Defending the Faith - The Problem of Human Nature

From Voice, Jan/Feb 2015. Used by permission. (Read Part 1.)

Believers best defend the faith by turning the Bible loose through careful, accurate and patient teaching. Ultimately this becomes an issue of biblical anthropology: how do you view man? Is he able to fully comprehend and judge facts as if The Fall (Genesis 3) had no affect upon him?

Biblical view of man

Here’s what I mean. God created everything in the universe and His imprint is seen everywhere in creation because everything came from His hand. But Romans 1:18-23 teaches that man’s problem is not a lack of evidence.

Man’s problem instead is the cognitive, moral deficiency to correctly interpret what he sees. Romans 1:18-23 says that man suppresses the truth displayed in creation/natural revelation and he rejects its message of God’s “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20) so that all men “are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Unbelieving humans reject what creation reveals to them. Read more about Defending the Faith - The Problem of Human Nature

Defending the Faith - Turn the Bible Loose

From Voice, Jan/Feb 2015. Used by permission.

I have always found it compelling that in the letter designed to instruct Timothy in how to be a pastor of a local church, the first and last words had to do with defending the faith. At the epistle’s beginning, Paul instructed Timothy to guard the truth in opposition to false teachers (1 Timothy 1:3), and at the epistle’s ending, Paul commanded Timothy to guard the truth that was committed to his trust (1 Timothy 6:20).

In his exhortation to the Ephesian elders, Paul urged them to guard the flock of God from false teachers (Acts 20:28-30). Peter warned against false teachers who would secretly bring in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1-3) and who would mock God’s promises (2 Peter 3:3-4); he cautioned his readers to beware and not fall into the error of the wicked (2 Peter 3:17). Jude commanded us to contend earnestly for the faith against false teachers who would attempt to creep into our churches unnoticed (Jude 3-4). And the Lord Jesus taught about the nature of our Adversary who would seek to destroy God’s work in the lives of people (Matthew 13:19) and to deceive everyone possible through his implanted agents (Matthew 13:36-43).

Defending the faith is an essential part of the ministry of pastors and churches! Read more about Defending the Faith - Turn the Bible Loose

Book Review - New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Zondervan, 2014) is a thorough revision of the original NIDNTT. Moises Silva is the revision editor, and the finished product is a must have for serious students and pastors who work in Greek on a regular basis. The updated set consists of five volumes (four dictionary volumes and an index volume).

Overview

This edition includes an extensive introduction written by Silva that gives an update and overview of all revisions and corrections that were made in the new edition. This is helpful for those who have used the NIDNTT and want to know how the NIDNTTE differs. The original was written while Rudolph Bultmann was a primary figure in New Testament scholarship, and many of the articles interacted with his writings. Some of those discussions have been shortened in the new version. A major structural change is that the NIDNTTE adopts an alphabetical listing for Greek words, moving away from the “concept” listings in the original. This shores up a major weakness in the original while still including a fairly comprehensive list of concepts in the beginning of each volume. The editors also stated that they sought to be more consistent in the presentation of statistical data (p. 12). A list of other revisions can be seen in the introduction to the work. Read more about Book Review - New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis

Sermon for New Year's Day

Sermon no. 1816, delivered on Thursday evening, January 1st, 1885, by C. H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.”—Revelation 21:5.

HOW PLEASED WE ARE with that which is new! Our children’s eyes sparkle when we talk of giving them a toy or a book which is called new; for our short-lived human nature loves that which has lately come, and is therefore like our own fleeting selves. In this respect, we are all children, for we eagerly demand the news of the day, and are all too apt to rush after the “many inventions” of the hour. The Athenians, who spent their time in telling and hearing some new thing, were by no means singular persons: novelty still fascinates the crowd. As the world’s poet says—

“All with one consent praise new-born gawds.” Read more about Sermon for New Year's Day

The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 11)

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the entire series.

Chapter Seven: Conclusion

It is no “stretch” to find in the churches of the NT what may be characterized as “Christianized” synagogues. The membership in the synagogue was rather restricted, being based first on physical requirements (male and Jewish by birth), but slightly expanded to admit those men who spiritually came over to the Jewish religion and submitted to its rituals and requirements. In the churches, the membership requirements were spiritual rather than physical in nature, being based on a new spiritual birth for both Jews and Gentiles, followed by a public declaration through immersion of faith in the Messiah Jesus. Gentiles were not required to “become Jews” in order to qualify for admission. Women as well as men were admitted into the congregation.

The chief constituent elements of a synagogue service—prayer, Bible reading and a sermon—are found as well in the churches. There are some differences, of course. While the synagogue naturally enough limited its Bible reading to the OT, the NT churches also included the reading of the NT books as they became available. The prayers in the synagogue tended toward the written and liturgical while the NT churches betray no evidence of such a practice in the first century. Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 11)

Why We Rejoice

Especially at this time of the year, Christians all over the world are making public statements about the supreme gift God the Father made to mankind: His own eternal Son, Jesus Christ the Lord.

For hundreds of years before the Lord Jesus arrived on planet Earth, the Father had promised to His people Israel that His Son was coming to provide salvation to those who would believe in Him. For example, Moses wrote:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear… And [God the Father confirmed that] it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. (NKJV, Deut. 18:15-19; cf. Acts 3:22)

In His own words, the Son of God explained through the prophet Isaiah (700 years before He added a true and complete human nature to His eternal divine nature):

Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was [the Creation], I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me. (Isa. 48:16)

Also,

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor… To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn. (Isa. 61:1, 2; cf. Luke 4:18, 19)

Read more about Why We Rejoice

Joy Born at Bethlehem

Sermon 1026, delivered on Lord’s-Day morning, December 24th,1871 by C. H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”—Luke 2:10-12.

WE HAVE NO superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. Fabricius gives a catalogue of 136 different learned opinions upon the matter; and various divines invent weighty arguments for advocating a date in every month in the year. It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. Because the day is not known, therefore superstition has fixed it; while, since the day of the death of our Saviour might be determined with much certainty, therefore superstition shifts the date of its observance every year. Where is the method in the madness of the superstitious? Probably the fact is that the holy days were arranged to fit in with heathen festivals. We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December. Nevertheless since, the current of men’s thoughts is led this way just now, and I see no evil in the current itself, I shall launch the bark of our discourse upon that stream, and make use of the fact, which I shall neither justify nor condemn, by endeavoring to lead your thoughts in the same direction. Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it cannot be in the power of other men’s superstitions to render such a meditation improper for to-day. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of his dear son. Read more about Joy Born at Bethlehem

Why Did Joseph Go to Bethlehem?

Bethlehem - Vasily Polenov, 1882

In a previous article, I suggested that the ruling descendants of David had migrated from Babylon to Nazareth. It is also possible that some of the descendants of David first moved to Bethlehem—David’s original home town—and then later migrated to Nazareth, perhaps joining other family members who had come from Babylon. Or perhaps they had all come, more recently, from Bethlehem.

When Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem for a census (Luke 2:1), it is unlikely that they returned to Bethlehem simply because David had been born there a full thousand years earlier. Luke’s brief summary for the reason of their journey to Bethlehem is just that: a brief summary of what might otherwise be an involved (and tedious) explanation. Read more about Why Did Joseph Go to Bethlehem?