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How the Bible points out the biggest problem in the world – New Testament

This is the fourth post in a series discussing the biggest problem in the world today. Here the discussion was started, here I looked at what secular society says the biggest problem in the world is, and here I looked at what the Old Testament indicates.

This post will discuss what the New Testament teaches regarding what the biggest problem in the world is. First, we need to ask a question: why do we have the New Testament in the first place? What is it’s overall purpose?

In order to find those answers, we need to break down each book asking what their purpose is individually. Check it out:

 

Why was the New Testament written? 

Matthew – written to Greek speaking Jews to show them Jesus fulfilled OT prophesy to prove He was the Son of God.

Mark – written to Romans and emphasizes the actions of Jesus to prove he was the Son of God.

Luke – to reaffirm the beliefs of Gentiles, and to help them more fully understand who the authentic Jesus was.

John – written so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

Acts – written as a historical record of the birth and spread of the church thereby strengthening the faith of early Christians; possibly compiled in preparation for Paul’s trial in Rome to give a defense for following Jesus.

Romans – written to Jews and Gentiles in Rome; emphasizes how true righteousness comes from the life of Jesus (not our own), and justification before God comes by faith in Christ

1 & 2 Corinthians – written to the Corinthian church calling for unity in Christ and for the holy lifestyle that goes along with following Jesus; rebukes false teachers who were distorting the real gospel of Jesus

Galatians – written to the Galatian church to rebuke Judaizers who were distorting the real gospel of Jesus.

Ephesians – written to believers at large to explain God’s purpose for the church (i.e. to glorify the Father by revealing Christ to the world).

Philippians – written to thank the Philippian church for their help in advancing the gospel of Christ and to encourage them in to continuing maturing in their knowledge and understanding of Jesus.

Colossians – written to the church in Colossae to emphasize the supremacy of Christ over the human wisdom behind false teachings that had cropped up in the church.

1 & 2 Thessalonians – written to the Thessalonian church to encourage their faith in Christ, urge them to live holy lives, and to proclaim Christ’s return.

1 & 2 Timothy – written to Timothy to encourage vigilant defense of the gospel of Christ against false teachings and to instruct him in caring for the Ephesian church.

Titus – written to Titus while he was on the island of Crete instructing him to spur the Cretans on toward holy living in Christ.

Philemon – written to Philemon instructing him to welcome back his slave Onesimus, who’d apparently stolen something from him and run away.

Hebrews – written to Jewish converts who were familiar with the OT emphasizing the supremacy of Christ over the prophets, angels, Moses, Aaron, and the priests.

James – written to Jewish believers giving practical instruction on living a Christ-centered life.

1 & 2 Peter – written to Christians scattered throughout the land after Pentecost; includes a call to holy living in Christ, submission to authority, and Jesus’ return.

1 John – written to refute teachings that were distorting the gospel of Jesus and to emphasize the believer’s assurance of salvation through Christ.

2 John – written to a Christian woman instructing her to close her home to false teachers so that those distorting the gospel of Christ would not receive aid.

3 John – written to the believer Gaius to commend him for welcoming itinerate teachers sent out by John, and to indirectly warn the church leader Diotrephes who was speaking maliciously against other church leaders.

Jude – warning against false teachers (early Gnostics) who were distorting the gospel of Jesus.

Revelation – an apocalyptic writing meant for the church at large; emphasizes the sovereignty of God over the world and the impending return of Christ.

 

What is the overall theme of the New Testament that emerges from this study?  

  • The gospels provide an account of, defense of, an affirmation for belief in Jesus Christ as the embodiment of God on earth who died to pay our sin debt. 
  • The NT chronicles the activity and spread of the early church – people united in spreading the Good News about Jesus’ sacrifice to permanently reconcile man to God. 
  • The NT also chronicles the divine activity of the Holy Spirit who worked to lend credibility to the claims made regarding Jesus. 
  • Epistles (letters) written by early church leaders address specific situations and problems surrounding the first century church, and serve to rebuke bad behavior and false doctrines distorting the teachings of Jesus, or to encourage early Christ followers to continue in their faith. 

 Theme verse of the NT: 

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

-Jesus, John 14:6

Overall, the whole of the NT points backward to the person of Jesus, or forward to His divine return. Everything in the Bible leads up to or centers around Jesus Christ. He’s the hero in the story!

So what’s the big deal with Jesus? What did He come here to do?

Answer that, and you’ve found the answer to the biggest problem in the world.

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How the Bible points out the biggest problem in the world – Old Testament

Ever want to shake somebody? No, I don’t mean shake their hand – I mean grab them with both hands and shake them until their eyes come out of their head.

I have (figuratively at least).

No, I’ve never done it, but I’ve wanted to.

I had a professor in college who used to say, “If you’re studying to be a surgeon you ought to expect to get blood on yourself in the future.”

Ministry is the same way – if you’re in full time ministry, you oughta expect to get sin on you. If you’re doing your job, you’re going to have your hands in the muck and the mire, and unless you’re a coward you’ll also find yourself face to face with the Devil at times.

Over the years my heart has bled for people I’ve watched suffer because they refused to confront the sin in their lives. Many times I’ve pointed struggling loved ones to Scripture that spoke to their situation or sin and been ignored, and many times I’ve watched people flush their lives down the toilet (I have my fair share of success stories to tell too, but for some reason I find myself thinking about the failures more often).

I will never get used to that, and know it will always be a very painful experience. I pray that it never happen again, but know in my heart it probably will many times.

Such is life.

When I see a person on a path leading to destruction and they refuse to accept love and listen it breaks my heart. It’s simply a tragedy when a person chooses to ignore Scripture.

I understand there are different interpretations of different passages, am sensitive to that, and am not really talking about that. You see, I’ve dealt with people performing some real biblical kung fu in an attempt to make the Bible say it’s ok to do drugs, get drunk every weekend, have sex with whoever they wanted outside of marriage, cheat on their spouse, look at porn, or get an abortion.

Some of these people were serious about their faith at one time, but somewhere along the way started rationalizing sin away failing to realize they were killing themselves. Every time it started with a subtle compromise (which should serve as a powerful lesson as to the consequences of taking mercy on your sin).

Some people get upset if you bring up the Bible a lot or even at all, but what those people have missed is what the Bible actually is: the mind of God.

The Bible reveals what God thinks. It reveals His character, His actions through history, and His greatest desires.

The Bible is not God – I’m not a practicing bibliolatrist – but the Bible is a lens through which we can see God and know His thoughts.

As the mind of God it should be, in turn, the lens through which we see the world, and did you know you can ask it questions?

When asking the Bible a question as far reaching as “what is the biggest problem in the world,” we first need to take a step back and ask why we have the book in the first place. I believe that’s the key to finding the correct answer.

Last week I took my NIV Study Bible and went through each book in a study to find out the real purpose behind our having it in the first place.

Here are my notes I took on the Old Testament (I’ll post in the notes from the New Testament soon) – check it out:

 

Why was the Old Testament written?

 

Genesis – serves as the basis for the rest of the Bible; gives an account of God’s creation of the world, the introduction of Satan and the division between man and God caused by the fall, God’s fierce opposition to sin and His wish to cleanse the world of it, and God’s promise to bless the world through His chosen people – Abraham’s seed.

Exodus – chronicles God’s deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and His journey with them to the promised land; God’s character is revealed, His law is shared, the priesthood, tabernacle, and worship ceremonies are established, and the institution of the Passover Feast points to the Savior’s future sacrifice.

Leviticus – gives an account of the laws and regulations given by God at Sinai; the primary theme is the holiness of God and His requirement of perfect sacrifice – points to Jesus.

Numbers– a history of Israel’s journey from Mount Sinai toward the promised land of Canaan, their rebellion against God, His wrath against them as carried out in the desert wandering; ends with Israel on the plains of Moab having yet to cross the Jordan into the promised land.

Deuteronomy – gives an account of events leading up to Israel’s entry into the promised land; emphasizes the love relationship God has for His people, His expectation of total commitment, obedience, and the blessings that accompany it, and His promise to curse those who are non-committed or disobedient.

Joshua – main theme centers around the establishment of God’s people in the promised land; Canaanites serve as symbols of sin, and God’s servant Joshua (whose name means “the Lord saves” and is same name in Greek form that Jesus was given) cleansing the land of sin is symbolic of Christ’s future victory.

Judges – gives an account of period between Joshua’s leadership and the establishment of the Jewish monarchy; chronicles Israel’s frequent descent into sin, accompanying punishment, their crying out to God for deliverance, and His covenant faithfulness.

Ruth– the main theme of the book is redemption, and is played out through Naomi whose life is moved from emptiness to fullness and from destitution to security and hope by the selfless, loving acts of Boaz and Ruth; parallels the work of Jesus in the world.

1 & 2 Samuel – a historical account of the rise of the Israelite monarchy including the stories of the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David; God’s promise to establish David’s throne forever points toward the coming reign of Jesus.

1 & 2 Kings – possibly written during the Jewish exile, these books provide a sequel to the history found in 1 & 2 Samuel and the guiding principle in the book is Israel’s success or failure as a people is dependent on their submission to God’s sovereign rule and law.

1 & 2 Chronicles– written to post-exilic Israel to answer the burning question, “Is God still interested in us?” The dissolution of the Davidic monarchy had caused the nation to question God’s relationship with them, and the writer of Chronicles highlights various aspects of history, God’s promises, and things like temple worship, the priesthood, prophets, etc., to emphasize the continuity of God’s role in the life of Israel.

Ezra – highlights God’s work to bring Israel out of exile back into the land of promise; the temple was rebuilt and the people were rededicated to God even though they remained under Gentile rule.

Nehemiah – meant to go along with the book of Ezra, this book gives an account of Nehemiah’s ministry in rebuilding Jerusalem’s outer wall, the opposition that arose, and the resulting triumph of Israel.

Esther – a historical account of the deliverance of God’s chosen people from annihilation and the institution of the annual Jewish festival of Purim.

Job – written to teach mankind to stop blaming the suffering of godly people on their own wickedness and to realize Satan is at work in the world driven by an all-consuming desire to separate men from God, and to view suffering as an opportunity to show what true godliness is; highlights the value God places on righteousness above all else, and the highest wisdom is found in truly loving God for God despite the circumstance – not simply loving God’s blessings.

Psalms – a collection of songs, poems, prayers, and worship literature emphasizing the fact that God is at the center of all, King over all, the ultimate arbiter of truth and justice, and has established the throne of David (i.e. Jesus Christ) over all.

Proverbs – written to pass on timeless wisdom and to remind readers that true wisdom is rooted in reverence for the Lord.

Ecclesiastes – the main theme is to truly live meaningfully, purposefully, and joyfully one must place God at the center of their life.

Song of Solomon – teaches readers the type of love God expects to be a normal part of marital relationships (a lesson that has largely been lost in modern times).

Isaiah – prophecy unveils the full dimensions of God’s judgment and salvation through Christ.

Jeremiah – highlights the consequences of sin and individual responsibility, God’s wrath against the Jews for their apostasy, their subsequent punishment through enslavement and exile, and the promise of redemption through God’s covenant promise.

Lamentations – laments inspired by the fall of Jerusalem; show that the people understood their punishment was divine even though it was carried out by earthly kings, were willing to acknowledge their sin, ask for forgiveness, repent, and be restored.

Ezekiel – main themes include God’s sovereign control over all creation, Israel’s fall, God’s subsequent punishment, and Israel’s restoration as the people through which God would bless the world.

Daniel – a historical narrative that highlights God’s rule over the entire world (seen in God’s ultimate triumph in each of Daniel’s visions).

Hosea – Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute is used to symbolize God’s relationship with Israel; disloyalty and idolatry are seen as spiritual adultery, and while judgment is announced against Israel the major purpose of the book is to proclaim God’s covenant love and loyalty to Israel as His chosen people.

Joel – teaches that a horrible locust plague Israel is afflicted with is a harbinger of God’s judgment; calls Israel to turn from unfaithfulness and notes that restoration will come only after repentance.

Amos – Israel had once again allowed their faith to become lackadaisical; they continued to carry out worship rituals (believing that after they carried out the rituals they could do whatever they wanted), but they were uncommitted to God’s law and uncaring toward the poor. God was so fed up He was ready to destroy them while preserving a remnant by which to later bless the world through establishing David’s throne (i.e. Jesus). Repentance was called for by Amos and taught to be expressed through social justice and personal piety.

Obadiah– the shortest book in the OT; condemns Edom’s gloating over Israel’s misfortune and predicts that God will destroy Edom while glorifying Israel.

Jonah – depicts the large scope of God’s purpose for Israel and Israel’s jealous view of her favored role in God’s plan.

Micah– alternates between oracles of doom and oracles of hope while stressing what God hates (idolatry, injustice, rebellion, empty ritualism) along with what He loves (pardoning those who repent); Micah points to the future by proclaiming the future glory of Zion through the restoration of the Davidic throne (i.e. Jesus).

Nahum – main theme is God’s judgment on the Assyrian city of Nineveh for extreme wickedness ending with the destruction of the city.

Habakkuk – highlights the prophet’s struggle with the ways of God. He sees wickedness in Judah and God doing nothing about it. When he inquires of God and finds out He will mete out punishment via Babylonian attack, he’s perplexed how God could work through such a wicked people. In the end, the prophet learns to trust in the higher ways of God that transcend finite understanding.

Zephaniah – pronounces judgment against wicked nations (including Judah) and ends with a promise of Judah’s restoration.

Haggai – the second shortest book in the OT; contrasts the blessings of obedience vs. the curses of disobedience.

Zechariah – main theme centers around calling the Jews to repentance, encouraging them to rebuild God’s temple, and reminding them of the glorious future that awaits them through the Messiah.

Malachi – the main theme centers around the Messiah coming to judge His people as well as blessing and restoring them.

 

What are the Major Themes in the Old Testament?

After studying the purpose of each book individually, I jotted down some of the overall themes that I noticed emerge. Here are those bullet points:

– Establishes the role of God as Creator of the world and the supreme, sovereign power in the universe He created. 

– Gives an account of sin’s introduction into creation by Adam & Eve, the fall of humanity, and the subsequent barrier that developed between God and man. 

– Tells of God’s covenant promise to the descendents of Abraham, and the divine selection of the Jews as the people through whom God will bless the world. 

– Gives a historical account of God’s moral law (revealing His righteous character) being passed down to the chosen Jews with the understanding that obeying God will bring blessings while unfaithfulness will bring curses. 

– Much of the OT is a historical account of God’s reaction to Jewish unfaithfulness including disciplinary action taken against them (often through other nations), calls to repentance, and God’s restorative work among them when sin is turned away from. 

Ultimately, the entire Old Testament is a story about redemption – God taking the initiative through the Jews to bridge the gap sin created between Himself and all of mankind. The Jews weren’t chosen simply to be blessed themselves, rather, they were chosen as a vessel through which the rest of the world would be blessed. 

Almost everything in the OT points back to God’s promises to the Israelites, or forward to the coming glorious establishment of the Davidic throne (i.e. the Messiah) 

In my opinion, the overarching theme of the Old Testament is summed up in this verse: 

            “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”                                                                                    -God

                                                                                    Genesis 12:3

 

Alright Bible scholars – what do you think? Did I nail this or not?

Why did God bother with giving us the Old Testament?

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The top ten biggest problems on earth according to secular society

It’s good for Christians to know what’s going on in the world, and intentional efforts should be made to understand what prevelant beliefs are in secular society.

When asking people on the street the question, “What’s the biggest problem in the world?” you’re going to get a bunch of different answers.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve recently done a bit of research on this, and in honor of David Letterman I’d like to share with you the top ten biggest problems in the world according to secular society along with a brief explanation of each.

Here we go:

10. Species Extinction

Today, human activities are causing a massive extinction of species, the full implications of which are barely understood. Rising ocean temperatures reduce the ability of plankton to reproduce, thereby undermining the entire oceanic ecosystem.

Commercial fishing’s increasing size and scope threaten to empty of the ocean of fish within several decades.

Modern agricultural practices strip the Earth of its thin layer of topsoil through water and wind erosion, destroying this precious micro ecosystem that takes centuries to form and supports all life on land.

 

Furthermore, bee populations are plummeting, and over 70% of our food is pollinated by bees; if bee populations fall too far, our food supplies will be seriously threatened. . .

 

 

9. Radical Islam/Terrorism

The destabilization of modern civilization by terroristic attacks carried out upon civilian populations.

This modern day problem is an assault upon the ideals and expression of freedom, and has the potential to convert free societies into police states.

 

8. War

Civil wars in small, poor countries cause untold suffering, and half of them are renewed flare-ups of recent conflicts. A single conflict can cost $250 billion or more, takes many years to recover from and can block all other humanitarian interventions.

A large scale war in current times has the potential to destroy modern civilization as we know it.

 

 

 7. Nuclear Proliferation

The acquisition or development of nuclear weapons by governments or groups intent on using them has the potential to lead to all out nuclear war thereby threatening the existence of all living things.

 

6. Malnutrition and Hunger

Despite significant reductions in income poverty in recent years, undernutrition remains widespread. Recent estimates from UNICEF (2006) are that “one out of every four children under five – or 146 million children in the developing world – is underweight for his or her age”, and that “each year, …undernutrition contributes to the deaths of about 5.6 million children under the age of five”.

 

 5. Global Water Crisis

Water – the essential ingredient for life on this planet – is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. According to the World Bank and World Health Organization, 2 billion people lack access to clean water and 1 billion people do not have enough to even meet their daily needs.

Every day an increasing amount of pollution seeps into rivers and lakes making them toxic to humans, and underground aquifers – our most significant sources of water – are being depleted at an alarming rate.

If current trends continue more and more useable water will be lost while the world population continues to grow larger and larger.

 

4. Global Population Growth

The world is currently growing at a rate of 79,000,000 people per year – more than ever before – and as more time passes that number will rapidly increase. The world population is predicted to be over 10 billion in 40 years, and will become greater and greater as the ever-growing human species continues to breed.

  Here’s a graph to illustrate current growth trends:

As this graph illustrates, the growth isn’t expected to stop. Many believe the earth’s resources will be depleted to the point that mass starvation and disease epidemics will plague mankind unless this growth is curbed.

 

3. Peak Oil/Energy Consumption

Petroleum powers 96% of the transportation on the planet and is the key ingredient in plastics and fertilizers. Its integral role in human civilization cannot be overestimated – without it modern life would be impossible. Over the last century, the global petroleum supply could be counted on to meet demand; today however, the situation appears to be changing.

The developing world – led by China and India – is modernizing at a blistering pace, and their appetite for oil is driving up demand all over the globe. At the same time, production is declining in all but a few countries.

For decades, scientists, government officials, and business leaders have warned of Peak Oil, the point at which global petroleum production reaches its maximum level and begins to drop.

 

2. Global Economic Collapse

The global economy binds together the fate of the international community and all its member nations. It precludes the possibility of a third World War, and exposes individuals all over the world to new ideas, products, and information. Today, the world economy is facing two looming crises.

The U.S., by far the world’s largest and most powerful economy, is completely in debt at the individual, institutional, and governmental levels. The Dollar is at its lowest rate in years, and the fundamental driver of the US economy – the housing market – appears to be coming undone.

Many experts believe we’re on the brink of global economic depression, and if the markets fail the infrastructure of modern civilization will collapse causing modern ways of living to drastically change.

 

1. Global Warming

Due to the steady stream of attention this issue has gotten in the last few years, many believe global warming is the preeminent danger to human civilization today.

“Global warming is the most dangerous crisis we have ever faced by far …” – Al Gore

It is believed that the rising global temperature threatens to create catastrophic weather systems, crop failures, disease outbreaks, and water shortages worldwide.

Global warming advocates say emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are trapping heat within the Earths’ atmosphere, slowly increasing the overall temperature. These emissions are the byproduct of our modern way of life, and to halt them would require a voluntary shift in the very structure of our society, a move unprecedented in human history.

Advocates also believe to take no action against global warming would be to alter the very chemical composition of our planet.

They believe life on Earth evolved over hundreds of millions of years to survive within very specific conditions, and any change in those conditions will breed a myriad of disasters.

So what do you think?

While most of these represent an actual problem (I’m convinced one or two aren’t problems at all), I don’t believe any represent the biggest problem in the world.

Not even close.

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