Posts Tagged ‘bible study’

As Easter approaches I thought this might be a helpful little paragraph to prepare for that great day with a little reflection. The following is an excerpt from Paul Beasley-Murray’s The Message of the Resurrection from the Bible Speaks Today Commentary Series (as a side note, if lay people are looking into making an investment in a commentary set, this would be the one for you).

“On Easter Sunday 1960 the great Methodist preacher W.E. Sangster lay speechless and helpless. He was able, however, to write a message to his daughter, Margaret: ‘It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout , “He is risen.” But it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”
-Beasley, The Message of the Resurrection pg 15

duel

What a wonderful excerpt from Luther’s 1535 commentary on Galatians.  Below Luther outlines a duel between Christ’s eternal righteousness and sin’s most powerful destructive force.  It is edifying and fascinating to see how he works it out.  Enjoy!

This is the most joyous of all doctrines and the one that contains the most comfort. It teaches that we have the indescribable and inestimable mercy and love of God. When the merciful Father saw that we were being oppressed through teh Law, that we were being held under a curse, and that we could not be liberated from it by anything, He sent His Son into the world, heaped all the sins of all men upon Him, and said to Him: “Be Peter the denier, Paul the persecutor, blasphemer, and assaulter; David the adulterer; the sinner who at the apple in Paradise; the thief on teh cross. In short, be the person of all men, the one who has committed the sins of all men. And see to it that You pay and make satisfaction for them.” Now the Law comes and says: “I find HIm a sinner, who takes upon Himself the sins of all men. I do not see any other sins than those in Him. Therefore let Him die on the cross!” And so it attacks Him and kills Him. By this deed the whole world is purged and expiated from all sins, and thus it is set free from death and from every evil. But when sin and death have been abolished by this one man, God does not want to see anything else in the whole world, especially if it were to believe, except the sheer cleansing and righteousness. And if any remnants of sin were to remain, still for the sake of Christ, the shining Sun, God would not notice them. (more…)

Here are the top three posts from the month of December. Curiously enough, none of the posts dealing with the incarnation even made a dent. During Advent I thought that was a bit strange. Oh well!

  1. U.S. Teens of Somali Background dissapear and emerge in terrorist training camps.  This was an alarming and very sad story that I picked up on CNN. 
  2. Help Me Read My Bible Part I:  What I think Martin Luther’s advice would be for good Bible study.  There are now three posts in this category.  They include John Calvin, and a good piece guest written by Iain Boyd on Jonathan Edwards.  The Calvin and Edwards piece didn’t get too much attention but I think they’re worth your time, especially Iain’s piece on Edwards. 
  3. And finally, Governor Jindal tells his conversion story from Hinduism to Christianity…and also why he doesn’t think too much of the Episcopal Church.

One extra:  I think this post that I wrote on Dante, Sin, Repentance and Desire would have gotten in the top three if it had not been posted so late in the month.  Check it out here.

edwardsIain Boyd, Associate Rector for Christian Ed. at Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach, contributes to our “Help Me Read the Bible” series.  He is a fine preacher, wonderful pastor, and gifted theologian.  He’s also my best friend!  Check out his blog here

 

How would Jonathan Edwards tell us to read our Bibles?  Beyond telling us to read, pray, and journal, I’m not exactly sure.  But what I am sure of is what he might say the Holy Spirit does when we read our Bibles.  Jonathan Edwards understood that there is Common Grace and Special Grace.  That is, there are graces given to all of humanity, whether they have believed in Christ or not.  All of humanity can know, to some degree, what is right and what is wrong.  All of humanity can know that there is a God.  All of humanity can know that hard work pays off.  There are other truths, however, that God must give specially to believers which are uncommon amongst men.  Jonathan Edwards discussed these graces in his sermon, A Divine and Supernatural Light Immediately Imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God.  In this sermon, Edwards was not dealing directly with how to have a devotional life, but rather, how to tell true conversion, true revival, from mere emotionalism.  What is helpful from his exposition is that Edwards’ evidence for true work of the Holy Spirit is centered on God’s revelation of Himself from Holy Scripture.  In other words, true revival, true conversion, and true sanctification have always to do with the Holy Spirit’s work in illuminating Scripture.  So, what might Edwards say the Holy Spirit does for us when we read our Bibles? (more…)

 “To inspire all people through the power of the Gospel to become living members of the Body of Christ…”

The Revelation to John

Dec 8:              Who is this Jesus?                     (Rev 1.9-20)

 

“Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts:  the knowledge of God and of our selves.  But while joined by man bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern.” –Calvin, Institutes Book 1.1.1.

 

Our topic today is “Who is this Jesus,” and if we are to take the quote seriously from John Calvin that I have just read, and I hope that we do, then we see that the answer to this questions hinges upon knowing two things:  Jesus and Self.  We cannot know Jesus unless we know self and we cannot know self unless we know Jesus.  The selection of the verses for today exhibit both in profound ways.  Let us turn then to knowledge of self.

 

“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the Kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus…”  In Roman Catholic, and unfortunately some Protestant churches, it is common to refer to John as “Saint.”  Aside from the fact that Scripture clearly defines the household of confessing believers as saints (Eph 3.18), the appellation “Saint” assigned only to certain Christians has unfortunate pastoral consequences.  For one, what are the adjectives most commonly associated with a saint? Righteous, perfect, holy, innocent, sinless etc.  In other words, NOTHING LIKE YOU.  But the grace of this particular scripture is that John seeks not to differentiate himself from us with exalted titles, but he seeks to identify with us by calling us “Brother.”  John can call us “brother” because he is made from the same stuff we are.  He has the same shortcomings, the same weaknesses, the same vulnerabilities and the same fears.  He has the same need for salvation.  So he begins this section of Revelation with “I, John, your brother.” (more…)

Below are the most read posts from the month of November.  Unsurprisingly, the topic of Hell (for I think the third month in a row) reigns supreme, although the “New Atheism” has supplanted politics for a strong number two showing.  And finally, in a not so distant third place the long dead preacher from Wittenberg, Martin Luther, shows up just in time to help us read our Bibles.  Check them all out below.

Why are Americans losing their belief in Hell?  Al Mohler tells us here

Did John Lennox really get Richard Dawkins to say belief in Deistic God likely? Read about it here

The first installment in our “Help Me Read My Bible” series, Martin Luther gives us a few tips on how to productively study the Word of God. Check it out here

The Great ReformerOne of the chief benefits of training for ministry at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford, England, was the Hall’s absolute commitment to intense Biblical studies. Not only did we benefit from some very fine tutors, but we also benefited from an excellent library containing the most well respected Bible commentators in the world past and present. This gave me a hunger for Biblical scholarship, one which I’ve continued to pursue in the ordained ministry.  My office is slowly becoming filled with the commentaries from the same Bible scholars I read at Oxford and I continue to enjoy their insights. When preparing for a sermon, I pull down the relevant commentaries and stack them beginning with the most technical and gradually work my way through till I wind up with the most pastorally applicable. Of all the commentaries I read during this process, none do I look forward to more than the commentaries of the reformer from Geneva, John Calvin (who does disappoint but only on rare occasions). Many times I have found modern scholars, with all the advancements in archaeological, linguistic and sociological research, have little to add to the insights of John Calvin writing 500 years before them. And of course rarely is Calvin’s intense pastoral concern to apply Biblical truth to the souls of his congregation matched by any modern evangelical authors. So let us turn to this great man and see what gems we might mine from his extensive collection of writings to apply to our reading of the Bible.

1)  Approach the Scriptures with the Right Goal in Mind
People pick up the Bible for many reasons.  Some people read it to increase their learning, some people read it for moral guidance, some people read it for self-improvement, time tried wisdom, or simply for comfort.  While each of these is good, Calvin would want the chief end of our reading of Scripture to be about knowing God.  In the Institutes he writes that the Scriptures were given to the Church “as a surer and more direct means of discovering himself” (Institutes 1.6.1).  A few lines later he clarifies his statement by saying

“It was necessary, in passing from death unto life, that they should know God, not only as a Creator, but as a Redeemer also; and both kinds of knowledge they certainly did obtain from the Word. In point of order, however, the knowledge first given was that which made them acquainted with the God by whom the world was made and is governed. To this first knowledge was afterwards added the more intimate knowledge which alone quickens dead souls, and by which God is known not only as the Creator of the worlds and the sole author and disposer of all events, but also as a Redeemer, in the person of the Mediator” (Institutes 1.6.1)

The “first knowledge” that Calvin here refers to is that knowledge of God revealed in creation (Rom 1.20).  But that personal, intimate, saving knowledge of God where he is known as savior and mediator is only given in the Scriptures and this is their chief end and unifying theme from beginning to end.  When we approach the Scriptures, Calvin would have us consider what they have to say about God first, and more specifically what they have to say about God as redeemer.  Only after this do we move onto personal application. (more…)