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God Remembers A Study of Zechariah Charles Feinberg

This book is a good commentary that I used as a devotional through the Prophetic book of Zechariah.  The title plays on the meaning of the name Zechariah which in the Hebrew means “God remembers.” This is an appropriate title for a commentary on the book of Zechariah since God has not forgotten His people.  God Remembers is the first book-length work that I read from the author and I totally enjoyed it.  Having tasted this book as a sort of “first fruit,” I plan to read other works by Charles Feinberg in the near future.  I can see why Charles Feinberg was a popular Old Testament professor.  The book of Zechariah has a lot of Messianic prophecies and I really appreciated this commentary pointing them out.  It has good details and insights that I didn’t see from an initial reading of Zechariah.  There are also wonderful exegetical nuggets in the book for Bible expositors and teachers as well.  My favorite part of the book was the discussion on Zechariah chapters twelve and thirteen in which Christ’s second coming is anticipated.  Towards the end of the book the author also had a short list titling each chapter of Zechariah and how it points towards Christ.  I definitely recommend this book.

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Abraham-Storck-xx-A-Venetian-Pilgrim-Ship-in-an-Italian-Port

 

Jonah 1:1-3

 

Establish the need: Do you think you can run away from God?

 

Purpose: To see three reasons why a child of God cannot outrun God, in order to see that it’s folly to do so and obey God today.

 

Passage:

 The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

 

Outline

  • Jonah’s commission (v.1)
  • Jonah’s mission (v.2)
  • Jonah’s rebellion (v.3)

 

  • If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of your personal identity involves Him (v.1)
  • If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of His presence (v.2)
  • If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of His providence (v.3)

 

Overview: The story is going to go very fast—all the characters are all introduce already in the first three verses—Yahweh, Jonah, the people of Nineveh and the sailors (Limburgh, 37).

 

 I. If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of your personal identity involves God (v.1)

o       Passage:The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying,

o       Proof

    • Verse one sets up the situation of the story.
    • The meaning of Jonah’s name.
      • Q: What does Jonah’s name mean?
      • Jonah actually means “dove” (Limburgh, 38).
      • There is a connotation of peace associated with that name, since dove is associated with peace.
    • The meaning of “the son of Amittai
      • Q: Does Amittai mean anything?
      • He is the son of Amittai.
      • Amittai means “truth,” and there is a word play here that he is the son of truth (Limburg, 38).
    • Jonah is a prophet.
      • The word of the Lord came to
        1. The formula “the Word of the Lord came…” is a frequent one to indicate God calling out a prophet such as in Jeremiah 1:2, Ezekiel 1:3, Hosea 1:1, Joel 1:1, Micah 1:1, Zephaniah 1:1, Haggai 1:1, Zechariah 1:1, Malachi 1:1.
        2. In all other instances, God’s prophet responds appropriately—except in the case of Jonah (Kohlenberger, 28).
      • By mentioning whom Jonah was the son of, the author wishes to communicate that this is the one and the same prophet mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25.
        1. Jonah was previously famous for making a positive prediction about the success of King Jeroboam II according to 2 Kings 14:25.
        2. It is significant to point out that a prophet’s message might be positive at times, but can also be perceived by others as negative as well, but it must still be preached.  He was probably quite popular in his country, being one who prophesied well in favor of kings and military manners (Limburg, 38).

o       Picture: (I tried to act in life at one point of not being a Christian; but being genuinely born again, it was impossible to do.)

o       Practice:

    • This passage shows us that just because you were faithful to God before does not mean you will do so in the future, so make sure you are constantly searching your heart that you do not slip.
    • Walk closely with God! If you really know God, your personal identity will become attached with Him; and to deny Him, is to deny who you are.

 

II. If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of His presence (v.2)

o       Passage:“Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me”

o       Proof

    • Because God is all present, Jonah was given three commands
      • “Arise,
        1. Verb has the idea of getting up.
        2. It is used to communicate the idea of start acting immediately (Price, 6).
      • go to Nineveh the great city
        1. Not an easy command because of distance.
          • It is near the modern city of Mosul, and two hundred and fifty miles north of Baghad (Limburg, 40).
          • It is five hundred miles away from Jonah’s home by air (Limburg, 40).
        2. Not an easy command because of it’s reputation.
          • The city’s importance began around 740s B.C., and was the capial of the world’s most powerful empire during Jonah’s time (Limburg, 40).
          • It is a blood thirsty city according to Nahum 3:1.
    • and cry against it
      1. Jonah was called to preach there.
      2. The message was not going to be positive.
    • The reason for Jonah’s commission: Sin is inescapably before God’s presence
      • for
        1. The Hebrew word here is כִּי.
        2. It is a conjunction that function to introduce a causal clause for why Jonah will be going to cry out against it.
      • their wickedness has come up before Me”
        1. wickedness
          • Significant term in the book of Jonah, appearing a total of ten times (Kohlenberger, 29).
          • Refers to that which is absolutely wrong in God’s sight (Kohlenberger, 29).
        2. has come up before Me
          • Can also be translated as “in the presence of me
          • Shows that evil is before God, even though it’s not in heaven or in God’s temple in Israel back then.

o       Picture: (Story of boy walking to school alone for the first time but really behind him several steps was mother hovering over and nearby.  In the same matter we can’t out run God)

o       Practice:

    • God being all present can either be taken as a good thing or bad thing.
    • God’s presence means that sins will not be left unpunished.  Have you gone to God and given these sins to God in repentance and let it be nailed to the cross?
    • God’s presence means that He is always there with you and sees everything done wrong against the innocent.  Have you reflected on these truths with your problems, your struggles?

 

III. If you are a child of God, you cannot outrun God because of His providence (v.3)

o       Picture: (I like Silent film;  what it lacks in media of sound it makes up with emphasis on visual of facial expression; Point: Bible is an amazing literature in the same way,where there are rhetorical devices to emphasize certain points despite not being a “movie”).

o       Passage:But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

o       Proof

    • This verse will show Jonah’s rebellion.
      • But” is a contrastive, to show that what Yahweh commanded is going to be different from what Jonah will do.
    • The multiple verbs show the desperateness of Jonah to try to escape Yahweh!
      • But Jonah rose up

Q: Is there any significance that this is the first verb of what Jonah did with the fact that this same verb is also the first command Yahweh gave to Jonah?

A: It leads the readers to think at first Jonah was going to do what Yahweh does, but there’s going to be a twist: Jonah is going to do the opposite!  Implication of it is that how many of us do the same thing by doing what seems to be at first doing the right thing, but then in our hearts we treasure and plan to do otherwise?

    • It captures how Jonah tries to escape from Yahweh horizontally and veritically towards , as in towards the eventual direction of the bottom of the sea (Limburg, 43).
      • Jonah is flee horizontally towards Tarshish
        1. to flee to Tarshish

Hebrew infinitive to show the purpose of Jonah was to flee to Tarshish!

    1. Author wishes readers to note “Tarshish” is important by mentioning it three times.
    2. Where is it at?
      • Tarshish is identified as southwest Spain (Kohlenberger, 30).
      • It is the southwestern coastline (Limburg, 43).
      • Jeremiah 10:9, Ezekiel 27:12, 25 describes it as a rich place during biblical times.
      • Isaiah 66:19 describes it as a place so remove from Israel that they have not heard of God’s fame.  It’s as if Jonah wants to head towards the edge of civilization.
    3. Why?  “from the presence of the Lord.
      • An important point since this phrase is repeated twice in this verse alone.
      • However, verse 2 earlier also mention “from the presence of me,” which is referring to the LORD and thus the phraseology is repeated a total of three times in this passage!
      • The direction of movement is away from Yahweh’s presence, and thus Jonah was actually running away from God Himself (Limburg, 42).
      • This is ironic because Yahweh’s presence is everywhere (cf. Psalm 139:7), and earlier in verse one apparently Yahweh has revealed to Jonah that His omnipresence is so great that even Nineveh’s wickedness is before Him.
    • Jonah is descending vertically from Yahweh
      1. Q: Is there any significant juxtaposition of “down” with “up” here?

A: The direction of down begins here with going to Joppa, but will appear again to emphasize the wrong direction of Jonah, as oppose to Yahweh being up (Kohlenberger, 31).

    1. So he went down to Joppa,
      • The first of many use of “down” in Jonah, in describing Jonah’s escape from Yahweh.
      • Joppa was the only natural harbor on Israel’s Mediterranean coast (Kohlenberger, 30).
      • So going to a port would naturally be heading towards a gradual downward path.
      • It is now modern day Jaffa (Price, 8).  Assuming that Jonah went there from his home town of Gath-hepher, which is fifteen miles west of the Sea of Galilee and today an Arab town called Meshed (Limburg, 38-39), it would have been a distance of 28 miles according to Google maps.
      • Whereas if Jonah obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh he would have traveled a northeast direction, by heading to Joppa, Jonah was heading south west direction—exactly 180 degrees opposite direction (Limburg, 42)!
      • Later in history, it would be part of Gentile territory and where Peter would be sent on a missions to the Gentiles in Acts 10:9-23.
    2. found a ship which was going to Tarshish,
      • The verb here does not have the idea of finding something purposely, but more of the idea of stumble upon (Price, 8).
      • Thus, it conveys the idea that perhaps Jonah thought it was by chance, and he was going to outrun God.
      • Ships heading towards Tarshish must have been large according to the standards of their days, for they were “Ocean going” vessels (Price, 9).
      • According to Isaiah 2:16, ships of Trashish were beautiful and Isaiah 23:14 indicates that these ships were strong.
    3. which was going to Tarshish,”—conveyed a future action that was going to soon take place (Price, 9).
    4. and went down into it
      • The second of many use of “down” in Jonah, in describing Jonah’s escape from Yahweh.
      • The NASB and KJV does a better job translating it literally as “going down” rather than Jonah just getting onboard (Price, 9).
    5. Why?  “and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
      • An important point since this phrase is repeated again.
      • It shows why he was going “down.”
    • Q: None of the verbs show God has any, so have can you show God’s providence from this verse?
      • A: SEE CHIASM POWERPOINT, which focuses on Tarshish.
      • A: It is setting us to wonder, whether or not Jonah was going to make to Tarshish.

o       Practice:

    • Sometimes in life, it seems like you are getting away from God.  But if you are His, He is allowing things to happen, to set things up for Him to get you back.

 

 

CONCLUSION

  • TO THE GOSPEL: I said a lot about if you are God’s child, you would not fall away.  If you know you are not God’s child, what you need to do is know Jesus.
  • What will God do with a runaway child of His?  What will happen to Nineveh?  Stay tune for next week!

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jonah_fish_thumbnail

Note: We kick off our Saturday Series on Jonah!  But before I go verse by verse in my studies, I typically like beginning any study of a Book of the Bible with what they call Introductory discussion (Purpose of the Book, authorship, date, themes, general observation of the Book as a whole).   These are my rough notes.

 

Introductory question: When I say “Jonah” what do you guys think about?

Establish the need: What is and why cover the Book of Jonah?

Purpose of covering Jonah: See that even though Jonah is a small book in the Bible, it covers important themes for us living out our Christian lives today.

1.)    Jonah is a small book

  1. Part of the Minor prophets in the Old Testament.
  2. Minor prophets were often called “The Twelve”
  3. “The Twelve” was so small that it usually fit in one scroll.
  4. Four short chapters.
  5. The book is divided into forty eight sentences, 688 words.
  6. Make up only one percent of the whole Bible.

2.)    Purpose of the book of Jonah: God’s mercy upon us, and upon others, so that we can live a life out telling others about God.

  1. Other smaller themes: God is Sovereign.
  2. Other smaller themes: God is not only about the Jews—even in the Old Testament
  3. Other smaller themes: God as Savior.

 

DATE

2 Kings 14:27 is the key to knowing the time of this book.

It is embedded in 2 Kings 14:23-27,

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25  He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke [i]through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. 26 For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, which was very bitter; for there was neither bond nor free, nor was there any helper for Israel. 27 The Lord did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

Historical note: God’s people were split now into two kingdom, the northern kingdom of Israel and southern king of Judah.

During this time the reign was of Jeroboam II of Israel, who reigned from 793 to 753 B.C. (Kohlenberger, 16).

Jeroboam II was militarily stronger than some of the previous kings according to verse 25.

Assyria was just a rising world power and Nineveh was a great world city (Limburg, 22).

 

Flow of the Book

Seven scenes

  1. Called and runaway (1:1-3)
  2. Ship at sea (1:4-16)
  3. Inside the great fish (1:17-2:10)
  4. Jonah given assignment once more (3:1-3a)
  5. Jonah at Nineveh (3:3b-10)
  6. Jonah’s prayer in Nineveh (4:1-3)
  7. Jonah’s conversation with God outside the city (4:4-11)

 

Assorted notes and observation

Inter-Textuality

Exodus 34:6-7 as the foundation for Jonah and Nahum (Kohlenberger, 12).

Jonah 4:2 mentions about God as compassionate, merciful, slow to anger, filled with love…we expect it of God towards the Jews but here it’s for Gentiles!

NT reference to Jonah in Matthew 12:39-41, 16:4, Luke 11:29-32 and OT reference in 2 Kings 14:25.

Only prophetic book that is primarily a story of a prophet (Limburg, 21).  The mention of God’s actual word is short (3:4b) and there is a prayer that makes the bulk of Jonah 3, but the rest is about the prophet’s story (Limburg, 21).

Only prophet to have gone to a foreign land and preach to them (Limburg, 22).

Use of questions is profound in Jonah: 14 of them, and often the way of bringing Jonah to the scene by means of questions in Jonah 1:6, 8, 11; 4:4, 9, 11 (Limburg, 25).

First part of the book, all questions (seven of them) are directed towards Jonah.

Second part is Jonah to God (Jonah 2:4)

Then rhetorical question in Jonah 3:9

Jonah’s angry question towards God (Jonah 4:2)

Yahweh’s three questions back in Jonah 4:4, 9, 11.

 Lots of dialogues

 

UP AND DOWN

UP: Jonah commanded to: “Arise” (v.3a)          Same verb as below.

UP: Jonah: “Rose up” (v.3a)     Same verb as above.

            Down: Jonah “went down to Joppa” (v.3b)

            Down: Jonah “went down into” the hold of the ship (v.3b)

Down: The LORD hurl a big wind (v.4)

Down: Sailors hurl cargoes into the sea (v.5)

            Down: Jonah slept down in the hold of the ship (v.5)

Down: Jonah suggest they hurl him into the sea (v.12)

Down: They do hurl Jonah into the sea (v.15)

 

Repetition

-         Root “gdl” for “big” is seen 14 times with city (1:2), wind, storm (1:4), fear (1:10), storm (1:12), fear (1:16), fish (1:17), city (3:2), city (3:3), biggest (3:5), king’s “big ones” (3:7), anger (4:1), gladness (4:6), city (4:11).

-         Hurl, by the Lord of a big wind (1:4), sailors hurl cargoes into the sea (1:5), Jonah suggest they hurl him into the sea (1:12), they do hurl him (1:15).

-         “Go down” to Joppa (1:3), down into the ship (1:3), into the hold (1:5), down to the bottom of mountains (2:6).

 

Amazing increase of details to dramatize the storm in chapters 1 (1:4, 11, 13).

When wind calmed down in 1:16, details get shorter and shorter in the following three clauses (Limburg, 27).

 

Personification

Ship “thought” about breaking (1:4)

Sea raging (1:15)

 

Extremes

Sea and dry land (1:9)

Day and night (1:17)

Greatest/least (3:5)

Humans/animals (3:7-8)

Persons/animals (4:11).

 

Irony

Jonah is a prophet, but in the beginning is being asked more questions of him than he is preaching (Limburg, 25).

 

Mirror

-         Yahweh sends a wet wind upon the sea (1:4), then sends a warm wind against Jonah (4:8).

-         Uses at first a big fish (1:17) but also a tiny worm to teach a lesion (4:6-7).

 

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Jonah and the Whale Carlo Antonio Tavella

The staple for a Christian’s reading “diet” ought to be the Word of God.

It’s because of this conviction that God’s Word is important that I am compelled to do a special Bible expositional outline series through the Book of Jonah every week on Saturday for the next two months or so.  Jonah is one of my favorite books.

Stay Tune!

 

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James White

The video below is a debate between James White and Bart Ehrman on the topic “Does the Bible Misquote Jesus?”

The debate originally took place on January 21, 2009 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and was sponsored by American Vision but the video of it on Youtube was just recently made available for free for viewing online.  We appreciate American Vision and Alpha Omega’s ministries’ generosity in blessing God’s people!

Enjoy the debate by two capable scholar.

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Vern Poythress is quite the Renaissance man; or more appropriately I should say he’s quite the Reformation man. With degrees in Mathematics from Cal Tech and Harvard balanced with a theological degree in apologetics from Westminster and also New Testament studies at Oxford, Poythress over the years have shown himself to be quite a capable scholar when it comes to discussion of various disciplines from the Christian Worldview.  When I learned that the editors for the “Christian Answers to Hard Questions” series has selected Poythress to write in defense of the historicity of Adam, I was quite delighted.  The debate on the historicity of Adam has been a source of contention the last few years in Evangelical circles and survey of the literature reveal that it involves the discipline of biology, Old Testament studies and Ancient Near East studies.  Given the inter-disciplinary nature of the debate, Poythress’ ability to navigate through inter-relationship of disciplines would be helpful (for an introduction to Poythress’ view on the relationship of disciplines, see his book Symphonic Theology).

Like other works in the Christian Answers to Hard Questions series, this is a short book.  The short length forces its contributors to be concise.  Poythress did a masterful job of engaging the reader.  I enjoyed and learned the most from his evaluation of the claim that man and Chimpanzees share 99% of the same DNA. He spends a considerable length addressing this issue.  Poythress’ footnotes demonstrate that he is informed and up to date with the latest peer review articles on genetic studies and I appreciate the caliber of his sources behind his effort to debunk the claim that Chimpanzees and man are 99% alike genetically.  It turns out that the data has been manipulated and some of the genetic materials that are not similar between man and Chimps have been eliminated from the percentage count.  I also appreciated the discussion of what one’s interpretative grid of the percentage means.  One sees here how Cornelius Van Til and Thomas Kuhn influenced Poythress on the importance of one’s philosophy of science that plays a role of how one understands the evidences.

I did not disagree with the conclusion or the arguments presented in the book.  However, the book could be improved in two ways.  First, it would have helped to let his readers know what his conclusion is in the beginning of the book rather than the end.  Secondly, I think Poythress shouldn’t have begun the book with a lengthy discussion about the genetics similarities between man and chimps.  Towards the end of the book Poythress noted that the discussion of the historicity of Adam takes place in various disciplines—theology, biology and Biblical studies.  I think it would have been helpful to put this in the beginning of the book as preparation for the genetics discussion.  Overall the book is more theological rather than exegetical but I wouldn’t dismiss it for being so since it paves the way for the Biblical data to speak on the question of the historicity of Adam.  In fact, I would recommend those who want to start understanding the debate to begin with this book first, followed by Zondervan’s recent Four Views on the Historicity of Adam.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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Every year my favorite speaker for the Shepherd’s Conference is Al Mohler.  I am thankful for this man of God.

Al Mohler

 

Here’s my notes from the evening message that Dr. Mohler gave on March 7th during the Shepherd’s Conference for 2014:

We are here because of John MacArthur’s preaching expositionally.

Introduction

Look at Romans 1:16-32

There are some passages of the text that is touchstone text that you turn to again and again.

By the time this letter was written, Jews and Gentiles are in the church in the city of Rome.

ROMANS 1:16-17

When we read Romans 1:16 too quickly we miss the wonderfulness of this truth.

Why did he mention “ashamed”?  Remember the Greco-Roman culture that has a high view of honor and shame.

Romans 1:16 is the foundation of which we stand: It explains the Gospel, explain the people of the Covenant of God

It’s like Romans 1:16-17 we have two volumes of biblical theology of justification.

But we see Romans 1:18 as well.

If we authentically preaching the Gospel we will also give the bad news!  The wrath of God is revealed already—in the mirror, the news and all around us.

The end of Romans 1:18 is so important, it reveals a universal conspiracy of humanity of suppressing the truth.

You don’t understand the fall until you understand the fall unless you understand the noetic effect of the fall

Noetic effect of sins is an epistemic sin, a sin intellectual in nature

Note the rational, intellectual acts from Romans 1:18 onwards

The problem is not with revelation but the preciever:  It’s not we cannot but we will not see what is right before our eyes

Noetic effects explain why we forget things, why we don’t see life is one perfect logic and why we see things wrongfully

Again, suppression of Truth is important; it is important to understand who we are, why people won’t come to salvation and human intellectual endeavor

It is suppressed in unrighteousness

Where does this all leads?

We have two things said three times

1.) Exchange (v.23, v.25, v.26-27)

  • There has never been people who came over in confession of being guilty of being an “exchanger…”
  • What does it mean to exchange of God?
  • An exchange for a horrifying idol
  • An exchange for a lie
  • An exchange for a natural function
  • This here is an argument from lesser to the greater, it is progressive:  horrifying idolàlieàunnatural function.
  • Paul wants us to show us that the final exchange is the existence of homosexuality
  • But we must be careful here:  Paul is speaking here of all humanity and holding a picture of “them,” but rather we are talking about ourselves!
  • Humans are all involved, but playing a game of “I won’t call your sins sins, if you don’t call my sins sins.”
  • Think of social effort of intellectually excusing sin via psychological models, etc; think of political effort for homosexuality, etc
  • We also mis-read nature: Is/Ought fallacy; also don’t forget about things as they are because it’s a fallen world!
  • Don’t forget we commit these exchanges
  • We must be thankful that sin doesn’t have full reign and that natural revelation restrain even sinners

2.) God gave them over (v.24, 26, 28)

  • Here we see God is pro-active in giving us over to the identity that we want for our sins
  • We must remember we can commit noetic, epistemological but also hermeneutical and homiletical sins
  • Some say that God giving over means we have no more hope; but there is hope in the Gospel
  • We do ourselves a disservice when we preach what is sins and the sins of others but we need to see that it is everyone
  • It is God’s special revelation that reveal to us

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Shepherds Conference

What follows is my notes from the evening service of the first night of Shepherd’s Conference 2014.  The speaker was Mark Dever.

Establishing the need: How are you brother pastors?

There are those here tonight in ministry who are:

  • The Resigned
  • The Hopeless

Isaiah has a Word for you.  Turn to Isaiah 34-35.

Context:  

  • Chapters 1-11 Warns Judah
  • Chapters 12-27, God’s call to repent
  • Chapters 28 onwards, Judah Judged
  • Recurring theme: Judgment and Salvation

Outline:

  • Chapter 34 Judgment
  • Chapter 35 Salvation

 

Do you feel you are about to give into fear of days ahead?

  1. Hold on, God’s judgement is coming (Chapter 34)
    • It will be universal (v.1-4)
      • Don’t forget when God waits to vindicate, He waits to vindicate His name!
      • He has more of an incentive to vindicate His name than just vindicate us!  We need to remember that.
    • It’s for us (v.5-8)
    • It’s is final (v.9-17)
      • Real description here but also pictures of future judgment
      • Look at verse 10, “forever.”
    • Application: Know that God’s judgment never ned but our trials do.
  1. Hold on, God’s Salvation is coming (Chapter 35)
    • Wilderness/desert will bcome like spring again
    • Glory of nature restored, a window of God’ glory (v.2b)
    • This include the justice of God
    • Hebrews 12 quotes Isaiah 35:4, which is the point of the whole book of Isaiah
    • God is a bigger problem one will face, and also a bigger solution than that the nations poses
    • Application: Remember the fullness of God’s goodness

 

We need to preach this “Judgment/Salvation” today.  This is not strange, rememebr Jesus’ prayer “Thy Kingdom Come,” would does that mean?

God will put an end to all injustice.

Look at verse eight, note “highway” is a highway to God.  We of course know Jesus is the Way to God.

Look at verse ten, we have singing.

Let not the enemy win, let us go through our trials in a way that glorifies God, let us rejoice in God in our suffering.

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Assurance of Salvation Series

 

We have completed our weekly series of outlines on the topic of Assurance of Salvation.

It was a joy to search the Scriptures and work on this outline that I find helpful to encourage God’s people in counseling to encourage believers to find their assurance of salvation and bear more fruit, joy in Christ, etc.

Feel free to share this and use it for God’s Glory along with the encouragement of believers and evangelism of unbelievers!

Here are the outlines:

Theological Foundation

1.) Assurance of Salvation Part 1: Why study on the topic of Christian assurance?

2.)Assurance of Salvation Part 2: Foundation for Perseverance of the Saints

3.) Assurance of Salvation Part 3: Perseverance means a Believer Endure

4.) Assurance of Salvation Part 4: Objections to Perseverance of the Saints

5.) Assurance of Salvation Part 5: Christians can Know that they are saved

The Test of Assurance of A Christian’s Salvation

6.) Assurance of Salvation Part 6: Do you understand the Gospel?

7.) Assurance of Salvation Part 7: Questions to examine ourselves Part 1

8.) Assurance of Salvation Part 8: Questions to examine ourselves Part 2

The Result

9.) Assurance of Salvation Part 9: Four kinds of people and the result of our testing in the faith

Appendix

Assurance of Salvation Appendix: Test your faith Survey Questions List

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Spiritual Warfare A Biblical and Balanced Perspective

 

Typically I avoid Christian books on spiritual warfare like the plague because the genre is flooded by works that are speculative, sensational and short on Scriptural support.  I was of the opinion that even the books out there that are biblically driven must not have much to say.  It’s with that prejudice that I must say I was pleasantly surprised and edified by this book.

In the introduction to the book, both co-authors Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura cautioned readers that when it comes to the topic of spiritual warfare one must avoid one extreme or the other:  there are those who are speculative and see spiritual warfare in everything that occur while on the one hand we have those Christians who fail to realize that there are genuine spiritual beings in the demonic realm.  I myself tend to fall under the latter.

The book is largely an exposition and application of Ephesians 6:10-20.  What surprised me with this work was how much it is driven by the exposition of the Scripture and no doubt one can tell from the book that both authors are expositional preachers.  Chapter one through thirteen breaks down Ephesians 6:10-20 with chapter one even providing the background of first century Ephesus to illuminate the topic of spiritual warfare:  It was a city of a large following for the cult of Artemis and hospitable to various occultic practices; elsewhere in Scripture we also know that the believers burned their magic books and a riot even ensued because of the commercial impact of occultic religious market as a result of the fear of the impact of the Gospel.  Beginning with verse ten the book exhort believers to be strong in the Lord (chapter one) then explained how God has given us resources for the Christian life of spiritual warfare (chapter two).  Both chapters three and four establish the need for why the spiritual armor provided by God is important and it was reminder for me to realize that the Christian life is warfare, with real enemies of God who want to see Christians fall, fail and be fruitless.

I can honestly say I learned some new things as a result of reading this book, even though I thought I was quite familiar with Ephesians.  The author did a good job of bringing a few exegetical insights from the Greek (such as observation of the significance of a verb’s tense, purpose clause, prepositions, lexical meaning, etc) and yet it was done in a way that was friendly towards a general Christian reading audience.  The footnotes in various chapters indicate that the two authors did their homework (for instance, their interaction with Ephesians’ critical commentaries) and also sought other insight of a more devotional flavor.  The book is a fine example of how exegesis can be practical for the Christian life!

I think the best recommendation one can give for a book is how it ministered to their lives.  As a result of reading this book I was encouraged to see prayer as integral to fighting the good fight in the Christian life and was convicted that my prayer life could be better.  I was also reminded that Satan really wants believers to fall and has many schemes against the believers, and how much more we should seek Jesus Christ for help and apply the provisions of grace given to us as a gift.

I recommend this book and I plan to read this through this again as a resource the next time I preach in Ephesians 6.

NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher Reformation Heritage Books through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest opinion. The thoughts and words are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

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Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism

NOTE:It’s nearly four in the morning and I supposed I had too much notes more than I can finish as one review so this will have to be in parts.

This book was provided to me free by Baker Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

This book attempts to advance the thesis that there is a place for Evangelicals to critically use historical criticism in Biblical scholarship.  It is a call for Christians to be Evangelical and critical (in the sense of utilizing historical criticism).  The book is more a collection of essays by various writers dealing with different portion of the Bible and an exploration of what historical criticism means in each respective parts of Scripture.

I had a hard time with the chapter on Adam.  The main point of this chapter by both co-writers was that the denial of the historicity of Genesis 2-3 does not seriously affect the essence of Christianity theologically.  Readers must remember that the chapter is not necessarily denying the historicity of Adam and Genesis 2-3, but merely trying to argue that historical critical methodology on this passage does not destroy the fundamentals of the Faith.  Here the chapter makes a distinction between Original sin and the idea of sins’ concupiscence and ends up doubting the former while affirming the latter.  However, one must wonder whether there is good justification for Christians to question the historicity of Genesis 2-3 in the first place; it seems to raise more eyebrow when the chapter’s case rest upon the suppositions that there were multiple sources (JEDP) behind the Pentateuch and alleged parallel of Genesis 1-11 with the Atrahasis Epic.  Concerning the Pentateuch as having various sources, I find it troubling that the writers failed to interact with Evangelicals’ rebuttal for arguments for multiple sources such as doublets, etc.  Since this book is written to encourage Evangelicals to embrace historical criticism, it would have been good for the writers to interact with those who oppose it and their argument.  Concerning the Atrahasis Epic and the argument that the Ancient Near East did not have a literary form that fits our modern conception of history, I have always had a hard time buying the argument by historical critical proponents such as Peter Enns that these were somehow literary fictions or the fact that people in the Ancient Near East could not and did not conceptualize ways of communicating straight forward truthful narratives; it seems very hard to demonstrate this to be the case conclusively.  Assuming the historical critical assumption that the ancient was not as complex as us now, it seems to me that communication of stories back then would appeal to straight forward sensory experiences while more conceptual ways of communicating events would be more advance and complex and a later development (think of the Apocalypic prophetic literatures, etc).  Again, it seems to be the case that the writers grant certain suppositions of historical criticisms that needs to be better examined.  These foreign presuppositions apparently include the mention of macro-evolution as a possible explanation for the persuasiveness of sin, but this is to bring into the discussion more debates and dilemmas.

I also had a hard time with the chapter on the Exodus narrative.  The writer tries to paint an alternative between minimalists and maximalists approach to history and the Bible.   He sees minimalists as having problem of denying the historicity of the Exodus narrative altogether while maximalists don’t have the evidentialists support for all the historical claims of Scripture.  I don’t think the chapter really establish a good alternative.  With the impasse between a maximalist or minimalist position I think it might be more helpful to explore and discuss the worldview that moves one to hold those position as way of moving the conversation forward (see my recent posts at http://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/maximalists-minimalists-in-light-of-presuppositional-apologetics/).

The book more than once mentioned that academic and intellectual studies of the Scripture is important.  I get that, and I agree but I don’t think that means one has to embrace historical criticism.  Since I respect the various authors’ effort to suggest a modified historical critical approach is possible, I think it’s only right I continue my review of the other chapters in another posts. Got to grab some sleep.

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d a carson

Last year (2013) I begun reading books by New Testament Professor Don Carson.  Thus far I’m enjoying his works and I plan to read more books and article by him.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that he has taught on the issue of New Perspective on Paul.  Here is a video of his lecture, it’s about three hours long:

 

 

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Palmyra- Cassas Baal Temple

I’ve been noticing the last few months news story related to the Bible and Archaeology, from the sensational to the subtle announcement of academic bulletin.  Christianity Today even had a summary of the “Top 10 Discovery in Biblical Archaeology of 2013″ published earlier this month.

As some of the readers might be aware, there are two general camps when it comes to the issue of the reliability of the Bible as it relates to archaeology: the Maximalists and the Minimalists.  Since the archaeological data concerning the Ancient Near East (ANE) and the Biblical world are often fragmentary, sometimes archaeological data appear to conflict with what the Bible has to say.  What should we make of this, specifically with our conclusion concerning the veracity of the Bible?  Maximalism and Minimalism describes the general approach one answer that question.

Note what Jona Lendering of Livius website (on Ancient history) has to say about maximalists and minimalists:

Maximalist scholars assume that the Biblical story is more or less correct, unless archaeologists prove that it is not; minimalists assume that the Biblical story must be read as fiction, unless it can be confirmed archaeologically. “Minimalism” and “maximalism” are, therefore, methods, approaches, or theoretical concepts.” (http://www.livius.org/theory/maximalists-and-minimalists/)

Lendering even provide this additional example:

It is easy to recognize minimalists and maximalists. If the author’s method can not immediately be deduced from the evidence he puts forward, the auxiliary hypotheses usually offer a clue. When the archaeological evidence contradicts the Bible, the maximalist will write something like “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”; the minimalist will stress that the Bible should be read as literature.

Take, for example, the Jericho walls: so far, no remains have been excavated of a wall that has collapsed in the Late Bronze Age, which contradicts the Biblical account of Joshua’s capture of the city. A maximalist will argue that these walls stood on top of the hill and must have eroded; his minimalist colleague might say that the story should be read as a description of a first fruits offering – the first town captured by the Hebrews was for God. There’s something to be said for both approaches, although in this example, the erosion argument is probably incorrect.”

The exchange between Maximalists and Minimalists in the past has been quite heated.  Probably adding fuel to the fire is the reality that this is not just another academic turf war between two competing school of thoughts: for some, there’s a deeper underlying current driving one’s methodological decision.  While not all minimalists are secularists, no doubt secular humanists and atheists would be incline towards the Minimalists approach.  Christians who hold to a high view of the veracity of the Bible of course would be inclined to the Maximalists’ approach (of course with the caveat that not all Maximalists are Evangelicals or identify themselves as Christian).

At this point one might say there’s a stalemate between the debate of Maximalists and Minimalists.  The Minimalists might charge Evangelical subsets of Maximalists for being driven by the Christian faith to dogmatically affirm that the Bible has to be true at the get-go.  It isn’t rational to do so, they say.  The Maximalists might reply with the observation that typically in archaeology one gives an ancient document the benefit of the doubt concerning it’s content being true unless proven otherwise so here we see the Minimalists being inconsistent.

It’s a dead end, some say, with the debate being a draw.  No side ultimately wins, nor has any side loses in a clear, knock out fashion.

I submit that Presuppositional apologetics is important here, with it’s attention on the role of worldviews.  As noted earlier, often there’s a deeper undercurrent that drives one to adopt a certain methodological approach towards the Bible and Archaeology.  The discussion between particular Maximalists and Minimalists doesn’t have to be at an intellectual stalemate if one discusses one’s worldview behind one’s methodology.  No doubt the most unpopular aspect of Van Til’s apologetics is the fact that it tells Christians to never compromise with the veracity of the Bible .  The content of the Bible is true if it has been attained via proper hermeneutics such as consideration of literary genres, etc.  But Presuppositional apologetics isn’t just about Christians being dogmatic, for it makes the observation that everyone including the minimalists are not immune to being dogmatic when it comes to their web of ultimate commitments which we call worldview.  But instead of being “stuck” with two dogmatic individuals talking to each other, Van Til’s apologetics goes further by asking whether one’s worldview would undermine or provide the intelligibility and meaningfulness of the archaeological endeavor in the first place.  Imagine the surprise if a Minimalist were to discover that the particular worldview which incline him towards Minimalism ends up being an undercutting defeater towards archaeological studies; now the dilemma is posed: does he continue to maintain his Minimalism for the sake of his cherished worldview or does he back away from it seeing the catastrophic consequence of it making archaeology categorically unintelligible and insignificant?

Space does not permit me to flesh out the details since for now I just want to provide a sketch of what does Presuppositional apologetics in relationship to archaeology would look like.  Here also we find philosophy to be a helpful tool and valuable in assessing the merit of the internal relationship between one’s view of reality (physical world, and metaphysical, if any) and the epistemological status of archaeology.  Interdisciplinary studies and the exploration of perspectival relationship of knowledge is quite fascinating!  

Perhaps in the far future I might write a post on how the Christian worldview (Christian theology from the Bible that supplies the meta-narrative of the world) allows Archaeology to be a sensible and rational pursuit.  This would touch on theology Proper, doctrine of providence, God’s relationship to history, biblical anthropology, etc.  Again, how beautiful is the fact that there can exists an inter-relationship of various disciplines from archaeology, history, philosophy, and now, even theology–I find it so beautiful to see this inter-dependent unity of a well-put together world for knowledge  that it makes me want to praise God.  Presuppositional apologetics and Perspectivalism (John Frame’s variety) regularly bring me to doxology.

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Vern Poythress

It’s great to see the teaching of the Christian worldview going worldwide.  Dr. Vern Poythress recently taught in Taiwan on the topic of Why the Beginning is Important.  He has a translator who communicates his teaching into Mandarian.  Enjoy!

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Gordon Clark Volume

I was disappointed with this commentary. Gordon Clark is best known as a Christian philosopher advocating an epistemology of Scripturalism. While I appreciate his contribution to Christian philosophy (with the caveat that I critically accept him and also reject certain views he hold, see my other reviews of his works), here in the Pastoral Epistles it is not up to the par with what I expected from how his followers talk about his commentaries on the Bible.
THE GOOD
–The commentary rightly stresses the objectivity of the Christian faith and that faith is no mere subjective experiences.
–The commentary also makes the observation that the Pastoral epistles emphasizes the importance of doctrines and teaching.
–I was encouraged with the comment on 2 Timothy 2:1-2 about teaching faithful men who can teach others
–The second appendix gives a good explanation of Presbyterian doctrine of ordination. Clark makes it clear that he is dependent upon the work of George Gillespie.

THE BAD
–Clark does not grasp the Greek aorist tense. For instance on page 17, we see him commenting that an aorist “refers to a single act in past time” which we see him assuming this again on page 48 concerning 1 Timothy 3:16. As is seen in the commentary (and for those familiar with Gordon Clark’s background), Clark is more well verse in Classical Greek than Biblical Greek.
–I wished Clark could have gone over in more details the qualification of what is expected of an elder in 1 Timothy 3 but Clark disappointingly stated, “Most of these qualifications require no exegesis” (39). One should see how other commentaries expound on 1 Timothy 3 exegetically.
–Commenting on 1 Timothy 1:17 Clark goes tangent to say about heaven that “the New Testament indicates that some organs will be missing—our stomachs, for example,” without any verse quoted or reference cited.
–He asserts on page 52, “That a convinced vegetarian can be a good Christian is doubtful. In any case, abstinence from foods must not be based upon allegedly divine dietary laws.” But what he conclude about vegetarians does not follow from 1 Timothy 4:3 since he does not take into account vegetarians who choose so out of preference and is not driven to be one because of divine dietary laws. Think of the guy who is vegetarian for health reason but loves Jesus.
–Clark’s rhetoric is unnecessarily inflammatory; for instance, in commenting on 1 Timothy 4:8, Clark writes about Olympians: “Even aside from the drugs they take to pep them up, and the medication used to desex the women contestants and turn them into masculine freaks, the athletes have chosen the wrong values and lead wasted lives” (55).
–He translate “saying” as “proposition” in 1 Timothy 4:9; I don’t know if there’s an exegetical basis to translate it that way.
–Concerning 1 Timothy 6:16, Clark believes the “light” here refers to truth but if this is the case then it leads one to hold a position that God is unknowable.
–More than once Gordon Clark writes that “there is little need of exegesis and explanation” (122). If you look up the same passage in another commentary you discover there are insights of something there in the passage.
– This carelessness of seeing no need of exegesis is disappointing when it comes to lists of words such as in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 where Clark states “most of the words need no boring, dictionary definition” (123). Clark’s commentary is seriously deficient in lexical insights. It is also disrespectful to the Word of God to say there’s no need for “boring” definition.
–The section on the book of Titus fail to discuss what we know of Titus from other passages from the New Testament, a glaring omission for a commentary.
–Clark translates “vain talkers” in Titus 1:10 as “fallacious reasoners” but he does not give any explanation for his unusual translation. I do believe vain talkers contrary to the faith will reason fallaciously or with wrong premise but I don’t think this truth means one should translate “vain talkers” to mean “fallacious reasoners” here for this passage.
–Commenting on Titus 3:6, Clark notes that the verse cannot be used to support water baptism by immersion but then says “the Lutheran practice of pouring is Scriptural; at least Scripture permits it” (169). Earlier in Titus 3:5 he denies that this passage is teaching baptismal regeneration so obviously 3:5-6 is not talking about water baptism. So if Titus 3:5-6 is not talking about water baptism, what other Scriptural support does he have for water baptism by means of pouring? Clark just asserts it without proving it.

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