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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Can I Really Trust the Bible Cooper

This is a book that is part of the Questions Christians Ask Series. Previously I have only read one work in this series, “Is God Anti-Gay?” and I thought it was the best compassionate and biblical work I have seen addressing those who have same sex attraction. This book on whether one can trust the Bible is also very good. Over five chapters the author Barry Cooper answers three important questions: (1) Does the Bible claim to be God’s Word? (2) Does the Bible seem to be God’s Word? (3) and does the Bible prove to be God’s Word? Cooper devotes two chapters to the first question, two more chapters to the second question and one chapter to the third question.
One thing I really like about the book is how the author is conscious of nonbelievers and young believers in the faith that would be reading his book. For instance, I appreciate Cooper explaining what verses are and the history of the Bible being divided into chapters and verses. There are helpful small excursuses throughout the book answering questions such as “What’s inside the Bible?” and “Aren’t some of the stories from Jesus’ life just legends and later additions?”
I also think that Cooper does a great job packing this small book with many illustrations that are helpful in supporting his explanation. For instance, in explaining why he begins with the question of what does the Bible claims about itself he gives the illustration of two individuals on vacation talking about the identity of someone they just saw and how it would not make be rational if these two individuals only engage in speculation but never bother to ask the person at all. Likewise it would also be unwise to speculate on what is the characteristic and identity of the Bible if we never look at the Bible’s own claim of itself. In considering the remarkable unity in the flow of redemptive history, Cooper gave this short illustration: “What if multiple authors had each written a single page of this little book you’re holding? What if each author wrote in different genres, in different centuries and in different countries, with no ‘master plan’ for them to consult? What is the likelihood that it would make any sense at all?” (38). Concerning multiple Bible versions, Cooper also made this point: “Jus because there are 15 different English translations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, it doesn’t mean we can’t know what Dante meant” (56). Another good one: “The person who never wants the Bible to be hard is like the person who goes to the gym and never want to sweat” (74).
In reviewing this book I must also state my bias as someone who subscribe to Presuppositional apologetics. I am somewhat weary of works by naïve evidentialists who does not give much room for God’s Word to be self-evidencing and who up share evidences without conscious consideration of one’s philosophy of evidence. I was glad that this is not one of those works. I was surprised to see the author in several instances quote from John Frame (a plus!). In particular I was impressed with how Cooper dealt with the objection that an argument for the Bible as God’s Word is circular: Cooper would ask a question that would reveal the interlocutor’s own circular authority and Cooper also noted the nature of any ultimate authority would begin with itself or otherwise if it appeal to another authority, than that new authority is the ultimate authority. It is good to see a book of this size be conscious of the issue of ultimate authority!
In terms of constructive criticism, I wished Cooper could have gone through more Messianic prophecies that was fulfilled in Scripture. Cooper did mention Isaiah 53 and Micah 5:2. But I think Cooper accomplished a lot in 81 pages.
I highly recommend this book.
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher The Good Book Company 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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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post.  Responses will be delayed.

Warfare in the Old Testament The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies

This is a wonderful book by an Old Testament professor who has done his doctoral dissertation related to ancient warfare.  Given the prevalence of war in the Old Testament, this book serves as an important resource in giving the background information for our understanding of Scripture.  The content of the book is well researched and interesting.  It also helps that the book is filled with beautiful illustrations that feature ancient drawings, archaeological finds, helpful maps and contemporary painting recreating what warfare in the past must have looked like.  They are very helpful and the author Boyd Seevers did a good job coordinating what he has to say with the illustrations.

The book focuses primarily on warfare in the Ancient Near East.  The author begins with the Hebrews during the era when they entered into the promise land.  Two chapters are devoted towards Israel and their military.  This is followed by two chapters on Egypt, one chapter on the Philistines, two chapters on the Assyrians, one chapter on the Babylonians and the final chapter on the Persians.

Every kingdom’s military is presented in an organized and clear manner. Each time a certain kingdom is introduced, the author takes the literary license of giving us a fictional “eye witness” account of a warrior so we can get the idea of what it must have been like.  This is followed by discussion of the specific kingdom’s historical background, military organization (structure, military branches, etc), weapons (long-medium-short range offensive weapons and defensive measures), and strategies/tactics.  Each section and subsection is clearly labeled which makes this an easy access reference for later use.

Over all, the book has more strengths than it did weakness.

STRENGTHS

  • In the introduction the author is conscious of cultural experience with warfare and he acknowledges that he never served in the military and grew up in the United States during a time of social upheaval where serving in the military was not necessarily valued.  Realizing his limitation, the author took the initiative to share a Marine sergeant’s insight concerning war.  It was really good especially concerning tactics!  I must confessed my own biases: I myself am a Marine veteran of Iraq.
  • There were a lot of things I learned from this book that I didn’t know beforehand: The book made the point that the Babylonians and Persians seem to be generally less cruel than the Assyrians during warfare and the Assyrians tend to use a lot of psychological warfare with their opponents.  I learned what a composite bow is (a bow that was glued together of various pieces of wood which allow the arrows to go futher).
  • I appreciated the fact that Seevers cited primary sources and also important secondary sources in the study of the Ancient Near East; especially exciting for me is his reference to Yadin’s work on Old Testament warfare in light of archaeological finding.  I have been thinking about getting Yadin’s work for some time now but I have hesitated given how it is somewhat outdated; this new volume by Seevers is a much needed update on the topic.
  • The end of the book has a good list of recommended resources for further study.

WEAKNESS

  • The input of the Marine concerning strategy waned by the time we get to the middle of the book.  It would have been nice to see more insights from him!
  • Some of the colors on some of maps were clashing and hard to distinguished at time given how they were a few shade different.

CONCLUSION

I highly recommend this book for anyone with interests in the Old Testament, the Ancient Near East and military history.  Pastors and Bible Students will gain much from this work.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Kregel Publications without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

To purchase the book CLICK HERE.

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books

It’s my goal that in the next nine years I would read at least one commentary for every book in the Bible–so I can recommend a good commentary for the books in the Bible.

It is partly as my own devotional reading through the Scriptures and partly because of being asked what good commentaries I’ve read that I would recommend for certain books.  Since I realized I need to read more Bible commentaries, I thought this might be a good project on Veritas Domain.

Sometime this week I’ll post up a page that list out what has already been done.  I will be reviewing expository and exegetical commentaries.

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The Gospel According to Daniel Chapell

The introduction to this commentary makes it clear that the author is not trying to give an exegetically detailed commentary on the book of Daniel; rather the purpose of the book is to show how the book of Daniel points us to the Gospel and then to apply Gospel truths that is found in Daniel to our lives.  To this end, I think the author accomplished his stated purpose.

My first knowledge of the author Byran Chapell was from his book on preaching that was the textbook for an introductory course to preaching when I began seminary; that particular work helped me a lot in laying the foundation to become an expository preacher.  It was with great expectation that I picked up this book wanting to learn and see how Bryan Chapell would preach through the book of Daniel.

I appreciated the many stories that the author shared throughout the book; they were wonderful examples of how preachers should “illustrate to apply” to the listeners’ lives.  I appreciated seeing how Chapell avoided making Daniel the object of our hero worship but instead points us towards God, Jesus and the Gospel.  One highlight reading this commentary is the discussion on Daniel chapter three about what true faith means.  Here Chapell also points out to the reader that just because one has faith does not mean that everything will go all well in life without trials and tribulation.  This directly contradicts the “health and wealth” gospel and similar beliefs popular in some Christian circles.  At the same time, for those who are in biblical churches the discussion would nevertheless be quite encouraging since it put our suffering in perspective.

There were times I wished that the author could have gone more in-depth with the exposition of the passage especially with the latter part of the book of Daniel.  I must add that this is a gentle criticism because one must applaud the author for his honesty in admitting what he does not know or don’t want to be dogmatic with.

Both exegetes and lay readers will benefit from this commentary; this book serves as a great devotional read while for expository preachers this commentary will balance out some of the more technical commentaries to help the preacher thinking about how to deliver and apply the text.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Baker Books 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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Psalm2-TH1

The incredible blogger Jeff Downs has shared with us several weeks ago of a resource regarding a Biblical Worldview.  Reverend Christian McShaffrey of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) has preached a series titled “A Psalm 2 Worldview.”

The description of this series is given below:

A “worldview” is a philosophy of life which determines how a person sees the world. Everyone has a worldview, but most people simply “catch” their worldview and assume that it is correct.

As Christians, we simply cannot afford to be thoughtless when it comes to understanding the world around us and interpreting the events which occur in it. Rather, we need to allow the light of scripture to illuminate and interpret reality. It is only in this that we will find hope and peace in this world.

Pastor McShaffrey presented the basic principles of a Christian Worldview by explaining and applying Psalm Two during the Fall of 2013.

Here are the audios:

10/20/13  –  The Raging of the Heathen (Psalm 2:1-3)

10/27/13  –  The Disposition of God (Psalm 2:4-6)

11/03/13  –  The Inheritance of Christ (Psalm 2:7-9)

11/10/13  –  The Invitation to Nations (Psalm 2:10-12a)

11/17/13  –  The Blessedness of Christians (Psalm 2:12b)  

Enjoy!

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Note: I’m in a church retreat this weekend and will be delayed in responding.

We have spent several months going through an exposition of the book of Jonah.  Last week we finally finished our ten part series of outlines!  My prayers are that they edify God’s people and evangelize the Lost.

Here’s the table of content to the series:

Introduction to Book of Jonah

Part 1: Do you think you can run away from God?

Part 2: Are You running from God and Evangelism?

Part 3: Don’t Just Say You Believe

Part 4: A prayer responding to God’s Grace Part 1

Part 5: A prayer responding to God’s Grace Part 2

Part 6: Did Jonah Repented?

Part 7: Parallel of Jonah and Peter

Part 8: How do you respond to God’s mercy?

Part 9: Compassion in Evangelism

Part 10: Jonah and the Rest of the Bible

 

Jonah and the Whale Carlo Antonio Tavella

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For Exposition of Jonah Part 9 click HERE

The-Storm-on-the-Sea-of-Galilee-Rembrandts-painting

Selected Scriptures

Establish the need: When you read a book in the Bible do you think of how it fits with the rest of Bible?  Does other books in the Bible fill in more details about Jonah itself, and something important in our lives as a result of it?

We will look at how Jonah relates to the rest of the Bible, and bring out four lessons for our lives today as a result of it.

 (1) A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is be careful of using God’s truth in the wrong way (Exodus 34:6-7; Jonah 4:2)

 (2) A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is realize Nineveh really repented and so should we (Matthew 12:38-41)

 (3) A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is to realize that we need to respond to one’s greater than Jonah that’s here (Matthew 12:41b; Matthew 8:23-27)

 I. A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is be careful of using God’s truth in the wrong way (Exodus 34:6-7; Jonah 4:2)

Point: Jonah knew His Bible well..but did not use these truths to do the right thing but do the wrong thing instead.

Passage:

i.      “He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this [a]what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore [b]in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”(Jonah 4:2)

ii.      “Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and [a]truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:6-7)

Proof

i.      How did Jonah know these five attributes about God?

      1. Experienced it in being spared himself in Jonah 2.
      2. But note that Jonah in 4:2 is a complaint that Jonah had about God before Jonah 2, when he was back home.
      3. Q: How did Jonah know that God was all these things?

A: Exodus 34:6-7.

ii.      Four attributes of God are mentioned in Exodus 34:6-7.

iii.      Last one, “one who relents concerning calamity” is derived from the context of Exodus 34:6-7 earlier in Exodus 33 of Israel’s sin bringing calamity (v. 1-3), Moses petition (v.12-23) and favor shown (Exodus 34:1-5).

Practice

i.      Watch out for these things

      1. Do you get angry with someone but then use something else (theological excuse) to cover it up?
      2. (Divorce passage in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 and how people can make their spouse life so miserable that they want to divorce them)
      3. You just use theology to say you are better than someone.
      4. You don’t want to share the gospel to someone so that they can go to hell.
      5. Say “obey me” because I have power for power sake.

ii.      Guard yourself from doing this by:

      1. Being accountable to others.
      2. Also, study more of the Bible’s context and larger context.

 

II. A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is realize Nineveh really repented and so should we (Matthew 12:38-41)

Point: Don’t just think about Nineveh: Think about yourself and your soul if you have not trusted in Jesus Christ yet.

Passage: “38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a [ak]sign from You.” 39 But He answered and said to them, “ An evil and adulterous generation craves for a [al]sign; and yet no [am]sign will be given to it but the [an]sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41  The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”(Matthew 12:38-41)

Proof

i.      Have you been hearing this series on Jonah just for intellectual knowledge?  Well Jesus makes it very personal and applied it to his hearers.

ii.      The scribes and Phariees asked for a sign (v.38), but recall earlier they are suppressing the evidence even to the point of saying He’s satanic (Matthew 12:22-24)

iii.      Thus Jesus’ response with condemnation in v.39.

iv.      Jesus’ sign was prophecy (v.40).

v.      Jesus revealed that Nineveh repented and brought up the fact that that generation will condemn the current generation.

vi.      Jesus is even greater and we need to respond appropriately!

Practice

i.      What have you done with Jesus in your life?

ii.      Will you those that Nineveh condemn also as well for not repenting and turning to Jesus?

 

III. A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is to realize that we need to respond to one’s greater than Jonah that’s here (Matthew 12:41b; Matthew 8:23-27)

Point: We often read our Bible and make heroes into the character we read about.  I think Jonah it’s hard to do that.  Moreover I think Jonah points to Jesus—in a negative contrast kind of way.

Passage:

i.      41  The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”(Matthew 12:41)

ii.      “When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And behold, there arose [a]a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. 25 And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “ Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” 26 He *said to them, “Why are you [b]afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and [c]it became perfectly calm. 27 The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”(Matthew 8:23-27)

Proof

i.      Note end of Matthew 12:41, “; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

      1. Of course, this is a reference to Jesus.
      2. Of course to the Scribes and Pharisees they do not believe it.
      3. But for Jesus’ disciples these words must have meant something and probably echo an earlier event before we see what is going on here: Matthew 8:23-27.

ii.      The parallel with Jonah and Jesus:

      1. Both episodes involve a man of God.
      2. Both episodes involve being in a vessel: “When He got into the boat” (Matthew 8:23a)
      3. Both episodes involve a vessel sailing the opposite direction (Youngblood, Location 1724).
      4. Both episodes involve a man of God that has others being in the vessel with him as well: “His disciples followed Him.” (Matthew 8:23b)
      5. Both episodes involves being at sea. “on the sea” (Matthew 8:24a)
      6. Both episodes involve a “big storm”: “And behold, there arose [a]a great storm on the sea,” (Matthew 8:24a)
      7. Both episodes involve the vessel being threatened: “so that the boat was being covered with the waves,” (Matthew 8:24b)
      8. Both episodes involve the man of God sleeping during the storm: “but Jesus Himself was asleep.” (Matthew 8:24c)
      9. Both episodes involve the man of God being waken up: “but Jesus Himself was asleep.” (Matthew 8:25)
      10. Both episodes involve terrified men: “And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “ Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” (Matthew 8:25)
      11. Both episodes involve the storm miraculously stopped: “He *said to them, “Why are you [b]afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and [c]it became perfectly calm.” (Matthew 8:26)
      12. Both episodes involve the response of fear and awe: “The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:27)

iii.      But what is the differences between Jesus and Jonah?  A Great difference!

Practice

i.      Do you respond in awe of God?

ii.      Does your life of holiness reflect it?

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