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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

To study the "Great Themes Of Theology" is to study Christian theology. Theology is simply the study of God. The purpose of this course is to help you learn more about God - who He is, what He does, and how His acts affect you. The themes of the Book will be discussed one by one. Like the colors of the spectrum, they will fuse into a rainbow of divine truth.

The study of God will involve learning new words. Each new word will be carefully defined. Since Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), words about God will reveal new aspects of His nature and character.

Pontius Pilate asked Jesus perhaps life's most important question, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). The Bible is the source of all truth, because it tells of Jesus, who is "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). In your study of the "Great Themes," various aspects of God's truth will be examined in light of the teaching of Scripture. To understand this truth fully, the guidance of the Holy Spirit is necessary. One of the Holy Spirit's crucial roles is to "guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13). In your study, church history will be mentioned. The early Fathers built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, leaving a legacy of faith. These spiritual forefathers have much to teach the church today.

Jesus told a parable of two individuals who built houses. One built on a rock; the other on sand (Matt. 7:24-27). The wise man heard the words of Jesus and applied them. The foolish man ignored His teaching. After the storm passed, only one house remained. To study the "Great Themes Of Theology" is to build on the rock, Jesus Christ. No winds of false doctrine can shake you from the sure foundation of faith. Your spiritual house will therefore stand forever.

This is the first of two theology courses taught by Dr. J. Rodman Williams in the Living By The Book series. In this first "Great Themes" course you will increase your knowledge of the Bible. More importantly, you will discover how to know God in a more personal and intimate way.

Williams will help you understand such doctrines as the Trinity and creation as well as discuss important concepts like providence, suffering, and miracles. You will also gain a deeper understanding of man's sin and how God has gloriously redeemed and restored you through Jesus Christ.

INSTRUCTOR

Your instructor for this course is Dr. J. Rodman Williams, Professor of Theology Emeritus at Regent University (formerly CBN University), Virginia Beach, Virginia. Williams is recognized as one of the leading theologians in the church today. He earned his PhD in philosophy of religion at Columbia University. From 1959-72 he was Professor of Systematic Theology at Austin Presbyterian Seminary. In 1972 he became the President of Melodyland School of Theology in Anaheim, California In 1982 he joined the faculty of Regent University. Williams is the author of many books including The Era of the Spirit (1971), The Pentecostal Reality (1972), Ten Teachings (1974), and The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today (1980). He is also the author of Renewal Theology (Zondervan, 1996).

CHAPTER OVERVIEW

Each chapter begins with a summary of what "you will discover" in the chapter. These brief statements conveniently list the content. Besides listing what "you will discover" in each chapter, the first page also shows what "you will be able to" achieve as a result of your study. Thus, you are shown how to apply the material you are studying.

LESSONS

Key Scripture: There will often be a Key Scripture listed, which provides a biblical reference point for the content of the lesson. This verse is taken from the New International Version of the Bible, which is our study version for the Living By The Book courses. This would be a good verse to memorize. Hiding the Word of God in your heart is one of the most important disciplines you can develop.

Key Words: You will learn a number of new terms in your study. Key Words are noted at the top of each lesson and are highlighted in the text. While some of these words may be unfamiliar, they make up the vocabulary necessary to understand the more complicated concepts.

Personal Application: To make the study material most beneficial, each lesson contains a Personal Application exercise designed to integrate a key concept into your daily life. Only as you find ways to apply the things you are learning to your life today will this study process be helpful. As you listen and study, ask the Holy Spirit to give you other ideas on how to use each lesson to serve Christ.

Group Application: You may choose to study this material in a small group, either in your home, at church, or perhaps at work. Each lesson will suggest an application for a group setting. This suggestion will usually be discussion-oriented. You may use the Group Application suggestion as an essay exercise for your personal study.

REVIEW QUESTIONS

Each chapter concludes with twenty self-scoring questions designed to reinforce the most important ideas you have studied. These questions are answered by filling in the blank, or by indicating if the statement is "True or False." The Answers to these questions are included in your Study Guide. If you miss an answer, take time to review the chapter content to see why your answer was incorrect.

FINAL EXAMINATION

This learning exercise consists of fifty of the most important concepts you have studied in this course. It follows a similar format to the tests at the end of each chapter. In addition, the questions for the Final Exam are taken from the chapter tests to reinforce the key ideas you have studied.  You should continue to review material related to the questions you missed and then retake the test until you can answer at least 45 of the 50 questions correctly.

HOW TO STUDY

Living By The Book courses are designed to equip you for a lifetime of spiritual growth, witness, and service. As you begin to study what God's word says about life, you will need to exercise four important disciplines:

Prayer. The Holy Spirit will guide you in understanding and applying the truths you will confront. These are God's principles. They can only be understood and implemented as you ask Him for guidance and direction.

Persistence. Remember, Satan does not want you to learn these life-changing concepts. Your "natural man" will find it easy to slow down or even quit. Don't let that happen! Serious discipleship is like mining for gold. It requires hard work and continuous commitment, but the rewards are "golden!"

Motivation. We can always make time for what we believe to be an important priority. The highest motivation for learning was given to us in Jesus' "Great Commandment." He has called us to love God with our total being and our neighbor as ourselves. You are studying to deepen the relationship with your heavenly Father and to effectively serve a needy world.

Application. Put into practice the things you are discovering. Learning for "learning's sake" produces a prideful spirit, which conflicts with the servant lifestyle that Jesus modeled. Ask God to show you how your new knowledge can be put into action in your daily life. The word of God is alive and powerful. Let it come alive in you. As you regularly practice these four disciplines, you will find yourself...LIVING BY THE BOOK!

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