Category Archives: Biblical Studies

Watch Logos Mobile Ed Lectures for Free

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Logos has been putting put Mobile Ed(ucation) videos lectures for a few years now. The purpose of m.Ed is to give you a new theological education where the people behind Logos have edited down scholars’ lectures “into digestible segments.” Each lecture is fused into your Logos library with a smart transcript. You can add notes, jump to commentaries, dictionaries, language tools, and you can share you insights too. And learn how to do more in-depth research on Logos through your course.

From January 20-23, anyone with a Faithlife account can stream every Mobile Ed video and what is on FaithlifeTV for free (until Monday night). You can only stream them here, but this is a great way to spend your weekend. If you’re going to binge, you might as well learn something exceedingly great in the process. As I’m writing this I’m listening to Jonathan Pennington teach through the Sermon on the Mount.

Below is a list of the Mobile Ed courses and its respective lecturer. This deal ends on Monday, January 23, at midnight.

Apologetics

Introducing Apologetics (Bobby Conway)

Objections to the Gospels (Michael Licona)

Introducing Covenantal Apologetics I: Foundations (K. Scott Oliphint)

Introducing Covenantal Apologetics II: Applications (K. Scott Oliphint)

Show and Tell: Apologetics (Jim Belcher)

Apologetics in an Urban Context (Carl F. Ellis, Jr.)

Archaeology

Archaeology in Actions (Biblical Archaeology in the Field)

Biblical Interpretation

Learn to Study the Bible (Darrell Bock)

Introducing Biblical Interpretation: Contexts and Resources (Mike Heiser)

Introducing Biblical Interpretation: Discussion Guide (Mike Heiser)

Principles of Bible Interpretation (Craig Keener)

Typological Hermeneutics: Finding Christ in the Whole Bible (Peter Leithart)

Introducing Literary Interpretation (Jeannine Brown)

Introducing Bible Translations (Mark Strauss)

The Use of the OT in the NT: Methodology and Practice (Jeannine Brown)

The Story of the Bible (Michael Goheen)

Interpreting NT Genres (William Klein)

Interpreting NT Narrative: Studies and Methods (Jeannine Brown)

A Biblical Theology of End Times (Jon Paulien)

The Apocrypha (David deSilva)

A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of God (Nicholas Perrin)

History of Biblical Interpretation: Second Temple Judaism Through the Reformation (Gerald Bray)

History of Biblical Interpretation: 17th Century to the Present (Gerald Bray)

Biblical Sexual Ethics (David Instone-Brewer)

Church History

Introducing Church History I: Obscurity to Christendom (Frank James)

Introducing Church History II: Reformation to Postmodernism (Frank James)

Milestones of the Protestant Reformation (Jennifer McNutt)

Preaching

Basic History of Preaching (Gary Carr)

Basic Elements of Preaching: An Introduction to Homilectics (Gary Carr)

Invitation to Biblical Preaching I: Theological, Historical, and Programatic Reasons for Preaching (J. Kent Edwards)

Invitation to Biblical Preaching II: Preaching Biblical Sermons (J. Kent Edwards)

Preparing and Delivering Christ-Centered Sermons I: Foundations and Structures (Bryan Chapell)

Preparing and Delivering Christ-Centered Sermons II: Communicating a Theology of Grace (Bryan Chapell)

Preparing and Delivering Christ-Centered Sermons III: Advanced Technique and Theory (Bryan Chapell)

Preaching the Psalms (Mark Futato)

Counseling

Introducing Pastoral Counseling I: Theory and Practice (Eric Johnson)

Introducing Pastoral Counseling II: Examples in Application (Eric Johnson)

Introducing Biblical Counseling: The History of Counseling (Ian Jones)

Introducing Biblical Counseling: Theory and Practice (Ian Jones)

Gospel-Centered Counseling (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

Civilization

Cultural Engagement and Scripture (Darrell Bock)

Western Civilization: Greeks to Aquinas (Bryan Litfin)

Education

Introducing Discipleship (Greg Ogden)

Introducing Evangelism (Bobby Conway)

Empowering God’s People for Ministry (Greg Ogden)

Discipleship in History and Practice (Frederick Cardoza)

Ethics

Law and Gospel: The Basis of Christian Ethics (Michael Allen)

Languages

Learn to Use Biblical Hebrew (Mike Heiser)

Learn to Use Biblical Greek (Johnny Cisneros)

Introducing NT Discourse Grammar (Steven Runge)

Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (Mark Futato)

Leadership

Introducing Ministry Leadership (Justin Irving)

The Ministry Leader and the Inner Life (Justin Irving)

Leading Teams and Groups in Ministry (Justin Irving)

Communication and Organizational Leadership (Justin Irving)

Miscellaneous

Study the Bible with Logos: Matthew 4:1–11

Logos Academic Training (Morris Proctor)

Reflectin on the Word: Video Devotionals (Year A)

Meditations: The Life of Christ

Missions

Introducing Global Missions (Don Fanning)

Current Issues in Missions (Tim Sisk)

Church Planting (Tim Sisk)

Theology of Urban Ministry (John Fuder)

Philosophy and Practice of Urban Ministry (John Fuder)

Community Analysis: Exegeting Culture for Missions

New Testament

Introducing NT: Its Structure and Story (Lynn Cohick)

The Arrival of Christ and His Kingdom

Understanding Easter: The Significance of the Resurrection

The Cultural World of the NT (David deSilva)

A Survey of Jewish History and Literature from the Second Temple Period (Joel Willitts)

Introducing the Gospels and Acts: Their Background, Nature, and Purpose (Darrell Bock)

Introductory Issues in Acts (Craig Keener)

Key Events and Speeches in Acts (Darrell Bock)

The Wisdom of John: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Johannine Literature (Ben Witherington III)

Survey of the Pastoral Epistles (Kenneth Waters, Sr.)

Paul of Tarsus (Lynn Cohick)

The Sermon on the Mount (Jonathan Pennington)

Parables of Jesus (Daniel Doriani)

Miracles of Jesus (Daniel Doriani)

How We Got the NT (Mike Heiser)

The Gospels as Ancient Biography: A Theological and Historical Perspective (Jonathan Pennington)

NT Theology (Douglas Moo)

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the NT (Craig Evans)

Archaeology and the NT (Craig Evans)

The Reliability of NT Manuscripts (Craig Evans)

Critical Issues in the Synoptic Gospels (Craig Keener)

The World of Jesus and the Gospels (Craig Evans)

The Gospels and Ancient Pedagogy (Craig Evans)

Jesus and the Witness of the Outsiders (Craig Evans)

The Gospel of Matthew in Its Jewish Context (Craig Evans)

The Gospel of Mark (Mark Strauss)

The Gospel of Luke (Andrew Pitts)

Book Study: The Gospel of Matthew

Book Study: The Gospel of Mark in Its Roman Context

Book Study: The Gospel of Luke in Its Gentile Context

The Gospel of John (Joel Willitts)

Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Douglas Moo)

Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Douglas Moo)

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (Lynn Cohick)

Paul’s Theology and the Letter to the Philippians (Robert Sloan)

Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Robert Sloan)

Exegetical Study: Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Steven Runge)

Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (Joshua Jipp)

Paul’s Letter to the Colossians and Philemon (Constantine Campbell)

The Letter to the Hebrews (George Guthrie)

Letter of James (William Varner)

Book Study: Revelation (Craig Keener)

Seventh-day Adventist Perspective on Revelation (Jon Paulien)

Jesus as Rabbi: The Jewish Context of the Life of Jesus (David Instone-Brewer)

Perspectives on Paul: Reformation and the New Perspective

Old Testament

Introducing the OT: Its Structure and Story (Mark Futato)

Introducing the OT: Its Poetry and Prophecy (Mark Futato)

OT Genres (John Walton)

Interpreting Judges (Kenneth Way)

Introductory Issues in Psalms (Mark Futato)

Survey of Major Prophets (Paul Ferris)

A Survey of Amos, Joel, Obadiah, and Malachi (David Baker)

How We Got the OT (Mike Heiser)

The Jewish Trinity: How the OT Reveals the Christian Godhead (Mike Heiser)

Origins of Genesis 1–3 (John Walton)

Genesis (John Walton)

Theology of Genesis (David Baker)

Exodus (Tremper Longman III)

Judges (Daniel Block)

1 & 2 Samuel (David Lamb)

1 & 2 Kings (David Lamb)

The Shema (Mark Futato)

Pastoral

Pastoral Ministry in a Missional Church (Michael Goheen)

Shepherding Women (Bev Hislop)

Theology of Everyday Life (Daniel Doriani)

Introducing Chaplaincy I: Biblical Foundations for Chaplaincy (Jeff Struecker)

Introducing Chaplaincy II: A Theology of Chaplaincy (Jeff Struecker)

Pastoral Ethics (Daniel Doriani)

Practical Discipleship

Our Identity in Christ (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

Idolatry and the Power of the Cross (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

Do This Not That to Transform Your Marriage (Stephen Arterburn)

Understanding and Living with Sexual Integrity (Stephen Arterburn)

Biblical Soul Care (Tim Clinton)

Introducing Spiritual Formation (Gary Thomas)

Wealth and Stewardship in the Bible: A Practical Guide (Keith Reeves)

Theology

Introducing Bible Doctrine I: Theology, Divine Revelation, and the Bible (Johnson/Sanders/Heiser)

Introducing Bible Doctrine II: The Triune God and His Heavenly Host (Johnson/Sanders)

Introducing Bible Doctrine III: Humanity, Sin, and Salvation (Johnson/Sanders)

Introducing Bible Doctrine IV: The Church and Last Things (Johnson/Sanders)

Missional Approach to World Religions (Michael Goheen)

Christian Thought: Orthodoxy and Heresy (Beth Jones)

Trinitarian Theology (Peter Leithart)

Doctrine of Man (Lane Tipton)

Doctrine of Christ (Gerry Breshears)

Sacramental Theology (Peter Leithart)

History and Trends in Dispensationalism (Carl Sanders)

Critical Issues in Dispensationalism (Carl Sanders)

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Dr. Seuss and Chiasms

When it comes to telling a story or a joke, the way you tell it is just as important as the words you use. You introduce the story and the characters, bring in some seemingly unresolvable tension, build up to the climax, and resolve all (or most) conflicts. Within your story, there are patterns of repetition, themes, and motifs that are meant to teach you about a particular character (or characters) and how they act, interact, and react to characters and elements of the story. One common way of telling a story in the Bible is by the use of a chiasm, where, like the Greek letter Chi (Χ), the story can be laid out in a half-X shape with the center as the climax.

chi

also “Inverted Parallelism”

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One example from a well-known phrase today would be with lions, tigers, and bears.

Gracie went to the zoo. She soon saw lions, and tigers, and bears. She shrieked, “Oh my!” Feeling frightened, she ran back past the bears, tigers, and lions. Soon after, Sue left the zoo.

As a chiasm, the main points could be:

  • Gracie went to the zoo.
    • lions
      • tigers
        • bears
          • Oh my!
        • bears
      • tigers
    • lions
  • Gracie left the zoo

It’s not really the main idea, but any one who’s ever had children or has babysat knows that the “Oh my!” is the highlight of this saying.

Why Green Eggs and Ham?

In an Appendix from a dissertation by David Heath titled “Chiastic Structures in Hebrews: A Study of Form and Function in Biblical Discourse” he writes how the well known Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham can be laid out as a chiasm. See if you can see why the center is so important.

Longer Rendering

A  “I am Sam… Sam I am … [response]

wB  Do you like green eggs and ham? … [response]

wwC  Would you like them here or there?… [response]

wwwD  Would you like them in a house… with a mouse?… [response]

wwwwE  Would you like them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox?…
wwww[response]

wwwwwF  Would you? Could you? In a car?… [response] You may like them.
wwwwwYou will see. You may like them in a tree!…[response]

wwwwwwG  A train! A train!.. Could you, would you on a train? … [response]

wwwwwwwH  … Here in the dark! Would you, could you, in the dark? …
wwwwwww[response]

wwwwwwwwI  Would you, could you, in the rain? … [response]

wwwwwwwwwJ  … Would you, could you, with a goat? … [response]

wwwwwwwwwwK  Would you, could you, on a boat? … [response]

wwwwwwwwwwL  You do not like them. So you say. Try them!
wwwwwwwwwwwwTry them! And you may.
wwwwwwwwwwwwTry them and you may, I say. 

wwwwwwwwwwL’  Sam! If you will let me be, I will try them.
wwwwwwwwwwwYou will see. [tries them] Say!
wwwwwwwwwwwI like green eggs and ham!

wwwwwwwwwwK’  And I would eat them in a boat.

wwwwwwwwwJ’  And I would eat them with a goat…

wwwwwwwwI’  And I will eat them in the rain.

wwwwwwwH’  And in the dark.

wwwwwwG’  And on a train.

wwwwwF’  And in a car. And in a tree. They are so good, so good, you see!

wwwwE’  So I will eat them in a box. And I will eat them with a fox.

wwwD’  And I will eat them in a house. And I will eat them with a mouse.

wwC’  And I will eat them here and there. Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!

wB’  I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you!

A’  Sam I am!”

(Dr. Seuss 1960:3-62)

Shorter Rendering

A  Sam I am

wB  Do you like green eggs and ham?

wwC  Here or there?

wwwD  In a house? with a mouse?

wwwwE  In a box? with a fox?

wwwwwF  In a car? You may like them. You will see. In a tree?

wwwwwwG  A train!

wwwwwwwH  In the dark!

wwwwwwwwI  In the rain?

wwwwwwwwwJ  With a goat?

wwwwwwwwwwK  A boat?

wwwwwwwwwwL  You do not like them. Try them!
wwwwwwwwwwwwAnd you may, I say.

wwwwwwwwwwL’  I will try them. You will see.
wwwwwwwwwwwwSay! I like green eggs and ham!

wwwwwwwwwwK’  A boat.

wwwwwwwwwJ’  With a goat.

wwwwwwwwI’  In the rain.

wwwwwwwH’  In the dark.

wwwwwwG’  A train.

wwwwwF’  In a car. In a tree. They are so good, you see!

wwwwE’  In a box; with a fox.

wwwD’  In a house; with a mouse.

wwC’  Here and there.

wB’  I do so like green eggs and ham!

A’  Sam I am!”

Main Idea: The main idea is seen in L/L’ = Taste and see that green eggs and ham are good!

P.S. – I’ve actually had green eggs on an outreach to Stockport once. The team leaders and one of the other girls put in a bit too much seasoning and the eggs turned green. I tasted, but unfortunately they were not good. There was also no ham.

Main Sub Idea: Even Dr. Seuss can teach us to read the Bible.


After while I’ll show a few biblical examples so that you can see why knowing this would be important. In his (surprisingly) excellent book on Leviticus, Michael Morales has quite a few examples on how Leviticus 16’s Day of Atonement is the center of the Pentateuch. Perhaps I can get a hold of that chapter somewhere since I don’t have the book on me.

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Arcing the Bible Verse by Verse

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(I stole this from Lindsay Kennedy)

In light of my discussion of the twisty details of the Bible, I want to take some time and look at a website that has helped me see both the small details and the overall picture of the Bible in my studies: Biblearc. I began using it when I taught 2 Corinthians in Ireland, and it was a major help. In fact, I don’t know what I would have done without it.

I first learned about BibleArc in a Biblical Hermeneutics class at CCBCY. My friend Lindsay Kennedy taught two classes on using BibleArc for studying the Bible. Lindsay told us that, as with anything, over time BibleArcing would become easier as we grew more familiar with it, but, initially, it would be difficult to use. And he was right. I tried to use it when I first taught 2C at CCBCY, but I didn’t have the time so I ditched it.

Bad move.

It wasn’t until I was teaching my first 2C class in Ireland that I realized my need to learn BibleArc. After teaching on Corinth’s history and culture, I finished the class with 2 Corinthians 1.1-7. Somewhere in the midst of verse 5, sharing in Christ’s suffering, I was lost. Twice. It was clear that I needed to learn how to use BibleArc before my next class.

What is BibleArc?

Basically, because I can’t find how it all began, I’m stealing* (again) my next few sentences from Lindsay Kennedy, who’s written about BibleArc before (and here too). Bible arcing was developed by Daniel Fuller, is recommended by Pastor John Piper (34 page pamphlet here) and Scholar/Pastor Thomas Schreiner and is used by many others. According to the website“Arcing helps you to discern, display and discuss the flow of thought in the biblical text.”

Though commentaries are important, one can easily get lost in all the detail. When I taught 2C and when I prepare for a sermon, I use BibleArc before I use any other resources. With it I can grasp the main idea(s) of what the Scripture says, and I don’t spend much time on “lesser” matters.

One major plus about BibleArc is that a subscription only costs $4 a month. So for the price of a coffee you have an excellent resource to help you figure out the main idea of a passage. Not only do you see the main idea, but you can see how each sentence and their ideas (called “proposition”) relate to one another and how they make sense.

In my upcoming review I hope that what you will see will be enough to convince you to go to the website, try it all out, and begin to use BibleArc to study and discover the Bible’s riches. BibleArc has been a yuge help to me, and I fully endorse it.

*Don’t despair. I based my first 2 Corinthians syllabus off of Lindsay’s Philippians/Colossians syllabus… right down to the same spelling mistake.

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Images of God in Revelation

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A few days ago I reviewed Matthew Emerson’s Between the Cross and the Throne. In chapter four, The Portrait of God and His People, Emerson gives us the Skeleton Key to understand some of the cryptic images John uses about God. He reveals three of the images which John uses “to describe Yahweh’s rule over his enemies, his people, and his creation” (35).

God is Sovereign

“And before the throne [of God] there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal,” Revelation 4.6.

What do we make of this “sea of glass”? Why is there a sea before God’s throne, and why is it of glass? Emerson says, “In the Old Testament, the sea represents chaos and evil” (35).

Psalm 74.12-15 says,

12  Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13  You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
14  You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
15  You split open springs and brooks;
you dried up ever-flowing streams.

God is the sovereign one who rules over the seas. He is able to dry “up ever-flowing streams” (v15b). The disciples were shocked when Jesus stilled the wind and the waves in Mark 4, saying, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” If only Yahweh can control the waters, who then is this who does the same?

leviathan

In the rest of Revelation, the sea “is the place from which evil arises” (35).

“And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads,” Revelation 13.1.

The sea being “the place from which evil arises” explains why Revelation 21.2 says there will be no sea. In the new creation there will be no chaos nor evil. Thus, “the image of God sitting on or over the sea shows his authority over chaos and evil” (35-36).

God is the Sovereign King of His People

elders

Revelation 4.4 and 11.16 together speak of 24 white-robed elders who sit on 24 thrones before God. While the issue of who the 24 elders represent is ever the debate, Emerson sees 12 elders as representative of Israel and the other 12 of the Church. In his lectures on Revelation, Peter Liethart sees the 24 elders as representing the 24 divisions of the priesthood in Chronicles with Jesus Christ as the 25 priest, the High Priest. The 24 elders would represent the Church, as we are a “kingdom of priests” (Ex 19.6; 1 Pet 2.5) in Christ (though, to be honest, I don’t remember exactly what Leithart said, but I think it was roughly that idea).

These 24 elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. God is the sovereign King of his people.

God is Lord Over All Creation

rainbow-and-the-throne

The twenty-four elders receive a lot of attention, but we mustn’t forget the equally head-scratching four creatures around Yahweh’s throne. Emerson says, “[T]he creatures likely represent the fullness of creation (represented both by the number four, which is the number of creation . . . and by the diversity of the creatures)” (36).

“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree,” Revelation 7.1.

“And [Satan] will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth,” Revelation 20.8.

So, in Revelation 4.11 when the living creatures and the twenty-four elders fall down before Yahweh and sing, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created,” it is “[b]oth creation and the people of God [who] fall down before [Yahweh]” and sing praises to him (36).

Here in the throne room scene of Revelation 4, John emphasizes Yahweh’s dominion over everything “because John is exhorting the Church to remain faithful to the end, even in spite of persecution” (36).

bt

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Reading the Bible on Norwegian Roads

USA

Some long, sleepy road in Arizona

After a wedding in January of 2013 a friend and I started in Tuscon, AZ, and drove home to Houma, LA. With no need to watch out for party vans, alligators, or Louisiana drivers, driving through Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas quickly became a long, dead-boring journey home.

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Trollstigen (above) is part of a Norwegian road that connects the town of Åndalsnes in Rauma to the village of Valldal in Norddal Municipality.

This is Norway. Besides ice, mountains, and moose, Norwegian roads aren’t so scary (hint: they’re the safest). Once I learned stick shift, these roads were almost fun (until the two-lane road turns into a one-and-a-half-lane road… and there’s a semi coming toward me…). If you’re going to drive for 5 hours, these roads will likely keep you focused and awake while you drive.

The straight roads that run throughout America are easy, and we often treat the Bible as if all doctrines and ideas (that we accept) are an easy straight line from Point A -> Point B.

We give the “I-can’t-believe-you-don’t-understand-my-position” argument while “Haven’t-you-ever-read-the-Bible?” looms in the background.

We want to believe our interpretations are more like the Arizona road than the Trollstigen. And really, unless you know anything about the Norwegian language, you won’t even be able to say Trollstigen correctly. We prefer simple, straight answers over nuance. Why? Because it’s easier. It requires less thinking and we can go on about our day feeling like we have a good grasp on all the Bible has to say, despite how when we crack open our Bibles we still don’t understand what it has to say. We don’t know the story or the framework, and we’re sick at looking at timelines that don’t really help us at all.

We must remember that reading the Bible is no easy journey. We are thousands of years removed both from the New Testament and even more so the Old Testament. These books were written by people who did not have a western mindset.

  • Is hell literal?
  • Will there be a millennium? Why?
  • When will the seven-year tribulation begin?
  • How literal is the Bible… and how can I know?
  • Babies, adults… what does baptism matter anyway?
  • And communion? Why can’t we just eat, drink, and go on with our day?
  • If a Christian commits suicide, would they go to hell?
  • Can I believe in evolution and still be a Christian?
  • Why should I evangelize if God is sovereign?
  • Why should I pray if God is sovereign?
  • Will there be a rapture?
    w
  • So now that I’m a Christian, I don’t need to read the Law, right?
  • What was God doing before he created the world?
  • Explain this whole Trinity thing to me again.
  • Why is the Bible so difficult to understand?
  • Is Genesis 1-11 historical?
  • Are spiritual gifts still around today?
  • Should Christians observe the Sabbath?
  • Did Jesus die for everyone or just the elect?
  • How much of this actually affects my every day living?

One thing we all must remember is that it’s not enough to know about God. We must know him. Facts may help you win Sunday morning Bible Trivia, but how should this information spill the beans about God’s character? How do we views facts within the larger portrait of God’s story that we can share with others? How do we discover the Bible’s storyline, and how can we use it to make sense of our lives, individually and corporately with the rest of the Church?

How does Numbers 8 help me to love Christ more? How do I find God’s character in Nehemiah 4? What does Lamentations tell me about God’s mercy and patience? What, if anything, does Isaiah 35-39 tell me about Isaiah’s main message? How does that lead me to love Christ more? Does it matter whether or not I ever read Obadiah? At least I read Jonah. That one’s easy. How can Revelation teach me me to help those who suffer? What does it matter that Jesus is presently ruling at the right hand of God “far above all authority, power, and dominion” (Eph 1.21)? What does it mean to be in Christ, and how am I different because of it?

Reading, studying, and knowing the Bible isn’t driving down a straight two-lane highway in an automatic mustang. It’s driving up, down, and around a one-and-a-half-lane mountainous road in Norway in standard transmission. In the snow. With a moose.* Inside the car.

Conclusion

The Bible is difficult, and we should be humble over our interpretation of different texts. We should continue in the truths of the Gospel and study to know God’s Word, even if there doesn’t appear to be any immediate applicational value. Just because we didn’t “get” anything out of what we read this morning, or because what we’ve learned seems to be information for information’s sake, it doesn’t mean that we’ve wasted our time. All that we read helps to reinforce the broad storyline of Scripture, the deep treasures of Scripture, and the unfathomable immensity of our faithful Lord and Savior.

So to help us understand our King a little better, I have two series that I’ll start soon.

1. God’s Faithful Character

As usual I have some book reviews coming up the pipeline, but I’m also happy to announce that I’m review another course by Rikk Watts called God’s Faithful Character. My friend Lindsay and I will write up some interview-styled posts for each other, so we’ll have a bit of back and forth that this one (as he is also reviewing the lectures on his own blog).
w
Watts premise is that while Israel’s scriptures (the OT) had a massive influence on the NT writers, do the NT writers then twist Israel’s scriptures? Do they completely ignore the OT context? Are the NT writers reliable?
w
Aside from the interview-styled posts, I plan to write up a few posts of my own on various ideas Watts brings up. If you haven’t read any of my posts about Watts before, he’s an incredibly brilliant man who just so happens to put great care into the Scripture. He believes that what bridges the Old and New Testaments together is God’s Faithful Character.

2. BibleArc

I first learned of BibleArc through Lindsay when he taught my Hermeneutics class back in York. I’ll wait until a later post to explain what BibleArc is, but let’s just say it pretty much saved my second round of teaching the 2 Corinthians class. I’ll try to show you a bit on how BibleArc works, and in the end hopefully you’ll come to love it and will want to use it yourself.


*At no point am I saying we must sit around and read theological books all day. While I enjoy reading, I know I can’t read every biblical book and commentary out there (in fact, I don’t even want to). We can and should have hobbies and other interests. But we must be willing to discuss matters with others without treating each other as imbeciles. Though you’ll never know everything about the Bible in this life, you might as well enjoy the view.

Prekestolen (The Preacher's Pulpit) Prekestolen (The Preacher’s Pulpit)

P.S. I’ve seen only one moose in Norway thus far. I saw it a few weeks ago while coming home from Oslo.

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Evangelizing Under God’s Sovereignty

The Corinthians

Paul sent a lot of letters to the Corinthians. Four letters, in fact.

  • 1 Corinthians 5.7 speaks of the first letter.
  • 1 Corinthians is the second letter.
  • 2 Corinthians 2.3-4 speaks of a severe letter (#3)
  • 2 Corinthians would be the fourth letter.

Why spend so much time on the Corinthians, especially with the Severe Letter and 2 Corinthians? Once the Corinthians rejected Paul, why did he give them another chance with the Severe Letter? And why did he give them yet another chance with 2 Corinthians? Some repented (2.9; 7.7-11, 14), but there were still others who had not yet repented (2.6, a “majority” suggests a “minority” who still had not repented; cf. 6.1, 14-16a; 10.10; 12.19-21; 13.5, 7, 9). Why did Paul spend the time giving them so many chances?

In Acts 18, Luke tells us of Paul’s missionary ventures in the city of Corinth. Paul receives encouragement from the Lord in a vision in 18.9-11,

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Paul did not leave, but he stayed there for one and a half years because God told him that he had many in the city who were his people. There were Corinthians who did not yet know Christ, and Paul was going to have to put in the time and effort to teach and love them. And because of God’s promise, Paul spent 1.5 years with the Corinthians. He wrote four letters seeking to teach them about the crucified and resurrected Christ.

Because of God’s promise, Paul evangelized. God’s promises don’t mean that we can be lazy. We will have to work. But knowing who God is gives us confidence that our work won’t be in vain. His word will take effect. People will either accept this fragrance of life, or they will reject this fragrance of death (2 Cor 2.15-16).

If God is Sovereign, Why Evangelize?

Here is a list of missionaries who had the same “God-is-sovereign-so-we-should-go-out-to-the-nations” thinking as Paul (Rom 15.24). This list of missionaries is taken pretty much directly from Scott Christensen’s book What About Free Will? While this list my no means “proves” Compatibilism to be true, it goes against the idea that God’s sovereignty negates evangelism. Instead, it should propel evangelism. 

Missionaries and God’s Sovereignty

This perspective drove many of the most important pioneers in modern missions, many of whom were Calvinists. Notable are men such as

John Eliot (1604–90) was the first missionary to American Indians during the colonial era.

David Brainerd (1718–47) later became a missionary to the Delaware Indians in New Jersey. (105-106)

Adoniram Judson (1788–1850) served as a missionary to Burma for forty years and was among the first missionaries in North America to travel overseas.

Robert Morrison (1782–1834) was the first Protestant missionary to China and translated the first Bible into the Chinese language.

Charles Simeon (1759–1836) was a British pastor well known for his expository preaching. His heart for missions led him to found the Church Missionary Society that has sent more than nine thousand missionaries around the world.

Henry Martyn (1781–1812) was one of these missionaries. He was indefatigable in his short life of thirty-one years. When Martyn arrived in Calcutta in 1806, he said, “Now let me burn out for God!” He did so gloriously.

David Livingstone (1813– 73) was a national hero in Victorian England. The famous medical missionary to Africa was also an explorer who was searching for the origins of the Nile River.

John G. Paton (1824–1907) brought the gospel to the cannibalistic tribes among the New Hebrides islands of the South Pacific. He faced constant threats of death, and some feared that he would be eaten. But Paton responded, “If I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms.” 

Samuel Zwemer (1867–1952) was called “the apostle to Islam” and is the most effective missionary to Muslims to date. Although these men believed that God elects to salvation, they were not ignorant of the means he uses to accomplish his saving goals. (106)

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Four Ways of Sanctification

How does sanctification fit into the compatibilist reading? How much of this “Christian growth” do we actually have a part in, and how much does God do for us? Is it all up to me? All Him? 50/50 split? 60/40? Am I a little snowball that God rolls down the hill, and as I stay on this wild ride I gather more snow and become “more holy”?

In his book What About Free Will?, Scott Christensen lays out four views on sanctification.

Sanctifying Growth in Holiness is…?

  1. 1
    The Me Alone Model – We are the lonesome Ranger “pursuing a band of elusive Comanches across a barren prairie.” We have the power to grow in holiness fist fine all on our own.
    w
  2. 2
    The God Alone Model. All we have to do is say, “Let go and let God“ and – *poof* – God grows us like a ch-ch-ch-chia plant!  We merely “sit comfortably and drink our tea while God infuses us with a mystical holiness” (97).
    w
  • 3

    The God Plus Me Model. Here comes the 50/50 split. We do our part while God does his.

    God is our copilot, either making up for what we can’t do on our own or supplying us with the necessary support to fly the plane of sanctification. This scenario might be mistaken as compatibilist, but don’t be misled. This position is actually more in line with Arminianism. Sanctification in this case is synergistic. God’s grace is necessary for a believer to persevere in her faith, but that grace is not sufficient for perseverance. The believer must cooperate with that grace by the exercise of her free will. Without such diligence, she can fall away from the faith and be lost once again. (97)

    Christensen uses and analogy I heard when I took Lindsay’s Philippians/Colossians class. You decided you would climb a mountain.

    4

    Prekestolen (“The Preacher’s Pulpit”) in Rogaland county, Norway

    In a sudden moment of terror – you slip. As you are barely hanging on to the side of the rock, holding on for dear life, a young Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to the rescue.
    5
    Instead of saying, “Get to the choppa!” – Conan the Barbarian himself says, “Grab ma’ hand!” But then you hear him say, “I will hold on to you… as tightly as you hold on to me!

    . . . wait a second. Young Arnold could benchpress 440 lbs (200 kgs), deadlift 710 lbs (322 kgs), and lift 298 lbs (135 kgs) over his head. And I… can’t do that. But he’s going to hold on to me only as tightly as I hold on to him? Why even grab my hand?
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  • The All God and All Me Model. “In this fourth model, we work 100 percent toward the progress of our sanctification while simultaneously trusting that God is 100 percent at work in us” (97).

    The necessary trust in God’s sufficient power to achieve Christlikeness is attended by a corresponding and necessary obedience that he demands from us (Eph. 1:18–19; 3:16–17). In the end, “sanctification is God’s work, but he performs it through the diligent self-discipline and righteous pursuits of his people, not in spite of them. God’s sovereign work does not absolve believers from the need for obedience; it means their obedience is itself a Spirit-empowered work of God.”

 

Philippians

I will add another verse to the Philippians texts I used in a previous post.

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (1.29-30)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (1.6)

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (2.12-13)

  1. Paul says that two things have been granted to believers: belief in Christ and suffering for his sake.
  2. God began a knew thing in believers with this belief in Christ, and he will bring them to completion when Christ returns (3.20-21)
  3. because Christ took the form of a servant, we must be willing to serve others too. And when difficulties arise, whether it be in the form of actual suffering or not, we can trust that this too has been granted by God for the sake of Christ (1.29). We must work on our salvation. We must put in the effort to love and serve others around us. And as we do so, we know that God is bringing his good work, our belief in Christ, to its completion. (This is not to say that our hope is in our efforts. Our hope is in Christ, and we should “perform deeds in keeping with our repentance” (Acts 26.20).

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