The Bible Project – Word Study: Chara – “Joy”
The Bible Project – Public Reading of Scripture
Joey Dear – Death, Adam and Eve, and Ephesians 2:1 (Part 1)
Social media parlance and procedure are constantly evolving. Phraseology and expectations are mysteriously codified into the minds of the masses. In the social media echo chamber, parameters develop progressively and often imperceptibly. Paranoia and subtweets, expectations and ultimatums, flattery and bullying abound in the social media echo chamber. It is a messy world full of messy people.
From one point of view, the only difference between the Christian social media echo chamber and High School is that most of the influential figures on social media are in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Human nature being what it is, social behavior never changes. Surely there must be a way for us to regulate our engagement in the social media echo chamber.
Nearly four years ago, Kevin DeYoung wrote a post titled, “The Ten Commandments of Twitter.” What he set out in that post is as apropos today as it was then. I especially find the second and eighth points helpful in light of the nature of social media: “Thou shalt not assume the worst about the tweets of others;” and “Thou shalt not make public demands of complete strangers.” If we would all commit to keeping these two rules, life would be quite a bit easier for all of us in the echo chamber of social media.
To continue reading Nick Batzig’s article, click here.
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. (Heb. 11:4)
Few biblical stories are more intriguing and saddening than that of Cain and Abel—the Bible’s first scene of death, martyrdom, and sibling rivalry. The book of Hebrews mentions Abel twice, in 11:4 and in 12:24. For now, we will focus on the first of these two references, though the second is both profound and edifying. In Hebrews 11:4, we are given the first instance of an Old Testament hero of faith. Abel is the first “witness” to testify to the better things that God promised to the saints of old and has now fulfilled in these “last days” (v. 3) in Christ. It is important to remember that in the book of Hebrews, God has not simply spoken to the Old Testament saints, He has also spoken through them. Thus, revelation of the better things to come in Christ was something of which the Old Testament believers were not only recipients of, they were also participants in—participants in the drama of redemption that would climax in the person and work of Christ.
To continue reading Eric Watkins’ article, click here.
I love the story of the rich man and Lazarus, but not for the same reason that many others do. It is a story that we can all easily picture. We see a fat rich man, clothed in a purple robe, feasting all the time in his big house, while just outside his door a beggar waits and starves. Then they both die, and things change drastically. The former beggar is now welcomed into a very comfortable place. But the former rich man is burning in agony.
The rich man and Lazarus is the last in a string of stories Jesus told in response to the Pharisees criticism of the riffraff that Jesus was associating with.1 We can read those stories in Luke 15-16.
- a shepherd leaves his 99 sheep in the wilderness and searches for the one that he lost,
- a woman ransacks her house looking for a coin that she had lost,
- a prodigal son returns, and is welcomed by his father, but not by his older brother,
- an employee is about to be fired, so he makes sure that he has plenty of friends to take care of him when that happens.
Jesus got to the point of these stories when he told those Pharisees “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts.”2 The parable of the rich man and Lazarus highlights the fact that some people think their eternal destiny is safe because they are currently doing ok. But God is looking for people who know they need him. He is looking for people who repent of their sins and trust in his gospel of grace.
But even though we all mostly get that point, the incidentals of the rich man and Lazarus story seem to side-track many of us. We start out with a clear view of rich Pharisees, but wind up with scary pictures of flaming torment in the afterlife. Our reading of the parable tends to get us off target to its original purpose.
To continue reading Jefferson Vann’s article, click here.
“It is a marvel that any man escapes ruin, the dangers which beset even the best being many and terrible.” –W.S. Plumer
Have you noticed 90% of news stories necessitate a person being ruined? Occasionally the ruin is not a result of a bone-headed decision or immoral choice. But more often than not, it is because sin has caught up with someone. And if you and I are being honest we’d have to admit that our absence from the front page isn’t for lack of opportunity but rather because of grace.
Psalm 38 is a painful Psalm. David is the guy on the front page whose life is ruined because of a personal transgression. And his whole world is coming apart. His relationship with God feels strained, his friends are keeping him at a distance, and his enemies are using this as an opportunity to pounce. The worst part is that David isn’t an innocent victim, he’s a guilty sinner. His conscience is not on his side.
Thankfully, I have not had an experience which totally fits King David’s scenario. I have said and done things which are dumb and/or sinful. I have had to endure consequences of my mistakes, but I do not believe I have experienced fully what David is going through in Psalm 38, at least not to this depth. And I hope I never do.
To continue reading Mike Leake’s article, click here.
Repenting means exchanging our idols for God. Before it’s a change in behavior, it must be a change in worship. How different that is from how we often think of repentance.
Too often we treat repentance as a call to clean up our lives. We do good to make up for the bad. We try to even the scale, or even push it back to the positive side. Sometimes we talk about repentance as if it were a really serious, religious New Year’s resolution:
“I’m not going to blow up at my kids anymore.”
“I’m not going to look at pornography ever again.”
“I’m never going to cheat on my hours at work.”
“I’m going to stop talking about my boss behind his back.”
But even if we clean up our behavior in one area or another, our hearts can still be devoted to our idols. The Pharisees illustrate this problem. They were the best-behaved people in Palestine, the kind of people you would have wanted for a neighbor. They never let their kids throw their bikes in your yard. They didn’t throw raucous parties and leave cigarette butts in your flowerbed. They always picked up after their dogs. They were upstanding people. But Jesus called them white-washed tombs: clean on the outside, corrupt on the inside (Matt. 23:27). The point is that it’s not just bad people who are idolaters. Good, moral, even religious people are idolaters too. Repentance isn’t the same thing as moral resolve.
To continue reading Michael Lawrence’s article, click here.
The issue of justification has had a lasting influence on the Christian understanding of the topic of salvation and its relationship to eternal security. Biblical scholars have developed numerous stances on this theological understanding often resulting in a situation which has left many believers pondering the precise application of justification in their Christian walk. Perhaps the best known debate over this topic was that between Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church and encapsulated in Luther’s statement “this is the true meaning of Christianity, that we are justified by faith in Christ, not by the works of the Law.” It was this understanding of justification which launched the Protestant Reformation and a return to the New Testament understanding of the relationship of faith and works.
The exegetical foundation reinstituted by Martin Luther guides most theologians today in their search for a more comprehensive understanding of this immeasurable theological issue. A proper understanding of the meaning, roots and application of justification by faith is obligatory in order to properly live out a vibrant and fruitful Christian life in equilibrium with the expectation of eternal security. Justification is the underpinning upon which the believer in Christ can have assurance in the forgiveness of sin and everlasting reception by a sovereign God.
Justification can be defined as “the judicial act of God by which, on account of Christ, to whom the sinner is united by faith, he declares that sinner to be no longer exposed to the penalty of the law, but to be restored.” Further exposition on the root meaning of this term can be determined through an understanding of the Greek word for justification used in the New Testament. The judicial and legal terminology that is appropriated to dikaiōma is evident from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Strong notes that dikaiōma “uniformly, or with only a single exception, signifies, not to make righteous, but to declare just, or free from guilt and exposure to punishment.” In a similar stratum of interpretation, theologian George Stevens denotes that “justification is certainly in Paul an actus forensis, a decree of exemption from penalty and of acceptance into God’s favor.” Continue reading “Michael Boling – Justification”
Sometimes we get confused about the way salvation works.
Almost by accident, we can fall into a gospel that’s heavy on encouraging one another in God’s forgiveness and grace and mercy, but woefully light on warning one another of the dangers of diving headlong into sin. This kind of gospel has no word for the brother or sister who gives in to temptation over and over again — who “makes a practice of sinning” (1 John 3:8).
Over time, we avoid the Old Testament with all of its narratives of God’s judgment, cherry-pick through the sermons of Jesus and the letters of Paul, then skip passed the harsh warnings of Hebrews and James. We select only the passages that tell us of God’s love and forgiveness and joy. But are these warnings in Scripture not a part of God’s plan to save, too?
Let’s admit the hard truth: Many of us are failing in the fight against daily temptation.
To continue reading Chad Ashby’s article, click here.
1 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord! 3 Thus says the Lord God, “Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. 4 O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. 5 You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6 They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. 7 Did you not see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you said, ‘The Lord declares,’ but it is not I who have spoken?”’” Ezekiel 13:1-7 (NASB)
A false prophet is one who claims to teach the truth from God and His Word, but who actually teaches from the counsel of his or her own heart. God is forever unchanging. He is immutable. His ways never change. His standards never change. At the time of Ezekiel, the kingdom of Judah had become consumed with idolatry. The people mixed Temple worship of YHWH with the worst forms of idol worship. They had taken on the culture and religion of the nations around them. Their culture had become pluralized. They were no longer a separate and unique people from the rest of the nations. The mechanism in people that powers this is compromise. The standard for God’s people has always been to be eternally focused with God in control. Compromise always moves God’s people to make decisions that are temporally focused because obedience to God is always counter to the demands of culture and the temporal.
To continue reading Mike Ratliff’s article, click here.