The Mission of the Body of Christ
"God had not just sent his Messiah into the world. He had sent him to them. They were known. In all their guilt—intended and unintended—they were known and invited to find refuge in the grace of God, accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son. And the church continued to grow."
Jesus sent his followers into the world. Russ Ramsey's dynamic narrative traces the journey of the early church with thirty-one daily readings through the book of Acts, as the people of God carried out Jesus' mission as his ambassadors. This unlikely band of believers faced enormous challenges yet experienced God's power and grace as they moved forward in the Spirit. Through this new community, a movement spread around the world that continues to this day.
Come discover the transformation that energized the early church. And you too can play your part in the unfolding story.
Also including The Advent of the Lamb of God and The Passion of the King of Glory, the Retelling the Story series explores the narrative arc of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation in compelling language that is faithful to the text of Scripture. The stories are told afresh to help readers hide God's word in their hearts by way of their imaginations.
"Russ Ramsey is a kind of songwriter of prose. The lyrical nature of his writing makes his Bible teaching memorable, accessible, and evocative. This volume will help you to understand and explain the story of our church through the book of Acts. It will also prompt you to love Acts and Jesus all the more."
"Russ Ramsey has this lovely, compelling way of helping us see and savor Christ in all of Scripture. If you want to grow in your knowledge of the Bible, to be swept up into the grand story that it tells, and to see how it gives meaning to both your story and our story, then let The Mission of the Body of Christ be a mentor and companion in this quest. I can't recommend it highly enough."
"Russ Ramsey is a wonderful storyteller, and in The Mission of the Body of Christ he weaves together bits from the Old Testament and the Gospels with the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles to create a beautiful tapestry that imaginatively depicts the early days of the church. The gospel shines brightly in the pages of this book and the story of the gospel's impact on the world is told in the most engaging and enjoyable way I have ever read."
"With the voice of a storyteller and the affection of a pastor, Russ Ramsey brings the story of the early church to life in the present. With each character and scene, these pages provide a doorway for us to walk inside the narrative, inviting us to hear Paul's journey in a fresh way as we contemplate our own questions of faith."
"The best gift (among many) that Russ Ramsey offers the body of Christ is the gift of greater context. His writings have the power to lift readers from their present surroundings and set them down amid the clamoring, bustling, peopled streets of the ancient world. Ramsey's deep biblical knowledge and disciplined imagination serve to gently illuminate oft-overlooked nuances of culture, custom, and language, thereby allowing readers to experience these old stories as if for the first time."
"Russ Ramsey's gift for retelling the stories of Scripture is second to none. This is as evident in everyday conversation with Russ as it is in his writing. I have never met an individual who loves Scripture more than this brother, and I am thankful to God for the gift of Russ and his books to the church."
"The church isn't always a welcoming place for single women in their forties (like me). But the New Testament church is radically hospitable—a place for witness, unity, and love. The Mission of the Body of Christ is a vital contribution to this conversation. Salvation, after all, is a community-creating event. As Russ writes, 'The risen Jesus not only gave his people new life, he gave them each other.' And I'm thankful for that."
"For those of us church folk who are overly familiar with the Bible, it's easy to forget (or maybe we never learned) the richness of Scripture's narrative. For those new to faith in Jesus, the Bible can overwhelm and the story of redemption, mission, and transformation gets easily lost. Russ seeks to be a 'faithful servant of Scripture' and is he ever. His retelling of the Bible's stories doesn't distract—it amplifies. This book draws the reader into God's transforming word and does so with the craft of an artist and a pastor's soul. I cannot recommend The Mission of the Body of Christ enough."
"Russ is a modern-day scribe, taking his cues from the words of Scripture to reimagine stories, narratives, and scenes for his readers. He doesn't embellish or exaggerate. He tells and retells familiar narratives with a new perspective. Ordinary Christians living ordinary lives need The Mission of the Body of Christ, which is written to be read during ordinary time. We need to reimagine, relive, and see God's mission for the church afresh, to be reminded there is nothing ordinary about the story in which we live. Russ does this beautifully as always."
"Russ Ramsey's Retelling the Stories is a worthy addition to the tradition of scriptural retellings, such as Eugene Peterson's The Message and Sally Lloyd-Jones's The Jesus Storybook Bible. . . . The three installments of the Retelling the Stories series are beautifully written and easy to read without being condescending, simplistic, or taking too many liberties. As a commentary engages the mind, Ramsey's books capture the heart. The stories here, in service to the scriptures, refreshed my soul, gave my heart joy, and lit my eyes. If Russ Ramsey's goal is to help his readers understand scripture better and to have their 'eyes open to the beauty of mercy and grace,' he succeeds."
Part I: Jerusalem
1. A Letter from an Old Friend
4. Flee to God
5. Prayer for Boldness
6. Ananias and Sapphira
7. Gamaliel's Wager
8. Stephen and Saul
Part II: Paul Begins
10. Paul Begins
11. What God Has Made Clean
12. A Room Full of Gentiles
13. Barnabas and Paul in Antioch
14. Precious in the Sight of the Lord
Part III: The Missionary Journeys
15. A Diverse and Sending Church
16. There and Back Again
17. The Jerusalem Council
18. Come Over and Help Us
19. The Philippian Precedent
20. Concerning the Unknown God
21. The Roads Good Friends Walk
22. Artemis of the Ephesians
23. Looking East
24. The Road to Jerusalem
Part IV: Rome and Beyond
25. The Nazarite Vow
26. The Plot to Kill Paul
27. Before Felix and Festus
28. Before Herod Agrippa II
30. Rome at Last
31. On Earth as It Is in Heaven