Growing The New Testament Way

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Discover how the New Testament can guide you on your journey of spiritual growth. This lesson will demonstrate how the books of the New Testament serve as a map for maturing as a Christian. They are carefully arranged to lead readers from discovering Christ, to understanding the next steps, and ultimately revealing the reason for hope in Jesus Christ.
By understanding the themes of each book in the New Testament you gain valuable guidance for spiritual maturity, particularly when following their progression. Moreover, recognizing how these themes parallel the progression of spiritual growth makes it easier to remember what lessons are contained in each book.

Lesson Progression In The New Testament

The study of the New Testament as a whole unveils a remarkable flow of thought and instruction that parallels the journey of a soul from being lost to becoming a mature saint. By examining the themes of each book and the theme verses associated with them, we can deepen our insights into the order and arrangement of the teachings in the New Testament and more easily remember the lessons in each book.
One intriguing, general pattern that emerges is a structure of nine-nine-nine, which can be grouped thematically as the Gospel basics, the church basics, and Bible meat. The first set of nine books focuses on establishing the foundational aspects of the Gospel message. It begins with the four Gospels, which provide accounts of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These books lay the groundwork for understanding the central figure of Christianity and the significance of His redemptive work. The book of Acts shows the work of Christ and the power of Gospel message. Romans through Galatians offers deeper explanations about the Gospel and its application.
The next set of nine books delves into the church basics. They provide instruction about the importance of the church Jesus built, how it should operate, and how Christians should conduct themselves in the church.
The final set of nine books, referred to as the “Bible meat,” according to Hebrews 5:12–6:3, offers deeper theological insights and spiritual nourishment for the mature believers. These books delve into profound theological concepts, explains the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, emphasizes the spirituality and walk of Christians, and provide eschatological perspectives. Though topics of the gospel, the church, and profound theological concepts are found throughout the New Testament books, the grouping of the books emphasize these three broad themes.
Another pattern that emerges is a structure of five-four-five-four-four-five. The first five-four pattern in the first set of nine books identifies the Gospel message as the life and history of Jesus Christ in the four Gospels followed by five books explaining the Gospel message.
The second five-four pattern in the second set of nine books explain how to think about church followed by pastoral instruction and relationships in the church. The third pattern of five-four in the third set of nine books explains the meat of the word that must be chewed on and the meat to finish with.
Reading through the New Testament quickly several times will give you a more accurate overview of the God’s message and demonstrate the progression of learning Christians can benefit from. Further, a survey perspective of the New Testament will enhance and deepen your insights into each verse that you study carefully.

Progression Of Spiritual Growth Themes In The New Testament.

The progression of lessons in the New Testament outlines a systematic and cohesive journey of spiritual growth and understanding within the New Testament. It begins with the life and teachings of Jesus and ends with the establishment of His kingdom. Each book builds upon the previous ones, revealing different aspects of the Christian faith and providing guidance for believers.

  1. The Gospels: The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) introduce us to Jesus Christ, His life, passion, mission, teachings, death, and resurrection. They form the foundation of understanding who Jesus is as the legitimate God and Savior of the world.
  2. Acts: The book of Acts continues to follow the lives of Jesus’ disciples to show us what Christians do to follow and continue the work of Christ as directed by the great commission to go, teach, baptize, and teach
  3. Romans: Romans offers a comprehensive explanation of the Gospel, the revelation of God’s message, the rejection of God’s message, the human need for the Gospel, the merciful and gracious work of Jesus Christ, the promise of salvation to anyone who believes in Him, the way to live for Him, the security believers have in Him, the role of Israel in God’s message to the world, and the application of the Gospel in how Christians should live.
  4. 1 Corinthians: First Corinthians addresses the need for believers to separate themselves from sinful behaviors of their past and of the world, abandon carnality, and clean up their lives to live fulfilling live as Spirit-filled Christians.
  5. 2 Corinthians: Second Corinthians focuses on accountability and how to demonstrate convincing proof of one’s belief in Christ by their thoughts and deeds.
  6. Galatians: Galatians emphasizes the importance of staying true to the message of the Gospel and of resisting the influence of false teachings. Salvation is by grace and the merciful work of God without the law and or human works.
  7. Ephesians: Ephesians unveils the mystery of Christ and His Church. It explains the believers’ identity in Christ, the unity of the Church, and the spiritual blessings and responsibilities that come with being a part of the body of Christ.
  8. Philippian: Philippians focuses on discernment, sincerity, and righteousness. It encourages believers to have a mindset of joy and to live out their faith with integrity and righteousness.
  9. Colossians: Colossians emphasizes the development of spiritual character and maturity. It teaches believers to put on the new self in Christ and to seek heavenly things.
  10. Thessalonian: The books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians encourage believers to stay faithful, endure afflictions, and eagerly anticipate the return of Christ.
  11. Timothy and Titus: The books of 1 and 2 Timothy along with Titus provide practical instructions for ministry, relationships, and leadership within the church.
  12. Philemon: Philemon highlights the importance and role of reconciliation and forgiveness in the Christian ministry.
  13. Hebrews: Hebrews exhorts believers to mature in their faith and grow in the understanding of the meat of the Word as it presents deeper into understanding the Old Testament and its relationship to the person and work of Christ in the New Testament.
  14. James: James addresses the practical aspects of living out true faith from God and the expectations of those who claim to believe in Christ.
  15. 1 Peter: The book of 1 Peter encourage believers to find comfort and strength in their shared experiences of suffering with Christ and remind them of the hope they have in Christ.
  16. 2 Peter: Second Peter reminds believers that people will scoff at the message and the messengers of Christ, but that the Lord will indeed return as He promised.
  17. 1 John: First John presents how to experience fellowship with God and have assurance of eternal security in the promise of God.
  18. 2 & 3 John: The books of 1 and 2 John highlight the significance of loving God, advancing truth, resisting falsehoods and false teachers.
  19. Jude: Jude urges believers to contend for the faith, to defend and preserve truth, and to stand firm against false teachings and ungodly influences.
  20. Revelation: The book of Revelation reveals a prophetic vision of the end times, the victory of Christ, the vindication of truth, the end of evil, and the hope of all who believe.

Theme Scriptures For New Testament Books

Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mark 1:38
And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.
Luke 1:4
That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
John 20:31
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
First Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Second Corinthians 2:8-9
Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
Galatians 1:8
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Ephesians 3:4
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.
Philippians 1:10-11
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Colossians 2:6-7
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
First Thessalonians 3:4-5
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
Second Thessalonians 2:15
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
First Timothy 6:12
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.
Second Timothy 4:5
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Titus 1:5
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.
Philemon 1:10
I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds.
Hebrews 8:6
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
James 3:13
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
First Peter 1:7
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Second Peter 3:1
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.
First John 1:3
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Second John 1:5
And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
Third John 8
We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.
Jude 3
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Revelation 1:1
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.

Putting It All Together

It all begins with learning about Jesus Christ as presented in the four Gospels. He was God manifested in the flesh; and He came to us to be known and to extend His invitation to enjoy fellowship with Him and to experience eternal life in His kingdom of heaven.
Believing His way is the right way and desiring fellowship with Him, we experience salvation from sin and eternal condemnation. We are now called Christians. What do Christians do?

The book of Acts shows that Christians engage in the great commission. They go throughout the world to unbelievers and teach them about Jesus Christ. Then they baptize new believers and teach them how to be disciples in the church Jesus built. As disciples are trained, God calls and sends missionaries to establish more churches of disciples who will continue the great commission. The book of Acts ends with a description of the Apostle Paul teaching while under house arrest. What did Paul teach?
Paul wrote thirteen of the New Testament books beginning with the book of Romans and ending with the book of Philemon. The book of Romans is the most complete explanation of the Gospel. Every Christian should master the lessons explained in the book of Romans and continue Paul’s teachings. As we learn more about Christ and about His ways, we discover that we need to make adjustments in our lives.
This brings us to the topics addressed in the letters to the Corinthians. These letters are filled with rebukes and corrections. The exhortations are about abandoning carnality and the old ways of living and believing to embrace the new ways of living and thinking as a Christian. The believers in the church at Corinth repented and chose to obey Christ.

The next several books deal with specific topics that are vital to spiritual growth and a thriving ministry.
The letter to the Galatians warns believers not to deceived by false teachings of the Gospel. There is one true message and many corrupted versions. This is expected in a world ruled by Satan, the father of lies. He does not want people to hear the Gospel and be saved.
The letter to the Ephesians reveals the mystery of Christ being the fellowship that both Jews and Gentiles would enjoy together in the church. The Jews always knew Gentiles could be converted, but they did not know God would include them into His house of witness, or as Paul refers to it, the pillar and ground of truth. Ministry in the house of God under Old Testament was reserved for the Jews. But under the New Testament, the Gentiles are included to serve and minister in the house of God. The church is a special institution in which to serve God and Christians should desire to find their church home and participate as active members who live in the light of truth, in contrast to the darkness of sin and deception.
The letters to the Philippian and the Colossians exhort believers to excel in their testimonies as Christians, to esteem the virtues of Christ, and to be exemplary in their speech, conduct, and spirituality.
The letters to the Thessalonians encourages believers to endure their trials and afflictions having hope in the victory promised by Jesus that He will return, vindicate His children, and establish His kingdom forever in righteousness.
The letters to Timothy and Titus are instructions to pastors and church members to know how churches should function, how to relate to one another, and how to fulfill their various roles as church members.
Paul’s last letter in the New Testament is Philemon. The letter was written to a man named Philemon regarding his runaway slave, Onesimus. Onesimus became a Christian and in the spirit of repentance and reconciliation, Paul wrote Philemon to explain the change in Onesimus and his desire to make things right with Philemon on behalf of Onesimus. As the mediator, Paul was demonstrating what Jesus does for us as our Savior. He reconciles us with God the Father. This letter reminds us what the ministry and purpose of our lives as Christians is all about. We are called to reconcile people with God and with one another.

Up to this point, we have learned about Christ, how to be saved, how to follow Him, what to believe and teach about the Gospel, how to defend it, how apply it in speech and behavior, how to serve Christ in His church and live like Jesus did in the light of truth, how to endure persecution with hope in Christ’s promise, how pastors and members should relate to one another and fulfill their roles in churches, and the importance of staying focused on our mission of reconciling souls with God. Now it is time to deepen our insights into God’s message.
The book of Hebrews explains how the New Testament of grace is much better than the Old Testament of law. Israel entered a relationship with God governed by the law. They failed to keep the law and were cursed ever since Moses gave them the law. Christ came with a New Testament that governs the relationship between and God and church members based on grace. For this reason, members who sin are forgiven, whereas under the Old Testament law they would be stoned. The responsibility of being a church member is to show the enduring, perfect work of Christ in our lives. The responsibility of being an Israelite under the law was to show that receiving blessings from God based on good works always fails. The deeper meaning of Hebrews is that Israel was supposed to fail under the law of the Old Testament. Under the New Testament, church members are responsible to show the unfailing, perfect work of Christ in them. Church members have an immense responsibility. Church members have a greater responsibility to show the work of God in their lives than those under the Old Testament. This means they also bear the greater consequences for failure. Fortunately, church members are under the New Testament of reconciliation and forgiveness. Now we are into the meat of the Word with deeper insights and greater responsibilities.
The message in the book of James to mature, growing Christians, who are now eating meat, is to walk the talk and practice what you preach. If you say you are a Christian, you should live like a Christian.

The first and second books of Peter deal with suffering persecution as did the books of Thessalonians. However, for mature, growing Christians eating spiritual meat the message is to rejoice in suffering seeing as how they are following in the footsteps of their Savior who suffered and died for them. This is a more difficult message for young, immature Christians to hear.
Throughout your spiritual walk, you will endure trials that will test your faith. The book of First John explains how to be comforted and have assurance of your salvation. The Spirit of God confirms the truth in you. The Word of God reminds you of the promise of God. And your belief in God and His promise secures your knowledge that you have eternal life.
The second and third books of John remind us that truth is manifested and verified with love. We should always stand for truth and encourage others who do likewise.
The book of Jude exhorts believers to contend for the faith, defend it, teach it, and proclaim it. Be strong in the faith and determined to follow Christ regardless of the attacks you will face.
The book of Revelation warns churches of the vulnerabilities they are prone to succumb to, of the evil that rules the world, and of the judgments of God that will come. Satan is allowed to rule the world as the god of this world because he is the father of lies and rebellion. God tolerates his kingdom and followers because more souls are repenting and trusting in God for salvation believing His way to be the right way. In the end, Christ will conquer evil once and for all, and His righteous kingdom will be established forever. This is His promised ending for all who believe in Him. This is the hope we have in Christ and how life will end. This is where our journey of spiritual growth is leading to.

Learning To Study The Bible And Grow Spiritually

There are several goals to pursue as a Christian regarding your study of the Bible. When reading the Bible, it can be helpful to also listen to a recording of it being read.

  1. Read the entire Bible.
  2. Speed read through the New Testament.
  3. Read each book three times. The first reading is to familiarize yourself with the message of the book and to identify themes. The second reading is to find a verse in the book that expresses the best theme of the book. The third reading is to confirm the verse and theme as best representing the theme of the book.
  4. Memorize the theme verse for each book of the Bible.
  5. Develop studies to teach for each of the books of the Bible. Begin with the New Testament. Click here to obtain a free copy of my book titled, 3 Steps To Understand And Interpret The Bible, when you subscribe to LIfe Changing Scriptures for announcements about new resources I publish.
  6. Do you want to gain more insights into spiritual growth and Biblical teachings? Click here to learn more about the Disciple Like Jesus series and how to begin your journey.

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