Malachi is the last prophet in the Old Testament. He preached after the time of Nehemiah, when the people of God had a form of religion yet denied the reality of a relationship with God. The message of his heart was that God wanted to have a love relationship with His people. They did the rituals they thought God wanted, but they were spiritually cold and apathetic. Malachi became a messenger of repentance God used to draw His people back to Himself.
There are seven examples of the people of God talking back to Malachi. These seven dialogues can be called, Seven Whispers of a Heart Growing Cold Toward God, because they describe the symptoms of people who have lost a love relationship with God. The mission of Malachi was to restore their relationship with God. Malachi prophesizes the Second Coming of Christ for the faithful, severe judgment for the cold-hearted, and John the Baptist, who will prepare the way for Jesus.
The first four books of the New Testament are called gospels, which means good news. They are central to revealing Gods eternal plan: to redeem and save lost mankind. They are often referred to as biographies: Through them we gain a comprehensive insight into the life of a Man who only lived for 33 years, but who impacted the history of our world more than anyone who ever lived. The gospels declare Jesus the Christ, Gods greatest revelation of truth.
The primary emphases and purpose of the Gospels is to reveal Gods message and to present His solution to our problem. We have divorced ourselves from God and that separation must be reconciled. Jesus, the greatest revelation of truth the world has ever been given, had a magnificent obsession, which was accomplishing the work His Father sent Him to do. The Gospels proclaim: Jesus came to provide forgiveness for our sin and to reconcile us to God!
In the Gospels we discover that Jesus was a Man with mission, a threefold ministry. Jesus expressed this threefold ministry in John 14:6: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. The Gospels tell of His teachingthe Truth, His mighty works, miracles, healings and deliverancethe Life, and of redemptionJesus death and resurrection, and how His sacrifice saves us from our sinthe Way.
The Gospels show us Jesus has a strategy for accomplishing His mission. His strategy for reaching the world with His message of salvation involved training and teaching His disciples to meet the needs of the world. Jesus frequently placed His followers strategically between Himself and those who needed to receive Gods supernatural provision. The plan of the risen, living Christ is still to use His disciples to pass the truth of His Good News to those who need salvation.
One of the primary emphases of the Gospel of Matthew is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus came into this world as King of an eternal, spiritual kingdom, open to anyone who believes in Him and makes Him Lord of their lives. When we pray, we pray for His kingdom to come. Our whole lives are to be centered on this goal: to see Gods spiritual reign established in our lives and our world by the power of the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist introduced the Messiah, Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! The Gospels tell of important events in the life of Jesus Christ: His baptisminauguration, marking the beginning of His public ministry; and His temptation, a confrontation with Satan. Jesus resisted temptation by knowing and quoting Scripture and by keeping God first in His life. He proved that He was the Son of God who overcomes sin.
One of Jesus greatest discourses was His Sermon on the Mount, which is a concise summary of the ethical teaching of the entire Bible. Jesus taught the beautiful attitudes and character of a true disciple. The beatitudes show us the right attitudes for coming to God and for going from God into the world to be part of His solution. The essential question is: Are you part of the problem, or are you part of the solution of Jesus?
The beatitudes are the mindset of a person who comes to God and of one sent into the world by God. Jesus follows this with four profound metaphors: the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a city on a hill, and a candle on a candlestick. No followers of Jesus can have all of these attitudes and do the kind of works He commands, apart from the Spirit of God working in and through them.
Through the life of King David we can learn to succeed through failure. For much of his life, David was a shining example. But in one season of Davids life, he committed the sins of adultery and murder; for a whole year, he tried to cover up his sin. His sins show us even godly people may give in to temptation if they are not careful. Davids life teaches us the important thing is how we respond when we fail.
Jesus begins by teaching His disciples eight attitudes called, the beatitudes, or blessed attitudes, because each one is introduced by the word blessed. Jesus is promising to bless the disciple who has each of these attitudes. This word blessed can actually mean happy, spiritually prosperous, or in a state of grace. Each attitude also includes a promise that describes the form in which this blessing will come into the life of that disciple.
The word mercy means unconditional love. When David writes in Psalm 23:6 that mercy will follow him all the days of his life, the word he uses for follow actually means pursue. Gods unconditional love will pursue David all of his life. This is the kind of love for others that we must have too, if we are to be like God.
Many people think Jesus was contradicting the Old Testament in these verses, but He was only confronting the teaching of the religious leaders. He was telling His disciples: Everything I am teaching you is found in the Word of God, but what I am teaching is in direct conflict with what your religious leaders have been teaching you.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of the key teachings of the Bible. Jesus preached this sermon on a mountaintop in Galilee when He challenged people who professed to be His disciples to be strategically placed between the love of God and the pain of the hurting people in the world. He challenged His disciples to partner with Him and be conduits of His love. He concluded His sermon with a call to commitment. It changed the lives of many who heard it.