first place?

    Moral Evil

    How people treat other people

    How do we respond to the evils of humanity?

    Is love even possible? Can love be given freely? If so, can love be withheld from someone?

    Is there a risk to love?

    How does free will play in all of this?

    Natural Evil

    What the physical world does to humankind

    Does natural evil occur without humanities contribution?

    Does an eternal perspective help us deal with suffering?


    Is there true Justice in this world?

    The Bible tells us that God is a just and righteous God. Justice will be done.

    We can always trust God for our ultimate Justice and Hope.

    What security do people who do not put their faith in Christ have for Justice?


    Are there any benefits to pain and suffering?

    Think about exercise, or a dental cleaning, or childbirth. Despite the pain that we endure, what benefits to we receive from this pains and hardships?

    Can God relate to our suffering? How?

    Consider this...

    "Jesus came to make dead people live, not bad people good."

    "Where there is freedom, the possibility of love; where there is love, the possibility of pain; where there is pain, the possibility of a savior; where a savior, the possibility of redemption; where redemption, the possibility of restoration."

    "Meaninglessness doesn't come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure. The loneliest people in the world are the ones that have exhausted pleasure."

    - GK Chesterton

    Take away

    What do we do with this? How does pain and evil and suffering impact our relationship with God and with others?

    Knowing what we've learned, how have your perspectives on evil, pain, and suffering changed?

    What will you do differently now that you know this?

  • Main Question for Today

    Why is there Evil, Suffering, and Pain in our world?

    How do we respond to evil?

    Moral and Natural Evil

    Recall from last week the differences between Moral and Natural evils.

    Moral evils are those that humanity does to one another or are a direct result of human actions.

    Natural evil are those that humanity does not directly cause such as natural disasters and sickness.

    With these two evils in mind, can Justice be done? 

    What do we base our understanding of Justice?

    Scott draws some connections between good and evil

    Evil--> Good --> Standard/law --> Law Giver (God)

    By this, Scott means that:

    If evil exists, then there must be a scale of what is good and what is bad. Since Evil is bad, then good must stand as the antithesis of evil.

    If there is good, then there must be a standard or a plum line used to determine the difference between good and evil.

    If there is a standard or a law of good and evil, there must be someone/thing that has established the distinction between good and Evil.

    As Christians, we call this Law Giver, God. God is the one who determines what is good and evil and sets the bounds of both.

    Consider this...

    Can evil and suffering benefit us in any way?

    Think about the dentist... is dentistry evil? Of course not! Dentistry serves to correct the sickness and decay of our teeth.

    Even though getting a cavity filled hurts and causes us pain, dentistry is not inherently evil.

    What about exercise? Even though exercising hurts our muscles and lungs, that pain does not make exercise evil. In fact, exercising is a good thing, even though it causes us pain and some level of suffering. 

    How does God influence our understanding of the role/function of pain?

    Why does God choose to do somethings but not others? Does this have anything to do with our own choices and free will? Why or why not?

    Read James 1:2-3

    Can God understand and relate to humanities pain? How so?

    Why would God become a human and endure suffering? Why is this important for our relationship with Him?

    Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

    What does this passage say about how we should respond to evil, suffering, and pain? 

    As you go throughout this week, ask God to show you how important our freedom of choice impacts our relationship with Him. 

    Take the time to consider how important our free will is and how this impacts the pain and suffering we inflict upon others.

    How does this change your understanding of evil, suffering, and pain? 

Church as community

The early church was an assembly of believers empowered by Jesus Christ. Throughout the Book of Acts and Paul's letters we see the first century church modeling community and the life changing influence of God's Kingdom. Join us as we explore what it meant for the earliest Christians to be a member of the church and the practical application for us today as we continue living within this community.

Classes taught by Larry Vinson and Tim Martin

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Endangered Gospel

Is it the Church's job to fix the world? Has God given the church the specific task of fixing the world around us in order to bring about the fulness of God's Kingdom? This lesson series will zoom in and focus on this question as we explore the ground breaking text written by Dr. John Nugent titled Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church.

Classes taught by Joshua Bush

  • Endangered Gospel: The Case for a Better Place


    Intro Questions:

    “What is the main purpose or function of the church?”

    “How do we accomplish this purpose or function?”


    Main Question:

    “Has God called the church to fix the world in order to make the world THE better place–the Kingdom of God?”



    As you listen, feel free to pause the recording and try to answer these questions as they come up. What do you think is the main purpose of the church? How would you accomplish this purpose?

    Now, critically think back to all the Bible lessons and stories you have heard and ask yourself, “Has God given the church the explicit task of fixing the world in order to bring about His Kingdom?”



    As you respond to these questions, try and find biblical passages and verses that support your answers. You may or may not find any. That’s OK. The point of these questions is to get us thinking about what specifically the Bible says about what God has called the church to do.


    Three traditional views of the Church

    Heaven-Centered | Human-Centered | World Centered


    Heaven-Centered: This view believes that the church is meant to point to the better place that we cannot yet access. Essentially, Christians are meant to GO to a better place.

    Key points

    •  God’s Kingdom is not here and not yet because our future is in heaven.
    • The church’s primary role is the make sure that the people of the church are found to be acceptable in the final day of the Lord–Judgement day.
    •  Essentially, the church is a “recruiting and holding place” for believers.


    Human-Centered: This view believes that humanity makes the world a better place.

    Key points

    •          Jesus cast a vision for what the fullness of the Kingdom of God would be like. It is up to us to carry out that vision.
    •          Jesus began making the world a better place and it is up to the church to finish Jesus’ work.
    •          As time goes on, life will gradually improve as humanity itself improves.


    World-Centered: This view believes that we must work toward making this world the better place to come.

    Key points

    •          This view is most critical of the Heaven-centered view.
    •          This view is more ecologically sensitive in that it seeks to care for the planet.
    •          The church is remaking this world into a better place–Humanity is the agent by which the world will be made completely good.
    •          Finds is support from prophetic texts such as
    •                 o   Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:1-16; 30:18-26
    •                 o   Micah 4:1-4
    •                 o   Ezekiel chapters 40-48



    Salvation in Heaven


    Salvation on Earth


    Restoration began with Jesus


    Future Interruption

    God replaces fallen order

    Christians begin fixing fallen order


    Heaven Centered











    Human Centered










    World Centered











    A fourth View of the Church

    Although these three views have their strengths and weaknesses, none of these options are our best choice. Sure, some may be better than others, however, we don’t want to settle on what is better. We want to find the best option.

    There is a fourth option that highlights what Christ has already begun to do in the church.

    Here are two fundamental truths about the work of Jesus and the role of the church:

    First, Jesus has already made a better place in this world

    Second, The role of God’s people is to embrace, display, and proclaim this better place.


    The problem for us today is that we often combine these truths with other truths that result in a confused task or purpose of the church. For example, we may combine two truths by saying, “Because Jesus began making a better place in this world, we must join him in seeing it through to completion, until the whole world is better.” Or, “We should certainly embrace and convey the better place that Christ makes possible. And we should also do everything in our power to shape the wider society accordingly.

    These additional truths presuppose that Jesus sowed the seeds of world betterment and then it is our job to water it and help it grow. However, this is a misguided assumption. Dr. John Nugent describes these two roles another way:

    First, since Jesus has already made a better place in this world, it is not our responsibility to do so.

    Second, since our job is to embrace, display, and proclaim this better place, it is not our job to engineer or otherwise orchestrate its fulfilment.


    Simply put, God’s people are not responsible for making this world a better place. We are called to be the better place that Christ has already made and that the wider world will be until Christ returns.


    Copyright © 2016 John Nugent. All rights reserved. All credit for this material belongs to Dr. John Nugent at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Michigan.

    Nugent, John C. Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2016.

  • Main question

    Has God called the church to fix the world in order to make the world THE better place– God’s Kingdom?


    Focus for this week

    Exploring God’s plans and God’s blueprints for this better place as seen all throughout the Old Testament. Specifically, how does the Bible describe the role of God’s chosen people when it comes to our relationship with the world?



    What was God’s initial plan for creation?

    What was God’s plan for creation after sin entered into the world? How did God start fixing this problem and what steps did he take?

    The desire, necessity, and possibility for a better place.

    So, whose job was it to fix the world?

    God took it upon Himself to bring about this better place.


    The Powers of the world

    Genesis 6:5-8– The Evils of Humanity

    What was God’s solution to the evils of humanity?

    God chose to limit humanity’s lifespan to 120 years.

    Imagine a world where evil rulers could live for a millennium. Would you want to live in such a world?

    God also limited the evils of humanity by making blood sacred.

    So, if humans could no longer live for a long time, perhaps a city could? Thus the city of Babel was built.

    So, how did God respond? God scattered their languages and split people off in order to prevent evil world leaders living in massive cities to take control indefinitely.

    God installed the powers of this world to:

    Keep sin in check

    Meet the basic needs of people

    Make the world a better place

    Were the people of God instructed to do anything at this point in the Bible story?

    Israel is prepared for a better place

    Main functions of Israel: Genesis 12:1-3 and Exodus 19:3-6

    1) Move away and remain separate from the other nations

    2) Bless the other nations

    The question remains, "How does Israel do this?"

    Look to Deuteronomy 4:5-6 and see how it answers this question.

    Note how the prophets never condemn Israel for not:

    Going out into the world and converting the other nations,

    Cleaning up the streets of Edom, Moab, Amon, Egypt, etc.,

    Decrying the social injustices of the other nations around them. 

    Instead, the Prophets rebuked Israel when they:

    Neglected the widows and the orphans of Israel,

    Failed to take care of the poor and needy of Israel,

    Took advantage of fellow Israelites.

    Read Deuteronomy 15 for God's specific instructions on how Israelites were meant to treat other Israelites.

    Final thoughts

    The people of God have been called, not to fix and make this world a better place. Jesus has already brought the better place to earth. It’s already here. The function of the chosen people of God is to BE the better place by embracing, displaying, and proclaiming Christ’s Gospel message to and for the nations around us.


    Next week we will take a look at the New Testament and see how the text describes the specific function and role of the Community of believers, who we are meant to care for the most, and why our specific task is so important.

    Copyright © 2016 John Nugent. All rights reserved. All credit for this material belongs to Dr. John Nugent at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Michigan.


    Nugent, John C. Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2016.

    Boris, Elizabeth T., and C. Eugene Steuerle. "After Katrina: Public Expectation and Charities' Response." The Urban Institute 14, (2006): 1-29.

  • Main question

    Has God called the church to fix the world in order to make the world THE BEST place– God’s Kingdom?

    Focus for this week

    Exploring God’s plans and God’s blueprints for this better place as seen all throughout the New Testament. Specifically, how does the Bible describe the role of God’s chosen people when it comes to our relationship with one another?


    How do we embrace God’s Mission and God’s Kingdom?

    As Ambassadors, Christians are called to represent God’s Kingdom in our actions and in our lives. We are called to live in a way that the world will see a new, better way of living through our treatment of one another.

    We must live in a way that these truths are evident:

     We have already entered into a new era in world history (Matt 4:17, 2 Tim 4:1, Luke 17:20-21, Gal 4:4-5, Heb 4:3, 10-11, Luke 12:54-56)

     We have already entered into a new world reality (1 John 2:17, 1 Cor 7:29-31 2 Cor 5:17, 1 John 2:8, James 1:18)

     We have already entered into a new life (Rom 6:11, John 5:24, John 3:15-16, John 10:10, John 4:10, 1 Pet 1:23)

    We have already entered into a new social reality and a set of Relationships (2 Cor 5:16-18, Eph 2:1-17, Gal 3:28, Eph 2:11-15, 1 John 1:7, Eph 1:13-15)

    We have already entered into a new way of living (John 15:3, 1 John 1:7, Col 3:9-11, Gal 3:27, Titus 3:5, 2 John 1:2, 2 Cor 4:16)


    Who are we called to love? Are we called to love everyone in the world? Or are we called to love one another according to how the Bible’s descriptions?

    Did the early church feel responsible for the overall direction of society as a whole? Or did the early church feel a responsibility towards one another and to fellow believers all across the world?

    Read these passages and think about who is being talked about and who we should prioritize with our love:

    o   John 13:34-35          John 15:12-23          John 15:17-19

    o   Rom 12:9-10             Rom 14:15                 Gal 5:13-15

    o   Eph 1:15                    Eph 4:1-3                   Eph 4:15-16

    o   Col 1:4                        Col 3:14-15                1 Thess 4:9-12

    o   2 Thess 1:3               Phlm 1:4-5                 Heb 6:10       

    o   1 Pet 1:22                  1 Pet 2:17                  1 Pet 4:8

    o   1 John 3:23               1 John 4:7-12            1 John 4:17-21

    Our main priority should be toward The "brothers and Sisters," "one another," those "among us," "all the saints," and the people of the church.

    Does this mean we should ignore the world? No! In fact it is on behalf of the world that we live this way. Prioritization should not be confused with isolation from or rejection of the world in which we reside. 

    Counter points

    1) What about “loving your neighbor as yourself? (Romans 13:8-10; Mark 12:30-31; Matt 22:37-39; Gal 5:14; James 2:8) (Lev 19:2, 17-18)

    2) What about “Well ‘neighbor’ can still imply our neighboring countries or people across the street right?” (Lev 19: 17)

    3) What about the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37?

    4) What about “love your enemy as yourself” in Matthew 5:43-48?

    5) What about Romans 12:20-21, about feeding your enemies? (Exodus 23:4-5)

    6) What about “the least of these?”

    7) What about the “widows and the orphans” (James 1:26-27) and the “poor and oppressed?” What about Mary’s Magnificat or the song of Zechariah in Luke 1?

    Ashamed of the Gospel? 

    Is this something we want our Bibles to say? Or does it say this so that all people may be drawn to God and so that the world may know that Jesus is Lord? (John 17:22-23)

    If it sounds wrong, or if it feels foolish to us, that's because God's wisdom sounds foolish to humanity and we have failed to grasp the genius of His perfect plan.  We think its foolishness because we continue to think like the world and measure success according to the worlds standards and not God's. We must pay close attention to God's Word and to God's guidance through his Spirit. 



    The New Testament seems to prioritize and focus upon how believers relate to fellow believers.

    The New Testaments focus was not on how the Holy Spirt influenced disciples to bring non-believers into contact with a better place. Instead, it focuses on being the Better and the Best place to show people what God’s kingdom is like.

    However, non-believers are so important to God’s plan, that he created a group of people, unified under a single kingdom, to draw people in and show them a better way of life. The wider world is God’s top priority, and it is through the church that God will fulfill that mission of gathering all nations to Him. 

    Copyright © 2016 John Nugent. All rights reserved. All credit for this material belongs to Dr. John Nugent at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Michigan.

    Nugent, John C. Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2016.

  • Endangered Gospel: A Better Place in Action




    Salvation in Heaven


    Salvation on Earth


    Restoration began with Jesus


    Future Interruption

    God replaces fallen order

    Christians begin fixing fallen order


    Heaven Centered











    Human Centered










    World Centered


























    “Sharing life in common with one another” 

    Accept one another (Rom. 15:7)

    Agree with one another (1 Cor. 1:10; 3:13)

    Be kind to one another (Eph. 5:21)

    Be subject to one another (1 Thess. 5:15)

    Bear with one another (Col. 3:13)

    Carry one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)

    Encourage one another (Heb. 3:13; 1 Thess. 4:18)

    Forgiving one another (Eph. 4:32)

    Love one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; 1 John 4:7; 2 John 1:5)

    Live in harmony with one another (Rom. 12:16)

    Offer hospitality to one another (1 Pet. 4:9)

    Serve one another (Gal. 5:13)

    Show equal concern for one another (1 Cor. 12:25)

    Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19)

    Teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16)

    Wait for one another before breaking bread (1 Cor. 11:33)



    How does Jesus describe Friendship? (Read John 15:12-17)

    Who does Jesus call his friends? Does Jesus call the wider community or everyone in the world his friends?

    Those who are part of the Kingdom of God are those who are our friends.

    So, should we shun our non-Christian friends? Or are we called to prioritize the people belonging to “one another” first?

    Jesus never ignored people outside of God’s Kingdom, but he did prioritize those within God’s Kingdom.



    How should the church respond to the world, its troubles, and God’s mission for the Kingdom?

    The Church’s response is to fill the earth with churches and Christ communities that embrace, display, and proclaim his Kingdom.

    What about non-profits and para-church organizations?

    A Missionaries life together with the people they serve is kingdom living.

    God’s design is that “churches committed to God’s kingdom strengthen other churches committed to God’s Kingdom and continue planting still more churches committed to God’s Kingdom.”


    Pitfalls to avoid

    Isolationism – Circle the wagons, focus only on ourselves, and exclude outsiders.

    Church’s response: Churches that cease to exist for the world, cease to exist as an integral part of God’s plan for his kingdom. Our mission is for the world.

    However, we should not mistake prioritization for isolationism


    Utopianism – Creating the ideal society of prosperity and tranquility

    Church’s response: We acknowledge that we are still affected by sin and its consequences. But it is not utopianism to cast a vision of the Best place–God’s Kingdom, while still acknowledging that God will fulfill his mission.

    Copyright © 2016 John Nugent. All rights reserved. All credit for this material belongs to Dr. John Nugent at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Michigan.

    Nugent, John C. Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2016.