WWW Wednesday: The Best Kings of Israel Chart EVER!

The Kings of Israel

 

While studying many portions of the Old Testament it is often helpful to have a reference chart of the Kings of Israel. Unfortunately most reference charts only come in plain vanilla– helpful but boring.

Recently I ran across a very helpful chart that is anything but boring. To find out more please checkout my weekly post over at the Why We Web blog.

 

Link: Found Online: The Best Kings of Israel Chart EVER!

 

Enjoy!

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Jottings – Why God Wrote The Bible

Jottings Pencil

“God did not write a book for us to read once a year. God wrote the Bible so we can know Him.”

Mike Stoudt in a message given at the 2013 Greenwood Hills Labor Day Conference.

 

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The Reading Meeting

When Christians Gather Together - The Reading MeetingThere is some interest in the “reading meeting” practiced in some assemblies of the Lord’s people. What is a reading meeting? is there Scriptural support for having such a meeting? How would we go about holding one?

Sometimes we refer to the reading meeting as the “Bible study” or the “Bible reading”. It’s an informal round-table discussion of a passage of Scripture. The reading meeting can be an excellent opportunity for teaching in the assembly: the very nature of a reading makes it easy to ask questions, offer corrections, and help one another understand difficult passages.

Of course we ought not consider any sort of meeting without considering what Scripture has to say about it. So let’s ask the most important question, “What does Scripture say?”

 


Why Do Christians Meet Together?


 

Scripture gives several reasons for the assembly to gather:

First, we meet together because the Lord is present in the assembly. The assembly is “a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22, JND). The Lord Jesus said, “where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20, JND). We understand from the epistles that the Lord is with us individually (1 Corinthians 6:19-20): but the teaching of Scripture is clear that the assembly is a place where the Lord is present in an entirely different way. So there’s a sense where we go to the meetings to meet with the Lord.

Second, we meet together to eat the Lord’s Supper. This is taught remarkably in 1 Corinthians: “I do not praise, namely, that ye come together, not for the better, but for the worse… When ye come therefore together into one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper.” (1 Corinthians 11:17-20 JND). The apostle writes to the Corinthians like this is a strange thing, that they’d gather not to eat the Lord’s Supper. And the story of Paul’s visit to Troas corroborates this: “the first day of the week, we being assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed to them, about to depart on the morrow. And he prolonged the discourse till midnight” (Acts 20:7 JND). Clearly the early Christians assembled the first day of the week, specifically “to break bread”.

Third, we meet together to edify one another. 1 Corinthians 14:2-5 says, “he that prophesies speaks to men in edification, and encouragement, and consolation. He that speaks with a tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the assembly” (JND). This is one reason we gather: to edify one another. What is edifying? To edify is to “build up”1. So we gather to build one another up. The idea here is not an ego boost: it’s to encourage one another and help one another grow.

There are other reasons to gather, but three are sufficient for our present purpose. We might consider Matthew 18 as the Lord’s instructions regarding the assembly gathering to settle a dispute between brothers. We might also consider the where a wedding or a funeral fits into the gatherings of the assembly: that would be an interesting discussion in itself.

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NT Tuesday: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth – 2 Timothy 2:15

 

I recently wrote an article titled “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” for Uplook Magazine. This week’s blog post is a condensed version of that as part of our on-going look at New Testament principles.

 


Continued Steadfastly in the Apostles Doctrine



 

The Holy BibleOne of these principles is that the believers continued steadfastly in the Apostle’s Doctrine. I’d like to suggest that studying the Word of God is a New Testament Principle. Now, let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:15.

Many dear saints have memorized the verse in a translation that includes the word “divide”, but a more practical and updated translation of the word can be found in the English Standard Version: ‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” The idea is that we ought to know how to handle the Word of Truth and that we ought to handle the word of truth responsibly and with discernment.

Whether you prefer the translation “rightly dividing,” “cutting in a straight line,” or “rightly handling”; the image is clear – correctly using the Word of Truth takes work, takes effort, takes purpose and takes discernment.

 


Rightly Dividing



 

Let’s consider, in broad terms, the ways by which the Word needs to be divided – where distinctions need to be made while handling the Word of Truth.

  1. Recognizing that God has dealt with man differently throughout history. This concept is often called “dispensationalism.” A big word with even larger significance. Simply put it means that God has dealt differently with man in various ways over history.
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  3. Recognize a distinction between the Church and Israel. A casual student of the Bible will recognize that Israel has a unique and special place in history. A casual student will also recognize that something changed after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and that a new body was formed, a body much different than Israel.
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  5. Recognize that there are two times when the Lord will come to the Earth. Failing to discern the difference between the first advent of the Son of God (that happened about 2000 years ago) and the second (still future) has led many to miss the first because they were looking for the second.
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  7. Recognize that the believer has two natures. Born again believers receive a new nature at the time of their new birth. God, in His perfect wisdom, allows the old nature to remain.
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  9. Recognize the difference between truths that pertain to the believer’s position and to his practice.
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  11. Recognizing the difference between faith unto salvation and service unto rewards. Salvation is a free gift offered by God to sinners, rewards are gifts given by God to believers for their faithful service to Him while here on earth. Many a misguided soul has confused the two and led many straight to eternal judgment.

 

There are other areas of truth that require a careful handling, rightly dividing it, but these examples should suffice to give the reader a basic understand of the necessity of heeding the Holy Spirit’s instruction to Timothy and to enable each and every believer to be a worker who need not be ashamed, but one who is approved.

Until next week, fulfill your ministry!

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Photo credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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Best Commentaries For Studying Romans: Case Study on Bible Study Tools

I’ve been doing this series on Bible Study tools and was focusing on commentaries. In this post, I am going to list my commentary methodology, and a recommendation, with one book of the Bible: Romans.

I’ve read it quite a few times. Repeatedly. Taken notes on my perfect Bible and backed them up. Each time I find myself thinking “well, still don’t fully get it!” Paul had quite the brain.

But Paul was also in a certain culture. And Paul was also writing to a people in that culture. And he used words that were distinct to that culture.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’ve done hard work in the text. I’ve got an idea of the thought-flow. I have some fifty posts on Romans—and those are just the ones I’ve taken a chance to organize and post online! But there are some debatable things that stop me while I’m reading. Since I want to be faithful to what the God is saying in the inspired text, I get nervous. I had better consult my teachers with the questions that stop me.

For example: what was the socio-cultural milieu when Paul wrote Romans? How would they understand that whole section on the Law and divorce in Romans 7? What have other believers in Church History believed about the text? How would they struggle with Romans 3 and the justification by faith passages? How have they read Romans 9-11? Has the treatment of the passage always been the same? What would this mean today? How can it be properly applied?

Then I consult my Romans Collection (here’s a link to WorldCat if you wanted to try picking them up at the library or store: there are about 60). Witherington’s Socio-rhetorical commentary is self-explanatory. Newell tries to deal with the text verse by verse but seems to focus more on summarizing. Luther reflects the fire of the reformation. Calvin underscores a careful exegesis. MacArthur is constantly applying after dealing with the text. Barth looks like he’s responding to something (when you can understand him). Cranfield deals with the text as it stands. Hodge gives you a strong post-reformation exegesis. Augustine, Chrysostom and Origen reflect how the early church dealt with the text. Ironside tries to encourage the regular reader; Darby meditates on what the text is saying and tries to apply it.  Wright and Dunn give you another way to read the text if their historical references are right.  Moo counteracts many of their uncareful exegesis by upholding the traditional reading.

Now I’m careful. I take more care with the ones that make assumptions with the text, or with history, or with the original languages. The devotional ones, or the ones that are talking to the Regular Joe, might say things confidently without defending them and that’s a road fraught with error. I think it’s better to focus on what the text says than to focus on some flowery application that someone has made on the text. But I’m also careful with the ones who spend their time hovering over the text and creating a culture that changes the reading of the text. No good telling me the text doesn’t say what it says just because of some hypothetical historical drama.

All these commentators—giants of Biblical exegesis, theology and church history—sit around my office and discuss the text. And I let them talk.

So if you had to buy two commentaries on Romans, Moo and Cranfield are the best. Moo is easier to read and up to date with its argumentation; Cranfield often writes in Greek without bothering to translate but I think he’s more faithful with the text even if he doesn’t deal with New Perspective on Paul stuff.  If you only had to buy one, I’d say buy Moo since Cranfield’s is two volumes.

I didn’t recommend anything for the other books of the Bible since you should now have a tool for that. But remember this: if you’re going to study Scripture, especially if you plan to teach it, you had better be doing some serious work with the text and that should include consulting those people that have spent lifetimes struggling with it throughout Church history.We’re not alone.

Crossposted at The Bible Archive.

 

 

 

 

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How Do You Use a Bible Commentary?

I’ve been saying that when we study our bibles digitally we need to be reading our Bibles. Repeatedly. Exegesis requires reading. Recently, I’ve added the need to consult commentaries. In this post I want to list a few ways to use a commentary when studying the Bible digitally:

  1. Use multiple commentaries on a single passage. Almost all Bible software today lets you do this by either clicking a tab or doing a search in all resources. Plus, this makes the commentators argue with each other instead of non-expert you trying to come up with an argument against them.
  2. Read different levels of commentaries. Some commentaries are exceedingly technical and probably only need to be read by Academia. But others might be Evangelical and Semi-Technical offering great rewards for the persistent student. And yet others are very devotional and allow a person to think on a passage and how it reflects this or that. Most free programs offer a lot of devotional commentaries—which tend to be the older commentaries—while the more expensive programs allow you to purchase commentaries of different skill levels. Remember to check the last post on how to buy a commentary before diving in.
  3. Use the ones that have been recommended. In the last post, I made sure to highlight four guides that were essential to offering recommendations. Use them. You don’t want to dive into purchasing commentaries that will be of no spiritual benefit for you. You can use them both in print and digitally.
  4. Use them for what you need them to do. In other words, don’t just use devotional commentaries and don’t just use exegetical commentaries. If you’re studying your Bible, you’re going to want to study the original meanings, the meaning of the text as it stands, how the text stands in history, how others have understood the text, how the text stands in redemptive history, what it means to you, what it means to the Church as a whole, and what it says in simple terms. Right there is a whole mess of different commentaries and you’ll want to have the right tools for the right job. If you have a digital version, this could incorporate nicely into your program to aid in your overall study.
  5. Use them after you’ve done hard work but before you are convinced by your work. You don’t want to be a mere parrot for what the commentaries say, but you do want to ensure that you haven’t hardened into some faulty position before deciding to go off and consult them. That point is different for different folk.
  6. Use them consistently. Commentaries are not a one-time use sort of thing; they are an investment in your spiritual development and potentially the spiritual development of others. So ensure that you use them often, against each other, in your studies. Digital versions are easier to carry around and might aid in this respect.
  7. Use them in a quest for God’s message. It’s real easy to get caught up in reading commentaries so as to be more impressive when you teach but that misses the point of studying the Bible altogether. The Bible is, if you allow the metaphor, a love letter from God. When we’re studying the Bible we’re poring over this note from the lover of our entire being who condescended to write to us after orchestrating history for our good. So a commentary should really be an aid in trying to understand that love letter.

Crossposted at The Bible Archive

 

 

 

 

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How To Buy A Commentary for Bible Study

I’ve been posting about using digital tools and we started talking about commentaries. Here’s the rub: there are a whole mess of Bible commentaries.

It’s not enough that we have the printing press and modern theologians writing a whole mess of them; we also have 2,000 years of church history filled with commentaries.

But not only that, we have the commentaries by unbelievers, agnostic believers, people who are closer to deists than anything, heretics, heterodox, and people who just have a pet agenda to push forward.

For the person who is studying their Bible, who has put in some sweat and tears on exegesis, I think it’s smart to invest good money on solid commentaries while simultaneously avoiding all the garbage that’s out there.

At this point, some folk might be quick to recommend a digital version of William MacDonald’s two volume commentary on the Bible. Yeah, it’s good for what it is—a quick hitting devotional through the Bible. But a main source for commentary it is not (sorry—neither is Matthew Henry’s.).

And frankly, no single volume commentary will be. Not even a single publisher of commentaries. If you want some real commentary tools for studying your Bible, you’re going to have to approach it like a stock portfolio: diversify.

So here are some links to resources that let you broaden your horizon on what commentaries to look for when shopping:

Free: Check out Best Commentaries for reviews on, well, commentaries. The site compiler picks up his information from some books that you should definitely buy but also touches on some writers that are on the web (like Keith Mathison over on Ligonier Ministries or Jeremy Pierce, a Chrisitan philosopher who blogs over at Parableman). For those strapped for cash, this is a great place to start but definitely think about investing in the Not-Free section.

Not Free but Must Own: pick up D.A Carson’s New Testament Commentary Survey. He’s a solid evangelical and reformed professor, pastor , and exegetical expert and this book will save you loads of money. He reviews commentaries, rates them based on skill level, but unfortunately only stays within the realm of the New Testament. The Kindle edition is roughly seven bucks which you can spend just by skipping Starbucks tomorrow.  But don’t let your heart be troubled, Tremper Longman III has an Old Testament Commentary Survey which does essentially the same thing as Carson but for the OT. For 8 bucks Kindle version, you can’t go wrong with this two stepper. And lastly, you should consider also picking up John Glynn’s Commentary and Reference survey. It’s the most expensive of the two since it’s not only commentaries, but it helps the commentary purchasing endeavor.

Note: you might not want to purchase commentaries in only digital versions. Digital versions are great, in that you can take them anywhere in your computer (especially if you purchased the Perfect Electronic Bible) but you’ll more often never get the discount you might find on a print version. I’ve bought print versions that are marked up with highlighters for under three bucks; I could never buy a digital version for that low.

So consider if you need to buy a digital version of any commentary before buying one. In fact, you might even want to use inter-library loans to get your hands on commentaries without buying them—it’s a great way to try before you buy.

Next post, how to actually use a commentary.

Crossposted at The Bible Archive

 

 

 

 

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Why You Should Use A Commentary For Bible Study


I’ve been posting about using digital tools to aid in a Bible Study. I’ve repeatedly mentioned reading the Bible, and that’s no different at this point where I want to merely state (without substantiating it very much—really can’t do all that in under five hundred words) that you should be using commentaries.

First, why you should be careful with commentaries:

  1. Some of them take a non-Christian approach to studying the text.
  2. Some take an agnostic approach about God’s work in history.
  3. They can be perverted to give a sense of secret knowledge.
  4. They might take you afield from the text if you refuse to stick with the text.
  5. They can be expensive.

But now, why you should use them:

  1. The best authors have studied history; you most likely haven’t.
  2. The best authors are expert in original languages; you mostly likely aren’t.
  3. The authors have interacted with other authors and have had their ideas scrutinized by experts in their field; you most likely haven’t.
  4. They’ll provoke you to think about the text outside of your normal ways of thinking.
  5. The Holy Spirit wasn’t only given to you: he was given to all Christians. Including the very smart ones who write commentaries.
  6. The Holy Spirit works in time so that means that very old commentaries might be just as helpful to you as modern ones.
  7. They provide a way to check your understanding of Scripture against the broader community.
  8. They predicate their work on a lifetime of studying a passage; you most likely haven’t
  9. Because  they give you hard work to provoke your brain for hard thinking.
  10. Because Spurgeon said so: “In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”

Next I’ll deal with how to buy a commentary.

Crossposted at The Bible Archive.

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Titus 2:12 The Gospel Training Curriculum

 

This is the 18th video in a series of teaching videos on the book of Titus. You can find the first video here.

It is amazing how the gospel not only saves but equips and trains a believer to live a new life. It’s not possible without the power of the Holy Spirit as it is the work of God to mould a believers life. I trust this latest video blog is a blessing to you.

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Jump to the next post in this series.

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How To Digitally Discover Bible Headings

We’ve been looking at this idea of studying the Bible using digital tools and we left off with tips on note taking. At this point I want to combine all the things we have thus far (reading the text of alternate versions across translation methodologies finally settling on a parallel work screen with note-taking tools on hand) and start examining the text.

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