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Archive | Biblical Studies

The Corporate Application of Scripture

Maybe we need a Southern Bible Version (the SBV)?

Or perhaps a Pittsburgh one?

One of the regular reminders I give hermeneutic and homiletical students is that English uses the word “you” for both the singular and plural. So it can be easy to misunderstand many portions of the Bible. For an example, Paul asks the Corinthian church, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16) Is the “you” that is used three times in this verse singular or plural? When studying the Bible, it is important to note that both original languages of Hebrew in the Old Testament and Greek in the New make a distinction between the second person singular and plural. In this verse, both the Greek and the context make it clear it is plural as Paul is telling the congregation at Corinth it is God’s temple.

That’s why a Southern Bible version might clarify this issue a bit. Paul’s question would become “Do y’all not know that y’all are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in y’all?” In Pittsburgh where I work, the natives are known for using the word yinz (a shortened form of “you uns”?) like […]

3GT Episode 71: Man in the Iron Cage (No, Not the MMA Kind)

Talk about a man in an iron cage today, and people will think of mixed martial arts. But there was a time when all that would have come to mind is the scene of a character in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

The man was trapped in an iron cage because, as he said, “I have so hardened my heart, that I cannot repent.” So the 3GTers discuss this mysterious character. Who is he and what does he represent? To answer, they turn to the Scriptures for help. Tough passages such as Hebrews 6:4-6 and Matthew 12:31-32 are raised. Concepts such as reprobation and the unpardonable sin are defined. Characters such as Judas and Esau are referenced. Warnings are issued.

Wow – a heavy topic! Yet tune in and hear also the gracious hope it brings!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/3gt-episode-71.mp3

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Giving Glory to the Immutable God

As we gather in the church sanctuary to worship God, we know one purpose is to give glory to him. The minister may even call us to worship this way from the Psalms, such as “ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” (Ps. 29:2). We may ask the Lord to glorify himself as we praise him. “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Ps. 108:5).

Further, Jesus said our Christian testimony can bring glory to God when he instructed his disciples, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Giving glory to God is our chief of duties as the answer to the first question in the catechism states: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

Yet we need to be clear what giving glory to God really is. More precisely, we should realize what giving glory to God is not.

It is easy for us to conclude that giving glory to God means we are adding something to him. We can come to worship and think that by glorifying the Lord we […]

A Hidden Source of Boaz’ Compassion

The story of Ruth is a tender one. This young widow came with her likewise widowed mother-in-law Naomi to Israel and began, through the hard work of gleaning, to provide for them. As a foreign woman from a cursed nation, Ruth could have easily been rejected or mistreated.

Instead, in God’s providence she was led to glean from the fields of Boaz. A relative of Naomi’s deceased husband, Boaz showed compassion to Ruth in providing more “easy pickings” from his fields. The subsequent appeal by Ruth for him to engage in the kinsman redeemer statutes from the Mosaic law (Lev. 25) so they could wed – and Boaz’ eagerness to fulfill it – not only warms the heart but encourages the soul. In the redemption Boaz brought to Ruth and Naomi, we see the merciful and protective love of God revealed in Christ. Like Boaz, Christ loved and redeemed an unlikely, unworthy bride. To eternally commemorate this story, God not only captured it in His holy Word. The book of Ruth ends by showing that Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David, from whom Christ came.

As we reflect on the compassion of Boaz for Ruth, certainly it was stirred by many […]

Now That You Are Behind in Your Bible Reading Program…

Sorry for the pessimistic title! But knowing that a large number of New Year’s resolutions typically get dropped by mid-January, I wouldn’t be surprised if many reading this post do not find themselves in this predicament. I want to offer you some encouragement and perhaps a plan that may refresh instead of burden you.

As I explain in the article I am reposting below, many Bible reading programs do not account for human nature. Such things as the unforgiving character of a checklist, the legalistic tendencies of our hearts, and the common disruptions in our calendars can make following a typical Bible reading program frustrating rather than freeing.

As I explain below, I have journeyed through many types of reading plans. That experience, combined with my own desire for Bible reading to be worshipful, meditative, and joyful, led me to put together what I call the STAR Bible Reading Program. If you are already behind and discouraged in your Bible reading, or even if you just want to try a different approach, perhaps this method might revitalize your time in God’s Word.

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Over the years I have used a number of Bible reading programs.  From choosing different books of interest to McCheyne’s classic […]

He Knows

Jesus’ letters to the seven churches at the beginning of Revelation have often been a source of direction and encouragement. While each of the letters follows the same format, each shines a light on the needs of a particular congregation and calls them to greater faith and faithfulness in Christ. Each letter presents Jesus in its own beautiful light (“who holds the seven stars in his right hand…the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David…the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation…”) and calls the congregation to rest upon their Savior. The unity and diversity of these letters is a reminder that every congregation is different but every congregation ultimately has the same deepest need: to worship God and grow in faithfulness.

Maybe one of the most encouraging parts of each letter is the way they begin. After introducing the divine author of the letter, they all begin with two simple words: “I know.” Before problems are addressed or encouragement is given, Jesus tells each church, “I know.”

Wanting to Silence those who Show us up?

Introduction

I’m planning to preach tomorrow on the murder by Cain of Abel. Time is pressing on so I’ll try to be fairly brief.

Text

John brings out Cain’s main motive for his murderous act, in 1 John 3.12:

“We should not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s were righteous!”

The word ‘RIGHTEOUS’ shows us that the deeds of Abel conformed to the standard God set, whereas, in comparison, in the case of Cain, they fell woefully far short.

The problem with Cain’s offering?

The problem with the gift was neither that it was cereal, nor just a token expression (this common popular interpretation is probably a part but not the heart of the matter), nor even because there was no blood (blood, of course, was required for without death of a sacrificial victim there is no pardon or acceptance – Moses is teaching Israel, in Genesis, during their wilderness wanderings, so mention of gifts, lambs and fat parts assumes some kind of knowledge of the Old Testament sacrificial system): have there not been many false religions in history that offered blood of sacrificial victims […]

And the Word became Flesh…

The Word of God
…the Pre-Incarnate Logos
…the Eternal Son
…the outward expression of the inward purpose of God
…the One who always was God and was always with God
…the appointed Mediator
…the One by whom, for whom and through whom all things were created and do presently consist
…the One who in the form of God possessed every attribute and characteristic of deity that makes God divine
…the One who was omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, co-equal, all-wise, sovereign, transcendent, thrice holy and pure love
…became what He was not, the Word of God made Flesh

The Word of God became, irreversibly, forevermore, without mixture or confusion, through mysterious and miraculous conception, fully enfleshed God-Man
…this fully divine person took to Himself a whole, complete, entire, full, human nature not by compression, confusion, transmutation, metamorphosis, or subtraction, but by addition of manhood to divinity; so He became what he was not while remaining what he always was
…this man born Jesus of Nazareth remained One Person but now possessed Two Distinct Natures
…with a human mind, heart and will to love God with all His soul and his neighbor-creatures as Himself
…with a mind full of wisdom
…with a heart full of compassion
…with a will set on obedience
…with the face of a man to fix […]

Confessing Non-Conformity

“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ.’” (Mark 8.29 E.S.V.)

“Before leaving this subject, special attention should be called to the fact that the words of Jesus ‘But you, who do you say that I am?’ convey a very important lesson, namely, that a true believer is one who is willing, whenever necessary, to express a conviction that is contrary to that of the masses. In the best sense of the term, the believer is willing to come forth boldly in the interest of the truth.

The Kingdom is for vigorous people …for strong and sturdy men like Joseph …Moses …Joshua and Caleb …Samuel …David …Nathan …Elijah …Jehoshaphat …Daniel and his three friends …Mordecai …Stephen …Paul …Epaphroditus …Onesiphorus …and the apostle John …It is for such valiant women as Ruth …Deborah …Abigail …Esther …and Lydia.

Conformity with the world, compromise on basic issues, the unwillingness to be distinctive, is strongly condemned in Scripture …not being ‘of the world’, believers are shining lights in the midst of the world …They are spiritually different from the world, in order to be a blessing to the world.

So here in Mark 8.28, 29, […]

Refuge in the Redeemer

Storm Shelters

It’s stormy in the mountains! A tornado’s headed this way! The town is under siege! Life hangs in the balance! Danger is all around! In such situations, we all need a place to turn to, a safe house to which we can run, a refuge where we can hide, or a location far from threat and beyond the reach of harm.

David’s Dangers

That’s what the son of Jesse learnt during his rise to power. He was pursued like a fox, chased down by many assailants, either ducking under Saul’s javelin or outwitting royal militia manoeuvres. David was subject to slander, surrounded by envious liars, and often took recourse to a hideout for escape.

Reliable Refuge

In the end, he knew however, it was God who spared his life. In Psalm 18.1-3 he recounts how the LORD had kept him safe.

“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

What is striking in this Psalm, and also Psalm 144.2, is the multiplicity of word-pictures used to convey how faithfully Yahweh kept him safe. As Derek Kidner […]