I have been reading when not wandering the house from a book titled, "God Has Spoken: A History Of Christian Theology" by Gerald Bray. This book would make a great Christmas present. I also recommend these two books for Christmas presents-
"Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years" by Diarmaid MacCulloch
"The First Thousand Years: A Global History Of Christianity" by Robert Louis Wilken
I thought since time is ticking away I would quote something I read this morning in the volume titled, "God Has Spoken" by Bray.
"Here Jesus was about to ascend to heaven, something that was unique to him, but he was also associating his disciples with him in his wider relationship to the Father. Jesus told his disciples that the Father had sent the Son into the world as an expression of his love (John 3:16-17). What did he mean by that? The Father did not love the world only because it was his creation, but also because it contained the inheritance he had promised to his Son. If God had sent his Son to us because of his love for the created order, then everything in creation would have been redeemed. But that is expressly denied in the New Testament, which states at the end of time, the world as we know will be wound up and there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1-4). At a purely physical level, Christians were promised new spiritual bodies that would be quite different from the ones they already had (1 Cor. 15:42-50). God's love for them was not expressed by prolonging or transforming their earthly life but by giving them an eternal relationship with him that transcended material things.
This new relationship was fundamental to the Christian understanding of God. Those who are united to the Son know his Father too, and can rely on him for all their needs (Matt. 6:25-34). That assurance gave the early Christians a new way of looking at their lives. People who did not know God as their Father were lost in a hostile universe against which they had to protect themselves as best they could. Christians, on the other hand, were free to live in the world without fear, because they knew that their heavenly Father was taking care of them.
It was this sense of a new standing before God that made Christians different from Jews. As adopted children of their heavenly Father, Christians had access to him in a way that had not been possible until then. They were no longer dependent on the intermittent and fundamentally inadequate intercession of priests or other mediators, but had a relationship with God that had been lifted out of this world and anchored in heaven. Union with Christ introduced them to an understanding of the Father's will and the importance of the Father's character, which the Bible describes as "holiness" (1 Thess. 4:3). God's holiness had been well known and understand in Old Testament times, but for the most part, it was thought of as something that distanced him from his people. For example, the secret place in the temple where only the high priest could enter, and then only once a year, in order to make the sacrifice of atonement was called the "holy of holies" (Ex. 26:34). The ground surrounding the burning bush in the desert where Moses met with God was "holy," which meant that he to take his shoes off because he could not stand there without humbling himself. Isaiah had a vision of God in the temple, "high and lifted up," in which the angels addressed their Lord as "holy, holy, holy," thereby emphasizing just how far above and beyond the human world he was.
When the people of Israel were called to be holy, it meant that they were expected to cut themselves off from the surrounding nations, so as not to be contaminated by them (Lev, 20:7; 1 Pet. 1:15-16). The Christian concept of holiness was somewhat different from this. It did not involve physical or ritual separation from the world, but a change of heart and mind. As the apostle Paul put it, "to the pure, all things are pure" (Titus 1:15). A Christian could live in the world and associate with unbelievers without being contaminated by them because he had the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in his heart by faith. Rather than put up external barriers to that world that did nothing to lessen the inner sinfulness of those who erected them, Christians were called to experience a spiritual transformation that would enable them to live in God's presence and be made holy by a relationship with him as their Father." pg. 133-135 Gerald Bray