I have received a lot of questions regarding Dwell in the Word. One of the biggest questions is what dwelling in a book looks like. It is because of questions like those that I decided it would be a good idea to put up a day by day example of what we mean by dwelling in a book. This plan amounts to 31 days for the book of Galatians. Following the same strategy for other books could give you a shorter or longer plan depending on the length of the book. This is a strategy that you can easily transpose to any of the other books using the same basic outline. At the end of this post you will find a PDF that you can download and print out so you can check off each day. We also have sheets of this 31 day schedule printed out for you in the Narthex at church. You can find them on the book giveaway table.
Dwell in Galatians for 31 Days
What you will need: Bible or Bible app, a copy of Exalting Jesus in Galatians (you can buy a physical copy, a copy for Kindle, or borrow a copy of the book from the church library), a notebook, and a pen.
Time investment: 15-25 minutes per day. When you start out it will be significantly less than this. You can read the entire book of Galatians in less than 15 minutes. Where the time investment will come in is when you start writing out the book. I highly recommend you do not skip over writing out the book. It is a good way to absorb or "dwell" in the text. The readings in Exalting Jesus in Galatians will take between 15-20 minutes each day when you get to that step in the process.
Day 1: Read Galatians 1 and 2
Day 2: Read Galatians 3 and 4
Day 3: Read Galatians 5 and 6
Day 4: Read Galatians 1-3
Day 5: Read Galatians 4-6
Day 6: Read Galatians
Day 7: Read Galatians in another translation
Day 8: Read Galatians 1 and write out Galatians 1:1-10
Day 9: Read Galatians 1 and write out Galatians 1:11-24
Day 10: Read Galatians 2 and write out Galatians 2:1-10
Day 11: Read Galatians 2 and write out Galatians 2:11-21
Day 12: Read Galatians 3 and write out Galatians 3:1-14
Day 13: Read Galatians 3 and write out Galatians 3:15-29
Day 14: Read Galatians 4 and write out Galatians 4:1-20
Day 15: Read Galatians 4 and write out Galatians 4:21-31
Day 16: Read Galatians 5 and write out Galatians 5:1-15
Day 17: Read Galatians 5 and write out Galatians 5:16-26
Day 18: Read Galatians 6 and write out Galatians 6:1-10
Day 19: Read Galatians 6 and write out Galatians 6:11-18
Day 20: Listen to Galatians
Day 21: Read Galatians 1:1-5 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 22: Read Galatians 1:6-10 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 23: Read Galatians 1:11-24 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 24: Read Galatians 2:1-21 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 25: Read Galatians 3:1-25 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 26: Read Galatians 3:26-4:7 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 27: Read Galatians 4:8-31 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 28: Read Galatians 5:1-15 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 29: Read Galatians 5:16-26 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 30: Read Galatians 6:1-10 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
Day 31: Read Galatians 6:11-18 and corresponding chapter in Exalting Jesus in Galatians
You can continue to dwell in Galatians. We have more resources in the library and links to articles and teaching resources on the website. All resources in the library and on the website have been evaluated to ensure that they are in line with teachings of the historic Christian faith and the Reformed Confessions.
Download the PDF of this plan to print out here.
Sermon delivered February 19, 2017 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN
Article 4: The Canonical Books
We include in the Holy Scripture the two volumes of the Old and New Testaments. They are canonical books with which there can be no quarrel at all.
In the church of God the list is as follows: In the Old Testament, the five books of Moses-- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth; the two books of Samuel, and two of Kings; the two books of Chronicles, called Paralipomenon; the first book of Ezra; Nehemiah, Esther, Job; the Psalms of David; the three books of Solomon-- Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song; the four major prophets-- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel; and then the other twelve minor prophets-- Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
In the New Testament, the four gospels-- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen letters of Paul-- to the Romans; the two letters to the Corinthians; to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians; the two letters to the Thessalonians; the two letters to Timothy; to Titus, Philemon, and to the Hebrews; the seven letters of the other apostles-- one of James; two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.
Having a Bible is a relatively common thing for us but historically it is an oddity. It isn't until the invention of the printing press that books became readily available and even then they were still quite expensive to own. Even earlier, books as we know them, simply didn't exist. Most writings the length of the books of the Bible would have been contained on scrolls. The idea of putting multiple books of the Bible into one book wasn't even an idea until the codex started to become the standard way of putting writings together around the second and third century.
Chances are though that you probably own multiple Bibles. Unless you have a Roman Catholic Bible, all of your Bibles contain the books that are listed in Article 4 of the Belgic Confession. A Roman Catholic Bible contains what we call the "Apocrypha". Those books were officially made a part of their scripture collection in the middle of the 16th century during the Council of Trent. While those books provide some interesting historical insight those books were never considered scripture by Jewish people or by the early church.
The books that are listed in this article of the confession have been considered scripture throughout the history of the church. The books from the Old Testament would have been the scripture of the Jewish people and of the early church up until the writing of the New Testament in the decades following the ascension of Jesus. We see in the New Testament that the writings of Paul were seen as scripture very early on in the history of the church. Most of the books in our New Testament were written prior to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. The books with a post 70 AD date are John and 2 Peter. Some people also believe Revelation to be post 70 AD but it is not certain and Kenneth Gentry makes an excellent case for a pre-70 dating of Revelation in Before Jerusalem Fell.
Regardless of the dating of the books by the middle of the second century, there was a list of books very close to our New Testament list. It is important to understand how significant this is because these were copies of books and letters that were being distributed to churches. To have a standard list so early is impressive because these churches were not only spread out they were under significant threat of persecution. In addition, the idea of putting multiple books of the Bible together was a relatively new idea because putting them together in something called a codex was a very, very new idea. Previously the books of the Old Testament were on scrolls. They weren't stacked together like our modern Bibles because books like that simply didn't exist. It is important to know that the codex (a bound book) was adopted very early by the Christian church. Why? Because they were putting the important books together that they considered to be scripture. We have evidence of very early codices that contained the four gospels. Other codices contained the writings of Paul. These are important to help us understand the New Testament not only because of what is in these early codices but also because of what is not in them. Late pseudo gospels such as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Judas are not in there. If they would have been authoritative for the early church they would have likely been included in these early codices. Instead we have very few copies of these types of writings and none of them are included in early codices of the church.
One other important thing to know about the New Testament is how early it was being quoted as having scriptural authority. The Christian apologist Irenaeus quoted scripture gratuitously in his refutation of the heresy of Gnosticism in the mid to late second century. Other church fathers were quoting the New Testament as authoritative even before Irenaeus.
All of this is important because it flies in the face of the popular notion that the New Testament was authored late, put together late, and didn't have authority until the Council of Nicea in 325. The New Testament was early and it was considered authoritative in the church at a very early date also.
It is important that we understand what is scripture and what is not. We see this from Article 2 and Article 3 of the Belgic Confession. We need scripture in order to know who God is. The books in our Bible do that by not only revealing God but point us primarily to the person and work of Jesus Christ. As we continue through the Belgic Confession we will see how this is the centerpiece of the Christian faith.
If you are interested in learning more about the formation of the New Testament I highly recommend starting with this article from the blog of Michael J. Kruger. It contains links to 10 important things to know about how the New Testament was formed.
Often people wonder the reasons behind some of the elements of worship that we do each week. Maybe you have wondered why we do a Prayer of Confession each week. In many cases the Prayer of Confession is the element of worship that is the first to go when a church trims something from their worship service. For me, the prayer of confession is one of the most important aspects of worship that we do each week and there are three primary reasons that I feel this way.
Reason 1: They teach us how to confess our sins to God.
In my younger years, I was not a big fan of written prayers of confession. I felt that they lacked any personal engagement with the particular sins that I was struggling with. I still believe this to be true but now I actually think that is a good thing. If the only thing I'm confessing are the sins that I can call to mind, I'm missing a whole lot of sins that I need to confess. Most written prayers of confession said in worship sweep with a very broad brush. We are asking for forgiveness for something more than our individual sins but getting down to the core of our human sinfulness. We are not only acknowledging that we have committed sins but we are confessing that at our root we are sinners. That means that we are confessing the sins that we are aware of and the sins that we may be oblivious to. With the Psalmist in Psalm 19:12 we are saying "Declare me innocent from hidden faults".
So as we pray our prayer of confession it is showing us that in our own prayers we should come before God humbly. We also hope that God would not only forgive us of those unknown sins but that he would make them known to us that we might repent of them. Most written prays also include a statement of confession not only for things that we have done but also for the things that we have left undone. The prayers of confession we say in worship cover the full spectrum and teach us that we need to confess of far more than we think we do.
Reason 2: It gives us a proper frame of mind for approaching God.
When we come before God it is important that we do in humility. We cannot go to God on our own. He is holy and we are not. When we confess our sins we acknowledge this fact. Our worship is structured the way it is for a reason. We are invited with the words of scripture in our Call to Worship. We sing praises to our amazing and awesome God. After we have acknowledged how great God is we realize that we are sinners who are not worthy of going before Him on our own. We then ask for forgiveness through Christ. It is because of the work of Jesus for us that we know that we can come before God boldly. To confess our sins each week is a reminder of how much we need Jesus to come to us and save us. In Christ, we have a mediator who goes before us on our behalf. In a Prayer of Confession we are reminded of this gracious gift that we are given through Jesus.
Reason 3: It ensures that I hear that my sins are forgiven.
We never say a Prayer of Confession without the Words of Assurance to follow. This is very important. Even though the Words of Assurance is one of the shortest parts of our service it is arguably one of the most important elements of worship. From Scripture we hear that because of Christ's work for us we are forgiven and declared righteous. This isn't an opinion of the pastor or the congregation. It is a declaration from Scripture.
As the pastor I really appreciate this element of worship because it ensures that the congregation hears the gospel every week even if I drop the ball in the sermon. No matter what happens on any Sunday morning their is a gospel failsafe built into our church service because we have a Prayer of Confession and Words of Assurance. That Christ has forgiven you and that you are declared righteous is the most important thing you need to hear and believe each and every week. That is why it is in every Lord's Day worship service that we have.
I hope that these three reasons help you to understand our worship service more clearly. The way we worship is very deliberate and the parts are placed where they are for a specific reason. It is our hope that each Lord's Day you are equipped and refreshed for service in God's world.
Sermon delivered on February 12, 2017 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.