I am excited to introduce you to a new curriculum titled The Story of Holy Love produced by our friends at the Center for Transformational Churches at Trinity International University.
What is it all about—my life, the world, everything?
How can we make sense of the Bible?
The Bible is not a book about religion that also happens to say some things about our lives and the world in which we live. The heart of the Bible is a story, about how God made us—made everything in the world—to reflect his beauty, goodness and love. About how we—and everything in the world—went wrong. About how he is putting it all right again, bringing us home to live together in his kingdom of joy, peace, righteousness and flourishing.
The story at the heart of the Bible is a story of holy love—the love so holy that it makes us clean and pure and powerful, and the holiness so loving that it gave itself up to death so we would have abundant life.
The story of holy love is God’s story, and our story.
A story of forgiveness for a world of guilt, shame and fear.
A story of truth for a world of uncertainty.
A story of trust for a world of chaos.
A story of power for a world of helplessness.
A story of belonging for a world of loneliness.
A story of splendor for a world of decay.
A story of light and hope for a dark and dying world.
The purpose of this curriculum is to take the learner through the full, “four-chapter Gospel” showing the big story of the Bible and its implications for our lives today.
The Story of Holy Love helps people encounter the gospel in a deep and full way – in a way designed to lead them to ask “how do I live this out?” It deals with the gospel in a way that points to its implications for community, poverty, work, home and culture. -Greg Forster, director, Oikonomia Network
The Story of Holy Love provides rich and thoughtful written as well as digital content for six weeks of small group engagement. It begins by helping the learner to make sense of the Bible generally, followed by discussion of each chapter of the four-chapter Gospel — creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. Next, the study helps the learner apply and understand the relevance of the Bible to their life today. The curriculum concludes with a quiz and a self-evaluation designed to help the learner apply the content to every facet of their life.
Let me give you some excerpts of the different subjects discussed in The Story of Holy Love:
The Bible tells us a big story about what God is doing in the world, from the beginning of the story, where he makes the world, to the end of the story, where he fixes everything wrong with the world. What difference does it make to us—how will we live differently every day—if we think that story is true?
The first reason God made us was to be in relationship with God himself—so he could give us his goodness, joy, beauty, power, peace and grace. All these good and wonderful qualities God gives us can be summarized as his “holy love”—he loves us with a love that contains all his goodness. What might be some examples of how God gives us his goodness, joy, beauty, power, peace and grace?
Yet another reason God made us was to be in relationship with the world he gave us. God is king, and he made us to govern the world under his authority. God is king, and we rule his kingdom. We were made to manage and care for the world using the holy love he gave us. “Ruling the world” means taking good care of the things in our lives, being good stewards of the areas of our lives over which we have responsibility. We do this every day in the things we do in our homes, in our jobs, in our communities. How are the things we do every day a way of ruling the world?
It is amazing to think that we were made to bear God’s image and govern his world. And it is amazing to think about what the world would be like if all the billions of people around the world were living as redemptive image bearers: looking like God, being in good relationships with each other, and ruling the world in God’s holy love—his goodness, joy, beauty, power, peace and grace.
That is obviously not the world we live in! When we look around us, we see a broken world marred by suffering and evil. What are some key examples of things that are wrong in the world?
After all that bad news, now comes the good news! We already saw last week that as soon as Adam and Eve fell away from God, God was already promising to send
a rescuer who would restore us to his holy love and to his kingdom.
For the rest of the Old Testament, we see how God built a people for himself. The people of God were people who believed in that promise that a rescuer was coming. Satan opposed them at every turn, raising up empires to fight them, and tempting them to betray God. And the people of God often failed. But God kept watching over them and they kept waiting, for centuries. Waiting for the rescuer to come. And then he came. What Jesus did to save us can be described in many ways. For example, one common way of putting it is that Jesus “redeemed” us.
We are going to ask how we should live today, if we have been restored to the holy love of God—if God is our king and we can govern the world as God’s kingdom. What are some examples of the way we should see Christians living their lives, if all that is true? Where do we actually see Christians living that way, and where do we see them not living the way they should live if they’re following Jesus?
Today, being a student means you take a class to learn about a subject—math or English or biology. But in biblical times, being a student meant you were personally devoted to your teacher. You lived with your teacher, you spent every part of the day with him, and you modeled your whole life on the teacher. A student’s job was to become a little reflection of the teacher in everything he was and everything he did. It might be surprising to hear, but we can do this today with Jesus–we can live with him, spend every part of the day with him, and model our whole lives on him. What are some examples of how we might do that?
Some people have the idea that we will spend eternity floating around as spirits in the sky. But the end of the story in the Bible takes place right here on earth—the same earth we are standing on right now. Jesus comes back from heaven, and everyone who ever lived is raised again from the dead. In their bodies—no ghosts! And Jesus will put everything right. He will cast out Satan, heal the world, and make everything perfect. No death, no disease, no evil, no injustice, no suffering. And we will govern the world forever with Jesus—with God—as our king.
The curriculum’s digital content draws from a very diverse, knowledgeable group of professors. The speakers include professors of systematic theology, Old Testament, and faith and culture.
Along with The Kingdom of Justice and Flourishing, I heartily encourage you to check out Spirit of Hope. The Story of Holy Love is a part of this broader project produced by the Center for Transformational Churches at Trinity International University, which seeks to provide resources for people seeking gospel transformation in all of life.