RSS feed for this section

Archive | Biblical Studies

The Spiritual Gift of Discouragement?

Some people in the church seem to have the spiritual gift of discouragement.  It’s all that guy can do – discourage others. Truthfully, we are all “that guy” far too often. We find it far easier to complain and view circumstances negatively than positively. So, when a person embodies encouragement, we notice. The apostles took note of a such a man named Joseph. They recognized that he was no ordinary Joe. They called him Barnabas instead, which translated means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).

The church and her saints grew quickly when Barnabas encouraged people. We know from 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 that when it comes to growth, some plant, others water, but only God causes the growth. Encouragement serves as one form of watering.

Letters for Life: Galatians

(The intro to the series can be found here)

The book of Galatians challenges the fluffy, feel good Christianity of our day; the type of Christianity known only in terms of calendars with majestic images with uplifting verses; the kind of Christianity equated with bright smiles and neatly kept hair; the kind of Christianity that courteously steps to the side of pluralism or remains quiet in the arena of ideas; the kind of Christianity that would never ever kill a wolf, say a sharp word, or dare offend another.

Galatians is no such book.  It is genuine Christianity.  And as such, it shows us the sanctity, and by extension, the preciousness of the Gospel.

Isaiah 29: Paul’s Favorite Old Testament Chapter?

Was Isaiah 29 the Apostle Paul’s favorite chapter from the Old Testament? If asked what the chapter is about, most Christians would probably reason as follows: 1) I have no clue. But if I have to guess… 2) It’s an Old Testament prophecy and the chapter does not ring any “famous chapter” bells, so… 3) It must be about…um…JUDGMENT! And, you’d be right! But if it is so seemingly obscure why could we nominate it for “Best Chapter” of the Apostle Paul in the Old Testament?

N30: For the Men Only

Have you noticed a problem with some Christian men?

Do you think that the problem with some men today is that they are really boys in men’s bodies? Do you think that there is a reason why statistically there are more women in the church than men? Do you think that female pastors and elders may be partially the male gender’s fault? Do you know a number of young women that you would recommend to marry, but really can’t think of too many young men that you would recommend? Do you know Christian men that seem to sit back while their wives lead the family? Do you know a Christian man-child?

The state of Christian manhood does not look good.

Letters for Life: Hebrews

(This is part 2 in a series.  The Intro can be found here.  Part 1 here)

“And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (Rom 15:14).

Exhorting or admonishing others can be difficult, if not downright uncomfortable.[1]  But this is especially the case when spiritual disaster is at issue.  When we are made to watch a brother or sister walk dangerously close to the edge of apostasy, that narrow and crumbling rim where the line between life and death is but separated by a hair, we often reel with bewilderment and uncertainty, unsure of what to say or do.  Might we simply love them, or pray for them, or plead with them, or brow beat them?  Should we warn them?  And if so, how?  Should we encourage them?  If so, how?

These are all admittedly difficult questions, and while the circumstances surrounding each particular case will affect the details, there are, perhaps, a few constants.  And the book of Hebrews helps us discern them.

Letters for Life – Ephesians

(This is part one of a series introduced here).

Of all the letters Paul wrote, Ephesians is perhaps the most general.  Unlike Philemon or 1 Thessalonians or 1 Corinthians, a pressing concern isn’t setting the agenda.  And because of this Paul is able to write more freely.  The door is wide open, if you will.  He can address whatever he chooses.

So while Ephesians may not drip with the drama of the Corinthian correspondence, it nevertheless provides us with some interesting insights as a letter.  In order to get at this, we need to back up and consider a few dates (Don’t worry, it’s brief and relevant).

Letters For Life

I’d like to begin a new series.  The topic: Paradigms and Parchments- The Apostolic Example of Problem Solving

When we’re facing a difficult issue, asking ourselves how to best handle or approach a particular problem, we often look to specific texts of Scripture for guidance.  For example, suppose someone wants to know how they should interact with a brother or sister committing sexual immorality.  One verse to be considered, among many, would be 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.  Or suppose you want to know how to conduct yourself with unbelievers, especially within the context of evangelism.  A verse like 2 Timothy 2:24-26 is surely instructive.

This is how we often look for answers in the Bible.  We search out texts that address the issue, compile a list, and reflect.  Now while this is very good and very necessary, I want to suggest and take some time to consider another approach, one that functions more on the macro level than the micro level of individual passages.  What do I have in mind?

Rock Solid Resurrection Theology

We stood in the cemetery. My then-five-year-old daughter listened as I explained the resurrection – its reality and its glory. “But, Dad,” she interrupted, “how are they going to make sure they don’t hit their heads on the rocks when they get up?” Great question! We quickly segued to a discussion of the resurrection body (cf. John 20:26, 1 Corinthians 15:35-49) and of headstones.

Headstones bear witness to future generations of those who have lived in the past. For Christians, they testify that these bodies will rise when Jesus returns in glory. Sadly, recent generations have resorted to simple blocks of granite with basic information: names and dates. I suppose simplicity avoids excess. But isn’t there something profound about the messages engraved on headstones of previous generations? They bore artistry and quoted Scripture or other wise sayings that drew out something of the nature of the ones buried there.