Ian Stamps – School Supplies: Perseverence
Tim Keller – Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical
Brandon Braun – Going The Distance
I am a language nerd. While not a linguistic expert by any stretch of the imagination, I nevertheless fully understand the importance of knowing what words mean in context as well as the development of terms over time. It seems when studying Scripture and especially when engaging in exegesis of God’s Word, we forget it …View full post
Exposition of Psalm 99 Verse 1. The Lord reigneth. One of the most joyous utterances which ever leaped from mortal lip. The overthrow of the reign of evil and the setting up of Jehovah’s kingdom of goodness, justice, and truth, is worthy to be hymned again and again, as we have it here for the …View full post
(1.) The decree of election, considered absolutely in itself, without respect to its effects, is no part of God’s revealed will; that is, it is not revealed that this or that man is or is not elected. This, therefore, cannot be made either argument or objection against anything in which faith or obedience is concerned. …View full post
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you …View full post
I am a language nerd. While not a linguistic expert by any stretch of the imagination, I nevertheless fully understand the importance of knowing what words mean in context as well as the development of terms over time. It seems when studying Scripture and especially when engaging in exegesis of God’s Word, we forget it was not written in 21st century English. Enter into this discussion the topic of the Septuagint. If you are a language geek like myself but are not sure what that is, then I recommend Karen Jobes’ book Discovering the Septuagint: A Guided Reader.
Keep in mind this is not a history book on the Septuagint although a brief two-page introduction to the Septuagint and its importance is provided for the reader. This book is a language primer, specifically intended to “give readers a taste of different genres, an experience of distinctive Septuagintal elements, and a sampling of texts later used by writers of the New Testament.”
Studying the Septuagint as whole or even studying snippets might seem like a rather boring enterprise for some. I would recommend such an approach to the Septuagint be reconsidered. Given it is a translation of the OT Hebrew into Greek, digging into the Septuagint provides the student of Scripture a means to take a look at many important elements of language. Furthermore, the NT authors referred to and quoted from the Septuagint. This means understanding points of language in the Septuagint is not merely an OT exercise. It has great importance on understanding the NT text as well.
Over 660 verses within 9 different OT books are analyzed with the format being the passage provided in Greek and varying degrees of analysis, definitions, and commentary provided depending on the content of the passage in question. Additionally, each pericope is followed by the English translation derived from A New English Translation of the Septuagint. If there are any quotations from the OT text being discussed, those cross references are also provided. The format is very easy to follow and while this is certainly intended to be a textbook style work, the information provided is written in a manner that can be understood by anyone with a basic working knowledge of language. Those without such a working knowledge should not despair as the content can easily be understood and absorbed by those with a more novice level of understanding (such as myself).
Whether you are a novice language nerd like myself that loves to dig into word meanings or if you are one with a more developed understanding when it comes to matters of linguistics, Discovering the Septuagint is a must have for your bible study book collection.
This book is available for purchase from Kregel Academic by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Kregel Academic and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Exposition of Psalm 99
Verse 1. The Lord reigneth. One of the most joyous utterances which ever leaped from mortal lip. The overthrow of the reign of evil and the setting up of Jehovah’s kingdom of goodness, justice, and truth, is worthy to be hymned again and again, as we have it here for the third time in the psalms. Let the people tremble. Let the chosen people feel a solemn yet joyful awe, which shall thrill their whole manhood. Saints quiver with devout emotion, and sinners quiver with terror when the rule of Jehovah is fully perceived and felt. It is not a light or trifling matter, it is a truth which, above all others, should stir the depths of our nature. He sitteth between the cherubims. In grandeur of sublime glory, yet in nearness of mediatorial condescension, Jehovah revealed himself above the mercyseat, whereon stood the likeness of those flaming ones who gaze upon his glory, and for ever cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts.” The Lord reigning on that throne of grace which is sprinkled with atoning blood, and veiled with the covering wings of mediatorial love, is above all other revelations wonderful, and fitted to excite emotion among all mankind, hence it is added, Let the earth be moved. Not merely “the people, “but the whole earth should feel a movement of adoring awe when it is known that on the mercyseat God sits as universal monarch. The pomp of heaven surrounds him, and is symbolised by the outstretched wings of waiting cherubs; let not the earth be less moved to adoration, rather let all her tribes bow before his infinite majesty, yea, let the solid earth itself with reverent tremor acknowledge his presence.
(1.) The decree of election, considered absolutely in itself, without respect to its effects, is no part of God’s revealed will; that is, it is not revealed that this or that man is or is not elected. This, therefore, cannot be made either argument or objection against anything in which faith or obedience is concerned. For we do not know it; we cannot know it; it is not our duty to know it; knowledge of it is not proposed as useful to us — indeed, it is our sin to inquire into it. It may seem to some to be like the tree of knowledge of good and evil seemed to Eve: good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and much to be desired to make one wise. All secret, forbidden things seem so to carnal minds. But men can gather no fruit from this tree except death. See Deu 29.29. Whatever exceptions, therefore, are laid against this decree as it is in itself, whatever inferences are made on supposing this or that about a man being elected or not, they are all unjust and unreasonable. Indeed, they are proud contentions with God, who has appointed another way for discovering it, as we will see afterward.
(2.) God sends the gospel to men in pursuit of his decree of election, and in order for its effectual accomplishment. I do not dispute what other end it has or may have, in its indefinite proposal to all; but this is the first, regulating, and principal end of it. Therefore, in preaching it, our apostle affirms that he “endured all things for the sake of the elect, that they might obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory,” 2Tim 2.10. So beforehand, God commanded Paul to stay and preach the gospel at Corinth, because “he had many people in that city,” — namely, in his purpose of grace, Acts 18.10. See chap. 2.47, 13.48.
The Apostles’ Creed is a 2,000 year old confession of the basic contours of the Christian faith. From the earliest beginnings of the New Testament Church, the Church began articulating a “pattern of sound words” (2 Tim 1:13) of what Christians believe. When leading our congregation in affirming our faith, I preface it with the question, “Christian, what do you believe?” In turn, the congregational response begins with the opening words of the Creed, “I believe.” While a basic fixture in many worship services, we must ask ourselves the following important question: “Have I really grasped the importance of these words?
The first word is a personal word, “I.” The Apostles’ Creed is a personal declaration of faith. This is something that must be held at the first-person singular level. It is not enough to merely be near faith. It is something that must be comprehended and affirmed as an individual. And yet with this very personal and individualistic declaration of faith, the one affirming his faith is joining in with the Communion of Saints which stretches across millennia and continents and cultures. We say “I believe” but we are also acknowledging that our personal and individual belief is but a part of the faith of the catholic (i.e. universal) Church. One letter into the Creed and we have already made the profound declaration that the faith is both something intimately personal and inherently communal. “I” believe means that we must own our own faith but never see it simply as our own.
The Christian begins the Creed by confessing, “I believe.” What follows is a verbal description of the broad shape of that belief. This belief has a content. It includes certain propositions and excludes others. R.C. Sproul says, “The Holy Spirit does not call us to faith in general, but to faith in particular.”1 The Scriptures are clear that we are saved by faith (Rom 3:20-28) but they are also clear that we are not saved by faith in just anything. We are saved by “faith in Jesus” (v.28). The Creed’s opening words declare that we do not accept a relativistic or universal faith; rather, our faith has definite and specific content. We do not believe in just anything; rather, we believe in the Triune God whose glories are declared from Genesis to Revelation.
News recently flashed around the world of what many scientists hoped to be a nearly whole mammoth, found in permafrost in the Taymyr Peninsula in northern Siberia.1,2 Once again fascinated, people asked: ‘What exactly are mammoths?’, ‘Where did they come from?’, ‘When did they live?’, ‘Why did they become extinct?’ and ‘Can they be cloned?’.
What is a mammoth?
Evidently a variety of elephant, mammoths belong to the mammalian order Proboscidea.3 Mammoths (genus Mammuthus) had the usual elephantine features of a trunk and tusks. Mammoths had a large shoulder hump and a sloping back; small ears and tail; very complex teeth; a small trunk with a distinctive tip with two finger-like projections; huge, spirally curved tusks up to 3.5 m (11.5 feet) long; and spiral locks of dark hair covering a silky underfur. Some were huge — the Columbian mammoth measured up to 4+ metres (14 feet) high at the shoulders — about the same size as the largest living elephants. But the woolly mammoth was smaller, and there were dwarf mammoths only two metres (six feet) tall.
Where did they come from?
The answer to such questions about the past comes from the Word of one who was there—the Creator. He revealed in Genesis that He created land animals and people on Day Six of Creation Week (Genesis 1:24–27). This passage teaches that God made distinct kinds of animals, which would breed ‘after their kind’.
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8)
Recently, our homeschool association had a bonfire worship event. Outside the fun of walking on nature trails and enjoying dinner cooked on the bonfire, the evening included a time of worship and a short message. One of the worship songs was titled “Revelation Song”, a popular worship tune. This particular song is rooted in Revelation 4:8.
As we sang this song, I had to stop singing. It was not because my throat was hoarse or I did not know the words or that I am that horrible of a singer. I had to stop singing because I realized the tremendous importance of what Revelation 4:8 is stating.
John outlines a scene in heaven with the four living creatures gathered around the throne of God, never ceasing to declare something. They are not declaring how much of a loving God we serve although that is true. They are not declaring thankfulness for all the blessings God bestows on His people although that is true. They are not even asking God to smite the wicked. Instead, they are crying out “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
It hit me as I was listening to the group sing this powerful song around the bonfire that I take for granted this important fact. I was stricken to be quite honest with how common I make the name of our holy God.
There are some interesting elements to consider when reading a passage such as Revelation 4:8. First is the manner in which God is described. He is not just described as being holy. He is not just described as being holy and holy. God is described as holy, holy, holy. This is not stuttering on the part of the author. A repetition three times in a row of a term or phrase in Scripture is done on purpose. Theologians term the use of holy, holy, holy as the trihagion. When words or phrases are repeated in Scripture it is done so to make a point of emphasis, essentially to try and provide a tool to make the reader pause and second and consider what is being repeated. A linguistic speed bump of sorts in the text.
What the author of Revelation desires us to slow down and consider is the holiness of God. Furthermore, the four living creatures declare He is Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. God is holy above and beyond anything we can possibly imagine and he is the eternal supreme Creator who is worthy of our worship.
The next time you are tempted to make that which is holy to be common, take time to meditate on Revelation 4:8. We serve a holy God and thus we should be a people wholly devoted to being holy as He is holy. Treating God and the things of God as common is sinful behavior and is something that should not be a hallmark of us as the people of God. Let’s not just sing the words of Revelation 4:8 as nothing more than a popular melody. May they sink into our very souls and may we be an obedient bride, bringing glory to the Father in all we do.
There seems to be a pattern of behavior in the church that needs to change. What is that pattern you might ask? Focusing on getting people saved with little or no sense of direction provided to those who declare their allegiance to God and proclaim their affirmation of Jesus as their Savior. They come down the aisle, say a prayer, and off they go with an emotional rush that can come crashing down once the cares of the world rear their ugly head.
We are all likely familiar with the Parable of the Sower. Some seed fell and nothing happened, some seed fell and immediately sprouted yet had no root, and some seed fell in rich soil, took root, and grew into a mature plant. In many respects, those who declare they are saved are like that seed. Some have nothing more than an emotional experience with no firm root that keeps them grounded in Christ and they wither away. Others become rooted and are able to endure. Why the difference? I think the difference comes from the necessity of discipleship. Those who wither likely had no while conversely, those who are rooted in the faith were given the tools so the ground could be fertile to allow for proper growth.
A helpful tool that will assuredly go a long way towards tilling the ground to make it ripe for fertile spiritual rooting and growth is Alex Early’s recent release titled, The New Believer’s Guide to the Christian Life. Now keep in mind the purpose of this book is not to provide a comprehensive guide to every possible thing that will happen in life and what to do about those situations. While Early does engage a number of life’s issues in an honest and practical manner, his focus is to answer the question of “Now what?” I made a decision to follow Christ so what does that mean?
Early looks at some very important and foundational questions of the faith such as our identity in Christ, what it means to be a child of God, what is a covenant and how does it impact our relationship with God, how to pray, the importance of obedience, the necessity of baptism and fellowship with a local gathering of like-minded believers, and that often thorny issue of money.
What I appreciated most about this book is the practicality of Early’s approach. He does not hide the fact that the Christian life is not always easy. God is our Father and as His children, we should be obedient. The unfortunate reality is we disobey far more than we obey. Temptation to sin will continue. Early really drives directly to the crux of the issue concerning obedience by noting it is a heart issue. He saliently notes, “We pursue God’s will because the love and glory of God has captivated us, and it simply looks better, tastes better, and is more satisfying than anything this world has to offer.” How true that is and how many times even the most seasoned believer needs to be reminded of that reality.
This is a book that will be a tremendous help to the new believer. Moreover, I highly recommend it as well for those who have been walking in the faith for some time. We all need a helpful reminder regarding all the topics Early covers in this book. If you are new in the faith, please take the time to read this book. If you are a church looking for a discipleship tool, please take the time to check out this book. As the people of God, we need to focus on more than just getting folks to walk down the aisle and say a prayer. We need to ensure the seed is watered, the ground is tilled, and that quality time is spent helping those who are new in the faith understand what their life-changing decision is all about. The New Believer’s Guide to the Christian Life by Alex Early is an excellent resource for doing just that.
This book is available for purchase from Bethany House Books by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Bethany House and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
The viewpoint that regards the account of Adam and his fall in Gen. 2f as mythical and not historical, as story but not history (cf. Emil Brunner, Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption [Dogmatics, II, Eng. tr. 1952], pp. 46–74), or according to which Adam stands for all men, so that we are all Adam and Gen. 2f is not history but saga (cf. Barth, CD, IV/1. pp. 504–513; Christ and Adam [Eng. tr. 1956]), is not complete with the NT teaching. The following data show how the historicity of Adam and of his fall as recorded in these chapters is assumed and interwoven with the doctrine that Our Lord and His apostles enunciate.
In Mt. 19:4f; Mk. 10:6–8 Jesus alludes to and quotes from Gen. 1:27; 2:24. The appeal to these passages in order to contrast the Mosaic permission of divorce with the original ordinance, and thereby to enforce the high ethic of marriage, would have had no practical relevance if the passages in question did not concern and presuppose human relationships analogous to those existing in the situation with which Jesus was dealing.
In 1 Cor. 15:45, 47 Adam is spoken of as the first man and is contrasted with Christ as the second man. The parallelism and contrast demand for Adam as the first man a historical identity comparable to that of Christ Himself. Otherwise the basis of comparison and contrast is lost. Adam and Christ sustain unique relations to the human race, but in order to sustain these relations there must be to both such historical character as will make those relations possible and relevant. Lk. 3:38 draws strikingly to our attention something correlative with Adam’s being the first man and standing in a unique relation to the human race. The genealogy goes back no further than Adam, and while all others are said to be the son of the forefather in each case, Adam is said to be the son of God; he did not come by human generation. Furthermore, the allusion to Gen. 2:7 in 1 Cor. 15:45, 47 is unmistakable; and Lk. 3:38 is explained by Gen. 2:7.
Thus we have showed in many respects the excellence of this grace of contentment, laboring to present the beauty of it before your souls, that you may be in love with it. Now, my brethren, what remains but the practice of this? For this art of contentment is not a speculative thing, only for contemplation, but it is an art of divinity, and therefore practical. You are now to labor to work upon your hearts, that this grace may be in you, that you may honor God and honor your profession with this grace of contentment, for there are none who more honor God, and honor their profession than those who have this grace of contentment.
Now that we may come to grips with the practice, it is necessary that we should be humbled in our hearts because of our lack of contentment in the past. For there is no way to set about any duty that you should perform, you might labor to perform it, but first you must be humbled for the lack of it. Therefore I shall endeavor to get your hearts to be humbled for lack of this grace. ‘Oh, had I had this grace of contentment, what a happy life I might have lived! What abundance of honor I might have brought to the name of God! How might I have honored my profession! What a great deal of comfort I might have enjoyed! But the Lord knows it has been far otherwise. Oh, how far I have been from this grace of contentment which has been expounded to me! I have had a murmuring, a vexing, and a fretting heart within me. Every little cross has put me out of temper and out of frame. Oh, the boisterousness of my spirit! What evil God sees in the vexing and fretting of my heart, and murmuring and repining of my spirit!’ Oh that God would make you see it! Now to the end that you might be humbled for lack of it, I shall endeavor in these headlings to speak of it: First I shall set before you The evil of a murmuring spirit. There is more evil in it than you are aware of.