May 24, 2008

Service When You Are Not Serving

Al Hsu has provided a helpful reminder by asking and answering the question, "What do you do if you aspire to a position of service and get passed over?" Read it

Thanks to Milton Stanley at Transforming Sermons for pointing this out.

Proverbs 25:11: Right Words

Jason Hardin has a helpful challenge drawn from Proverbs 25:11. He offers simple questions to ask so that we might speak the right words at the right time.

  • “Is what I am about to say appropriate?”
  • “Does it fit the audience?”
  • “Does it fit the situation?”
  • “Does it fit the character of the One in whose footsteps I’m walking?”
  • “If He were physically sitting right next to me, would these words still be the ‘right’ words?”

Six ways to Hinder Your Prayers

Tim Challies has a spiritually challenging
post on six ways to hinder your prayers.

1. Selfish Motives

2. Turning Away From Scripture

3. Unforgiving Hearts

4. Family Discord

5. Unconfessed Sin

6. Doubt

May 23, 2008

Schreiner, New Testament Theology, and Gender Issues

The CBMW blog has a nice two-part posting on Tom Schreiner's recently publi
shed New Testament Theology particularly as it relates to gender issues here and here.

Heard Any Good Sermons Lately?

There is a fairly basic story related to sermon preparation on You can read it

Latest Issue of The Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of the Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews that may be of interest to those interested in Bible exposition include:
François Bovon

Luke the Theologian: Fifty-Five Years of Research (1950-2005)

Reviewed by Eric Noffke

John J. Collins

A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

Reviewed by Robin Gallaher Branch

Beverly Roberts Gaventa

Our Mother Saint Paul

Reviewed by Angela Standhartinger

Daniel M. Gurtner

The Torn Veil: Matthew's Exposition of the Death of Jesus

Reviewed by Tony Costa

Doug Ingram

Ambiguity in Ecclesiastes

Reviewed by Martin A. Shields

Othmar Keel

Die Geschichte Jerusalems und die Entstehung des Monotheismus

Reviewed by Ernst Axel Knauf

Martin O'Kane

Painting the Text: The Artist as Biblical Interpreter

Reviewed by Dan W. Clanton Jr.

John Piper

The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright

Reviewed by Don Garlington

Lance Byron Richey

Roman Imperial Ideology and the Gospel of John

Reviewed by Warren Carter

Diane M. Sharon and Kathryn F. Kravitz, eds.

Bringing the Hidden to Light: The Process of Interpretation: Studies in Honor of Stephen A. Geller

Reviewed by Adele Berlin

Christopher J. H. Wright

The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative

Reviewed by Christopher N. Chandler

John Piper's Bethlehem Institute Moving Towards Accreditation of a College and Seminary

he Desiring God blog has announced plans to move The Bethlehem Institute
in the direction of a accredited college and seminary which will offer a BA in Biblical Studies at the undergraduate level and a MA and MDiv at the seminary level. Stay tuned.

Preaching Hard Texts

The Expositionalogistix blog has a good
post on the benefits and importance of preaching hard texts in the
Bible. In sum, four reasons to preach hard texts are identified to which i would add a fifth.
  1. Those texts are in the Scriptures!
  2. For all the talk about our people despising authority, I believe they are looking for solid ground on which to stand.
  3. People, especially Christians, long to be dealt with honestly.
  4. People feel patronized when pastors fail to deal with a text or issue.
  5. Hard texts challenge us spiritually and intellectually, forcing us to consider afresh God and the whole council of Scripture.

May 22, 2008

My Summary Argument for the Book of Jude

The message of Jude is that contending for the faith means recognizing and rejecting false teachings and false teachers until they are judged at the coming of the Lord.

The practical foundation for contending is the positional foundation of being called, beloved, and kept (1) and the divine provision of mercy, peace, and love (2). It is from this “common salvation” that the exhortation to contend earnestly for the faith against those who would ultimately deny Jesus Himself proceeds (3–4). Furthermore, in the introductory section (1–4), three themes are introduced that dominate the remainder of the epistle. First, he introduces the idea of contending for the faith (i.e. resisting and rejecting false teachers and teachings). Second, Jude introduces the false teachers/teachings. Third, Jude introduces the idea of judgment (“condemnation”) of the false teachers.

In the main body of the epistle, Jude reminds his readers that resistance and rejection of false teachers/teachings is wholly appropriate given God’s past, present, and future rejection and condemnation of false teachers. In the past God dealt with the disobedient Israelites, wayward angels, and the immoral people of Sodom and Gomorrah (5–7). In the present, the false teachers stand condemned before God as they revisit the sins of the past (8–13). For such men, judgment is inevitable and certain (14–16). Thus, false teachers have nothing to offer other than certain and severe judgment.

In the conclusion of the epistle, Jude reminds his readers that contending for the faith and resisting false teachers requires both awareness of the threat (17–18), diligence in maintaining a healthy spiritual life (19–21), and a willingness to help others (22–23). Jude closes his epistle with a word of affirmation and encouragement (24–25) that echoes vv. 1–2 (note the idea of kept/keep) which is so important to remember when contending for the faith.

May 21, 2008

Galatians Diagrams Available

Terry Cook has made his diagrammed the Greek text of Galatians and has made his work available for free for Logos Bible software users. These diagrams also contain an additional plus with grammatical annotations. See
here and follow the instructions.

Challies Free Gift Certificate and T-Shirts Context is having a gift certificate and t-shirt giveaway contest sponsored by Monergism Books. You can enter
here and if you would be so kind please enter 70256 as the referral number.

Parallel Hebrew and Greek

The HTML Bible website has two features which might be of interest to expositors who have some facility with Hebrew or Greek.

See the Parallel Hebrew Old Testament here.

See the Parallel Greek New Testament here.

The Pouring Out of the Spirit

See Greg Gilbert's
post on Old Testament and New Testament passages related to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Among other things he discusses how the pouring out imagery might relate to water baptism. Interesting.

May 20, 2008

Second Temple Quarry Redux

Yesterday I
posted a story on the recent discovery of a Second
Temple quarry. Leen Ritmeyer has responded to the story. The long and short of it is that this quarry probably did not provide stones for Herod's temple as some have intimated. In any case read Ritmeyer's article here.

Matt Weymeyer has a good
post answering the question, "How can we trust the
NT if we don't have the original manuscripts. To summarize, Weymeyer offers three reasons for trusting the reliability of the New Testament.

  1. The Abundance of Existing Manuscripts
  2. The Insignificance of Most Variants
  3. The Preservation of Primary Doctrines

Text and Illustration

Peter Mead has posted a helpful reminder concerning the temptation to bend a text to fit an illustration. Succumbing to this temptation results in preaching the illustration rather than the text. At that point the best result one can hope for is "right doctrine, wrong text."

May 19, 2008

Another Second Temple Quarry Found Near Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Post is
reporting that another Second Temple qu
arry has been found about two kilometers from old city Jerusalem. The quarry was apparently abandoned around A.D. 66-70.

On a related note, see this story about the challenges of doing archaeology in general in Jerusalem.

The Identity of Melchizedek: Four Theories

There are a number of different theories concerning the identity of Melchizedek. However we will only focus on the “four basic proposals” outlined by Davis.[1] Each of these four proposals will be briefly explained and examined.

One theory proposes that Melchizedek is none other than the preincarnate Christ (i.e., a Christophany). Although this theory does not seem to enjoy much popularity today, it does have its proponents.[2] In favor of this view is the exalted place of Melchizedek (particularly in Hebrews), the parallels of the bread and wine to the Lord’s Supper, the absence of a genealogy, and his supposed eternality (Heb. 7:3). However, as discussed previously, all these “proofs” can be explained in other and probably better ways. Furthermore, if this view were correct, it would seem illogical for the author of Hebrews to be saying that Christ is of the order of Melchizedek, if the order of Melchizedek was in reality the order of Christ.

A second theory proposes that Melchizedek was Noah’s son Shem. This theory was “introduced by rabbinical scholars before the end of the first century with the purpose it would seem, of counteracting the superior importance assigned by Christians to Melchizedek as a type of Christ on the basis the doctrine of The Epistle to the Hebrews.”[3] This view was also adopted by early Christians and even Luther.[4] The main appeal of this view seems to be that it eases the tension concerning the patriarch Abram’s submission to Melchizedek. However, while Shem may very well have been alive at this time, there is not scriptural justification for this theory.[5]

A third theory proposes that Melchizedek was a pagan Canaanite priest.[6] The proponents of this view generally argue that El Elyon is a Canaanite deity and therefore Melchizedek must be a Canaanite priest. Against this view is the fact that El Elyon does not truly correspond to any know Canaanite deities. Furthermore, if Melchizedek were a pagan priest, it would be difficult to see how Abram’s reverent actions could possibly be appropriate. Not only this, but one would also have to explain why later inspired biblical authors of Psalm 110 and Hebrews would associate the Messiah with a pagan idolater.

The fourth common view is to see Melchizedek as a human, historical king-priest who worshipped Yahweh.[7] This final view has much to commend it. This theory not only harmonizes well with the reverent actions of Abram in Genesis fourteen, but is also avoids the textual presumptions which characterize the first two views. Furthermore, this view also seems to harmonize well with the Messianic overtones of Psalm 110 and the typology of Hebrews 5–7. This theory is particularly attractive because it allows for the uniqueness of Melchizedek (i.e., his order) while avoiding the unacceptable option of having an idolatrous priest being held in such high regard.

[1] John J. Davis, Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975), 181.

[2] A.T. Hanson, “Christ in the Old Testament According to Hebrews,” Studia Evangelica, Vol. II, part 1 (1964): 398.

[3] Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 244.

[4] Ibid.

[5] H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1942), 1:464.

[6] Ronald F. Youngblood, The Book of Genesis: An Introductory Commentary, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Beker, 1991), 156.

[7] Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New Jps Translation, The JPS Torah Commentary, ed. Nahum M. Sarna (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 109.

City of David: Jerusalem

I was cleaning up some of my bookmarks and came upon this link for a multi-media presentation on Jerusalem. It is interesting and well done. Check it out.

May 18, 2008

Sources for Bible Related Pictures

The Biblical Studies and Technological Tools blog has a helpful
post on sources for Bible related pictures. I have included the summary of the post below.

For high quality, high-resolution pictures:

Best online sites:

Ways to get pictures to use in your own presentations (i.e., clear use permissions)

  • Holy Land Photos: Clear and generous permission policy; excellent quality
  • Most of the packages that you buy allow for presentation use
  • It will take some checking, but many pictures on Flickr have clear Creative Commons usages described

Biblical Lessons According to Dr. Seuss?

According to a recent article, Robert Short, the author of The Gospel ac
cording to Peanuts has now turned his attention to the writings of Dr. Seuss. While this article is interesting at a number of levels, one aspect in particular intrigues me. Namely, the hermeneutics at play. What role does authorial intention have and where does meaning reside? As the article states, "Questions remain, however, about whether the original author intended such an interpretation or if Short, a retired Presbyterian minister, is just seeing the stories through the lens of his own life."

Forty-Five Ways to Waste Your Theological Education

Derek James Brown has identified forty-five ways to waste your theological education. This list is so good that I feel compelled to list them all below.

1. Cultivate pride by writing only to impress your professors instead of writing to better understand and more clearly communicate truth.

2. Perfect the fine art of corner-cutting by not really researching for a paper but instead writing your uneducated and unsubstantiated opinions and filling them in with strategically placed footnotes.

3. Mistake the amount of education you receive with the actual knowledge you obtain. Keep telling yourself, “I’ll really start learning this stuff when I do my Th.M or my Ph.D.”

4. Nurture an attitude of superiority, competition, and condesension toward fellow seminary students. Secrectly speak ill of them with friends and with your spouse.

5. Regularly question the wisdom and competency of your professors. Find ways to disrespect your professors by questioning them publicly in class and by trying to make them look foolish.

6. Neglect personal worship, Bible reading and prayer.

7. Don’t evangelize your neighbors.

8. Practice misquoting and misrepresenting positions and ideas you don’t agree with. Be lazy and don’t attempt to understand opposing views; instead, nurse your prejudices and exalt your opinions by superficial reading and listening.

9. Give your opinion as often as possible - especially in class. Ask questions that show off your knowledge instead of questions that demonstrate a genuine inquiry.

10. Speak of heretical movements, teachers, and doctrine with an air of disdain and levity.

11. Find better things to do than serve in your local church.

12. Fill your life with questionable movies, television, internet, and music.

13. Set aside fellowship and accountability with fellow brothers in Christ.

14. Let your study of divine things become dull, boring, lifeless, and mundane.

15. Chip away at your integrity by signing your school’s covenant and then breaking it under the delusion that, “Those rules are legalistic anyway.”

16. Don’t read to learn; read only to refute what you believe is wrong.

17. Convince yourself that you already know all this stuff.

18. Just study. Don’t exercise, spend time with your family, or work.

19. Save major papers for the last possible moment so that you can ensure that you don’t really learn anything by writing them.

20. Don’t waste your time forming friendships with your professors and those older and wiser than you.

21. Make the mistake of thinking that your education guarantees your success in ministry.

22. Don’t study devotionally. You’ll never make it as a big time scholar if you do that. Scholars need to be cool, detached, and unbiased - certainly not Jesus freaks.

23. Day dream about future opportunities to the point that you get nothing out of your current opportunity to learn God’s Word.

24. Do other things while in class instead of listening - like homework, scheduling, letter-writing, and email.

25. Spend more time blogging than studying.

26. Avoid chapel and other opportunities for corporate worship.

27. Argue angrily with those who don’t see things your way. Whatever you do, don’t read and meditate on II Timothy 2:24-26 and James 3:13-18 as you prepare for ministry.

28. Set your hopes on an easy, cushy pastorate for when you graduate. Determine now not to obey God when he calls you to serve in a difficult church.

29. Look forward to the day when you won’t have to concern yourself with all this theology and when you will be able to just “preach Jesus.”

30. Forget that your primary responsibility is care for your family through provision, shepherding, and leadership.

31. Master Calvin, Owen, and Edwards, but not the Law, Prophets, and Apostles.

32. Gain knowledge in order to merely teach others. Don’t expend the effort it takes to deal with your own heart.

33. Pick apart your pastor’s sermons every week. Only point out his mistakes and his poor theological reasoning so you don’t have to be convicted by anything he says.

34. Protect yourself from real fellowship by only talking about theology and never about your personal spiritual issues, sin, and struggles.

35. Comfort yourself with the delusion that you will start seriously dealing with sin as soon as you become a pastor; right now it’s not really that big a deal.

36. Don’t serve the poor, visit the sick, or care for widows and orphans - save that stuff for the uneducated, non-seminary trained, lay Christians.

37. Keep telling yourself that you want to preach, but don’t ever seek opportunities to preach, especially at local rescue missions and nursing homes. Wait until your church candidacy to preach your first sermon.

38. Let envy keep you from profiting from sermons preached by fellow students.

39. Resent behind-the-scenes, unrecognized service. Only serve in areas where you are sure you will receive praise and accolades.

40. Appear spiritual and knowledgeable at all costs. Don’t let others see your imperfections and ignorance, even if it means you have to lie.

41. Love books and theology and ministry more than the Lord Jesus Christ.

42. Let your passion for the gospel be replaced by passion for complex doctrinal speculation.

43. Become angry, resentful and devastated when you receive something less than an A.

44. Let your excitement for ministry increase or decrease in direct proportion to the accolades or criticisms you receive from your professors.

45. Don’t really try to learn the languages - let Bible Works do all the work for you.