Feb 18

Essential Theological Video and Audio

Video:

David Carrico – Freemasonry and Christianity, Are They Compatible?

Dave Jenkins – Jesus Wept Sermon (John 11:33-37)

Audio:

Brandon Braun – The Community (Acts 2:42-47)

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Feb 23

Charles Bridges – Proverbs: Selected Comments on Twenty-Two Proverbs

Chapter 1:7 – Wisdom

The fear of the Lord is the beginning [margin: principal part] of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The preface has stated the object of this Book of Wisdom. The book itself now opens with a noble sentence. “There is not,” as Bishop Patrick observes, “such a wise instruction to be found in all their books [speaking of Heathen ethics], as the very first of all in Solomon’s, which he lays as the ground of all wisdom.” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. So Job had pronounced before (Job 28:28). So had the wise man’s father (Psa 111:10). Such is the weight of this saying, that Solomon again repeats it (Pro 9:10). Nay, after having gone round the whole circuit, after having weighed exactly all the sources of knowledge, his conclusion of the whole matter is this: that the fear of God in its practical exercise “is the whole of man” (Ecc 12:13; cp.2 Job 28:12-14, with 28) — all his duty, all his happiness, his first lesson and his last. Thus, when about to instruct us from the mouth of God, he begins at the beginning, the principal part. All heathen wisdom is but folly. Of all knowledge, the knowledge of God is the principal. There is no true knowledge without godliness (cp. Deu 4:6, 7).

But what is this fear of the Lord? It is that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law. His wrath is so bitter, and his love so sweet; that hence springs an earnest desire to please him, and — because of the danger of coming short from his own weakness and temptations—a holy watchfulness and fear, “that he might not sin against Him” (Heb 12:28, 29). This enters into every exercise of the mind, every object of life (Pro 23:17). The oldest proficient in the Divine school seeks a more complete molding into its spirit. The godly parent trains up his family under its influence (Gen 18:19; Eph 6:4). The Christian scholar honors it as the beginning, the head, of all his knowledge; at once sanctifying its end, and preserving him from its most subtle temptations.

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Feb 23

Thomas Brooks – The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod

When He shows no anger!

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” — Hebrews 12:6

There cannot be a greater evidence of God’s hatred and wrath than His refusing to correct men for their sinful courses and vanities!

Where God refuses to correct, there God resolves to destroy! There is no man so near God’s axe, so near the flames, so near hell, as he whom God will not so much as spend a rod upon! “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev 3:19).

God is most angry when He shows no anger!

Who can seriously meditate upon this and not be silent under God’s most smarting rod?

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Feb 22

Michael Boling – Yeshua as the Bread of Life as Explicated in the Gospel of John

The bread of life discourse, outlined in John 6, immediately followed the feeding of the five thousand. In typical Johannine methodology, numerous Old Testament comparisons, in particular that of Moses and Yeshua, are presented as evidentiary proof to the Jews that Jesus is truly the Messiah, the giver of life. Jesus clearly identified himself as the bread of life, a figure of speech pregnant with meaning and purpose for not only the 1st century hearer, but for the modern seeker of eternal sustenance.

The Apostle John presents a magnificent theological interlude in his gospel account of the spiritual deliverance available to humanity through the person and work of Yeshua. The pericope of John 6 demonstrates that as manna provided physical salvation for the children of Israel, Jesus, as the bread of life, provides eternal life to those who place their trust in him.

MANNA AS THE FORESHADOWING OF YESHUA

When Yeshua presented himself as the bread of life, he clearly utilized a typology that was an essential element of the “most crucial book of the Pentateuch for Israel’s history and theology – the Book of Exodus.” This proclamation was in response to the crowd’s continual appeal for a sign as a demonstration of his power and authority. The perishable food that Yeshua had referred to in John 6:27 clearly referred to the manna provided to the children of Israel in their wilderness wanderings. In contrast with this historical precedent which so permeated the teachings and beliefs of the Jewish people, Yeshua is presented as the source of imperishable food. Jesus is the manna from heaven sent by God to provide life for his people.

This was no small claim that was made by Yeshua due to the inherent messianic undertones subsumed within his “I am the bread of life” commentary. It was widely asserted in the Jewish beliefs of the period that Jeremiah had hidden a jar containing manna that he placed in the ark and the Messiah was expected to produce the hidden manna to the people of Israel thus revealing himself. Additionally, as denoted by William Barclay, rabbinic teaching averred that “as was the first redeemer so was the final redeemer; as the first redeemer caused the manna to fall from heaven, even so shall the second redeemer cause the manna to fall.”

The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand resulted not in sufficient evidentiary proof of Jesus superior status to that of Moses. Rather, the multitudes sought further evidence for the claim that Yeshua had made. Essentially, the Jews disregarded the loaves provided to them as an indication of manna from heaven as the provision had initiated itself from merely earthly loaves made from everyday ingredients. The manna which they sought was a “different thing and a real test.” As noted by F.F. Bruce, they rationalized among themselves, “let the second Moses vindicate his authority in a similar way – not by a once-for-all feeding but on a more lasting basis.”

In response to the disillusionment of the multitudes and their insistence of additional miraculous signs, Jesus first reminded the Jews that it was not Moses who provided them with the miraculous provision of sustenance in the form of manna, but rather it was a gift from God. Yeshua then explicated further the true meaning of the provision of manna to their forefathers. He saliently indicated that the manna was just a symbol of the bread of life given by God and was targeted merely at answering hunger; a physical need. The claim being made by Jesus in relation to the manna which the Jews sought from him is that Yeshua is the bread sent from heaven to provide a solution to the spiritual hunger which constantly hounds the soul of man. Calvin rightly avers that the “bread with which Moses fed their bellies was not true bread…the manna came down from the visible heaven, that is from the clouds; but not from the eternal kingdom of God from which life flows to us.” The manna provided to the children of Israel in the wilderness was a mere foreshadowing of what Yeshua, as the Messiah, can provide. But wait, there’s more!

Feb 22

Dave Jenkins – Overcoming An Addiction to Pornography & Embracing Purity

My sophomore year in high school, I was approached by a number of people who told me that no matter what I wanted, whether it was drugs or pornography, I could have it whenever I wanted. At this time, I was a youth leader not only at church but also at my high school leading a bible study. Even though I became a believer when I was four and started to sense God’s call to pastoral ministry as early as age six, I was still very immature in my faith at this time and not very knowledgeable about Christianity. As time wore on, I became very depressed as I witnessed the painful divorce of my parents, and I caved into pornography. It was a slow slide into pornography for me, but once it began, it was incredibly addictive. While no one knew of my struggle in high school, I hid in shame as I regularly watched pornography and lived a double life. It was not until my freshmen year in college, when I was asked to be on staff at a church, that I confessed my sin of pornography to the pastor. He responded by saying that I should step down immediately from all leadership responsibilities.

While this event transpired over ten years ago, I have often reflected on how God has led me by the Spirit in the process of progressive sanctification and on what He has taught me. This reflection leads me to write this article on what purity looks like in the home, in the church,
in the workplace, and on the internet. As we go through this topic, I want you to understand that I am not just giving you steps on how to move past this on your own, but rather grounding everything I am saying in the Word of God. I believe the only way to overcome an addiction to pornography is to recognize that it is idolatry, and as such, needs to be repented of. Once you have repented of this addiction, you need to recalibrate your heart and mind with the gospel by reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God both individually and corporately.

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Feb 22

Douglas Wilson – Psalm 83: Silent Jehovah

INTRODUCTION:

Here is the last of the psalms attributed to Asaph. You might recall that we discussed how this could be Asaph himself, or someone descended from him, in the “school” of Asaph. This psalm is likely written by Jehaziel, a Levite descended from Asaph (2 Chron. 20:14). From the internal evidence, the episode referred to in the psalm is very likely the situation that God delivered Jehoshaphat from in his great dilemma.

THE TEXT:

“Keep not thou silence, O God: Hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: And they that hate thee have lifted up the head . . .” (Psalm 83:1–18).

SUMMARY OF THE TEXT:

God is silent, and this is distressing because His enemies are not silent. They are in a tumult and so it is time for God to act (vv. 1-2). They have plotted against Israel in a crafty way (v. 3). The intent was to wipe Israel out, the intention was genocide (v. 4). Many nations have conspired against Israel (v. 5). The Edomites, the Ishmaelites, and the Amalekites were from the south. The Moabites, Ammonites, and Hagarenes were to the east. The Assyrians were to the north. The Philistines, Gebalites, and Tyrians were to the west. Israel was surrounded and in a desperate way (vv. 6-8). The psalmist prays that God would intervene as he had in the past against Midian (vv. 9-11; cf. Judges 7:25; 8:5). The enemies of God’s people had grand plans (v. 12), but the psalmist prays that they be made like tumbleweed (v. 13). He prays that God would take them out like a forest fire takes out wood (v. 14). He prays that a divine tempest would arise (v. 15). Fill their faces with shame (v. 16). And why? So that they might seek the name of God. Overwhelm them with confounded shame, and bring them low (v. 17). Again, why? So that men might know that there is only one with the name Jehovah, the God who is no longer silent (v. 18).

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Feb 21

Michael Boling – Exposition of Ruth 3:6-9

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In this post, we will work our way through Ruth 3:6-9. We will be utilizing the Complete Jewish Bible translation unless otherwise noted.

6 She went down to the threshing-floor and did everything as her mother-in-law had instructed her.

7 After Bo’az was through eating and drinking and was feeling good, he went to lie down at the end of the pile of grain. She stole in, uncovered his feet and lay down.

8 In the middle of the night the man was startled and turned over, and – there was a woman lying at his feet!

9 He asked, “Who are you?” and she answered, “I’m your handmaid Rut. Spread your robe over your handmaid, because you are a redeeming kinsman.”

Commentary:

We left off in the previous post with Na’omi playing out her plan for Ruth to engage if you will Bo’az on his threshing floor. Despite the inherent risks with such a proposal, Ruth affirmed her desire to do all that Na’omi had instructed. Ruth 3:6-9, while a short passage, reveals that Ruth followed Na’omi’s plan thus bringing the overall story to another exciting stage replete with yet more anticipation.

6 She went down to the threshing-floor and did everything as her mother-in-law had instructed her.

Verse 6 simply notes that Ruth went down as Na’omi instructed to the threshing floor of Bo’az. As with other passages in this book that seem to be merely informational, there is something additional that can be gleaned (no pun intended) from this simple verse. F. B. Huey suggests “The kaph (k) in “did everything has been interpreted by some scholars…as a kap veritas, and thus the phrase would be translated as “did everything exactly as”[1] once again suggesting that Ruth actually did all that Na’omi had told her. However, the story reveals that was not the case, something we will note a bit later in our discussion.

7 After Bo’az was through eating and drinking and was feeling good, he went to lie down at the end of the pile of grain. She stole in, uncovered his feet and lay down.

The story next reveals that after Bo’az had his fill of food and drink, he proceeded to lie down on a pile of grain. The text also notes that Ruth had followed Na’omi’s instructions to not “reveal your presence to the man until he’s finished eating and drinking” while at the same time taking “note of where he’s lying.” Once Ruth observed that Bo’az had fallen asleep, she followed the other instructions of Na’omi, namely the need to “uncover his feet, and lie down” while awaiting Bo’az to instruct her as to what to do next. Thus far Ruth has followed to the very letter everything Na’omi had instructed her to do.

An interesting element of this passage is the translation of the phrase “was in good spirits” noted by the text after Bo’az had completed eating and drinking. Daniel Block notes “The idiom yatab leb, literally “a heart is good,” describes a sense of euphoria and well-being. No doubt Boaz was satisfied with the work that was accomplished this day, but he probably also was feeling the effects of the wine.”[2] However, much unlike how Lot succumbed to the effects of drinking wine which led to him being seduced by his daughters into having sexual relations, Block also avers in the case of Bo’az “there is no reason to interpret this as a drunken stupor. The narrator paints an image of a contented man at peace within himself and in harmonious step with a world that is yielding its fruit as a result of Yahweh’s blessing and his hard work.”[3]

When we compare Lot with Bo’az, it is clear that Bo’az continues to reflect the attributes of a man worthy of being considered the kinsman redeemer, one who continually demonstrates righteous behavior.

Upon observing that Bo’az had laid down for the night, the text states Ruth “stole in”, uncovered his feet, and laid down awaiting what would happen next which according to the plan developed by Na’omi would involve further instructions from Bo’az. The word translated as “stole in” or “came in softly” in other translations is the Hebrew word lat, meaning in secrecy. So what we have taking place is Ruth hiding in the background awaiting that precise moment in which she could essentially sneak in, uncover the feet of Bo’az, and take her place on the threshing floor next to this potential kinsman redeemer.

8 In the middle of the night the man was startled and turned over, and – there was a woman lying at his feet!

9 He asked, “Who are you?” and she answered, “I’m your handmaid Rut. Spread your robe over your handmaid, because you are a redeeming kinsman.”

This pericope concludes with a rather interesting turn of events, one that the reader might have expected to take place but nevertheless presents a sense of drama and anticipation. In the middle of the night, as most do when they are sleeping, Bo’az turned over and was awake enough to be able to recognize Ruth laying there at his feet. If we return for a second to verse 7, we can make the assertion that the impact of the drink on Bo’az was such that when he fell asleep, he was in a deep enough sleep to be unaware of Ruth uncovering his legs and feet or Ruth sneaking in to the area of the threshing floor. As often happens when one falls into an immediate deep sleep, there is a point in which the individual will wake up, albeit not entirely.

Block suggests “At midnight he shivered (harad; NIV “something startled the man”), probably because of the chilling of the night air, and groping for his covers, he was surprised (hinneh, “behold,” left untranslated by the NIV) to find someone lying by his legs (margelot).”[4] Imagine the surprise on the face of Bo’az to find Ruth laying there at his feet in the middle of the night. It is not clear from the text if Bo’az immediately recognizes the woman lying at his feet as Ruth. This element of storytelling is noted by Robert Chisholm as something which “invites the audience to experience the scene through Boaz’s eyes. The audience knows the woman is Ruth because the narrator has informed us of that fact. But he heightens the drama by assuming Boaz’s limited perspective.”[5]

Understandably, Bo’az asks the simple yet very necessary question of “Who are you?” As the writer has often done throughout this book, the question posed by Bo’az reflects a movement forward in relationship and conversation between Bo’az and Ruth as reflected in his original question to Ruth in Ruth 2:5 of “To whom does she belong?” implying the servant status of Ruth. In this verse, there is no element of servitude implied in the question of “Who are you?’ with the question being one of quite simply “Who is lying at my feet in the middle of the night?”

The response given by Ruth is quite telling. She responds to Bo’az’s question with “I’m your handmaid Rut. Spread your robe over your handmaid, because you are a redeeming kinsman.” The use of the Hebrew word amah translated as handmaid as opposed to the previous description by Ruth of herself in verses such as Ruth 2:13 as being a sipha or slavegirl is noted by Block as a clear indication of “Ruth’s growing self-confidence and the requirements of the context. After all, she is about to propose marriage to her superior, which would have been ruled out for a sipha.”[6]

Furthermore, Ruth asks Bo’az to “Spread your robe over your handmaid.” Scholars have debated whether the request by Ruth signifies a request for marriage with many proposing that idea since “the custom of placing the corner of a garment over a maiden as a symbol of marriage is known among the Arabs.”[7] It is also important to notice that at this juncture, Ruth diverted from the instructions given to her by Na’omi to wait for Bo’az to tell her what to do. Instead, Ruth asks Bo’az to cover her with his robe with the reason being that he is a kinsman redeemer, one who would provide her with protection. Iain Dugoid suggests “What Ruth was asking Boaz to do…was to act according to the spirit of the law of the kinsman redeemer, even though he was not under any legal obligation. She appealed to him to be the family member who, at his own cost, would act to rescue those whose future had been blighted, even though he didn’t have to do so.”[8]

Conclusion:

If we think about what Ruth was requesting of Bo’az, we can truly see a picture of what we ask Jesus to do as our Kinsman Redeemer. Just as the kinsman redeemer in the life of Ruth was under no obligation to pay the high price that would come with rescuing Ruth, especially given the fact she was a Moabite woman, so to Jesus was under no obligation to pay the price for our sins and to rescue us from certain death and eternal punishment. Yet He came on our behalf to rescue us. Thus, the picture being painted in Ruth as this moment of the story is a foreshadow of the perfect Kinsman Redeemer, the One who came to pay the penalty to save us with His very life.

In our next post, we will examine Ruth 3:10-18 to see how Bo’az responds to Ruth’s proposal.

References:

[1] F. B. Huey, Jr. “Commentary on Ruth” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol.3: Deuteronomy through 1&2 Samuel. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 536-537.
[2] Daniel Block, The New American Commentary: Judges-Ruth (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1999), 689.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.,689-690.
[5] Robert Chisholm, Jr., Kregel Exegetical Library: A Commentary on Judges and Ruth (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2013), 654.
[6] Block, 690.
[7] Huey, 537.
[8] Iain Duguid, Reformed Expository Commentary: Esther & Ruth (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2005), 172.

Feb 21

Dr. John Baumgardner and Jeremy D. Lyon – A Linguistic Argument for God’s Existence

I. Introduction

Many arguments to demonstrate the reasonableness of God’s existence have been advanced over past millennia. On this issue, the biblical record maintains that clear evidence of God’s reality resides in the natural realm all around us. This evidence is so plain, the record claims, that no human being can fail to have awareness of God’s existence (Rom 1:20). This paper calls attention to a category of reality that provides especially powerful support for God’s existence. Our focus is upon the phenomenon of language. We begin from our own subjective experience of this phenomenon and then extend our considerations to the realm of the material world around us. Because language is so integral to our own mental processes and so intuitive in the way we relate to other human beings, most of us never pause to analyze just what is occurring when we think, write, speak, or process what we read or hear others say. Therefore, a crucial first step in this discussion is to establish clearly what the term language entails.

II. What Is Language?

There is an extensive body of scholarly literature, generally under the category of philosophy of language, that deals with this and related questions. In this article we deliberately narrow our scope to what we deem to be the most basic aspects of the phenomenon of language. In particular, we shall focus on the close association of language with meaning. And in regard to the term meaning, we utilize its widely accepted definition in a linguistic context of “the denotation, referent, or idea associated with a word or phrase.” Although the philosophers of language have written a great deal on the nature of meaning, we will restrict our use of the term to this standard definition. Furthermore, in speaking of language we include not only spoken and written human languages, but also the realms of computer languages and mathematics, and the message-bearing sequences of nucleotides in DNA and RNA observed at the molecular level in the biological domain. Hence, our use of the term language agrees in most essential respects with the term formal language used in the fields of linguistics, computer science, and mathematics. Under these caveats, what are the essential characteristics of language? We offer a simple answer that emphasizes two essentials.

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Feb 21

Tim Challies – Reading Out of Love for Others

Reading is a solitary pursuit. You grab your book, you kick back on the couch, and the hours roll by. But even though reading is a solitary pursuit, it is not necessarily a selfish one. Reading can actually be an important way to love others. Here are five ways to love others in your reading.

Read to Grow

You can love others by reading books meant to address flaws in your character or conduct. The husband who reads Dave Harvey’s When Sinners Say “I Do” is reading to better love his wife. The woman who reads Shepherding a Child’s Heart is equipping herself to better love her children by raising them according to the Bible. The church member who reads Alexander Strauch’sLove Or Die is learning to better love his church.

Likewise, the man reading Hannah Anderson’s Humble Roots is better equipping himself to lead his family with humility, the woman reading Robert Jones’s Uprooting Anger is addressing a sinful temperament so she can respond to her children with patience and grace.

In every case the reading is done privately or in isolation, but it is done with a view to helping others. In this way, the reading is an expression of love.

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Feb 20

Michael Boling – Book Review: Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature

When the term apocalyptic literature is used, most are likely drawn to thinking about books in Scripture such as Revelation or perhaps the ending chapters of Matthew where Jesus described the time of the end. While both are indeed apocalyptic, what is often forgotten is the plethora and rich literature of this genre found in the Old Testament. Dr. Richard Taylor in his book Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook takes a helpful look through Daniel, the OT Prophets, and extra-biblical texts, exploring the overall genre and providing the reader how to read, understand, and most importantly, apply these important texts.

Taylor saliently notes how the very term apocalyptic is somewhat difficult to define. Is it an actual genre or merely a term that can be used to described sections of Scripture that speak on issues of judgment and eternal matters? To help push through the fog of confusion regarding the term itself, Taylor works through the various terms associated with this type of literature such as apocalypse, apocalypticism, apocalyptic literature, apocalyptic eschatology, apocalyptic discourse, and proto-apocalyptic. I found Taylor’s efforts to define and set the stage for further discussion well-written and helpful for without this important foundation, actual engagement of the relevant texts would be difficult at best.

After providing the aforementioned foundation, Taylor then begins exploring the major themes found in apocalyptic literature, specifically those located in the book of Daniel, the OT Prophets, and Extra-Biblical Jewish Apocalyptic texts. The latter source of material may seem out of place; however, studying the extra-bibical writings of the period should not be ignored and thankfully Taylor has taken the time to look through, albeit rather briefly, texts such as the book of Enoch and Jubilees. While not part of the canon, those books nevertheless are important reads as after all, canonical books such as Jude make reference to them in relation to matters of apocalyptic importance.

Before one can actually engage these texts, it is necessary to be fully prepared for what you will find and the type of language used such as similes, metaphors, metonomy, hypocatastasis, and synecdoche. While some of these are certainly what can be labeled as million dollar theological terms, Taylor does an excellent job of explaining and providing examples of how they work in context. Without a proper grasp of how and why such types of language are used in apocalyptic literature, one can fall prey to the dangerous ground of faulty interpretations and wild speculations that unfortunately so often surround efforts geared at understanding this genre.

To help the reader, Taylor provides a great list of resources on matters such as understanding biblical languages, bible study software, lexical and grammatical guides, and primary source material. To be honest, many of these resources should not be found solely in the libraries of those in seminary. Even the average laymen should take note and use these tools, especially when studying apocalyptic literature.

Finally, after properly preparing the reader with outstanding foundational information, he engages how to interpret this genre and importantly, how to proclaim the gospel message found within its pages. It is one thing to study and absorb what God has revealed in the apocalyptic genre. It is quite another thing to take that message, properly understand it, and then proclaim its message to a world that will be impacted by the events its describes. Taylor does an excellent job of showing ways to weave the message of this genre into our gospel proclamation.

Confused and frustrated by the apocalyptic genre? Are the books of Daniel and Revelation something that frighten you? Are you more apt to let someone else tell you what to think about this genre rather than investigating it for yourself? If any of those or other issues have kept you from studying this topic, I highly encourage you to read Dr. Taylor’s book. It is scholarly yet accessible and it will go a long way to helping the mystery of the apocalyptic genre become more understandable.

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.”

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